Sunday, September 27, 2009

WHEN BEING FLAKY IS GOOD- Daring Bakers Puff Pastry: Vols au Vents

This is my second challenge with The Daring Baker's, and I had a kitchen party, all by myself, playing with these Vols au Vents. I turned flakier than the dough trying to decide: how do I want to fill them, how could I add my spin to the dough flavor, do I like them crispier or softer, are they better warm or at room temperature? Ultimately I made about 8 different kinds of Vols au Vents, and then used the scraps (we really need a better word for such luscious leftovers) to make Cinnamon Twirls and Cheese Buttons.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

When I was a child, my Southern Grandma made biscuits twice a day: early in the morning before the sun came up, and early in the afternoon before the sun went down. She was a farmer and the eggs were so fresh they were still warm, the water came from a well, and the milk was
poured from bucket to bowl. Her biscuits were tall and flaky and sweet without using any sugar (I think it was the milk, but I've never been able to achieve this). Sometimes for our dinner she would lay a biscuit on a plate, pull the middle out of the biscuit, fill it with chicken stew and place the top back on. The chicken stew would ooze over the top. I'm sure she never heard of Vols au Vent, but that's what they reminded me of and it was a sweet, sweet memory. Isn't that one of the best things about cooking and food?

Many things are better when they're home-made, and Puff Pastry is at the top of that list. Not only is this buttery, million-layered dough amazingly tasty; there are unlimited ways to use it, both savory and sweet. OK, maybe it takes you a day (on and off) to create this super-rise "omni-dough", but it freezes really well and when you present it...we're talkin' out-loud ohhs and ahhs. Take pictures just in case you need proof you created it yourself.

My Sweet and Savory Favorites were:

The Basic Puff Vols au Vent with Chicken in Honey Tarragon
with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
Vols au Vent with Seckel Pear in Caramel

Whole Wheat Vols au Vent
w/ Yogurt Lemon Pastry Cream & Blueberries

Whole Wheat Vols au Vent
w/Herb Roasted Heritage Cherry Tomato

Dill Vols au Vent
w/Scrambled Egg & Salmon

Here's a visual guide to the steps, (using my Whole Wheat version) and the basic recipe after that. Below the Basic Recipe will be the tweaks I used for Fresh Dill-Puff Pastry, Whole Wheat Puff Pastry and all the fillings.

Vols Au Vent: w/ Basic Puff Pastry

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour

1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches a
nd combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just
to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a
rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), pre
ss on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work
surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top
of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to
60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:

-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for
longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these r
ounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bak
e off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet
of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for
cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue").
This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

(whole wheat flour is heavier than all-purpose so using half and half of whole wheat pastry flour helps the layers to rise as the butter steams inside)

124 g. Whole Wheat Flour
124 g. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

5 oz. ice water
8 oz. unsalted butter
(follow directions as per Basic Puff Pastry above)

1 cup plain yogurt
2 egg yolks
2 Tbls. Agave syrup
2 tsps. Flour
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt

Heat yogurt in small saucepan, on Med., just til very warm. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, Agave, Flour and salt together until pale and thick. Temper the eggs into the warm yogurt by adding a little egg to the yogurt mixture (whisking continuously), then adding all the egg to the warm yogurt. Whisk in the zest and lemon juice and heat again on Med., stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Chill to set with plastic wrap clinging to the pastry cream to avoid a covering film. Spoon pastry cream into the Whole Wheat Vols au Vents. Top with fresh blueberries (optional: toss the blueberries in a Tsp. of Agave before using them as topping.)

1 basket of Heritage Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh herbs
Olive Oil
Cut tomatoes in half and put on a parchment lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and fresh herbs. Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Use one tomato (or two depending on size of your pastry circles) as a topper for the Whole Wheat Vols au Vent. Garnish with fresh herbs. (Optional: if using a really nice Olive oil, add a drizzle to garnish)


Create a compound butter by mixing 1Tbls. of fresh, chopped dill and 1 Tbls. of fresh lemon juice into room temp. butter. Then, chill the butter in block form and continue recipe as per Basic Puff Pastry above.

3 eggs
1 Tbls. heavy cream

1 tsp. fresh chopped dill
pinch of salt

1 Salmon Fillet (cooked) I sauteed Salmon fillet in Olive oil, s&p, then cooled.
Whisk eggs with cream, salt and dill until light and frothy. Pour into heated
skillet (on Med/High) that has a drizzle of olive oil. Let eggs cook for a moment then gently turn over in lumps with a large spoon. Remove from heat while still a little runny, as the eggs will continue to cook while off the heat.
Cut Cooked Salmon into small cubes/pieces and fold into the scrambled eggs.
Spoon mixture into the Dill-Vols au Vents and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill.


Cut Pears in half.
Place in a baking dish, cut side down. Add a few Tablespoons of water to the dish and bake pears for 15-25 minutes depending on kinds of pears and size.

Chill pears or hold at room temp. while preparing the Caramel

In a saucepan, heat 3 Tbls. Butter, 1/3 cup Sugar, and 1 Tbls. Brown Sugar on Med/High heat until Caramel Brown.

Stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 tsp. lemon juice.
Stir til thickened.

Put a small amount of Caramel sauce in each Vols au Vent, then
place pear half on top in a tilt. Optionally: sprinkle with chopped nuts or drizzle with more Caramel.

1 cup of cooked chicken, cubed
2 TBLs. Whole Grain Mustard
2 TBLs. Honey
2 TBLs. Fresh Tarragon, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 celery, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/4 cup diced, cooked bacon
(optional: 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese)

In a saucepan on Med. heat, add the mustard, honey, cream and tarragon. Salt to taste while heating and stirring until thickened. Cool and hold.
Combine cubed chicken, celery, cranberries, and bacon with enough dressing to coat well. Add pecans and feta, fold together. Spoon into each Vols au Vent and drizzle more dressing to taste.

Be sure to check out the other gorgeous, delicious ways to use Puff Pastry by our fabulous other Daring Bakers.

Puff Pastry is worth the time and effort. Do the Puff!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Petite Madeleine au Nutella

It's a cake, it's a cookie, it's a Madeleine. These are little sugar sprinkled spongy hump-back Nutella-flavored bites of heaven - that's what they are in a nut-shell shape. This is my September offering in the Nutella Challenge that the always adorable Bell'Alimento began a while back. I love developing recipes more than repeating them. So, this idea of sharing something new each month that has such a sweet and addictive ingredient like Nutella is a dream come true for me. In the past, I have made Madeleines with coconut, tea, chocolate, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, etc. and they can be a wonderful afternoon treat, or a nice light dessert to follow up a heavy meal.
The savory Madeleines can also be a sneaky way to get healthy stuff
into a kid's lunch box.
The traditional Madeleine is a french tea cake and there are several theories about it's origin. One story is about a Le Cordon Bleu Chef named, Madeleine, who created the light little cake for her very rich employer in the 19th Century. Another story is about a Duke visiting a small village in the 1700's and having a delightful little sponge cake cooked by a peasant girl named, Madeleine. Evidently, he could not forget the "cake" so had his sister or cooks repeat the recipe and savored the sweet Madeleine many more times. Hmmmm. That one sounds like a movie waiting to be cast, don't you think? What-ever the origin, Madeleines are usually made with flour, butter (very often melted or even browned), eggs and sugar. If the traditional hump is desired - baking powder is also used. They are at their best when served as freshly made as possible, but can be held for a few days and on occasion I have even frozen them and re-toasted them to serve with ice cream. However; I would caution not to judge a Madeleine by the cellophane wrapped, dry, tasteless ones you may find sold at the counter of coffee shops. IMO.

Because of Nutella's consistency and luscious fat content, I adjusted my recipe a
little to incorporate the Nutella and yet keep the lightness of a Madeleine tea-cake. The Nutella flavor is subtle (incorporate more, if you like) and the orange zest really accents the "chocolate/hazelnuttiness" while also helping keep the moisture inside.
Petite Madeleines au Nutella

3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
3 Eggs
8 TBLs Sugar
4 TBLs Butter (melted, then cooled)
1 TBL. Orange zest
1//4 cup Nutella

Butter and Flour a Madeleine Pan (if using metal), not needed for a silicone or non-stick.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over gentle heat, add the nutella to the pan and whisk together.
In a bowl, sift together the Flour, Salt, and Baking Powder and hold.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar til light and frothy. Add the Orange zest, and the Flour mixture and whisk til incorporated.
Add the butter/nutella mixture and whisk all together just til mixed.

Drop spoonfuls of batter into each mold, filling 3/4 up. Chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 F., and bake for 10-12 minutes (can vary depending on your molds). Before serving, sprinkle top of Madeleines with powdered sugar.

I was tempted to split a few of these and sandwich them with more Nutella. Let me know if you're Nutella enough to try it. Enjoy! And to see the many incredible recipe ideas with Nutella, check out these amazing sites: Nutella Blog Roll.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dosas at the Slow Food Picnic - Daring Cooks meet Time For Lunch Campaign

If I ever had a Vaudeville act it would be plate spinning. I can multi-task with the best of them. So when Debyi from Healthy Vegan Kitchen chose Indian Dosas (from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal) for the Daring Cook's September Challenge - AND- Slow Food USA was launching a Time For Lunch campaign to bring healthy food into our kid's schools by throwing a country wide Eat-In on Labor Day - my brain plates started spinning. I followed the recipes as given for the Daring Cook's Challenge, but created the lacy Indian crepes into mini crepes that could feed a crowd. Then, I brought them proudly to my neighborhood Slow Food Picnic. It was a large platter of fragrant, colorful, vegan delectables that were literally scooped up (with repeat visits) even by the youngest children. I was as proud as if I'd brought my grandma's buttermilk fried chicken to the preacher's invitation-only cover-dish dinner. I've never been vegan, and can't imagine giving up cheese, milk or fish forever, but - hey- that's why I signed up for the Daring Kitchen: to be challenged and stretched into areas that maybe I'd never pick on my own.

After making the recipes as offered, I also did a little more research on my own (half the fun is learning other cultures, too.) Okay, so the Dosa recipe we used was A way of making them and actually closer to Maida Dosas (fine milled wheat flour used on occasion in Indian Cuisine) than the older versions of Dosas that use rice and urad dal (lentils) that are soaked overnight, ground and fermented for hours before being made into a batter. However; these Dosas were a great introduction and by using Spelt Flour (a very hearty and healthy grain) they became something that I would gladly make again even on a limited time schedule. I also discovered they freeze well, which makes it even more convenient for feeding a busy family that still wants to eat healthy.
The Slow Food Eat-In on Labor Day had over 300 picnics happening all across America and was successful in gathering over 20,000 signatures on a petition to raise awareness in the USA to the need for better nutrition in our school lunches. I'm including a few pics from our small neighborhood picnic because the food was just so darn delicious looking and tasting.
It was inspiring to see families setting an example by eating fresh foods with their kids, talking about the farming, etc... And, to see small kids grabbing skewers of tiny tomatoes and fruits and eating them like/instead of candy - well, that was just the coolest summer day yet. Slow Food USA supplied flyers, and plenty of bio-degradable plates and utensils.
And NOW to the recipes. There are three parts to the whole Dosa experience that we followed.
1) The Pancakes/the Dosas (like Indian crepes)
2) The Curry Garbanzo Filling (which can be made and frozen for later, and can also be used as a topping for rice, so making the whole recipe is just simply smart.
3) The Coconut Curry sauce (which can ALSO be frozen for later and
used as a topping on veggies, rice or a different dish of your own concoction; I found this very mild flavored)

Dosa Pancakes
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
cooking spray, if needed

1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth. This can get gummy, go at it little at a time.
2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.
** In my case, I used a small pan and I did add a little more almond milk to make just a bit thinner batter.

Curried Garbanzo Filling

5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

Coconut Curry Sauce

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced

1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4.Let it simmer for half an hour.
Dosa Toppings
1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
¼ cucumber, sliced

Was it worth it? Yes! Was it delicious? Yes! Would I make it again? Yes!

During the month of September, Slow Food USA is opening their membership to anyone for any amount they can pay. I hope you'll look into right here.

Daring Kitchens are open to all interested in a cooking/baking challenge. I hope to read about your experience next. AND you can read about the other blogs right here.

**Other wonderful links to fabulous Indian Cooking:


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PAPER CHEF#44 - (#1 for me)

This is my first Paper Chef challenge. I stumbled upon this challenge while enjoying Deeba's Blog who coincidentally is the judge for this challenge. Evidently the Paper Chef challenge is one of the oldest running food challenges and it seems truly fun and wide open for imagination. For the 44th event, we were given the ingredients of: Ricotta, Dark Chocolate, Ginger and a theme of Fall to be worked in seasonally. We can use other ingredients (ala Iron Chef rules), but the ones chosen are an absolute.
I created - Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes w/ Chocolate & Candied Ginger
The stack used in my picture didn't make it back into the kitchen from my little photo shoot before my husband ate them. The rest I saved as they make great "toast yourself" breakfast goodies for my teen-age son.
The recipe is fairly classic and easy, hope you try them:

PUMPKIN/RICOTTA PANCAKES w/Chocolate, Candied Ginger Syrup

1 cup AP Flour
1 TBL. Baking powder
2 TBL. cane sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Ricotta
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup Pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, ricotta, pumpkin, milk and zest. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until mixed well. Heat butter in a skillet on Med. and add 1/3 cup of pancake batter for each pancake. Flip each when the edges bubble, heat til cooked through and hold on a warm plate until ready to

Chocolate/Candied Ginger syrup

4 oz. Dark chocolate pieces
6 oz. Cream, soy milk, or coconut milk
1 TBL. Chopped candied ginger
In a saucepan, heat the cream, soy milk or coconut milk til just simmer.
Pour the heated liquid over the chocolate pieces and candied ginger in a bowl. Stir to melt and add more cream to your liking. Keep warm for serving.Garnish with more chopped Candied Ginger.

These are also delish with whipped cream or maple syrup. Also, try whipping a TBL. of chilled pumpkin puree into your whipped cream for color and extra pumpkin zing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Apple Bowl Curry Soup: Let's Lunch

Today's "Let's Lunch" (the international virtual lunch date) entree is a chilled soup. Since it was coinciding with Back-To-School time and a Welcome Luncheon for teachers, I decided to go for apples. And looking for every chance to make the clean-up extra easy - why not make the bowl edible too? This is my Apple Bowl Curry Soup; ABC Soup for short.
The Let's Lunch group is an open invitation idea started by several creative Food Bloggers on Twitter, who were literally across the world from each other. It has become a delicious way to connect on lunch ideas, swap recipes and inspire each other. Now there are a whole group of us, and YOU are always welcome to join in the fun. You can find out about the next "Let's Lunch" by searching #letslunch on twitter, following any of us on twitter (@cheryltan88, @cowgirlchef, @showfoodchef @geokaren, @PinchMySalt, @thenaptimechef ,@blogwelldone,@istelleinad,@barbraaustin, @cosmiccowgirlt, ), or leave a comment here.

Now...soup's on!

This is a very simple soup that has just a hint of curry and mint to give it interest and range of flavor. It does require a hardy crisp apple for the best bite and chilling the apple before cutting makes it easier to scoop out and maintain it's shape.

To prepare the apples, have fresh lemon juice handy to rub over and inside the apples so the flesh doesn't turn brown as it oxidizes.
Slice the wide top end from each apple, about 1/4 way down. Using a
paring knife, carefully score around the inside of the apple, leaving about a 1/4 inch rim. Score an X across the apple to help break the core. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the flesh of the apple, being careful to leave a good bottom inside and not cut through the apple skin. Be sure to keep all the scooped out apple for the soup, discarding the seeds and core. Rub the cut rim and the insides of the apple bowl with fresh lemon juice to help keep the fresh color. Turn the prepared apples over on a parchment covered plate and chill in the refrigerator while preparing the soup.

Apple Curry Mint Soup
(serves 6)

4-6 cups of peeled & cored apple parts
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 tsp. curry powder
juice of 1 lemon

2-3 sprigs of fresh mint + more for garnish
2 1/4 cups vegetable stock

salt/pepper to taste
In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium and saute onion, apple, curry, salt and pepper until the apple is soft. Add the stock and mint leaves - simmer low for 40 minutes. Cool, then add lemon juice and puree for a thick, rich soup. Chill well. Pour to serve. Garnish with creme fraiche and mint sprigs.

**For a thinner soup, just add more stock to the simmer.

** For more of a dessert soup, leave out the curry and add a tsp. of brown sugar instead.

Enjoy, but don't leave this apple on the teacher's desk - it might spill.

Get inspired by other chilled soups, being served at these blogs for today's Let's Lunch:
A Tiger In The Kitchen
The Naptime Chef
Pinch My Salt
Cowgirl Chef
Serve It Forth
Blog Well Done