Pumpkin Spice Coffee

6 10 2011

You know how Christmas sweeps everyone up in a feverish, frenzy?  That’s how I feel about autumn, don’t get me wrong, I love the winter holiday season too but autumn, well it’s like the first blush of the holiday season.  When the autumn coffee beverages start appearing on the menu I become overjoyed by the promise of sweet, spicy beverages coursing through my veins.

Overjoyed until I have to start paying for sweet and spicy promises I long to have coursing through my veins, that’s when I turned to the Internet.  Turns out that there are a lot of people who feel the same way I do because there are an awful lot of recipes for pumpkin spice syrup available.

I’m not saying that my recipe is the be-all-end-all of recipes, but it’s pretty good and it’s pretty low in sugar.

Once you’ve made the syrup, you just heat the syrup with your soy milk and add coffee.  You can enjoy your coffee with one, two, or even 3 tablespoons of syrup – flavour it your way!  And the syrup will last up to a week, so you can enjoy a solid week of pumpkin spice infused coffees.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup cubed cooked squash, probably pumpkin but you use butternut squash

2 Tbsp sugar (or more, if you like it sweet)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1Tbsp vanilla

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp pumpkin spice

1 – 1/2 cup water (and then some more water)

Grab yourself a medium sized pot and load it up with everything listed above: cubed squash, sugar, syrup, vanilla, spice, and 1 – 1/2 cups water.  Set your stove to medium heat and, while stirring, simmer that pot of deliciousness until the squash is squishy, approximately 10 – 15 minutes.

Allow to cool until warm.  The next step is to purée your pumpkin mixture smooth.  You’ll notice that, once smooth, your blender or food processor is filled with a paste.  Thin out the pumpkin paste with extra water until you have reached a thick syrup consistency – this will require approximately 3/4 cup water.

Store your syrup in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

To enjoy your coffee

Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of syrup to a mug, filling it 1/3 to 1/3 full with soy milk and warm up.  The pumpkin syrup will dissolve in the soy milk, making it ready to receive the coffee.

Enjoy!

If you’re looking for something sugar free that can be enjoyed black, check out this recipe at The Gracious Pantry.





Curried Squash Soup

15 09 2011

You made a big batch of green paste and now you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with all this spicy business.

Welcome to September, it’s time to make some soup.

This mighty soup is individual sized for all you single folk.  Or folk who’s significant other’s don’t like to eat anything that isn’t charred and smothered in ketchup.  What?  I’m not judging, I’m not judging.

Grab a squash, any squash – not zucchini… okay, maybe zucchini, but I’m not making any promises.

First, you’re gonna have to turn on your oven or BBQ and roast your squash.  By roast, I mean cook it with dry heat in a hot spot.  Times vary, but you’re basically looking at 30 – 45 minutes in a 350ºF oven.  Allow your squash to cool to room temperature and you’re ready to rock and roll!

I made this soup twice.  The first bowl was hotter than the pits of hell and spicier than a spicy something-or-another.  I know you wanna use up your green paste but, and I know this from personal experience, your tummy will not be happy if you jam too much green paste in your soup.

Curried Squash Soup

3/4 cup roasted squash of your choice

1 to 1 – 1/2 cups water or broth

1 tsp green curry paste

splash of soy or almond milk

pinch of salt

Ok, this is where it gets tricky.

Jam everything into a blender and turn it on.

Blend it until everything is as smooth as silk.

Warm up your soup.  I use a microwave because I’m a lazy bones but you can feel free to warm your soup the old fashioned way: in a pot on a stove, stirring it lovingly.

Whatever method you use to conduct heat into your soup, this soup is going to conduct spice into your person.

Enjoy!





Pastey Paste

12 09 2011

A couple of months ago I made fresh Thai green curry paste and was thoroughly delighted with the results.  I never actually made curry with my paste, though.  I enjoyed it on crackers, toast, and like pesto on vegetables.  I decided to make it again.  Except, in true PK fashion, I didn’t follow the recipe.

In my defense, I didn’t follow the recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients, my jalapenos were nearly past their prime, and I was too lazy to go out and get the missing ingredients.  Despite lacking a whole lot of things, the results have been spicy and flavorful, adding a hot twist to my tofu scrambles.

Green Curry Paste.

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

6 jalapeno peppers

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup red onion

1 tsp dried ginger

2 limes

1 Tbsp sesame seed oil

In a dry skilled, lightly toast coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant.

Chop up the jalapenos, onions, and garlic.  Chop up the limes as well, peels and all!  Jam everything into a food processor or blender and whiz it around until it’s all blended up.

Of course, if you’d like something more authentic, you should definitely check out the original recipe.  But, if you’re a lazy bones like me, the above recipe will do in a pinch.





Spicy Cucumber Salad

9 09 2011

Maybe I’m just being lazy, but everything I’ve been making this week has been easy.  Perhaps too easy.

Anyway, this is another easy dish that was created with goods from the farm market.  (FIVE field cucumbers for $1!  I felt the people in the IKEA commercial where the woman gets in the car like she’s just stolen something they need to make a big get-away.)

Spicy Cucumber Salad

3 small cucumbers

1 lime

1/4 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp sesame oil

Peel and seed your cucumber if you’re using field cucumbers, just seed the cucumber if you’re using English cucumbers (with their soft skin).  Thinly slice the cucumbers and place into a mixing bowl.

Squeeze the juice of one lime over the cucumbers.

Stir in chili flakes and sesame oil.

It’s pretty good straight away, but it will get spicier if you allow it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Done!

If you’d like to get fancy, you could serve this salad with some cashews or peanuts on top.





Hot and Sour Soup

5 07 2011

It’s been hot.  Really hot.  Fortunately I’m part lizard and I love the heat.  I thrive in the heat.  Which is possibly why I made hot and sour soup on a scorching hot day.

That and I suddenly got excited about using the fake meat products I bought at a festival.  This is the “meat” that is served served at Padmanadi – my favorite restaurant.  I assumed it was all gluten, but it’s got a lot of mushrooms in it, which is probably why it tastes so good.

In the recipe below I suggest using tofu if you don’t have or don’t like fake meat.  The end result is just as delicious.

If you’re looking for the fake meat I used – mushroom chicken – check out Paradis Vegetarien.

Hot and Sour Soup

3 cups vegetable broth

1 package/2 cups medium-firm tofu, cubed (or veggie-meat replacement)

1 can (227 mL) sliced bamboo shoots

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp onion, chopped

1/3 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp soy sauce or Braggs

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup snow peas

1 – 2 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp sesame oil

In a large pan, bring broth and 2 cups of water to boil.

While your broth and water are busy getting hot, prepare your other ingredients.  Cube your tofu.  Slice your mushrooms.  (I generally use cremini mushrooms because I have them and I like them.  Sometimes I’m a rebel, and I use portobello mushrooms, other times I’m fancy and I use shiitake or wood ear mushrooms.  If you have a mushroom preference, go for it!)  Chop your onions.  Trim the ends and de-string your snow peas. And drain your bamboo shoots.

Add tofu, mushrooms, onions, and bamboo to the broth; return to boil.

Stir in rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper, snow peas, chili flakes, and sesame oil.  This is the final step, if you don’t want your snow peas overcooked, turn off the heat now and allow the peas to cook in the hot soup.

Grab your bowls and serve immediately!  This should serve 4 people, but if you like this soup and are a voracious eater like me, it will probably serve 2 people.





Cucumber Salad

8 05 2011

Among all the produce I purchased at Costco last week, I acquired a number of cucumbers (3) and, like all my other recent acquisitions, I needed an interesting way to make them tastier than sliced up on a plate.

I was really excited when I found a recipe and I need come right out and say this: I totally poached this recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks.  Truly, this was love at first sight: it used cucumbers and other ingredients I had laying around, presented opportunities to modify it and make it my own, and it looked so fresh.

I’d like to say that the significant other (SO) had the opportunity to try the salad but he didn’t.  I’d like to tell you that I didn’t eat the entire bowl of this salad, which was enough for two people, but I did.  Fortunately I have 2 more cucumbers in the fridge and will be enjoying this salad again this week (i.e. tomorrow) and perhaps the SO will have a chance to try the second batch – but it’s not very likely.

Before we begin, I’d like to say something about roasting.  I burn the things I want to roast at least half the time.  I watch closely for the first 4 minutes and then I get lazy and – BAM – that’s when everything is ruined.  Roasting is tricky because once the ideal temperature is reached, everything browns very quickly.  Remember, constant vigilance while trying roast coconut… or nuts or seeds.

Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, seeds scraped out

1 tsp chili flakes (more if you like it spicy!)

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 tsp cumin

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp raw sugar

2 Tbsp olive oil, or other tasty salad oil lurking in your cupboard

1/2 cup peanuts

Dice cucumbers into small pieces, approximately the size of small blueberries.  Chop cilantro finely.  Mix cucumbers and cilantro in a large bowl with chili flakes.

In a dry frying pan, begin roasting coconut and cumin on medium heat.  Watch closely to prevent burning.  (Constant vigilance!)  Once the coconut has toasted slightly, set to the side and allow to cool before adding to the big bowl filled with cucumber.

Mix lemon juice, sugar, and oil together.  I like to use little jars so that I can shake the dressing up.  Add the dressing just before serving and then garnish with peanuts.