Community Kitchen, November
Every November 11, my husband Justin takes our daughters to the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. His great-grandfather Masajiro Shishido was one of the Japanese Canadians who fought in World War I. Justin takes part in the ceremony with great reverence for his ancestor and for all those who fought in that dreadful war. For everyone who needs a reminder as to the awfulness of that particularly slaughterous conflict, I recommend Wilfred Owen’s powerful poem, Dulce et Decorum Est.
Because it’s November in Vancouver, it generally rains, and everyone is quiet and thoughtful when they return. They’re also cold, so I hug them, turn on the fire and serve comfort food as they slowly come back to the world.
Coconut Squash Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon or more Sriracha or a pinch of dried chili flakes, to taste
1 can (400 ml) diced tomatoes
1 can (540 ml) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup water or chicken or vegetable broth or combination
2 cups cubed Hubbard squash or other yellow squash or pumpkin or kabocha
¾ cup cooked brown or white rice.
Heat oil and add onions and sauté until onions are softened, add the garlic and ginger, sauté 1-2 minutes, then add curry powder and chili sauce or flakes.
Add the tomatoes, chick peas, coconut milk, water and/or broth, and squash. Lower heat, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Add the cooked rice, heat until hot. Using an immersion blender or other blender, blend until smooth or to your liking.
Return to the pot; if the soup is too thick, add a little hot water. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a spoonful of plain yoghurt or sour cream and some finely chopped green onion.
Apple Pumpkin Spice Loaf
Oven: 350F. Grease 2 large loaf pans, line the bottoms and up two sides with parchment paper
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp flour
Combine these in a small bowl until butter is well distributed; set aside. This can be done very rapidly in a mini food processor if you have one.
1 – 15 oz (398ml) tin of solid pack pumpkin (426g)
1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. vegetable oil (you can substitute 1/2 c. applesauce or yogurt and 1/4 c. oil, I’ve done it, it’s fine)
2 1/4 c. sugar (you can substitute 1 1/4 of this with baking Splenda to reduce sugar)
4 large eggs, beaten slightly
2 cooking apples such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, peeled and chopped
3/4 c. raisins
Combine wet ingredients. Add to the dry ingredients and also the apple and raisins, mix until well combined. Divide batter equally between the two loaf pans and smooth the tops, then sprinkle with your reserved crumb mixture. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.
Let cool 45 minutes, then remove from pan, peel off parchment and cool completely on a rack.
Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. This keeps well in the fridge for a week and much longer in the freezer. I once hauled out a frozen loaf of this six months later and it was A-OK.
That’s a lot of pumpkin stuff. Here’s some chicken because we always need chicken recipes….
Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous
This is an adaptable recipe that everyone personalizes so I’m just going to sketch it out:
This recipe is calibrated to about 6-8 because that’s how many comfortably fit into a 9 x 13” casserole
White wine or apple juice, about 1/2 cup if wine, 1/4 c. if juice plus a little water or chicken stock – or you can use all chicken stock if that’s what you have around
Olive oil, about 1 Tbsp
One head of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
Juice of 1-2 lemons (if you use apple juice use two lemons to balance the sweetness)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Prunes, cut in half, or raisins or dried apricots, or craisins – or all of them, about 1 cup worth (not packed in, just loosely)
salt and pepper
Chicken in casserole, combine the liquids, cumin and cinnamon, and pour over. Tuck the garlic and dried fruits amongst the chicken pieces, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Paprika and garam masala too? Sure. You can then keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.
How much time have you got? You can bake this at 300F for two hours, or at 350 for one, whichever works for you. Uncovered. Baste it once in a while, if you can remember. Cook time depends on size of chicken pieces and also temperature of the dish when it goes into the oven, so test for doneness. I like my chicken thighs very well done so I am generous with time.
1 cup of dried couscous needs about 2 cups of boiling liquid, you need to check your package of couscous. Israeli couscous also works, so does quinoa, or rice! Follow package directions. Bread too, obviously. What you want to add are some savoury elements that go with the chicken.
Option 1: Sauté 1/2 chopped onion in some butter or olive oil, add couscous and use boiling chicken stock
Option 2: Pan fry a handful of pine nuts or sliced almonds – carefully because nuts will burn very quickly if you aren’t alert – add to couscous with a bit of butter, salt and pepper
Option 3: Add a handful of chopped Italian parsley to couscous, as well as butter, salt and pepper
You can do all of these together if you like, it works. You can also serve with plain basmati rice made in your rice cooker. Or you can add all the extras to the rice, or steamed quinoa, or whatever you like. As I said, this is a flexible recipe.
The essential elements are: fresh lemon, garlic, spices, sweetness (dried fruit), richness (nuts and chicken).
I also add a refreshing salad of small diced cucumber, tomato, yogurt and chopped parsley or fresh mint. Eat a bit of this on every forkful of chicken and couscous. Mmmmmm.