Rebar’s Carrot Lemongrass Soup with Coriander, Ginger and Coconut

Could this be one of my last recipe posts for a while? With less than a month till leaving the country, I am not going to have many more opportunities to cook for myself.  Soon it will be meals prepared by restaurants, apart from the bit of fruit and other things we buy from markets while we travel.  One of the best parts of travelling is the food.  One of the worst is not being able to cook for yourself.  A blessing for people who hate cooking but it sometimes gets weary for people who love making their own food the way they like it.  Still, it is a privileged position I am in to be able to travel and eat foods from other countries that are prepared for me.  So, I always appreciate that.

This soup is from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook-a cookbook based on the restaurant by the same name, in Victoria, Canada. This book is a staple in the Vancouver kitchen for most people I know, especially vegetarians and I always recommend the restaurant to anyone who is visiting Vancouver Island.  I’m a sucker for anything with coconut milk in it and the boon of carrots in the garden here made this a no-brainer choice for a late summer soup.  Shown in the photo is also the Rebar foccaccia recipe which perhaps I will share a different day! Also, as an aside, I will mention that we are purchasing a new camera for our travels and are leaning towards the Canon Rebel T3! Stay tuned for better photos! After seeing one of my embarrasing images on Bon Appetit’s website, next to other bloggers who obviously have better cameras than my little point and shoot, I thought it is really time to do something about this! Our little camera served us well and was years ahead of it’s time when we bought it in Japan about 5 years ago, but it’s time to move on! 

Recipe:

  • 8 c. Asian or Vegetable Stock (the book contains recipes for both these stocks but I just used a pre-made, bought stock)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. veg. oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt (I left this out as bought stock has a lot of salt in it)
  • 3 lemongrass stalks
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Thai red curry paste (or in my case about 2 tsp.!)
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds, ground
  • 2 lbs carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 398 ml can coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. minced lemon zest
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • chopped cilantro leaves
  • plain yoghurt (optional)
Begin by heating the stock while you prepare the soup ingredients.  Add the lime leaves and keep warm.  Prepare lemongrass by cutting the stalk 4″ from the root end.  Discard the top and peel the outer layer from the bottom piece.  Using a large, broad-bladed knife, smash the lemongrass.  To do this safely, lay the blade flat on the stalk, sharp end facing away from you, and bang the blade with your fist.  The lemongrass should lightly crush under the impact.  Mince and set aside.  Prepare the remaining ingredients.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook the onions until translucent.  Add minced garlic, ginger, lemongrass, curry paste and coriander; saute and stir for 5 minutes.  Stir in the chipped carrots and remaining 2 tsp salt.  Saute for several minutes, then pour in the hot stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are soft (about 15 minutes).
Remove the lime leaves and puree the soup with a hard blender or food processor until smooth.  Whisk in coconut milk and sambal oelek and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Just before serving, add the lemon zest, juice and season to taste with salt or more sambal.  Garnish each bowl with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and a spoonful of yoghurt, if you like.
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Bon Appetit’s South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita

This recipe was taken from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit and I modified it slightly as noted below, mostly due to what ingredients I had, and I’ve made enough Raita to know how I like it.  These were so good, kept well the next day and held together really well, which surprised me.

Recipe for Raita:

The Bon Appetit recipe tells you to roast a whole head of garlic in the oven which, don’t get me wrong, tastes amazing.  But it was a hot day and I didn’t feel like running the oven for 45 minutes for one head of garlic, so I didn’t bother.  As you will see at the end of the recipe, the cloves are for topping the cakes with at the end.  If you want to follow the recipe, they ask you to just squeeze the baked cloves of garlic out, intact, after roasting them at 450F, wrapped in foil for 45 minutes.  The rest of the recipe as I made it is complete below, although I left mint out of this recipe as I didn’t have it on hand.

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 c. plain low-fat yoghurt
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped peeled seeded cucumber (I always grate my cucumber when I make raita)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. minced seeded jalapeno 
  • 1/2 tsp or more fresh lemon juice
After you figure out what you wanna do with the garlic, stir cumin in a small dry skillet over medium  heat until deep brown, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool.  Finely grind in a spice mill.  Mix yoghurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice in a medium bowl. (I used at least 2 tbsp. lemon juice as I like it really lemony).  Stir in cumin.  Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Lentil Cakes
  • 1/2 c. mixed dry legumes (such as lentils and whole mung beans). I used yellow and green lentils.
  • 1/4 c. basmati rice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I used a thai birds eye chili)
  • 1 c. leaves from pea tendrils, arugula or spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 c. peas, chopped ( I used edamame because I like them more than peas)
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Rinse legumes, place in a medium bowl with rice.  Add water to cover by 3″.  Let legumes and rice soak at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  
Drain legumes and rice, transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 Tbsp. water if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl, mix in tendrils and next 6 ingredients.  
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Spoon 4 scant 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet, flattening with the back of a measuring cup into 1/4 thick cakes.  Reduce heat to medium, saute until golden brown and cooked through, adding 1 more tbsp. of oil when cakes are flipped, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Repeat with remaining oil and batter. Divide raita among plates, top with roasted garlic cloves.  Place 2 cakes on each plate.  

Bon Appetit’s Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

Despite what I previously thought, I am able to do a bit of cooking and baking here and there.  Father’s Day was a perfect opportunity and I made a full Japanese dinner for my father in law at his request.  Miso soup, okinomiyaki, gyoza, japanese curry.  We ate a lot.  But no father’s day dinner is complete without dessert.  And it just so happens the young student neighbours here don’t seem to realize they have a massive pile of rhubarb going to waste in their backyard.  So I’ve been helping myself! Here is my stab at Bon Appetit’s Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata from the May 2011 issue.  Enjoy!

Crust

  • 1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. chilled, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk
Filling
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 4 c. 1/2″-thick slices rhubarb
  • 1-6oz. container fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg, beated
  • raw sugar
  • sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Crust-Combine both flours, sugar, and salt in a processor; blend for 5 seconds.  Add butter; pulse until butter is reduced to pea size pieces.  Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl to blend; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form.  Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours. 
Filling: Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tbsp. water in a small bowl; set aside.  Combine rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and juices are released, about 4 minutes.  Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil (rhubarb will not be tender and slices will still be intact).  Transfer to a bowl.  Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.  
Preheat oven to 400F.  Roll out dough on a floured parchment paper to 12″ round; brush with beated egg.  Mount filling in centre of crust; gently spread out, leaving 1 1/2″ border.  Gently fold edges of dough over filling, pleating as needed.  Brush border with egg; sprinkle with raw sugar.  Slide parchment with crostata onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Let crostata cool on baking sheet on a rack.  Transfer crostata to a platter, cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
—This was soo good and the perfect summer dessert.  The photo would have been better had I taken it when it was still warm, but it was the last leftover cooled down piece when I finally thought about posting this recipe.  My crust didn’t get nearly as brown as the photo shown in the magazine, but this was a relatively simple, beautiful dessert and one I’ll be using again.  I somehow ended up with extra filling though and had to whip up an impromptu mini crumble to bake along side the crostata.  Even better!