Food Memories – Butternut Pear Curry Bisque

So the other week when I introduced you to Debra from SmithBites, I didn’t know at the time that she was going to become the very first Food Memory contributor with multiple entries in the project. Here’s how it happened. I badgered her until she agreed to let me use The Professor’s Black Beans and Rice in the hopes that I would move on to harassing someone else. And I did. And then I made an abrupt U turn and headed back to her inbox.

Because when I read her post about Butternut Pear Curry Bisque, it was as though the Universe had taken all the good things about Food Memories and tied them up with a pretty bow. Greedy like I am, I had to have it. Ever gracious, Debra said yes.

I would like to thank her for not changing her email address or running away screaming every time she sees my name in her inbox.  I’d also like to thank her for capturing the very essence of why I believe Food Memories are important and sharing a big bowl of it with us.

Butternut Pear Curry Bisque & Food Memories

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I’m here to tell you that a recipe or a meal is also worth a thousand words.  For some, that dish might be a special birthday cake, cinnamon rolls or bread; to others it might be a meatloaf, pot roast or onions and garlic sauteing in a skillet.  A particular scene in Ratatouille captures this point so well – the hardened, stoic, food critic Anton Ego, takes a bite of Remy’s simple Ratatouille and the audience is immediately transported back to Ego’s childhood home where the boy Anton is served ratatouille while being comforted by his mother.

And for me, this bisque is one of those dishes.  I know it’s officially fall when The Professor breaks out the dutch oven, grabs a butternut squash from our garden and picks an armful of pears from our tree.  The first time he made this bisque, I was in Washington staying with my parents – my dad had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of months prior and I was helping them pack for a move.  I remember The Professor calling very early in the morning to tell me he had found a delicious recipe for a bisque that had pears and butternut squash in it . . . I also remember thinking that the recipe didn’t sound very appealing.  Notice I said I thought – I didn’t say I voiced my opinion – which is shocking I know, but he was cooking for me again, so don’t rock the boat, right?  (Plus, he was making his case for vegetarianism.) But I also remember coming home to this fabulous fall bisque – and The Professor has made it every single year since 2000.

In writing this post, we discovered something new about our relationship – he’s all about the tried and true familiar recipes while I’m all about flipping through my mountain of food magazines and/or cookbooks discovering unique and exciting ones.  He’s always the one to make Black Beans and Rice, grilled cheese sammies with tomato soup, scrambled eggs, grilled pizza, the Thanksgiving smoked turkey breast and this butternut pear curry bisque; he follows the recipe to. a. tee; always measuring exact amounts, never eyeballing an ingredient – meticulous and precise.  I, on the other hand, am racing through the directions, capturing the essence of a recipe and then I’m off doing my own ‘loose’ interpretation; and I have only a handful of recipes I’ve made more than once.

We’re all connected through food in one way or another; and while it would appear that The Professor and I would clash in the kitchen, we actually compliment one another.  There are times when I’m in charge and he’s the sous chef; then he’s in charge and I’m the support.  That is the dance.  That is the magic.  And that is how all of us create our own individual memories and stories.

What favorite food takes you back to a particular memory?

BUTTERNUT PEAR CURRY BISQUE
Cooking Light Magazine, October 2000

BAH Note: I made a few modifications to the recipe that Debra was kind enough to supply.  Since this is Debra’s memory, I’m showing the recipe she used.  But lean in and I’ll tell you what I did different.  First, I used all of pulp I got from a 3 pound squash.  I didn’t measure out exactly how many cups this was but I was happy with the results.  Next, you’ll want to remember to roast your squash cut side down.  I didn’t and had to double the oven time for my butternut.  Also, I changed up the amount of liquids.  I used a 12 ounce can of pear nectar, one can of vegetable broth, and 2 cups water.  Lastly, I didn’t have another pear to use for garnish so I improvised by crisping up some prosciutto and sprinkled it on the top like confetti.

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chopped peeled Bartlett pear (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup pear nectar
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 small Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Peel squash; mash pulp. Set aside 3 1/2 cups pulp, reserving remaining squash for another use.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped pear and onion; sauté 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add squash pulp, water, and next 5 ingredients (water through pepper). Bring to a boil; partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Place one-third of squash mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour puréed mixture into a large bowl; repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Return squash mixture to pan; stir in half-and-half. Cook over low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with pear slices.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Topsey Turvey

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 8/4/08 at Exit 51

Topsey Turvey

Topsey Turvey.

Prickly.

Disjointed.

Take your pick.  They all seem to apply right now.  Maybe it’s because it’s August and it’s hot.  Maybe it’s because we’re starting down a new path to hopefully better life choices.  Maybe cosmic forces are conspiring against me. Who knows?  But things that should be easy, they just aren’t.  And the things that are never easy, they are harder than ever.

So I remind myself to add a generous scoop of patience to anything and everything.  Truth be told, I would prefer it to be a spoonful of sugar disguised as my lunchtime can of coke.

Butter Chicken

I like to think that what we call a dish is a pretty reliable indication of what the main components are.  For instance, if I say lemonade, you can pretty easily discern that a main ingredient is lemons.  If I say eggplant parmesan, you would most likely guess it has at least some eggplant in it.  And if I say bbq chicken, you would expect chicken bathed in some type of barbeque sauce.

So would someone kindly tell me what role butter plays in butter chicken?  Since the answer seems to be “nearly nothing”, why in the world is it called butter chicken?  When I hear butter chicken, I’m thinking the chicken is going to be dressed in some type of rich, buttery sauce.  I am most certainly not expecting my chicken to be swimming in a spiced tomato yogurt sauce.

Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy butter chicken.  Or that I wouldn’t make butter chicken again.  I just think that when the powers that be were handing out recipe names, someone was distracted when butter chicken’s turn came up.  I really shouldn’t fault the recipe that it has a bad name.  You shouldn’t either.  Forget I even brought the matter up.

Butter Chicken

BAH Note:  I was so thrown by the fact that there is  so little butter in butter chicken that I failed to pay attention to the fact that the chicken needs to sit in the marinade overnight.  So not only was I disappointed by a lack of butter, but I had to wait an extra day to find out whether this was a deal breaker.

Adapted from Anna Johnston

  • 6 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, tumeric, garam masala, chili, cumin, and ginger in a bowl.  Stir to fully combine.  Add the chicken and stir well to completely coat the chicken.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the butter and oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf and cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.  Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken, marinade, paprika, diced tomato, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Serve over rice and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

Apple Cranberry Rhubarb Relish

The English language is a funny thing.  There are so many words that are nearly interchangeable that sometimes I find myself at a loss as to which one is correct to use.  For instance, take the topping on that waffle in the picture.  What would you call it?

I have been calling it:

rel·ish noun \ˈre-lish\

something adding a zestful flavor; especially : a condiment (as of pickles or green tomatoes) eaten with other food to add flavor

chut·ney noun \ˈchət-nē\

a thick sauce of Indian origin that contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is used as a condiment

jam noun

a food made by boiling fruit and sugar to a thick consistency

While I’m not quite sure what I ended up with, I started out to make a chutney.

Since I can confirm that topping my waffle with it did result in Merriam Webster’s alternate definition of relish – enjoyment of or delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desire – I am making the executive decision that what I made was a relish.  When you, or Merriam Webster, make it, y’all can call it what you like.

Apple Cranberry Rhubarb Relish

Inspired by Bluebonnets & Brownies Apple Rhubarb Chutney from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

BAH Note:  The chutney recipe I used as my guide is meant to be canned.  I don’t preserve so I store my relish in the refrigerator.  I wasn’t quite expecting this recipe to make the quantity it did.  If I had to do it all over again, I would cut the recipe in half.  Also, if you are making a full batch, you need to work in a dutch oven, preferably a 6 quart one.  I used my 12 inch frying pan and was really pushing my luck.  Remember, boiling sugary liquid is HOT.

BAH Tip: If you are using frozen rhubarb, it is much easier to dice before it has thawed.

  • 8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (from approximately 8 medium size apples)
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 bag whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine rhubarb, cranberries, lemon juice and zest, sugar, water and 4 cups of apples in a dutch oven.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil.  Lower heat to maintain a gentle boil, stirring frequently for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the remaining 4 cups of apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg and return to a gentle boil for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture has cooked down to a thick consistency and the diced apple pieces are tender.

Carefully transfer the relish into individual glass containers and store in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Remain Calm

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/31/08 at Exit 51.

Remain Calm

On my way into work today, I noticed something odd. That I noticed anything at 8am is remarkable. But I digress. What I saw was about a dozen large ants scurrying about the side of the building.

Now, I don’t mean meandering along the ground. No, I mean zigzagging their way up and down the exterior. Vertically. Which made me wonder, do the ants ever realize that they’ve left the ground? Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Remain Calm”

Desserts 4 Today Just Peachy Ice Cream

Dear Abby Dodge,

Thank you for giving some less than pretty, late in the season peaches a chance to shine.

xoxox,

Me

What happens when what’s left of your last flat of peaches from Trader Joe’s don’t age well? You can either take the loss or get creative.  With the help of Abby Dodge, and her recipe for Just Peachy Ice Cream in Desserts 4 Today, I got creative.

Do yourself a favor, ask my friend Googley about Abby Dodge and how you can get your hands on Desserts 4 Today.  Because it’s pretty crazy what you can do with just 4 ingredients.  Go.  Ask. Googley.

Get Out The Vote…For BAH

While the blues and reds battle it out across party lines, I invite you to participate in a different election.  Bon Appetit Hon has been nominated as one of Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs in the Baltimore Sun’s Mobbies 2010 and voting has begun.

Anyone can vote so please take a moment to click over here to cast your  ballot for favorite blog each day between November 2nd and November 12th. Bon Appetit Hon is listed under the Foodie category. Campaign disclosure: you will need to register on the site but I have never gotten an email or spam from Baltimore Sun.  It’s quick and painless.

Here are my campaign promises:

  • I promise that I will not robocall your house asking for your vote.
  • I promise that I will not run negative campaign ads about my competitors.
  • I promise that I will not misuse gift cards solicited on behalf of the needy.
  • I will bring you new stories and recipes each week.
  • I will continue my Food Memories series featuring your stories and recipes.

Let your voice be heard!

I am Wendi from Bon Appetit Hon and I approve this message.