I Am Cold, Therefore I Cook - קר לי, ולכן אני מבשלת
I am cold, therefore I cook. And when I see wine or spirits that are hard to find, I buy a bottle.
It is cold here. Not cold compared to New York or to my long ago hometown, Saskatoon, but it is windy and often rainy and the houses are built of stone or concrete and offer little protection in the winter.
We have beautiful Crittal windows and doors. They let the outside in, literally. Sometimes it is colder in the house than outside, especially if the sun is shining.
It is Shabbat and even though there are few clouds in the sky and the temperature is 17 degrees Celsius (a veritable summers day in the Prairies) I am not feeling the urge to go outside. I want to hunker down in the bed and read. But I know that starting the day reading, means the whole day will be spent reading and I will by 7 pm, not have ventured beyond the coffee pot.
Putting on clothing is always a good first step and a hard one because in Israel you can go to the store in your pajamas and no one will notice. In fact, you can wear pajamas all the time and no one will notice (future blog post). And clothing usually involves socks and socks help keep me warm. But to guarantee that I didn't retreat to the bed and the book, I decided to bake a pie. Once I started with the pie, I realized we had finished the soup the night before. So while the pie crust was under construction and the oven was coming up to heat, I threw in a kabocha squash to roast.
Suddenly I wasn't so cold.
I put the pie in the oven when the squash was baked, and went to rummage in the vegetable bin in search of my "past their sell-by date" produce. I always have something that is no longer suitable for raw consumption and must be used right away. This is both intentional and not. I like to have extra - just in case, but I also always have good intentions to use everything when it is fresh. It is probably a good thing that I like soup and stew.
I get lots of questions about the ingredients I use. What are they? Where can I get them? What is a good substitute? And I get some complaints that my ingredients are too exotic. But the thing is, they are not exotic to me. I don't go out of my way to buy strange foods. If I see something that looks interesting I pick it up and figure out later what to do with it. And when it comes to spirits and wine, I grab anything I can when I see it. All trips to Europe result in heavy suitcases.
The recipe below calls for Poire Williams, which is an Eau de Vie distilled from pears. I can hear the echo of "Who has Poire Williams in the house? I am not going to buy that for a tablespoon in a recipe". I have it because I like the taste and I often add it to fruit salad or to tart fillings. The alcohol burns off and it adds depth and flavor a dish. So if it is too outre, skip it.
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
BT's Kabocha Squash and Pear Soup
2 tablespoons ghee (vegetable oil or coconut oil)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon harissa
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large leek
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 medium kabocha squash
3 ripe pears
1 small potato
2 tablespoons Poire Williams
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt, ground pepper
Roast kabocha squash in oven at 220 degrees C. for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool. Remove skin and seeds and retain the meat.
Place heavy gauge pot on low heat. Add mustard seeds. Toast seeds until they begin to pop. Approximately 1 minute.
Add ghee to toasted mustard seeds. Turn down heat to low.
Add harissa, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir.
Rough chop leek. Add to pot. Return the heat to medium.
Sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the leek begin to loose their color.
Add garlic and ginger.
Add 1/2 bunch of cilantro and add to leek mixture.
Peel pears and slice into leek mixture.
Add a pinch of kosher salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add Poire Williams and sugar.
Add 6 cups filtered water.
Bring to boil.
Peel potato. Rough chop
Add squash and potato to mix.
Cook on low-medium heat for 20 minutes or until the potato is thoroughly tender.
Remove from heat. Blend with a wand blender. If soup is too thick add another cup of water.
Chop remainder of cilantro.
Squeeze lemon juice into soup. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with chopped cilantro.