Monday, February 13, 2012

Spiced Butternut & Carrot Stew with Herbed Quail Egg Custard Cups

I must have thought up the following post over a dozen times, some of which I had written and some that I had thought up when there was time to spare. I thought of mentioning Mother Nature’s sense of humor, my travels, my hectic schedule, and other things that I feel may interest you (well, to amuse you, anyway). But for the moment, because I’ve missed blogging, I’m just going to say this: I’m glad I have a scale.

Artful Dodger makes a mean Americano!

When I visited the boyfriend in Harrisonburg (he’s at JMU for his job), I sadly left my scale behind. For one excruciating week I tried *shudder* baking by volume, and all my recipes that I had been successful in simply turned out floppish and unappealing. It occurs to me that when I bought my scale, I used it for cooking, yes. On a darker side, I also used it for portion control, so that I’d know just how much was going into my mouth and what. Recently, however, I realized that it helped me keep track of my eating in a positive way. I wasn’t eating nearly enough for my fitness regimen, and last week was quite all over the place. By Friday I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had a decision to make; either I drive two and a half hours to get my scale from him or buy a new one. After weighing the pros and the cons, I figured it would be easier and more economical (I mean, have you seen gas prices lately?) to buy a new one. It’s shiny and sensitive and has that new scale smell, but I still like my old one better. We have a history, it and I. Though I happily say I broke the new one in with not one, but two recipes, and it has become what looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The stew-soup hybrid (stewp, perhaps?) itself was something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. It’s not exactly what I expected, but it was still delicious. I plan on tinkering the recipe and trying again, because I think it needed more carrot and ginger, maybe an extra helping of coconut milk. But when you blend it, don’t put it all in at once! You’ll end up with a boiling hot mess all over the blender and counter-top. Believe me, I know this from experience.

The herbed quail custard cups were merely an experiment to celebrate the awesomeness of having a scale again. I can’t tell you enough how amazing recipes are with the accuracy of measuring by weight, and then assuring those wanting to try it out themselves that it will work for them also. I do think they were in the oven a little longer than they had to be, but it was something new and different to have for dinner. 

Spiced Butternut and Carrot Stew

567 g Butternut squash, peeled and cut
191 g/ 4 medium Carrots, peeled and cut
16 g Fresh ginger, peeled and cut
4 Garlic cloves, whole
240 ml Water
400 ml Coconut milk
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Cracked pepper
1/2 tsp. Cloves
1 Bay leaf

Put all of the ingredients in a pressure cooker or large pot on medium heat until the vegetables have softened.
Pour the mixture into a blender in batches until completely pureed, and then back into the pot to reheat.
Serve hot and garnish with homemade bacon pieces* and a dollop of sour cream.

Serves 4.

Herbed Quail Egg Custard Cups

183 g/ 18 Quail eggs
366 ml Water
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp. Powdered rosemary
Dash of Paprika
Homemade bacon pieces*, optional

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Place 6 small oven-proof bowls or ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill the pan so that the water comes three-fourths the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Remove the ramekins and carefully place the pan of water in the oven.
Combine the ingredients for the custard (except the paprika and bacon pieces) and blend until the mixture is uniform and evenly fill the ramekins.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the custards are almost set.
Remove them to a rack to cool, and either refrigerate to serve chilled later or serve warm.
Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and bacon pieces on top.

Makes 6 small custards. Serves 3 – 6.

Bacon pieces
*: For bacon I can eat, I simply buy thinly sliced pork belly at bake it in an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, covered also, at 400ºF until it takes on a bacon-y crispness. That’s usually when I season it with sea salt and cracked pepper.

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