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Comforting Flavors: Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash and Shrimp and Lady Apple Cardamom Cake.

Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash & Shrimp

I have a tendency to always be cold. At least chilly. I like sweaters. I like scarves. Gloves. Hats. I like cold weather. I live in South Carolina where cold weather is…well…not that cold. It comes and goes. Three days of cold, two days of warm. Christmas in shorts. Valentine’s Day by the fireplace. I think I’ve finally gotten used to it. Almost…

We were pretty happy when the temperatures dropped a few degrees this past week. Even without the magnificent Fall colors of up North, there is a certain anticipation of a seasonal change around here. The dogs were waiting for that delicious moment when they’d be able to just lie on the back deck and enjoy a little reprieve. That wonderful crispy Fall weather. No humidity. No mosquitoes.

Lady Apples

As soon as Fall rolls around, my mind turns to comfort foods. Well, foods that are comforting to me. We all have distinct food associations, flavors, scents that resonate "comfort". Mine are without a doubt apple cake, apricot and frangipane anything, soups of many kinds, roasted vegetables, winter gourds. Right now, I can’t stop baking with Lady apples (so tiny!) and squash of all kinds.

Soups and cakes are a staple at our house. All year long. Undeniably influenced by seasonal produce but staples nonetheless. A local tomato soup in the summer is replaced by roasted squash one in the Fall. Winter welcomes piping hot bowls of French onion soup.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

Along with cakes, Bill has a love affair with coconut soup. I must admit, I do too. After many Thai inspired versions that we have done over the years, I wanted to change it up a bit this time. Red kuri squash and local shrimp cooked until fork tender in a lemongrass, ginger and lime coconut base. We went back for seconds. We wished we had enough for thirds. Incredibly satisfying.

Cakes are quiet and discreet in our kitchen in the Spring and Summer. The above 100F temperatures are not conducive to a lot of baking but as soon as I can turn the oven on without feeling we’re operating a furnace, I turn to one of our family favorite, apple cake. It’s nothing fancy. It’s actually pretty darn rustic if you ask me. One of the may reasons I love it. It also reminds me of my grandmother. A woman I miss everyday.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

She wasn’t always easy. Often stubborn. But when she loved, she loved 100%. She loved being surrounded with friends and family. My Sunday Supper tradition is a direct extension of her. Tea time was 4 o’clock around a plate of cookies and a slice of cake. Came one. Came six. It did not matter. The door was always open. Sunday lunches with a full table after church often lingered into impromptu dinners around an omelette, a bowl of soup and a piece of cake.

Grandma, Mamie Paulette even smelled of apples. And vanilla.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

Everytime I make her apple compote with a touch of sugar, lemon and vanilla bean, I can feel her around me. I wish we had had a few more years together so she could have come here and see us. Happy. That’s all she wanted. To have everyone happy. Making an apple cake puts me at peace. It’s comforting to have that little bit of her whenever I want. I am grateful she was not shy of passing her recipe on to me so I can pass it on to you.

On this note, I might be scarce this coming week, both in emails and to answer comments as I am heading for L.A on Wednesday. I will be there to teach an awesome 3-day workshop. I am so excited! There are still a couple of spots available! So if you ever hesitated to learn from a photographer, food stylist, digital tech, art buyer, etc… we are all here to answer your question and work hands on to help.

Autumn Squash Cooking

Details? Here we go! The amount of info we’ll pass on is pretty huge! We’ll be at Light Space Studio for 2 days and at Hollywood Sierra Kitchen another day. Yes…you can pick an choose the kitchen you want to shoot in!

I can’t wait to meet the people I will have the chance to guide and help for three full days and I am also giddy to meet up with friends I rarely see because of geography and life in general. I’ll try to post snapshots…

One thing for sure… I am definitely packing a couple of slices of apple cake in my carry-on! Have a great week everyone!

Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash & Shrimp

Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash and Shrimp:

Makes enough for 4

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups red kuri squash, peeled and diced (seeds removed)
4 cups seafood stock (or veggie or water)
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
juice and zest of one lime
2 sprigs of thyme
1 pound medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
cilantro to serve

In a large stock pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, cut the stalks of lemongrass in half and pound them with the back of your knife a couple of times. The goal is to release the lemongrass essence to flavor the broth. Add those to the onion, along with the ginger and garlic and cook another 2 minutes or so. Add the Kuri squash and cook another 2 minutes. Add the stock, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. When the squash is fork tender but not mushy, turn the heat back up to medium high. Add the shrimp and cook until they are just cooked through (5 to 8 minutes depending on size) (over and they will feel like rubber). Remove from the heat, remove the thyme and lemongrass stalks and let cool about 5 minutes before plating. Serve with cilantro if desired.

Apple Cardamom Cake:

Makes one 9-inch cake

10 Lady apples (or 2 to 3 regular sized apples)
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups Jeanne’s gluten free all purpose flour mix (or regular flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Position a tray in the middle. Grease one 9-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Set aside.
Peel, core and slice the apples very thin (a mandoline works great) and place them in a large bowl filled with water and lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar and eggs until pale (takes about 2 minutes). Add the oil and lemon juice and mix until well blended. Add the flour mix, baking powder, cardamom and cinnamon and whisk about 50 strokes until the batter is smooth.
Pour it into the prepared baking pan and position the apple slices (drained slightly) on top.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes free of raw batter.

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Unknown October 31, 2011 um 6:06 pm

That soup looks so warm and comforting, perfect for all this rainy weather we are getting up here on the East coast.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 31, 2011 um 6:29 pm

The soup looks beautiful and I bet with the coconut milk, the taste is just heavenly.

And that apple tart…oh my yumminess. I need that 🙂

Unknown October 31, 2011 um 7:05 pm

Hello Helene,

Thanks for your inspiration. I purchased your book, Plate to Pixel, during my first month of blogging (still a newbie blogger at three months). I can see that my photos have improved markedly from late July until now.

Again, thanks for inspiring me and (likely) many others.


Helene October 31, 2011 um 8:29 pm

i'm in a soup mood. this looks and sounds so delishious… i have to make it one of these days. perfect for fall. thanks!!!

la domestique October 31, 2011 um 9:10 pm

I do love cooking soup in the colder months. with a bit of patience and time, a few ingredients and some homemade stock come together to make magic! Your coconut soup with shrimp looks delicious. Also, cardamom is one of my favorite spices and that cake looks so comforting. Have fun in L.A.!

gfs October 31, 2011 um 11:50 pm

gorgeous! I love apple cakes and this is definitely going into the repetoire!

Run Fast Travel Slow November 1, 2011 um 12:18 am

The cake (and the photos) is so beautiful! I love how every family has their own apple cake recipe. Mine is an applesauce cake… No recipe is identical.

Natashia November 1, 2011 um 12:56 am

Loving the look of that cake!

MikeVFMK November 1, 2011 um 2:17 am

Helene, this is such a beautiful and colourful soup and that cake is simply gorgeous! Really, really beautiful. Love the flavours.

Editorial Team | Healthy Aperture November 1, 2011 um 10:07 am

Your work is so inspiring.

Juliana November 1, 2011 um 12:00 pm

Both of these recipes sound wonderful! May I ask where you got the pretty bowl and plate?

angela@spinachtiger November 1, 2011 um 12:25 pm

Such a nice lunch or dinner and I so love the rustic kitchen tools you throw into your photos.

Colette (Coco) November 1, 2011 um 3:32 pm

Oh my, those look like the perfect dinner. I almost fell off my chair when I read your post title!

Valérie (France) November 1, 2011 um 7:43 pm

Cette soupe au lait de coco est un pur délice
Je te souhaite une belle soirée

Gen November 1, 2011 um 8:14 pm

Hum, avec toutes les pommes du jardin, j'ai bien envie d'essayer ce gâteau à la cardamome!

Dmarie November 2, 2011 um 12:34 am

visiting here always leaves me wishing I were a better cook AND a better photographer. thanks so very much for the inspiration!!

Maritxikis November 2, 2011 um 4:31 am

I have made your mom's tupp cake 6 times already and love it, now it is time to make your grandma's. Both mine left us way too soon, when I was a very little girl, and I even miss them and think about how wonderful would had been to enjoy their talk and learn from them…your photography is spectacular…

Magar November 2, 2011 um 4:48 am

I've never seen those tiny apples in the stores around here. I wonder if I'm just not looking in the right places

Unknown November 2, 2011 um 2:14 pm

I love apples and apple cakes, and I adore coconut milk and coconut milk, squash and squash soups! This is one of my favorite posts!!

Sue/the view from great island November 2, 2011 um 2:43 pm

The cake is so beautiful, I love the way you've sliced the apples on top. Your photograph of the whole cake is great, I'm just mesmerized by all the elements in it. I wish I could be in LA for the class.

Jessica November 2, 2011 um 3:15 pm

:),that looks quite delicious. Do you think I could use non fat milk in leiu of the coconut milk or would that destroy the integrity of the soup?

Jessica November 2, 2011 um 9:19 pm

This looks delish!
Would I be able to sub regular milk for the coconut milk. I'm allergic to coconut 🙁 Thanks!

sevimel@IbreatheI'mhungry November 2, 2011 um 11:26 pm

Hi Helene! Love all your pictures and just ordered your book on amazon! This soup looks delicious and sounds perfect for those "sort of" cold SC nights! We moved to SC from CT in 2009 though we are up in CT now and just got caught in a freak blizzard that left us with 20 inches of snow! I'd kill for SC weather right now! Can't wait to get home! Glad I stumbled onto your site through Bloglovin' and I'll be a frequent visitor from now on! Regards, Mellissa

Helene November 3, 2011 um 7:00 am

Jessica: yes, you can. I would do 75% whole milk to 25% light or heavy cream to keep some of the creamy feel.

Jessica: I would not use non fat by itself. Too watery. I'd do some whole cream and milk or non fat milk and some cornstarch to thicken it little.

Gosia November 3, 2011 um 3:26 pm

Such a lovely post. Remembering your Grandma so tenderly, made me think of mine, whom I loved tremendously. And thank you for the squash-coconut soup. The timing is perfect as I have one on hand, and I couldn't decide what new thing I could do with it. Now I know. Thanks.

BriBriMX November 4, 2011 um 11:17 am

ahlalala tout est une vraie tuerie, il est midi, tout est alléchant….

Cakebrain November 4, 2011 um 6:08 pm

I love your gorgeous photos…they are evocative of fall. The soup looks delicious and comforting! btw, I purchased your book on my kindle and love it.

nita November 5, 2011 um 8:32 am

I bought some cardamom a while ago, and I've been eager to use it. Just one clarification, does the juice of an entire lemon go in the batter? Or is it somehow split between what goes in the batter and what's used in the bowl with apples to prevent oxidation? Thanks! I'm looking forward to making this apple cake

Lady Fur November 5, 2011 um 9:23 am

This soup and the apple pie remember me my Grandmother's recipes!
kisses from your follower! ♡

olkor November 5, 2011 um 6:29 pm

Beautiful pics!

ChichaJo November 6, 2011 um 12:26 pm

Gorgeous soup and cake and lovely stories about your grandmother! Sounds like an awesome trip and workshop…with you instructing I am sure it will be 🙂

Nicole November 7, 2011 um 4:03 am

That soup looks amazing!! November 7, 2011 um 10:27 pm

I am reading your wonderful book, Plate to Pixel, which i am really enjoying and it will really help me. I have just read your bog for the first time too and that is amazing as well. I love your recipes and of course, your photography.
I see you are doing a course in LA. Do you ever teach in England?
With kind regards

Anonymous November 8, 2011 um 9:28 pm

We just discover your blog and fell in love with it! It's so beautiful and interesting!

Weekend Cowgirl November 9, 2011 um 12:20 am

I absolutely must make this soup before the week is over. It looks amazing…thanks for recipe!

Wendy November 9, 2011 um 10:27 am

It looks great! I will definitely try it out.

forestlily November 11, 2011 um 2:24 am

What a lovely workshop! I wish I could attend. Lighting must be the most hardest one to do right. My photos don't have great lighting, either too dark or too light! Lovely and delicious looking pics and food. Thanks for sharing…

Jen Laceda November 11, 2011 um 6:44 pm

Thank god my local Chapters Indigo bookstore has your book available! I just bought your Plate to Pixel book! Can't wait to flip through the pages and learn from you, a food photography goddess~ ! LOL!

Faythe November 16, 2011 um 7:36 am

The soup sounds fantastic. Only, I don't eat shellfish. Could you make a recommendation on substituting the shrimp?

Helene November 16, 2011 um 3:08 pm

Faythe: any protein will work just great with this! Steak, pork, chicken, any firm fish, etc…!

Sanhita December 5, 2011 um 4:24 pm

Made this soup today and it came out a winner! A perfect and different tasting soup, everyone at home loved it!
Thanks for the recipe!

Estelle from Southern France December 6, 2011 um 2:32 pm

Cooked this delicous soup last week and I fell in love! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! 🙂

pRiyA December 18, 2012 um 7:03 am

I saw the cake recipe on simply breakfast blog and made it this morning because it was easy.
The cake is so moist and delicious. Best I've ever eaten. Thank you.

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