Smoky Butternut Squash Soup w/ Yogurt & Dukkah


Easing back into blogging after a long hiatus because you know….life.  Life with my kids, my job that I love, and navigating single mommy life and all its idiosyncrasies.  In a nutshell, getting caught up in the routine and groove of life.  But, I’m reclaiming my time because food is everything to me.  It’s my art.  From its history, it’s journey from farm to table, to the creativity and innovation of food dishes that entice your eyes as well as your palate. 

I’m starting back with this Smoky Butternut Squash Soup w/ Yogurt and Dukkah seasoning for a little bit of Fall inspiration. I’ve used Dukkah seasoning in a couple of my other recipes.  As you can see, it’s one of my favorite seasonings.  Some nights when I get home late and I don’t want to look at the stove because I’m too tired and too hungry, I’ll whip up some Scrambled Eggs with Cheese, Avocado slices and sprinkle Dukkah Seasoning on top of my eggs.  Now, Scrambled Eggs with Cheese is great on its own, but adding the seasoning, gives it such a pop of flavor.  Like I can really cook kind of flavor.  You can make your own Dukkah seasoning, which consists of a combination of nuts, sesame seeds, cumin, fennel, and other seasonings.  Or, you can just buy it here.

The soup was a great late-night dinner for me, along with some crusty bread and my new obsession……Better Call Saul.  I binged watched Breaking Bad last year and was told to watch its prequel spin-off.  I’m quite hooked. 

Have a great day everyone!

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Yogurt and Dukkah Seasoning//serves 4


3 lb. butternut squash (about 1 large squash), deseeded, peeled, and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
3 large garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
4 cups vegetable broth

Optional toppings

1 tablespoon yogurt, garnish
1 tablespoon dukkah seasoning, garnish
Chopped parsley for garnish

 Preheat oven to 425° F.  Arrange chopped butternut squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle squash with olive oil.  Roast 25-30 min or until squash are softened and browned.

 In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion.  Cook stirring often until the onion has softened and is starting to turn brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. 

 Transfer the cooked onion and garlic mixture to a blender.  Add the roasted butternut squash, smoked sea salt, smoked paprika and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour in the vegetable stock and blend on high until soup is thick and creamy. Add additional stock if you would like a thinner soup.  Depending on the type of blender you use, (I used my Vitamix), you may have to work in batches to blend the squash.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with yogurt, Dukkah seasoning and parsley.  Serve immediately.

 1 year ago

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Grain-Free Chickpea Gnocchi w/ Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


Chickpea Gnocchi! The easiest, less labor- intensive pasta you’ll ever make.  No pasta machine needed.  Just you and the dough.  I enjoy making homemade pasta.  It tastes amazing, is fun to make with your kids, and has a unique texture that you can’t get with dry pasta. But, wait Corynne.  Are gnocchi pasta?  Yes and No-ish.  I’ll start with the no.  No, because it is mostly made with potato, however you can use any type of flour, as in this recipe.  Not all gnocchi are created equal, but they’re equally delicious.  The yes is that it is served much the same way as pasta in Italy.  As I mentioned, they are traditionally made with potato producing a light, airy texture.  I highly encourage you to make your own and freeze the remaining, as the store-bought kind often tastes acidic due to lactic acid.  However, if you know of a less acidic tasting brand, please comment in the section below.  As a mom, I completely understand the need for shortcuts, especially on weeknights.

For this recipe, no potato was used.  I wanted a completely plant-based recipe and was inspired by Renee Byrd of Will Frolic for Food’s recipe Grain-Free Chickpea Ravioli with Almond Ricotta Filling.   Though not as enveloped as Renee’s recipe, I chose instead to create my favorite, gnocchi. For this recipe I used a food processor to blend the chickpeas and to incorporate the remaining ingredients.  Everything comes together quickly.  If you find your dough a bit sticky, add additional flour until a shaggy, firm dough starts to form. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading to produce a smooth and elastic ball, about 10 minutes.  Cut your dough into six pieces (refrigerate/freeze unused) and begin rolling each piece into a rope.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and with a slotted spoon, slowly place in a pot of boiling water.  You’ll know the gnocchi are done as they will rise to the top.  Remove the gnocchi with the slotted spoon, spoon into bowls and top with the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, additional olive oil and parsley.  Enjoy!

chickpea dough.jpg

Chickpea Gnocchi w/ Roasted Cherry Tomatoes//serves 4

2-15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

roasted cherry tomatoes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

To start gnocchi, place chickpeas in a food processor and process until no large pieces remain.  Add chickpea flour, gluten free flour, eggs, olive oil and salt.  Process until mixture comes together and begins to form a ball.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface.  Begin kneading the dough until the texture holds together and is pliable.  If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour until firm.  Divide dough into 6 pieces.  If not using all the dough, wrap extra pieces in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one to two days or freeze for two to three months.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Roll each piece of dough into a rope about ½ inches in diameter.  Cut into ¾ inches to 1-inch pieces.  Place gnocchi on a lightly-floured parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough.  To cook the gnocchi, using a slotted spoon, lower a couple of gnocchi at a time in the boiling water.  Note: Do not drop the gnocchi in the water, as this will cause the water to splash.  Save yourself the pain.  Once all the gnocchi are cooked, (they will float to the top indicating they are done), remove with the slotted spoon.  Place the gnocchi in serving bowls.  Sprinkle olive oil on to gnocchi to prevent sticking.

For the roasted tomatoes, preheat oven to 450° F.  Toss the cherry tomatoes with garlic and olive oil until evenly coated.  Bake the tomatoes in the preheated oven until the skins pop and start to brown 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Split the tomatoes between the bowls of gnocchi.  Drizzle additional olive oil on top.  Garnish with parsley.  Serve.


Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash & Jerked Black Beans & Quinoa


Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash, & Jerked Black Beans & Rice

Here in Los Angeles, mornings are calling for sweaters and I’ve seen some people breaking out their boots.  I’m not there yet, although I love boot weather, but clearly fall is upon us.  However, my inspiration has brought me in another direction.  A Caribbean one.  As I was scouring my cookbooks and the internet for fall recipe inspiration, I came across this recipe from restaurateur, model, and cookbook author, B. Smith.  I had the pleasure of dining in her D.C. restaurant, which is now closed, years ago.  I remember delicious, elegant southern cuisine in an equally elegant atmosphere. 

I changed a few things with the recipe, opting for salmon instead of tuna and instead of the original pigeon peas and rice (the pigeon peas in the recipe aren't easy to find here in Los Angeles), I veered and created Jerked Black Beans and Quinoa instead.  Although I consider this a weeknight meal, there is a bit of preparing in advance.  You will want to prep the jerk seasoning and the coconut curry sauce a day ahead.   The meal will come together much quicker and the leftover sauces can be used later for tofu, chicken, fish, vegetables, and so on.

The most exciting part of this dish for me is the banana hash, which is a bit of a misnomer.  It’s plantain and it adds a subtle sweetness to the heat of this dish.  I don’t eat plaintain often as I usually fry it and honestly, that’s the only way I like to eat it. But, it was in heavy rotation growing up.  From the time I was nine, much of my childhood revolved around a lot of Caribbean cuisine.  This was in large part to my mother who met and married a man from Haiti.  I became exposed to a lot of French and Creole cuisine, so to say my gastronomic world opened up is an understatement.  Plaintain, Rice with black mushrooms, Soup Joumou (pumpkin based soup that’s out of this world), lambi (stewed conch) were all part of my weeknight/weekend meals.  My taste buds got what they needed and deserved.  For this dish, the plaintain is sautéed in coconut oil, which cuts down on the calories.

My other favorite part of this dish are the jerked black beans. They are flavorful with the right amount of heat and spice.  I love spicy food.  It's exciting and sexy to have a bit of spice in a dish.  However, I don't like my food spicy for the sake of spicy.  One should taste the flavors of the food first and the spices should be layered in to awaken and entice your taste buds.  To pleasantly get your attention.

To bring it all together, layer all your ingredients in a bowl and spoon the coconut curry sauce over the salmon.  Garnish with cilantro and parsley and dinner is served.  



Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash & Jerked Black Beans & Quinoa//serves 4
Adapted from B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

pan seared salmon
4 salmon fillets
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

coconut curry sauce
1 cup homemade fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
½ cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass (optional)
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

banana hash
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
2 cups chopped ripe plaintains (about 2 medium)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

jerked black beans and quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1-15.5 oz cans black beans
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons jerk seasoning (recipe below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

jerk seasoning
1 cup coarsely chopped scallions
1 coarsely chopped dried scotch bonnet chile pepper or other hot chile pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Start by making your jerk seasoning.  Place the jerk seasoning ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until a smooth paste forms.  You may need to add a tablespoon of water at a time to form the paste.  Transfer the seasoning to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Or, cover and refrigerate for up to a week for later use.

Next, prepare the jerked black beans and quinoa.  Combine the quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer the quinoa until the water has absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.  Next prepare the jerked black beans by sautéing onions over medium heat until softened.  Add the black beans, vegetable stock, bay leaves and jerk seasoning.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.  Combine the black beans with the quinoa.  Stir to incorporate and set aside.

To prepare the banana hash, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and sauté the bell pepper for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the scallions and the plantains.  Continue to sauté for 10 minutes, or until the plantains are soft.  Stir in the salt and pepper and set aside.

Next, prepare the salmon with coconut curry sauce.  Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the heat and strain the sauce through a sieve, pressing as much of the sauce through as possible.  Return the sauce to a clean saucepan and keep warm. Rinse the salmon fillets and pat them dry with paper towels.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the salmon fillets, skin side down.  You can cook the salmon pieces two at a time.  Press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of flexible spatula.  This prevents the skin from buckling.  Cook, pressing gently on back of fillets occasionally until skin releases easily from pan, about 4 minutes.  If there is resistance with the skin, continue to cook until it lifts easily.  Flip salmon over and cook for another 4-5 minutes (or to taste). Repeat with the remaining pieces of salmon.

To assemble, place jerked beans and quinoa in a bowl, along with the banana hash.  Place a salmon fillet on top and spoon a pool of Coconut Curry Sauce in each bowl. Garnish with cilantro or parsley. Serve immediately.