Souper Bowl — A New Way to Party Hearty

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Fun and easy are criteria for parties we host.

One idea for the perfect Super Bowl party fare is a thick and creamy soup that clings to the golden crust of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Skip pupu platters, salsa and chips.

Make a vat of soup, buy loaves of your favorite bread and a variety pack of sliced cheese. Your party will go unrivaled for killer grinds.

Traditionally when I think sandwich “dunking,” my go-to is cream of tomato. Instead, this  chayote soup easily nudges tomato from her long-standing reign as queen. The flavor is mild, like zucchini. I’ve heard it compared to potato, but disagree, I don’t detect starchiness in chayote.

Chayote grows prolifically on Kauai. It’s a vigorous vine producing dozens upon dozens of lovely little pear-shaped squash.slideshow-13.2 (1 of 1)01-3

Before I grew it, I only used it in stir-fry. But when faced with a counter covered in these pretty green gems I stretched to make it the stand-in for apples (in cakes), cabbage (in kimchee) and for pureeing into soup. I also barbecue it into thin crisps, but that is for another post.

Preparation tips:

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  • Choose chayote that are the size of your palm so you can eat with skin and seed. Once they are the size of your hand you’ll have to peel and deseed.
  • There is a sticky (annoying) sap when you cut them. Here’s how to deal with it: slice chayote in half and rub the two cut sides together. This swirling action eliminates the gluiness. I don’t know why. My food guru, Glen Kojima, taught me this trick. You remember Glen from his market in Kapaa.slideshow-13.2 (1 of 3)01
  • Garlic. I use Penzey dry minced because I gave up on finding fresh garlic on Kauai that doesn’t sprout within days of purchase.
  • Bread. Alvarado Bakery has a wonderful sprouted rye. You can find it at Hoku Whole Foods.
  • Cheese. Gruyere is wonderful on the rye, as is a nice creamy cheddar. We’re lazy sometimes and settle for a pre-sliced combo from Costco.
  • Nutritional facts: Check out this story about chayote related to blood sugar levels.

Creamy Chayote Soup

(Serves 15)

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3 pounds chayote, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Penzey dry minced garlic or 4 cloves fresh

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup whipping cream or milk (optional)

1 poblano chili or a small can of Ortega

3 cups vegetable stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil. Sauté onion until translucent. Add chayote, garlic, chili, salt and pepper. Sauté until chayote is tender. Add stock and cook until chayote are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Puree, then add cream or milk. Taste for flavor and adjust seasoning. Make a day ahead and reheat.

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A Sweet Digression: Persimmon Muffins

persimmon handWe were surprised to discover locally grown persimmon being sold at a health food store in Kapaa, but they were so anemic and sad I couldn’t bare to buy them.

This bright pulp is from the half dozen we found at a local chain store. They were silken sugar encased in a cheerful pixie lantern and served our purposes for baking the only traditional Christmas fare we claim.

In a vegetarian household our holiday meals vary from year to year depending on where we eat. In fact, we have virtually no holiday traditions: no children, spiritual, but no religion; and just plain tired of the consumer angle. The season is somewhat lost on us.

slideshow-13.2 (1 of 1)01On the Solstace though, we threw a barbecue pizza party that was a blast. Everyone brought a topping. See what I mean about tradition? And we sent all our guests home with a few muffins. They are gooey and sticky and wonderful with morning coffee or Earl Grey tea.

 

 

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Persimmon Muffins

persimmon coffee

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons soda

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup panko

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups persimmon puree, about 5 large persimmon

2 cups chopped nuts

2 cups chopped medjool dates

Combine butter, milk and vanilla. Sift flour, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt.

Fold flour mixture and bread crumbs into milk mixture. Stir in persimmon puree, dates and nuts.

Bake in buttered muffin tin for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Happy Winter Solstace and Christmas

Comments can be made at Pam’s FB page.

2014 Kauai, HI

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For 10 to 15 years, every Christmas list I gave my mom began with the same thing: Breyer horse. A dozen of my original 50 horse collection made the cut for shipping to Kauai. This one volunteered to be a love letter to my husband on Valentine’s Day this year.

Looking back on 2014, I couldn’t think of a story worth reciting for your entertainment — and that’s when I realized there is much to be grateful for in the things that didn’t happen:

No one was diagnosed with cancer.

No brain tumors.

No weddings.

No funerals.

Same house.

Same three dogs.

Same four cats.

Same chicken.

Same cars.

Same husband!

No vet bills.

No doctor bills.

No foreclosures or surprise letters from creditors.

No colds.

No flus.

No ingrown toenails.

We feel pretty damn lucky.

And thank you friend, for we are rich beyond our dreams because of your generous and good humored presence, that, and the blessing of good health.

Love Pam

and Wes (Who approved of this message)

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Turkey Tip, Cookie Trick and A Few Disclosures

TOTT measuring spoons

To comment visit Pam’s FB page.

Since my last post:

  •  I turned 52
  • Discovered movies and Youtube videos I love
  • Written a handful of haiku
  • Learned to skate

I’ve cooked cakes and stews and cookies and soups; roasted a dry-brined turkey and made an apple pie from scratch. The crust was perfectly flakey.

And yet, I’ve posted nothing here. I think of you and talk to you daily though. I swear.

I tell you tricks I’ve learned, like: did you know two teaspoons of baking powder mixed with two teaspoons kosher salt turn the skin of a turkey crisp and golden?

Or that one chocolate  dough can be morphed into three different styles of cookie?

How ’bout a discovery of some good old boys who post hillbilly kool BBQ videos: The BBQ Pit Boys make fire-roasted sweet potatoes in this show.

Or, primo movie recommendation: In A World. Go watch the trailer. It’s wacky and fun and heart breaking, and did I say fun?

Here are two things that may surprise you:

I love the show “Dude, You’re Screwed.” It quells my hunger for travel by watching these Special Operations military guys who have to apply survival skills in order to escape a challenging environment wherever they are dropped on the planet. Think National Geographic meets Survivor. It’s a great adventure and has a lot of heart. And humor.

Or that it’s not too late to learn how to skate? Stay tuned for  progress on the in-line skates my husband gave me for my birthday. And yes, I can already skate! In fact I am addicted to the speed one can achieve on these strange contraptions. Here’s a wonderful Youtube of a teenage bloke giving an astute and well produced tutorial in his UK flat.

Or that I love haiku? Here’s a wonderful book edited by poet Robert Haas with versions of Basho, Buson and Issa.

For my birthday I decided I’d write 52 haiku to acknowledge one more year.

Here’s one attempt:

Kapahi Sky Traffic

Dove, Shama and finch                                                                                                criss-cross: Cloud migrations                                                                                 march west with blue wakes.

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