Monday, October 31, 2011

White Bean and Red Curry Soup in Coconut Milk - An MLLA Guest Post from Courtney of Coco Cooks

Although she is glamorous, a sophisticated Chicagoan, international traveler, and connoisseur of the finer things in life, Courtney of Coco Cooks is also a passionate cook, baker, and hostess. After frequent requests to create meals, events, and demos, in additional to her full-time career with a national cosmetics brand, Courtney has moved on to parlay her natural talents in the culinary arts into an exciting entrepreneurship. As the force behind her recently launched Coco Cooks Catering, Courtney has been designing menus under the credo of "Food that Makes You Happy."

And happy I am, too, to welcome Courtney as featured guest blogger for October's My Legume Love Affair. I thank her for setting aside some time from her wildly busy schedule to create a soup that is as bright and delightful to the eye as it is to the taste buds.

While Courtney still maintains her five-year old blog, she can also be reached on Twitter and Facebook

A Fusion of Taste

I’m not a big soup person. Maybe growing up and not having memorable soup experiences but bland grayish watery soups outside the home, just threw me off. There wasn’t a lot of soup made in my house, except for what my father called his Soup, which was more of red tomato based spicy Nigerian stew. It was his staple every day with FuFu, and I believe my boredom with it continued to throw me off the term soup. It wasn’t that the soup or stew was bad, but imagine watching a man eat the same thing day after day, no matter what enticing other soulful options my mother made. I knew from an early age that food shouldn’t be limiting, but adventurous and your taste buds must always be dazzled. Otherwise, what’s the point really? 

As I advance as a cook, I find myself creating satisfying tasteful soups, influenced by so many other cultures. Soup is no longer some boring salty water, made of cast offs from the kitchen, to me, but an enticing pottage of flavors that both restore and warm the soul. This month’s theme was vegetarian or vegan, forcing me to explore more out of my culinary box and create. Not having a lot of time these days to cook after work, I turned to my pantry and its reserves. To achieve the creaminess I adore in chowders and bisques, I knew there would be coconut milk as a base. I then got to thinking of my beloved Thai soups and decided red curry would add the heat. The richness and fullness would come from white cannellini beans pureed to give structure. And the finish, influenced by the Thai culture again, would be squirt of lime and cilantro finished with drops of red chili oil. A little different, but in the end it all came together into a satisfying soup to ward off the oncoming autumnal chill. 

White Bean and Red Curry Soup in Coconut Milk

15.5 oz can of white cannellini beans rinsed or fresh-cooked beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or pomace oil
1 large shallot minced
3-4 cloves garlic minced
4 -5 cups vegetable broth
3 teaspoons red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
Cilantro to garnish
Lime wedges to garnish
*Thai Golden Mountain Sauce (a soy-based vegan alternative to fish sauce) optional
Red chili oil

In a heated stock pot add oil.
Add your minced shallots and garlic and cook on medium heat until translucent and softened.
Add the rinsed beans and allow to cook for a few minutes to absorb the flavors.
Add the red curry paste and mix while cooking.
Take a ½ cup of the vegetable broth and add to the bean and red curry mix. The mixture should dissolve and blend into the broth. Remove from the heat and blend a bit at a time in the blender until puréed. Transfer back to the stock pot.
Add the remaining vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.
Add the coconut milk and simmer.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Gallery - Week #16

Hello, my talented food-photography friends! Welcome to Black and White Wednesday #16. It amazes me that I started this event in July, and the weeks have whipped by to nearly November. What amazes me even more are the consistently creative captures we all get to enjoy. I thank all of you for your very fine contributions. Happy Diwali for those who celebrate, and Best Wishes to everyone! I'll see you next week for another BWW!


An Apple a Day
Susie - Eat Little, Eat Big


Anna - Adobo Down Under


Laura - Tiramisu'




Sunday Brunch
Astrid - Paulchen's Foodblog?!


Date Farm
Pushpa - Pleasures of the Earth




Homeless Men in the Park
Barbara - Winos and Foodies


Cut Banana
Cynthia - Black and White




Kadhyaa - Kadhyaa


Simona - Bricciole




Laura - Tiramisu'




Lemon Verbena
Laura - Tiramisu'






Cinderella Pumpkin
Ruhama - Rumahama


Closed Cafè
Brii - Brii is Home



Cinzia - Cindystar


Buddha off Broadway - West 44th Street - NYC
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook


Ribbon Clown - Ribbon and Circus


Chinmayie - Love Food Eat


Princy - Spicyfoood

Alessandra - Alessandra Zecchini



Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Herb Blogging #306 - The Round-Up

The only dismaying thing about staying up late to put the finishing touches on presenting a flavorful and colorful array of creative recipes, is that I want a little bite of something before bed. My kitchen, however, is retired for the night, so I'm going to march myself down the hall to brush my teeth, but not before I thank each of you for sharing your grand menu ideas for Haalo's Weekend Herb Blogging. Thanks to Haalo, and Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this event, I've hosted WHB many times over the years. I enjoy it just as much as ever, and know that many others feel the same way. 306 weeks of non-stop deliciousness can't be wrong. Just ask Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, who's currently hosting WHB #307.


An earthy vegetable, a sexy fruit, and a salty cheese
create a brown-bag lunch that you can never tire of.


Slaw of cabbage takes on new tastes and textures
when roasted and seasoned in an Asian style.

An Italian gardener harvests dazzling herbs, spices,
and chiles to grind into a powder that crosses continents.

Asian Aromatic Mixture
Graziana - Erbe in Cucina


Just because the pesto was a party pooper doesn't
mean all is lost when the hostess clears her table.

White Bean Basil Pesto
Janet - The Taste Space


Slim slices of champignon are dotted with pools of
melted cheese prepared in an authentic Italian kitchen.

Baked in a simple pastry-crust cradle, the brightest blue
fruit bursts forth with deep purple flesh and sweet juices.

Powerful pandan aroma makes Malaysian magic for
a dessert full of cool ingredients that are served hot.

It all boils down to an Indian condiment when cantaloupe is
combined in a pot with seasonings that are sweet, sour, and hot.

Melon Chutney
Brii - Brii is Home


Italian flat green beans flat out work in a stove-top
stew rich in warm, seasonal colors with a tender bite.

Creamy crescents of alligator pears are dusted with
spices for a healthy, quick snack or prelude to a full meal.

Marinated Avocado
Anh - A Food Lover's Journey


Never heard of Cardoons? Well, you'll be animated to learn of
these unique celery-like stalks from a cook in the know.

Chicken Sausage with Cardoon Sauté
Chris - Mele Cotte


Southern hospitality is rich enough, but
sometimes you can't help but guild the lily.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spoonbread with Maple Syrup, Walnuts, and Golden Raisins


Corn is one of those funky foods. Though it definitely comes from a plant species, corn is technically a grain despite sometimes morphing into common usage as a vegetable. This all depends on how it's processed, prepared, and eaten. Hands down, most Americans consider it a vegetable because we eat it by the ton in its kernel form: either on or cut from the cob, or popped into the quintessential movie house snack. Yet we tend to take it for granted as flour starch to thicken our gravies, or as meal to bake up those marvelously crumbly muffins which brighten our breakfast tables. No Southern U.S. menu would be complete without yet another refinement of grain corn: the much-beloved, porridge-dense grits.

Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
1897 - Public Domain

Spoonbread, the moist pudding casserole, a cross between cornbread and grits, is another Southern specialty that epitomizes comfort and more than a little indulgence in butter. Although spoonbread can be enjoyed as a savory without any embellishments, I've chosen to prepare it as a sweet, emphasizing some of the special flavors and textures of autumn. No matter what recipe you use, though, remember to serve and eat it with a spoon. They don't call it spoonbread for nothing.

Spoonbread with Maple Syrup, Walnuts, and Golden Raisins - My own recipe

Yields 4 generous servings.

Measurement Conversion Calculator

Ingredients for Spoonbread

1 cup yellow or white corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups whole or 2% fat milk
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, beaten well by hand or with mixer until frothy in a small bowl

Method for Spoonbread

Preheat oven to 400 ° F

Grease a 2-quart, ovenproof casserole dish. Reserve.

In a large, bowl whisk all dry ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Add wet ingredients one by one, beating well after each addition. Pour into prepared dish, then position on middle oven rack. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until top has risen slightly and browned. This is not a soufflé-style spoonbread; do not expect it to expand substantially. Test center with a skewer. You don't want the skewer to be clean when withdrawn, but it should not be runny, either. Aim for moist and hot. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Add toppings (recipe below), and serve immediately while still hot.

Ingredients for Topping

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup golden raisins (brown raisins or dried currants can also be used)
1 heaping teaspoon very fresh ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Method for Topping

In a large skillet over medium heat, toss walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon until mixed. Stir occasionally until walnuts are lightly toasted and cinnamon becomes more fragrant. (About 4 minutes.) Remove from heat. Warm maple syrup briefly on stove top over low heat or in microwave. Drizzle evenly onto spoonbread. Immediately top with walnut, raisins, and cinnamon mixture, pressing down slightly with the back of a wooden spoon.

This recipe is for Weekend Herb Blogging #306, hosted by me. I expect to have the round-up online tomorrow evening, October 24, New York time. Thanks to all who have participated. Special thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, who continues to make these recipe compilations possible every week.

The wonderful cook and photographer, Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, has now officially taken the reigns to host WHB #307. She will be happy to welcome your recipe posts through most of next weekend. Please consult Haalo's WHB pages for full details.

See you tomorrow night!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Herb Blogging #306 Hosted Here

Turks Turban Squash
Turks Turban Squash, as edible as it is decorative.

While I am happy as always to be hosting Weekend Herb Blogging, the very long-running, popular, and easy-to-join weekly event, I am having a heck of a time choosing which vegetable, fruit, or any other plant-based ingredient to prepare my recipe post. Decisions seem to be especially difficult in the fall since there are dozens of varieties of squash and apples alone, in addition to pears, Brussels sprouts, turnips, sweet potatoes and yams, and cranberries.

But I am not worried. There is plenty of time left to prepare something sweet or savory to meet the deadline of 3:00 p.m. Utah time, tomorrow, October 24. The rules are easy to follow, and the possible choices, a fraction of which I just praised, qualify for participation. For the full details, please take a look at this page, prepared by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, who is mistress of this event.

I thank Haalo for the opportunity to host again, as well as those special, talented cooks and bakers who have already sent me their delightful recipe posts. I am very much looking forward to compiling the round-up, which will be online Monday evening, October 25, New York time. I'll see you soon!


(On a short, separate note, I am still working through visiting all the BWW posts I have received over the last two weeks. My wireless internet signal has been very weak, with frequent, frustrating crashes daily, but my efficiency will improve greatly once Scott installs a new router gizmo tomorrow. If that doesn't work, I'm commandeering *his* computer. Thank you for your patience.)