Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kabocha Coconut Stew and Weekend Wokking : August 30, 2009

Kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin was introduced from Cambodia to Japan by Portuguese sailors in the 1500’s. Japanese called it kabocha or bobora (from the name Cambodia abobora—the term used by the Portuguese). It has a hard, dull, dark green skin and a bright yellow-orange flesh--- very similar to butternut squash but kabocha tastes nuttier and has an exceptional sweetness to it, almost like pumpkin and sweet potato combined. It is delicious steamed, roasted or simmered with soy sauce. But the best way I love kabocha squash is in a stew. When I was growing up, my mom used to make a fish stew with coconut milk and kabocha. It was the best comfort food for me!

Now I make a Kabocha Coconut Stew for my family. I add ginger, garlic, bird’s eye chili, green onions to it and cook the squash till tender and just a tad mushy. It’s funny, my son eats it the same way I did as a kid --- mashing the kabocha into the coconut milk and mixing it with rice. It is very simple fare -- sweet-savory and spicy hot and deliciously comforting!

When I saw kabocha squash at the Vietnamese store, I decided to make Kabocha Coconut Stew for Weekend Wokking: Ginger to be held on August 30, 2009. I think this dish showcases the delicate flavor of both ginger and kabocha squash -- without ginger, this comfort food is just one-dimensional! If you have a recipe using ginger, please join us for this blogging event.

Here's the recipe for Kabocha Coconut Stew:

1-1/2 cup kabocha squash, cut up

2 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp minced green onions

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp chicken powder

1 tsp fish sauce

1-1/2 cup coconut milk

1-2 bird's eye chili (chopped or whole depends on how hot you want it to be)

a sprig of Thai basil

Saute ginger, garlic, green onions till aromatic. Add kabocha squash, chicken powder, fish sauce, coconut milk and bird's eye chili. Cook the kabocha over medium heat till the squash is fork tender. Adjust seasoning (more chicken powder or fish sauce) to your liking. Serve with Thai basil leaves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grow Your Own # 33: The Round-Up

Hosting GYO#33 was just amazing! I received 13 entries, two from California, two from Virginia, one each from Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, Oklahoma, Oregon, Hawaii, Philippines, Australia and Scotland.

The ingredients were so diverse and interesting. I just love the unique and delicious combination of fruit, herbs and spices---quince, cranberries, ground cherries, pineapple, green apple, amaranth, purslane, zucchini, eggplant, carrot, tomato, scallions, basil, mint, cinnamon, cloves....

From Melbourne, Australia, Johanna sent in her recipe for Paradise chutney made with quince, sweetened cranberries, apples, oranges, lemons, cloves and cinnamon.

Amy I. from Oregon, USA had a surplus of basil from her garden so she played with a sorbet recipe using Granny Smith green apples as base for her tart, light and refreshing Green Apple Basil Sorbet.

Valerie of Western, WA made an appetizing Mozarella Pesto Sandwich using fresh basil and tomatoes from her garden with a unique pesto made of raw almonds in lieu of pine nuts.

Patricia from Northern California made Pickled Purslane. Who would think that portulaca, considered a "weed" in many well-kept gardens, actually is a great source of omega fatty acids? Purslane has a slight lemony taste making it perfect for pickling.

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes created a classic, easy to prepare Zucchini and Tomato Gratin by layering tomatoes and zucchini and tucking fresh basil chiffonade and minced parsley in between layers. This lovely dish was topped with parmesan cheese, sauteed onions and garlic forming a delicious crust.

Try also the complex symphony of flavors of Linda's Ground Cherry Cucumber Salsa--- it's supposed to be sweet, hot but refreshing at the same time.

The abundance of kamias, a tart tropical fruit related to star fruit, inspired Ela from the Philippines to make an interesting fish dish called kaswela.
Kim in Virginia, USA had fun creating a hearty dish combining onions, garlic, tomato, basil and parsley from her garden with eggplant and chicken to create Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta.

From Soma in Texas, USA we have a traditional, spicy-hot, nutritious, Bengali/ East Indian comfort food called Shak Bhaja or Amaranth Stir-fry.

Nate and Annie of San Jose, CA, made an Asian inspired Tenderloin and Fettuccini dish for garlic lovers.

A one of a kind Pineapple Mint Sorbet was submitted by Claudia in Hawaii with fresh mint, white pineapple and agave nectar as natural sweetener.

Pretty as a picture, Carrot Runner Bean Flan, comes to us from Mangocheeks who flavored the delicate flan with lemon thyme, accenting the sweetness of the carrots and fresh runner beans.

Finally, for this GYO event, I created Grilled Eggplant Salad. The salty, sweetish-sour vinaigrette of lime juice, vinegar, sugar, scallions and fresh garlic complements the delicious, smoky flavor of roasted eggplant.

So to all who participated in this blogging event --my heartfelt thanks and congratulations for a job well done and ....special thanks go to Andrea of Andrea's Recipes for entrusting me with this exciting opportunity to host Grow Your Own # 33!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekend Wokking: Ginger

Ginger root is a rhizome (an underground stem) used as flavoring in many cultures. The ginger plant is native to South East Asia, but the root and young buds are also used extensively in China, Japan, Korea, the West Indies and the United States.

It is a staple in Indian cooking, imparting a hot, aromatic flavor to chutneys, curries, and vegetable dishes. In Japan, pickled ginger cleans the palate while minced ginger in Korean kimchi intensifies the flavor of the spicy peppers. The unique flavor of Vietnamese Pho (soups) is a combination of ginger, cinnamon and other spices. Chinese often use ginger in soups, stir-fries, steamed and braised dishes. Ginger is one of the best, natural cough remedies. In the Philippines, ginger tea (used to soothe sore throats) is made by steeping crushed ginger in hot water. Indonesian ginger candy is spicy and addicting. Gingerbread, pumpkin pie, ginger snaps are some yummy traditional treats we love here in the U.S.!

Ginger has a clean, slightly lemony aroma that is both spicy-sweet and hot. It's one ingredient I can't do without in my pantry!! I enjoy it in soups, stews, stir-fries, curries, chicken, fish, dumplings, tea, cookies, candies and desserts. How about you? Do you use ginger in your cooking? You might wish to share a recipe with Weekend Wokking: Ginger.

Wandering Chopsticks created this monthly blogging event to see how many different variations we can make using a single ingredient and for this month, the theme is ginger. Although the name says Weekend Wokking, use of a wok is not required for your recipe. I'm hosting this month's event. If you have a blog, you are welcome to join. Just email me (momgateway@gmail.com) by August 30, 2009 with the following information:

1. Your name or what name you would prefer to be called
2. The name of your blog
3. What part of the world you want identified as your residence
4. The title of the recipe
5. A permalink URL to the recipe

I will be posting a round-up by September 2, 2009 so please send in your entries by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, August 30, 2009. Let's get cooking!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Farmers Market Part 1: Summer Harvest Festival

This year, my tomatoes, green onions and herbs have been doing so well. About two weeks ago I realized I have not been to the Farmers Market at all. I needed some habaneros so off I went to see Rita, my fave supplier of ultra-hot peppers. She was not around and no one had habaneros to sell (I will have to go to Food Pyramid after all). But the nice thing about going to Farmers Market was ---this was the day they are celebrating Summer Harvest Festival. The vendors donated some of their fresh produce for taste testing. Shonna Richardson (Farmers Market Manager and owner of Persimmon Hill Farm), her family and other volunteers were preparing the food for sampling. Heston was the grill master for the event. He was was so pleasant to talk to as he grilled breads, tomatoes, zucchinis, squashes, fresh lamb pattties, bison burger, bison brats and more. Hes was so much fun--you really gotta meet him and taste the awesome breads his mom makes! I loved the grilled Tomato and Asiago Cheese Bread, Rosemary Blue Cheese Bread and bison brats! Jacqui brought gazpacho for sampling and exotic marinades for the grilled veggies. There was a huge turnout for the event and everyone looked like they had a good time. More pictures in the next post...