Tuesday, July 6, 2010
on little cat feet.
It sits looking over
harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
I'd like to preface this post by saying that, despite my choice of title, I'm more than aware that it's summer; I also know that, in some parts of the country, it's 100 degrees and positively sweltering, making everybody an unpleasant mix of lethargic and miserable. So, what gives in the Bay Area?
Sure, I understand that this is not the kind of place that really gets hot and stays hot, although, truth be told, I've seen exceptions to this rule in the four years I've now been living here. I also know that most people would say that the no-humidity factor plays a large role in the Bay's charm and appeal. Personally, however, I don't buy it. And I realize it's ironic for me to be saying this because I just gratefully escaped the inferno that is Manhattan in the summer, but that doesn't mean that I was hoping to return to an icebox!!! It doesn't matter what I want though as an icebox it is.
The wind that nipped my romper-covered legs as I took a walk yesterday with a close friend (amazing how many new places can spring up during a month's absence) was only a preview of the horror that was in store for us today. Yet the amazing thing is that, no matter how much of an aberration the fog-covered bay is at this time of year, it's still beautiful to look at....and the best thing about it is that, as I'm now house-sitting for a professor who lives in the hills, I can watch the fog come and (hopefully) go at my leisure. All with my new constant companion extraordinaire, the dear old dog Ocia. :)
Besides the fact that Ocia and I clearly don't agree on how many treats she should get in one day and she tends to bark and loudly to express her disapproval, I think she thinks I'm crazy. I'll admit that I also think I'm kind of crazy. Why? Because, due to the arctic blast outside that kept me indoors and unmotivated to do much of anything (plus, in a new place, a girl's got to get her bearings...), I decided, after seeing a beautiful squash in a bowl on the counter, to make Acorn Squash Soup. In July. You've got to love the irony: last week in NYC I was contemplating a bowl of gazpacho before going to a yoga class where I melted; this week it's like I'm jumping into fall, roasting winter squash and looking for a good excuse to turn on the oven. Welcome to summer in California, folks! Didn't Mark Twain say it best?
And who am I kidding? Does it really need to be fall/winter for a creamy squash soup with a dash of curry powder to be appropriate? No. This is half the fun of cooking: using the ingredients that are on hand and being experimental. It's funny because I'm the kind of cook that usually likes to have some kind of a recipe in front of me, but this one is largely my own. I'm happy to say it was tasty, warm and soothing. In my quest to perfect the recipe, it even forced me to go outside to grab some fresh parsley from the "spice rack" growing on the porch. Between these spices, my discovery of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook on the bookshelves in the dining room and the soup itself, my life is basically complete.
"Foggy Weather" Acorn Squash Soup
Yields either four modest portions or two large ones
1 Acorn squash
Half of a red onion, finely chopped
1 white pearl onion, finely chopped
I can (14 oz.) of chicken stock
1/2 cup whole milk + 1/2 Tbsp. extra (to be added at the end)
A sprinkling of sea salt
3 generous shake of red pepper
1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 Tablespoon ground ginger
Parsley to garnish
-Preheat oven to 400.
-Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender, about 40 minutes.
-In the meantime, place the chopped onion in a pot with olive oil and cook until tender (3-5 minutes).
-Place the onion in a food processor and, once the squash has cooled, add it as well
-Pulse until smooth (this is very much a matter of taste, but I prefer a creamier soup)
-Add chicken stock and pulse again to mix
-Move soup mixture back to the original pot and bring to a simmer
-Add salt, curry powder, ground ginger, red pepper and milk, then stir
-Let the soup simmer for about 10-15 minutes; add the final 1/2 Tbsp. of milk (I'll admit that it's a largely decorative gesture)
-Garnish, serve and enjoy!