an almost-winter hike (chautauqua) + an almost-winter soup (mushroom barley)

I suspect that anyone listening to the news these days has felt a deep sorrow that seems hard to shake. We aren't the parents of the slain children, or the siblings who have lost so much, or even the community members who have to pull together and pick up the pieces. We are simply people who feel a connection with the grieving community of Newtown because we are human. 
Ever since the tragedy, I've been hugging my boys a little bit tighter, reading to them a little bit longer and telling them how much I love them a bit more often (if that is even possible).
A few months ago my friend suffered several personal losses in a row. When I asked her how she was doing she wrote: "I'm up in the mountains; the mountains are good for the soul."
Monday felt like the right time to go to the mountains. It was warmer than it should have been and the sun was shining brightly. So we drove to Boulder and hiked a small trail near Chautauqua. It was beautiful. 
We got some fresh air, got lost in our own thoughts and spent good, quality time with each other...the whole family. 
When we got off the trail, I turned to my boys and asked them, "Do you know how much I love you?" 
"So much," Otis replied with his arms fully extended.
"Yah," said Theo.
I ask them that each and every day...
This hike will probably be one of the last ones we do this calendar year. Temperatures are taking a plunge and a big snow storm is supposed to move in tonight.
I'm well into soup season and this one, from Mark Bittman, is really good. It will be a heavy-hitter in my soup rotation this winter. Enjoy it with your close friends and family.

Mushroom-Barley Soup (Adapted Slightly from Mark Bittman, Recipe of the Day)
The soup becomes a light meal with bread or, even better, croutons -- just brown slices of good bread on both sides in as much olive oil as you need. 
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound shiitake or button mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1. Soak porcini in 3 cups very hot water. Put olive oil in a medium saucepan and turn heat to high. Add shiitakes and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add barley, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown; sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Remove the porcini from their soaking liquid, and reserve liquid. Sort through porcini and discard any hard bits.
  • 2. Add porcini to pot and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add bay leaf, mushroom soaking water and 3 cups additional water (or stock, if you prefer). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer; cook until barley is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. {I had to cook the barley a bit longer-- and I added a few tablespoons of water every few minutes until I thought the consistency was right.} Add soy sauce, and taste. Add salt if necessary and plenty of pepper. Serve hot.

Pines to Peaks (and a Bon Appetit's Cold Soba Salad with Summer Vegetables)

Our Colorado-Relocation-Project has gotten a reprieve, a lifeline if you will. We decided to give the job hunt another 6 months instead of packing up at the end of August. If jobs line up, we get to stay. Hip, hip, hooray! If it doesn't come together in that time, we have to move back to New York City (what's the opposite of hip, hip, hooray?) I've joked that if we go back east you'll find me at Bellevue hooked up to a Lithium drip, but I am only partially kidding. So keep those fingers crossed and here's to hoping that it works out for us.
Now as much as I love it here in Colorado, raising two small boys while my husband commutes back and forth from Brooklyn can be a bit challenging. Usually I get a teeny-tiny bit blue when we pile into the car and drive him back to the airport at the end of a visit. I know that we will see him in a few weeks, but I can't help feeling a little bummed. He does too. As do the boys. I suppose this is how military families feel, but at least my husband isn't going off to battle. Okay, he's battling "the system" and fighting on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised, but I think we can all agree that it's not exactly the same thing. Anyway, I find that taking a nice hike the day after he leaves helps me clear my mind and the boys love it too. 

This time around I found myself wanting to go to a pine forest, which had something to do with the recent article I read at the gym titled Colorado's Forests Are Bugging Out with Bettles. Usually I prefer not to read anything too heady while on the elliptical, and I have a tendency to opt for trashy, pointless, gossip magazines. But they weren't available at the gym last week, so I picked up a copy of the most recent Westword and got reading...
The article answered a lot of questions I had regarding the beetle problem, which is responsible for destroying vast swaths of forest pine from the mountain states all the way up into Canada. The piece had a lot of good background information and presented some solutions that may curb the damage. I won't flesh out any of the points that were made, as I am not a forester, an ecologist or evolutionary biologist-- but definitely read it if you want to learn more. 
I wanted to check out what was going on with the pines and I found a hike that looked great. The "Pines to Peaks" trailhead was only 10 minutes from Boulder, which is only about 35 minutes away from our house. I decided to make a day of this pine forest pilgrimage, so we did some cooking before we left. I made a Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Summer Vegetables (delicious) and I brought along some honeydew carpaccio for dessert. It was perfect. 
We saw female deers and a few fawns too. And then Otis pointed to a sign and yelled, "Lion!" I nearly lost it. We were, in fact, in mountain lion territory. And although a sighting is extremely rare, there were instructions on what to do and what not to do if you meet one of these predators. 
Now I can fight off a street pigeon, but a mountain lion? I don't think so. I picked up some rocks and put them in Otis's hiking bucket...just in case.

There are lots of healthy pines, but these trees have succumbed to a beetle infestation. Pine trees secrete a resin (yellow goop) that can help defend against the beetles. But there hasn't been a lot of rain and that affects the trees and their resin quality. Well-watered pines can defend against thousands of invaders. An ill-watered tree can not. The beetles are also being observed at higher (and higher) elevations. 
That said, the vistas on the trail were magnificent and there were tons of wildflowers too...

About 10 minutes away from where we did our hiking are these beautiful homes in Boulder's Mapleton Historic District

 Then we went down to the pedestrian mall and walked around. Before I knew it, I found myself in front of Tee & Cakes on 14th Street (how did that happen?). After a day of hiking (and carrying two kids part of the way back down the mountain) I felt like a special treat was in order. I got the s'mores and they were so good... 
 ...and this is what I brought along for our picnic. (Photographed at home, not on the hike!) 

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Summer Vegetables (Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit, July 2012)
Yield 4-6 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
8 cups matchstick-size pieces mixed summer vegetables (I probably had about 6 cups and I used carrots, cucumbers and radishes)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 ounces buckwheat soba (Japanese-style noodles) or vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup (loosely packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (you can use white too, but I prefer black)
Whisk first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add vegetables; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain. Run noodles under cold water to cool them; drain well and add to bowl with vegetables. Add cilantro and scallions; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sesame seeds over and serve.

Market Bounty: Beet Carpaccio and Ginger-Lime Carrots

It's pretty much a given that I will spend at least one day on the weekend at a farmers market. The produce really can't be beat and there's also really tasty treats to be eaten. 
Last weekend my husband was in town (he travels back and forth between NYC and Denver until we figure out our next move, but one which will hopefully keep us near the Rocky Mountains). We decided to go to the big and always-crowded farmers market at Cherry Creek. It's a lot easier to keep track of the boys when there are 4 hands on deck.
There was tons of seasonal produce. I snagged a huge bunch of carrots and three kinds of beets (golden, red and chioggia) and while I didn't have a scale with me, I would approximate that I was shlepping about 15 pounds of produce around with me the rest of the day. Good bounty, indeed!
I also ate some fantastic pupusas. I had green chili & cheese, but there were tons of options including pinto and black bean & corn. They reminded me a lot of the ones I used to eat at the Brooklyn Flea...but without the hour-plus wait. Mine was topped with curtido (a fermented slaw) and a tomato-based sauced, plus a big dollop of avocado. Perfect.
We met up with some friends and hung around the market for about an hour. Then we ventured over to the 47th annual Greek Festival. More food, some dancing and lots of "Opa!" But that's a story for another post....
* * *
I use beets in soup (Lithuanian Borscht) and I've made my fair share of beet salads: Beets with Blood Oranges, Arugula and Macadamia Nuts, Beet and Apple Salad (with horseradish and pistachios), and Roasted Beets With Chiles, Ginger, Yogurt and Indian SpicesI try not to be too repetitive in my recipe selection, but I felt an intense desire to make another beet salad using the gorgeous vegetables I had just picked up at the market. I mean sometimes it's just hard to beat...beets. (Sorry, that was a bad one.) This time though I was making a salad without greens, and the beets were thinly sliced-- just like beef carpaccio, but with beets! The salad has goat cheese crumbles, but you can omit them if you are vegan or otherwise averse to dairy. I made a few modifications: I added the shallots to the vinaigrette in order to cut their bite a bit and I also made the salad with and without chives. I'm not convinced the chives added much. In contrast, the mint popped and it was an absolutely essential element to the dressing. 
I made a note below (see Preparation) about the time it took me to roast the beets. I also drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on top before putting them in the oven.
I think this is a super elegant presentation of beets with goat cheese. It's delicious too. 
Beet Carpaccio with Goat Cheese and Mint Vinaigrette (Courtesy of Bon Appetit, via Epicurious)
12 2-inch beets, trimmed
1 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 5 ounces)
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup walnut oil or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
(Preparation follows)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place beets on sheet (if using both light- and dark-colored beets, place them on separate sheets to prevent discoloration). Sprinkle beets lightly with water. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until beets are tender when pierced with fork, about 40 minutes. (Note: after 40 minutes on 350 degrees, my beets were not even close to being done. I turned the temperature up to 425 and kept them in for another 35 minutes. That did the trick.) Cool on sheet. Peel beets. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Place in resealable plastic bag; chill.)
Using cheese slicer or knife, slice beets very thinly. Slightly overlap slices on 6 plates, dividing equally. Sprinkle with cheese, then shallot, salt, and pepper. Whisk vinegar, mint, oil, and sugar in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over beets. Sprinkle with chives.
* * *
Ginger-Lime Baby Carrots (Courtesy of Richard Blais for Food & Wine Magazine
{I'm re-posting this recipe, which I made last year. It's a simple baby carrot recipe. The carrots are so sweet--this is really the time to be making them.}  
Serves 4


24 baby carrots, tops trimmed to 2 inches
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup chicken stock (I used vegetable)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon furikake (see Note)

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the carrots until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the carrots.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the carrots, ginger and cinnamon and cook over moderate heat, tossing occasionally, until the ginger is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and boil over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool for 30 seconds.  Swirl in the butter, lime juice and Sriracha and season with salt.  Arrange the carrots on a platter and spoon the ginger-lime sauce on top.  (Sprinkle with the furikake and serve.)

NoteFurikake is available at Asian markets and many specialty food stores.  It is a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds and chopped seaweed.  I added a a few sesame seeds instead of making a pilgrimage to a Japanese market.   

Inner Francophile: Spinach Quiche, Dorie Greenspan's Mustard Tart and The Yves St. Laurent Retrospective

When it was announced that the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective that wowed audiences at the Petit Palais in Paris two years ago would travel to Denver this week, and nowhere else in the United States, the question on many minds was: why Denver?
“America isn’t just New York or Los Angeles or Chicago or Boston,” said Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s longtime partner in life and business and the head of the designer’s foundation. “Besides, Denver asked me. Voilà!” - New York Times, T Magazine, Blog

Looks like we moved out of Brooklyn and over to Denver at just the right time! I love museums-- permanent collections, special exhibits, retrospectives, Classical, Neo-Classical, the Classics, Abstract Expressionism, fashion, interiors and design, architecture...I love it all. So when I heard that the Denver Art Museum was the exclusive U.S. venue for the Yves St. Laurent retrospective, I was giddy with excitement. Positively giddy. G-I-D-D-Y. 
The "Big Sweep" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, outside DAM.
Feeling the spirit of YSL, I toyed with the idea of wearing a wool pants suit for my museum visit. But it was really warm that day so it didn't seem terribly practical to be donning wool. Well that, and I was heading over to the exhibit straight from the kid's playground. So there I was, at the museum's biggest fashion event, dressed rather unfashionably. But who cares, right? I was there! Yes, I was there, enjoying the exhibit, for over two hours, sans children. 
There is no photography allowed inside the venue, so you will have to take my word on this-- the retrospective was wonderful. Magnificent, really. The presentation, curation and collection were impeccable. I may have to go back one more time...
Now it doesn't take much for me to get in touch with my inner Francophile, so in honor of Yves, I decided to make two quiches this week. And get this-- I made the dough too. Oh yes. Mais oui! I rolled out some pâte brisée, which literally means "short pastry." And I did it twice. Turns out that making tart dough isn't difficult at all, you just have to be mindful that it needs to chill for three hours before you can actually use it.
I decided to go with a spinach quiche (originally from Bon Appetit Magazine) and a mustard tart (from Dorie Greenspan's tome, Around My French Table). I followed Dorie's recipe for pâte brisée as well. 
I decided to parbake both crusts for 20 minutes, with oiled foil on top (more on this below), and then let the pies bake an additional 2 minutes once the foil was removed. In retrospect, I should have let them bake a few minutes longer. I think the crust would have been a bit more flaky. That said, all in all, it was a very successful (first!) attempt at making homemade quiche. 
So here they are. I hope you enjoy the recipes. And if you find yourself in Denver before July 8th, definitely visit the Denver Art Museum's retrospective on YSL.
I'm off to channel Catherine Deneuve...and hoping that Netflix delivers Belle De Jour lickety-split.
Au revoir! 
Pâte Brisée/ Tart Dough (Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table)
Yield: Makes one 9 - to 9 ½-inch tart shell
Be prepared: The dough should chill for at least 3 hours.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ice water

To make the dough in a food processor: Put the flour, sugar and salt in the processor and whir a few times to blend. Scatter the bits of butter over the flour and pulse several times, until the butter is coarsely mixed into the flour. Beat the egg with the ice water and pour it into the bowl in 3 small additions, whirring after each one. (Don’t overdo it — the dough shouldn’t form a ball or ride on the blade.) You’ll have a moist, malleable dough that will hold together when pinched. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball (if the dough doesn’t come together easily, push it, a few spoonfuls at a time, under the heel of your hand or knead it lightly), and flatten it into a disk.

To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Drop in the bits of butter and, using your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until it is evenly distributed. You’ll have large and small butter bits, and that’s fine — uniformity isn’t a virtue here. Beat the egg and water together, drizzle over the dough, and, using a fork, toss the dough until it is evenly moistened. Reach into the bowl and, using your fingertips, mix and knead the dough until it comes together. Turn it out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball (if the dough doesn’t come together easily, push it, a few spoonfuls at a time, under the heel of your hand or knead it some more), and flatten it into a disk. 

Chill the dough for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
When you’re ready to make the tart shell, butter a 9- to 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (butter it even if it’s nonstick).

To roll out the dough: I like to roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a lightly floured rolling cover, but you can roll it out on a lightly floured work surface. If you’re working between sheets of paper or plastic wrap, lift the paper or plastic often so that it doesn’t roll into the dough, and turn the dough over frequently. If you’re just rolling on the counter, make sure to lift and turn the dough and reflour the counter often. The rolled-out dough should be about ¼ inch thick and at least 12 inches in diameter.
Transfer the dough to the tart pan, easing it into the pan without stretching it. (What you stretch now will shrink in the oven later.) Press the dough against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you’d like to reinforce the sides of the crust, you can fold some of the excess dough over, so that you have a double thickness around the sides. Using the back of a table knife, trim the dough even with the top of the pan. Prick the base of the crust in several places with a fork.

Chill — or freeze — the dough for at least 1 hour before baking.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Press a piece of buttered foil (or use nonstick foil) against the crust’s surface. If you’d like, you can fill the covered crust with rice or dried beans (which will be inedible after this but can be used for baking for months to come) to keep the dough flat, but this isn’t really necessary if the crust is well chilled. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the tart pan on the sheet.

To partially bake the crust: Bake for 20 minutes, then very carefully remove the foil (with the rice or beans). Return the crust to the oven and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is lightly golden. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the crust to cool before you fill it.
To fully bake the crust: Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until it is an even golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the crust to cool before you fill it.
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Although the fully baked crust can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer — it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes or so to the baking time.

* * *

Gérard’s Mustard Tart (Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan, Printed in The New York Times, Diner's Journal
Be sure to use strong mustard from Dijon. Dorie's friend Gérard Jeannin uses Dijon’s two most popular mustards in his tart: smooth, known around the world as Dijon, and grainy or old-fashioned, known in France as “à l’ancienne.” You can use either one or the other, or you can adjust the proportions to match your taste, but whatever you do, make sure your mustard is fresh, bright colored, and powerfully fragrant. Do what Gérard would do: smell it first. If it just about brings tears to your eyes, it’s fresh enough for this tart.
3 carrots (not too fat), trimmed and peeled
3 thin leeks, white and light green parts only, cut lengthwise in half and washed
2 rosemary sprigs
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 tablespoons grainy mustard, preferably French, or to taste
Salt, preferably fleur de sel, and freshly ground white pepper
1 9- to 9½-inch tart shell made from Tart Dough (recipe above), partially baked and cooled
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Cut the carrots and leeks into slender bâtons or sticks: First cut the carrots lengthwise in half, then place the halves cut side down on the cutting board and cut crosswise in half or cut into chunks about 3 inches long. Cut the pieces into 1/ 8- to 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks. If your carrots were fat and you think your matchsticks don’t look svelte enough, cut them lengthwise in half. Cut the leeks in the same way.
Fit a steamer basket into a saucepan. Pour in enough water to come almost up to the steamer, cover, and bring to a boil. Drop the carrots, leeks, and 1 rosemary sprig into the basket, cover, and steam until the vegetables are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables and pat them dry; discard the rosemary sprig.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the crème fraîche or heavy cream. Add the mustards, season with salt and white pepper — mustard has a tendency to be salty, so proceed accordingly — and whisk to blend. Taste and see if you want to add a little more of one or the other mustards.

Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet and pour the filling into the crust. Arrange the vegetables over the filling — they can go in any which way, but they’re attractive arranged in spokes coming out from the center of the tart. Top with the remaining rosemary sprig and give the vegetables a sprinkling of salt and a couple of turns of the pepper mill.

Bake the tart for about 30 minutes, or until it is uniformly puffed and lightly browned here and there and a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean. Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and let it rest for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature (or lightly chilled).
Serving: The tart is delicious just out of the oven, warm, at room temperature, or even slightly chilled — although that wouldn’t be Gérard’s preference, I’m sure. If you’re serving it as a starter, cut it into 6 portions; if it’s the main event, serve it with a lightly dressed small salad.
Storing: Like all tarts, this is best soon after it is made, but leftovers can be covered, chilled, and nibbled on the next day.

* * *

Spinach Quiche (Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine and Smitten Kitchen, with a modification or two...)
4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup half and half (or milk)
3 eggs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar (you could use Gruyere too)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 green onions, thinly sliced 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

'Root Down' Inspired Carrot and Red Curry Soup

Our dear friend Megan came to visit us a few weeks ago from Los Angeles. Megan is also affectionately called "Min"-- as in Minister, as in Universal Life Church, as in they ordain online! She presided over our wedding ceremony at Wave Hill a few years ago. (And so that my mother doesn't read this post and have a kanipshin, you should note that we also had a separate religious ceremony, one officiated by a rabbi.)

We had a wonderful time talking, walking, drinking, and dining. We strolled around the Washington Park neighborhood and had some great ice cream at Bonnie Brae, an old-fashioned, classic ice cream parlor not far from the park. We also scoped out some homes in Congress Park, which admittedly is a bit premature since we don't know if we will stay in Denver long-term, but a girl can dream, right?! 
We ate at Shish Kabob on Capital Hill and my falafel sandwich was lip-smacking good. Plans to visit the Clyfford Still Museum were foiled when we found out the museum is closed on Mondays, but I'll take Min on her next visit.
On Megan's final night, my husband watched the boys and Megan and I had ladies night. Our venue? Root Down-- a fantastic neighborhood eatery with great design and even more amazing food...seasonal and delicious. I ordered the Carrot Soup with Thai Red Curry and Apple-Pear Chutney as a starter-- it was wonderful. My entree was a delicious Butternut-Ricotta Gnocchi (with mushrooms, spinach, black currants, shallots, chile flake, brown butter, sage-hazelnut pesto & pecorino). For dessert we split a Mexican Chocolate Mousse that was to-die-for. Back to the soup. Like I said, it was delicious. I haven't been able to get it out of my head and I wanted to recreate it. 
After a bit of research, I found a Red Curry Carrot Soup recipe from an old Food & Wine magazine. While it wasn't exactly the same as the Root Down version, my craving was sated. I simplified the dish a bit, but you can see the original recipe here. Serve with a little drizzle of canola oil, some matchstick scallions and a pinch of finely chopped basil. Yum.

Red Curry Carrot Soup (Adapted from Grace Parisi, Food & Wine Magazine, June 1999)

Serves 2 - 4 
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 large carrots, or 8 medium-sized carrots, peeled
2 slices peeled fresh ginger, about 1/4 inch slices
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon red curry paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 scallion, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the sliced carrots and ginger and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the carrots are crisp-tender and lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock, water, coconut milk and curry paste to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Or, puree the soup in batches using a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the scallion, cilantro and basil and serve.