25 March 2011

Squash-Leek Soup with Coconut Milk and How to Survive Spring

Some people call the season that starts on March 20th Spring, but I prefer to call it "be prepared for anything." We are now in the transition space, the exciting first warm days space, the back to cold snaps space, the first few flowers space and the everybody gets a cold space.

How is it that we blog all winter long (and thank goodness we do) about how to survive the cold and the dreariness, but nobody blogs about how to survive the coming of spring?

I would suggest that the way to do so it is two-fold:

1. Go outside and enjoy the flowers - or early bird songs, or first snow melts, or the visibly longer days. Get some sun on your face. Take some pictures. Sit in the park and watch the kids play (can you believe people pay me to do that? I love it.). Look for the little changes every day.


2. Have some good soup on hand. The nights are still cold. April showers are on their way, and if you come down with a cold (as I did this week), you'll be happy to have some homemade soup waiting to be heated up and make you feel better.

Happy spring everybody!!

1 Tbsp ghee (or butter)
1 onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 small piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 pinch cayenne
1 winter squash
chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk

Melt the ghee in a large pot on low heat and add the onions and leeks. Leave to caramelize slowly. In the meantime, peel the squash and chop into cubes. Turn up the stove to medium heat and add the garlic and spices. Cook 1 or 2 minutes, stirring. Add the squash and enough broth to just cover it. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until the squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Add the rest of the coconut milk and puree the soup (in batches in a mixer, or with an immersion blender). Serve hot.

21 March 2011

Lyon and Le Sathonay

Anne, me and a parapluie overlooking Lyon

I know, I know, I wrote about my 3-year blogoversary and then promptly disappeared for over a month. Not cool. The thing is, I've been focusing my creative talents pretty intensely on my acting career right now, a necessary and fun development. I thought about closing my blog all together, but I realized that when I have time for it, I still enjoy exchanging with my blogging friends and having a place for my recipes and thoughts about food (of which I still have many). So, I decided I just wouldn't worry about how often I posted, and I hope you all will forgive me for my intermittent presence!

The Saône

This weekend, D. and I went on a mini-getaway to Lyon to visit our friend Anne and explore the second largest city in France. Lyon is unique in that, not one, but two major rivers run through it: the Saône and the Rhone, and it is surrounded by two hills: "the hill that works," traditionally were the blue-collar workers lived and "the hill that prays," where traditionally the priests lived and where there are still quite a few churches.

And the Rhone (never get on a river's bad side by playing favorites)

Before we left, everyone told us that there's lots of good food in Lyon and I have to say that in general we found this to be true, especially on Saturday night when Anne brought us to one of her favorite little restaurants called Le Sathonay.

The traditional restaurants in Lyon are called "bouchon lyonnais," of which this was one, and true to typical lyonnais cuisine there were plenty on animal guts on the menu...er, I mean...[insert classier term that means the same thing here]. Of course if you like that sort of thing, I'm sure this would be a great place for it because everything we tried there was delicious. Also the staff was nice and attentive without being overbearing - just the right kind of service.

I started with the cervellé de canut and ham, which sounds like the brain of an unidentified animal, but is actually a kind of creamy cheese with herbs and garlic. It was absolutely delicious but you have to get everyone at the table to eat some (don't worry, I did) because you'll have major garlic breath afterward!

Then I had the special of the day, which was pork filet mignon cooked with spiced and potatos au gratin. The meat was very tender and moist and the spice-blend delicious. I wasn't hungry for dessert, but I had to try the creme brulée with rum anyway, and I'm very glad I did. I forgot until about half-way through to take a picture. We topped the whole thing off with some very decent lyonnais red wine and some digestifs at the end before heading back up the "hill that prays" for a quite night's sleep.

One of the strangest things about the trip was that it made me realize that somewhere in the last four years, I have become a true Parisian. I kept thinking "this is nice, but it's not Paris" and when we got back off the train at the Gare de Lyon (in Paris - I know it's confusing), I immediately thought "ah, home." Paris feels like home. It smells like home. Even the annoying people in the metro and big city noises that float in through the windows, all make me think "home." I feel like I belong to this city and this city belongs to me. I never thought that would happen. But there you go.

Typical Lyon blues

(thanks to D. for some of these photos!)