Parade.com: Saffron Butternut Squash Soup

Saffron Butternut Soup

Finland. Summer 2003. Lunch outside of a mild summer day. The server presented steamed salmon in a saffron creamy broth. It was simple dish, but the memory of its taste is grand. Recently, when I made Saffron Butternut Squash soup as an idea to include in a Thanksgiving menu, the first spoonful didn’t have me thinking of smoked turkey. Instead, forgotten memories of Finland returned.

It was the summer of learning about organic food, becoming environmentally-conscious and riding Copenhagen’s public bikes. The flavorful produce was fresh, bruised and unwaxed. Large chickens looked liked American cornish hens. Fingerling potatoes enclosed in a thin papery skin roasted into a buttery softness. I would return to occasionally trying to recreate the Saffron Creamy broth. It’s a simple sauce, in which I’m surprised to not have successfully created it. Perhaps, the simpleness of the sauce is underestimated. Ten years later into today, I would unwittingly recreate the taste with different ingredients, but the memories come courtesy of saffron. It’s distinct flavor beautifully infuses every dish.  Continue reading Parade.com: Saffron Butternut Squash Soup

Parade Magazine: Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.

Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.

In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).

There’s memories surrounded by tacos. Since, Dad was ‘The Cook’ in our house, we were excited when Mom decided to make one of her few dishes, which were tacos. For the record, even though I strive to eat healthy most of the time, I always prefer her deep-fried taco shells.  Continue reading Parade Magazine: Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Butternut Squash Pie with Nairn’s Oatcake Cracker Crust

Butternut Squash Pie with Nairn's Oatcake Cracker Crust
There are plenty of reasons to be thankful. For starters, I live in a non-flood zone in Brooklyn, and our lights only flickered three times during Hurricane Sandy. I woke up the next day with fresh running water and electricity. Other blocks, people lost their cars to fallen trees. In neighborhoods at least 20 minutes away, floods and 100 mph winds destroyed houses and businesses. Although, the hurricane was two weeks ago, the stories continue to increase about the elderly living in high-rise apartment buildings on floors 13, 15 or 18 without running water, heat or electricity. I overhead a conversation about a family’s agony of a finding new home—when everyone in the same, next or other community are looking for a new home to live, too. And, those same families who lost their homes are looking for new schools for their kids. Let’s not forget the holidays are upon us. So, here I am in one of the world’s richest cities, and families are still walking around with just the shirt on their back. Brooklyn is indeed a city of the have and the have nots…. Continue reading Butternut Squash Pie with Nairn’s Oatcake Cracker Crust

Butternut Squash and Kale with Red Quinoa with Ginger Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash and Kale with Red Quinoa with Ginger Vinaigrette

Is there a whole grain recipe in your holiday menu? Impress guests with this vegetarian and gluten-free salad of red quinoa tossed with dice butternut squash, lightly sauté dinosaur kale and ginger vinaigrette. Currently in season in the Northeast region of the United States, butternut squash taste similar and can be used interchangeably with pumpkin. Use one large butternut squash diced in vegetable soups, pureed in breads and roasted for salads. It’s mildly sweet flavor compliments red quinoa’s earthy and nutty taste. Adding a bit of savory flavor is thinly sliced sauté kale. The vinaigrette adds tiny bites of ginger throughout the salad. Include this beautiful and healthy salad in your traditional holiday meal. Continue reading Butternut Squash and Kale with Red Quinoa with Ginger Vinaigrette