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National Pumpkin Day: Let’s Celebrate with Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

October 26th is National Pumpkin Day so let’s live it up with this spicy and satisfying soup!

Aside from being just plain delicious, the aroma of roasting squash and then chiles will make your kitchen smell like Fall with a capital F. You can certainly use canned pumpkin here, but there’s something to be said for diy-ing it—the slightly caramelized edges, the satisfaction of scooping out the velvety goodness from the golden pumpkin shells—it’s all part of this soup’s charm. That said, we all have jobs and responsibilities and using canned pumpkin is certainly a valid life choice. I am not judging. Promise.

But after all of the roasting and/or chopping, this soup comes together fairly quickly. Ideal garnishes include fried tortilla strips and chopped cilantro (or maybe even roasted pumpkin seeds or shredded cabbage) and if you want to substitute the pumpkin, an acorn or a butternut squash will do the trick nicely while still keeping the autumn theme intact.

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup
About 4 main course . . . → Read More: National Pumpkin Day: Let’s Celebrate with Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup

Fried (or not) Avocado Tacos with Creamy Poblano Ranch

Avocado Tacos with Poblano-Buttermilk Dressing

If you haven’t already tried coating avocado with breadcrumbs and then frying, what exactly have you spent your life doing?

It’s okay. You can start now. Using this preparation, the outside gets delightfully crunchy and inside, the avocado is all ripe and creamy. But, if you’d rather not fry, you can achieve pretty much the same results by baking the coated avocado wedges in the oven.

This recipe produces wonderful summer tacos–little avocado wedges on a tasty refried beans pillow. Garnished with shredded cabbage and cheese, as well as salsa, you really can’t go wrong here. Plus, if you prepare the Poblano Ranch Dressing too, you’ll make it better!

I’ve made these tacos both ways; frying in peanut oil and baking in the oven. I found that the frying leads to a bit more of a uniform and golden crispiness, but rotating the avocado wedges in the oven did a fairly good job of even browning as well.

Since avocados can be bland, the key to maximum tastiness is to season the flour well and also to hit the finished avocado wedges with a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Avocado Tacos with Poblano-Buttermilk Dressing

. . . → Read More: Fried (or not) Avocado Tacos with Creamy Poblano Ranch

Chana Dal Chowder with Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic

Chana Dal Chowder with turmeric, ginger, and garlic

Feeling a little meh? Forget the chicken noodle soup, this is what you want when you’re craving a big bowl of comfort!

This is a meal for chilly days or sleepy evenings when you’re not quite sure if you’re catching a cold or if you just need to recharge. It’s thick and hearty and satisfying in a way you’d expect a chowder to be but with only a small amount of cream.

Chana dal beans* are a type of split chickpea (a Dezi chickpea to be precise) that sort of resembles a yellow split pea in appearance. They are very high in fiber and typically used in traditional Indian cooking. And once you stock your kitchen with a bag or two of these small and sunny yellow legumes, you will find that you will want to use them in all kinds of things—soups, stews, even hummus.

That said, you can also use the same amount of plain ol’ brown lentils in this chowder instead. And if you want to swap the broth for diet or convenience, go ahead and use a vegetable or a chicken one.

. . . → Read More: Chana Dal Chowder with Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic

FFwD: Green-as-Spring Pork Stew

Green as Spring Pork Stew

Originally, this French Fridays with Dorie recipe called for veal. I haven’t really eaten veal since becoming an un-vegetarian (uh, 1994 1995?) and I didn’t really see the need to use it here. Not when there’s…PORK! So, yeah, I subbed the veal for pork shoulder. And I also made mine more broth-y by using a little bit less meat and adding some wine to de-glaze the pan.

There are a number of steps to this and it’s kind of a big production, so it’s probably best for a weekend project. It’s very light and spring-ish for a stew. And as another surprise, jwa really liked this, which was surprising, since he’s not really a fan of the stew.

So, the next somewhat chilly weekend day before summer really kicks in, you may want to consider this one!

Here’s a link to all the French Friday with Dorie posts so you can see how nice this also works with the veal!

Green as Spring Pork Stew

Green as Spring Pork Stew

Green as Spring Pork Stew

Green as Spring Pork Stew

. . . → Read More: FFwD: Green-as-Spring Pork Stew

Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash

Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash

For Christmas, I received the Toro Bravo cookbook and although there are many pages ear-marked, this is the first recipe I’ve made from it. And I have to say, although I deviated a bit from the recipe (and took some shortcuts), this was delicious!

I did add some yellow bell pepper and (full disclosure) I used a bag of cubed Trader Joe’s butternut squash (because I had some and I needed to use it). I can only imagine how awesome this would be with freshly cubed squash. If you use a big squash and you have more than 12 oz cubed, just use extra cream and harissa, or straight-up double the rest of the ingredients.

This is great on the side of some grilled fish or chicken. Or just add a huge salad and make it a vegetarian meal. Also, definitely get the book for the original recipe — it will be even better! (Spoiler: there’s butter involved).

* Ingredient note: The original recipe calls for Rose Petal Harissa, which you can find at PastaWorks if you live in Portland. I used the Harissa paste in the yellow tube. That worked great, although, it is a bit . . . → Read More: Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash