Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup

 

Curried Apple-Pumpkin Soup

We found this recipe Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup, in the October coconut sugar2012 issue of Prevention. This soup is a gluten-free and vegan food.

Pumpkin is full of cancer fighting properties, which includes beta-carotene (read more here: Pumpkins Ability to Fight Cancer). For better absorption of this phytonutrient, pair it with a healthy fat, which we did using coconut oil.

Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are natural occurring chemicals that help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. In turn when you eat the plant food and its phytonutrient, you get that protection as well.

Okay, enough of the science, and on to the featured recipe. Oh, by the way, you will note we used coconut sugar in the recipe.

Coconut sugar is a perfect 1:1 replacement for refined sugar. It has naturally occurring nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and 8 vitamins and amino acids.

Here’s a FACT: The coconut palm tree produces up to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar and uses only 20% of the resources.

Coconut sugar will not spike your blood sugar, making it a great food for diabetics.  Coconut sugar is a vegan food and great for gluten-free cooking and baking.

ingredients for Curried Apple Pumpkin SoupOn to the featured recipe, and here is what you will need:

1 large Granny Smith apple

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp. red curry powder

2 tbsp. ginger, fresh, grated or chopped

1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 cups fresh water

2 cups pureed pumpkin

Himalayan salt and coconut sugar to taste

Preparing Instructions

Melt oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Next add chopped apple and cook until golden in color. Next add onion, curry powder, ginger, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring until soften and when you are able to smell the onion and garlic.

Stir in the water and pumpkin (add more water if too thick). Simmer stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Season the soup with Himalayan salt and coconut sugar, if desired. Serves 4 soup bowls.

We found the soup has a warmer flavor of ginger when aloud to set for a day or two. Enjoy!!

 

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Techniques for Cooking in the Kitchen

Techniques for Cooking in the KitchenMany that prepare food are orthodox cooks, or rather what we mean is they stick to the letter of the recipe, they follow it word for word, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes following a recipe without knowing why it calls for a certain ingredient including the amount, would leave out the possibilities of being able to enter change ingredients, either to improve on the recipe, or make it more to our liking.

eggs contain percentage of moistureOne such example would be the number of eggs, and the size. How so? A recipe that is for a cake as an example, needs a certain amount of moister, and egg yolks make up about 34 percent of the liquid weight of the egg, as well as the albumen or the egg white makes up about 66 percent of the liquid weight of the egg. The moister content depends on their size.

Therefore if the recipe calls for 3 small eggs, and you add large eggs, you will be adding more moisture to the recipe, offsetting the liquid content. If you did use large eggs, then you would have to add less milk or any other ingredient that would be considered a liquid.

Many of us that are regular chefs in our own kitchen have techniques for preparing recipes that we use regularly. If you are reading this article and are not a frequent cook in the kitchen, maybe you can share these tips with the person in your life who is the cook.

salted or unsalted butterSalted Butter vs. Unsalted Butter

Butter is available both with and without salt. The salt is added for extra flavor and to help preserve it so it has a longer shelf life. The problem is that sometimes the salt in butter can be more than a recipe needs.

Choosing unsalted butter gives you more control over how much salt your dish contains. If you only have salted butter, the best thing to do is omit approximately ¼ teaspoon of salt per ½ cup (one stick) of butter used in the recipe.

Kitchen Scissors

 

Use Kitchen Scissors

Right now you probably only use your kitchen scissors for opening packaging and bags of milk. But next time you’re trimming fat from a roast, opening pitas or cutting chicken into strips, consider using your scissors!

Chefs use them all the time for cutting meats and other food items. It’s probably best to have pair that is designated as food scissors only. Be sure you clean them very well after each use because they do have crevices where bacteria can hide.

Stop Foods from Sticking to the Pan

To keep food from sticking to the bottom of your pans, and this applies if your using butter or oil in the pan, avoid putting cold foods into a hot pan.

Reduce Grease Splatters

Few things are messier than splattering grease. And if it gets on your skin it can be painful. Reduce grease splatters by sprinkling hot grease with salt prior to adding the food to be fried. If this is not completely effective, you can buy grease splatter shields at kitchen stores.

Peel Garlic Easily

Peeling garlic can be frustrating unless you know this little tip that the pros use. Lay a clove flat on a hard surface and then pressing down hard on it with the flat side of a large knife. Once you’ve pressed hard enough you’ll hear a “pop” that tells you the peel has separated. Even with this trick your fingers will undoubtedly smell like garlic. Get rid of that odor by washing them well with salt.

Keep Your Recipes Organized

Nothing is more frustrating when you’re ready to start cooking then not being able to find your recipe. Keep things organized by finding a system for filing your recipes that you can keep close at hand in the kitchen.

Smart Phone and dropboxWhat we do at “Splendid Recipes and More” is use our –Smart Phone– and -Drop Box-.

We have a free account with Drop Box and load all of our recipes to the Box.

When we shopping for ingredients for a certain recipe, we just open the Box with our Smart Phone (internet access needed, you can also use your Tablet, Laptop, and PC) and look up the recipe.

The same is done in the kitchen to follow the instructions or procedures of the recipe, either for preheating the oven or how many eggs to use etc. Here is the link to Drop Box: https://www.dropbox.com/ .

Stop Cheesecake from Cracking

Cheesecakes often crack on the top because they lose moisture while they cook. If you’re adding a topping it doesn’t matter, but if you’re serving the cake without anything on top it’s nice to have it looking perfect. Avoid cracking by putting a small dish of water on the rack beside your cake while it is cooking. This will keep it moist and crack-free!

These are just some techniques we use in our kitchen. What tips or techniques do you use? Let us know in the comments section. Thank You.

 

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Mexican Desserts to Satisfy Any Sweet Tooth

Mexican Dessert Menu

 

If you hear “Mexican food,” your thoughts may instantly turn to enchiladas, burritos, guacamole, Pico de Gallo and fajitas. But what comes after those savory, spicy delights?

Something sweet, of course!

The best way to wrap up a delicious Mexican meal is with a classic Mexican dessert. Sweet and decadent, the three tasty desserts listed below never go out of style. What’s even better is they are all easy to make once you know how!

Let’s take a look at these desserts and get busy planning your next adventure in Mexican cooking.

Flan

Flan

Flan

This ancient recipe can be traced all the way back to Rome where chickens were first known to be used just for their eggs. This custard dish was originally a savory meal, but was so versatile that it soon became flavored with other natural ingredients, like honey.

We can see an evolution of flan through the centuries and across borders. Because flan is such a simple dish to make, it became popular with many cultures, each adding their own local special touches. We can see the Spanish influence in the Mexican recipes which are traditionally sweetened with a glaze of caramelized sugar.

When Columbus journeyed to the Americas, he brought with him his love of flan and his recipes. Flan became a classic dessert in Mexican homes. Chickens – and their eggs – were plentiful, making this dessert affordable for all people of any economic status.

This wonderfully elegant, yet simple dessert remains virtually unchanged in Mexican cooking where it is basic custard, molded, then turned over onto a plate. It may have a caramel coating or caramelized sugar coating, and is served either room temperature or cold.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches

Tres Leches

Cake is good, but cake soaked in something delicious is better. Like flan, you can trace this type of cake way back to ancient times. There are soaked cakes on every continent with so many variations that it boggles the mind.

For instance, rum or sherry soaked cakes are very British, while fruit juice soaked cakes are a familiar dessert in tropical regions. Cakes soaked in wine are common in Italy and France. It seems that each version has reasons why the ingredients are what they are. The Mexican version features a sweet spongy cake soaked in three kinds of milk.

This dessert, the Tres Leches Cake, translates to “3 milks” cake. The origin of that term and the recipe itself is still questionable. Some believe the recipe originated with the introduction of condensed and evaporated milk. The three milks included in most recipes for Tres Leches Cake are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.

No matter what the origin of the recipe is, the combination of these three rich milks makes one delightful dessert.

You can serve your Tres Leches Cake with a layer of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon, topped with fruit, or plain. It’s a nice treat any way you choose.

Empanadas

When you think of an empanada, you could be thinking of many types of foods. As a matter of fact, the word simply means a pastry. That leaves a lot to the imagination, but the basic design is the same for any recipe.

The pastry itself is simple, much like a pie pastry. You form a circle or a square, spoon in the filling, fold, seal and bake or fry. The filling is what makes the dish. In this case, we are making a Mexican dessert so we are going to stick to a sweet filling.

In Mexico, a dessert empanada could contain many fruits and other fillings, but what comes to mind, of course, is bananas along with another Mexican favorite, chocolate. Nuts would add a lot of flavor and texture to this dessert. As with many authentic Mexican recipes, keeping the empanada pastry plain and simple is traditional. If you want to get a little more creative, try using puff pastry instead.

If you are not a fan of making homemade pastry, go ahead and use pre-made pie crusts, frozen empanada discs or other pastry dough. As long as it’s flaky, hot, and sweet, your Mexican empanada dessert will be perfect.

Try your hand at these three desserts the next time you want to treat your family to something deliciously sweet after dinner. These classic Mexican desserts will become family favorites in no time!

 

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Chocó Flan

Chocolate Flan

This cake is two desserts in one. How so? Will as you see in the image there is a chocolate cake on the bottom and a Spanish Custard or Flan on the top. But it did not start out that way. This dessert is also known by the name…Impossible Cake.

The reason it goes by that name is because you make the chocolate cake first and pour it into the mold, and then you make the flan or custard part and pour it over the chocolate cake. No, the egg mixture does not go to the bottom.

But….while it is baking, the custard part does pass to the bottom while the chocolate mixture floats to the top. Therefore, the name Impossible Cake. But how does that happen, one might ask? My explanation is, that oil and water do not mix. Oil floats to the top while water stays at the bottom.

The cake has oil or fat in it, were as the custard part has water. How is that, you ask? No water was added to the egg mixture. Eggs are 75% moisture or water.

The header image to this article shows the Flan or custard a bit dry. But it wasn’t. I made that cake in Mexico using a propane burning stove, not natural gas. My experience shows that the two gases bake your desserts differently. It was very delicious.

To the left side of the image you should see a bottle that is brown and with the name Cajeta Envinada. It is like sweeten condensed milk with caramel sauce mixed in. The Cajeta was made with goats milk, wow so yummy!!

Here is what you will need:

Mold:

12-cup capacity Bundt pan
butter, room temperature, to coat pan

½ cup cajeta or caramel sauce; divided
Cake:
10 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
Flan:
1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a tea kettle full of water for a water bath. Coat Bundt pan with butter, then coat the bottom with ¼ cup cajeta and set aside.

 

Flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Cake: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and ½ of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat ending with the flour mixture. Making sure all cake ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan; spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and put into a roasting pan. Add hot water to the roasting pan, half ways up the outside of Bunt pan.

Place the roasting pan into the oven on center rack; bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath. Remove foil and cool about 30 minutes. Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together and flip over. Plate and serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

Plated Choco Flan with caramel sauceIf your Chocolate Flan should be a bit dry, not to worry. Just pour some extra Cajeta on each plated dessert served. You and your guests will enjoy this, unless you keep it all to yourself!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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