The Northeast has seen an incredibly hot summer this year. For us, we’ve had ample opportunity to grill out and smoke meats on a trusty new smoker (posts upcoming!). But for all the hot eats we’ve cooked up, cool and refreshing side items are a must. And this chilled carrot soup recipe really fits the bill. While carrot soup doesn’t sound incredible interesting, I decided to put in some unique ingredients to spruce it up. Cardamom, ginger, and cumin really complimented the natural sweetness of the carrots in the soup, and a few additions (tapioca, basil oil, and fresh cream) really dressed this up for a dinner-party opening course. We think it makes for a great start to a nice meal!
Who doesn’t love sweet corn? In addition to the traditional corn on the cob, corn can be incorporated into a lot of dishes, even desserts. Here, we made corn pudding – kind of a cross between cornbread and bread pudding. We call this a baked corn pudding because the texture is fluffy and cake-like on the one hand, but it is also gooey and thick like pudding. This unique texture is what makes this item (you could even eat it as a side dish for your next Thanksgiving!) so good and will keep you asking for seconds. Did I mention that the recipe is quite simple and there’s no way you can screw it up?
One of the reasons that I love Indian cuisine is that there is such a multitude of vegetables that are consumed. I love meat (and I love Indian meat dishes), but vegetables are a great accompaniment. Unfortunately, with American food and grocery stores, diversity in vegetables is somewhat hard to come by. And for this, I cherish trips home to my mom’s house. The last time I visited, my mom, Tricia, and I ventured out to one of the local Indian markets in central Massachusetts. In looking for vegetables for dinner, we came across a banana flower. This is a rare treat that is usually not found even in Indian stores around here. The banana flower is literally the flower that precedes the fruit of a banana tree. You can peel it and eat the heart and the bracts (the pods that will develop into banana fruits), which are absolutely delicious. The catch with a banana flower is that it is a bit of hassle to get the bracts and heart out. But Tricia and I made a team effort out of it and the end product was absolutely worth it!
An electric green crepe? How’s that for fun with food! The outrageous hue here is derived from pandan essence. Pandan essence comes from the leaves of the screwpine, which resembles but is not related to a palm tree. In Southeast Asian cusine (think Malaysian, Thai, Philipino), pandan is used similarly to vanilla in western food, imparting fragrance to desserts, drinks, and various dishes. The taste is difficult for me to describe, but I have to say I love it! In this dish, I added a few drop of pandan essence (found at a local Asin store – it is impossible to find actual pandan leaves here in Ithaca) to a basic crepe batter. I then made a sweet black sesame filling for the crepes. This is an incredibly easy recipe that produces an exotic looking and delicious dish in a short time and makes for a nice snack or breakfast item.