Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup)

This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

Produce On Parade- Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup) - This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

I'm almost scared to post this recipe, but I have to because it's one of my very favorite soups and I'm not ignorant to the fact that many folks aren't able to source authentic, specialty ingredients; especially those of us in rural areas (and especially in Alaska).

Does this mean we can't or shouldn't try to replicate our favorite ethnic dishes? I don't think so. In no way am I claiming this Tom Kha to be authentic, however, I think it's a pretty darn good replication with ingredients one can get at any local grocery store. It's my hope that you enjoy it as much as I do and if you're able to find galangal, straw mushrooms, and kaffir lime leaves... um...send me some in the mail, please. Pretty please?

Produce On Parade- Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup) - This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

It's my great joy to share this recipe with all of you small-town kids who struggle with making pretty much anything 'authentic'. I refuse to be constrained to tofu noodle soup because my store doesn't care bird's eye chilis. Who's with me!?

Produce On Parade- Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup) - This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup)

Kathleen Henry @ Produce On Parade

Published 10/28/2016

This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin or delicata squash (2 cups cubed)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 stick of fresh lemongrass
  • 1 1-inch piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and micrograted
  • dash of crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves or 1 1-inch piece of lime rind
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (optional)
  • ½ lb fresh straw mushrooms or 1 8oz can of sliced mushrooms, drained
  • ½ of a 14 oz block of firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 limes, juiced (¼ cup juice)
  • 3 tbsp vegan fish sauce or 1 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Deseed the pumpkin and cut off the ends. Slice into wedges and steam for 15-20 minutes until just tender. Set aside to cool. Slice off the skin (leave skin on if using delicata) and cube.
  2. In a large soup pot, bring the vegetable broth and coconut milk to a gentle boil over medium high heat then reduce to a very low simmer.
  3. Slice the lemongrass in half lengthwise and bruise with the back of a measuring cup. Add the lemongrass, galangal, crushed red pepper, lime leaves, and brown sugar to the pot and stir; simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and tofu, simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, and basil. Remove from heat. Serve hot and topped with cilantro.

Yield: 4

Produce On Parade- Pumpkin Tom Kha (Coconut Lemongrass Soup) - This soup is inspired by the Lao Pumpkin and Coconut Tom Kha at my favorite local restaurant, Pho Lena, in Anchorage. It’s basically Tom Kha Gai without the chicken and with pumpkin instead. I add tofu for a protein boost! In Alaska, it can be difficult to find some of the very specific ingredients for Tom Kha so I’ve included commonplace substitutions. I have to use ginger, lime rind, and canned mushrooms because galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and straw mushrooms aren’t accessible. Still, the soup is absolutely divine!

Molasses & Pear Gingerbread

This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.
The great majority of Americans could reduce their protein intake...the best change would be to lower the daily intake of all proteins, but especially animal-derived proteins.
— Valter Longo, University of Southern California gerontology professor and director of the school’s Longevity Institute
Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

I subscribe to the belief that every dessert be of the chocolate variety. If a dessert does not contain chocolate in any of its various, beautiful forms then it shall be categorized as a non-dessert (in my eyes at least). Okay, that might be a bit extreme. I'll just settle with the very biased and unjust assumption that I probably won't enjoy it much. I don't like fruit conspiring with my sweets (save a delicious berry crisp). Flavors other than chocolate? Hard pass. Except coffee, but that's another matter entirely and reserved solely for ice cream and tiramisu. 

What I am trying to say is...if you're the type of person who agrees that apple pie, raisin oatmeal cookies, and jam donuts are sorry excuses for a proper dessert (I mean my god, we could be having chocolate silk pie!), then we are one in the same. It's with such like-mindedness that I tell you, as a self-professed, unusually particular sweet-toothed foodie, that this gingerbread cake makes a most exceptional sweet treat. I know, I know... there is no chocolate involved. Such a fact has not been overlooked. However, it does not negate the fact that this cake is so good I want to make it weekly and eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert; to which I fully and proudly admit that I have, yes, in fact done all four this week. And now I'm out of this cake, because I ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert... I must make more. 

Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.
Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

All that should really be pretty sufficient evidence to convince you that you definitely want to make this cake. Not that I'm trying to force you to make it or anything. It's just so scrummy and perfectly timed for the holidays and I just don't want you to miss out okay?! But, if you need more convincing, I can do that too. To start, it's super easy and incredibly hands off. And what a beauty too, I mean just look at it. It's also foolproof and vegan of course and it involves fruit, so, that equates to it being healthy right? Right. Also, GINGER. Enough said.

Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.
Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

Molasses & Pear Gingerbread

Recipe by Kathleen Henry @ Produce On Parade

This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

Yield: 8-10 slices

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) vegan butter
  • ½ cup vegan sugar
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 3 tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • ¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced

Cooking Directions

  1. Melt the butter, sugar, agave nectar, and molasses in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted and the sugar mostly dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. While the butter melts, whisk together the flour through the nutmeg in large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir the butter and sugar mixture into the flour mixture until almost combined, then stir in the sour cream and aquafaba until just combined.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a 9 inch springform pan with a nonstick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan, leveling it out with a little shake and the back of a spatula.
  5. Slice the pears and arrange them in a pinwheel configuration on top of the batter. Place in the oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes, until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Leave in the pan and place on a wire cooling rack to cool, for at least 20 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the minced ginger. Slice into 8-10 pieces and serve. Store in an airtight container.
Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.
Produce On Parade - Molasses & Pear Gingerbread - This moist gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and reminiscent of the holidays. Infused with molasses, nutmeg, and ginger with just the right of amount of sweetness and topped with sliced pears and candied ginger pieces, it's super easy to make and is sure to be loved by all.

Information of the Day

Because I know you'll need a retort for the eye-roll inducing, "But I just know you aren't getting enough protein in your vheg-en diet thing!" during the holiday season; here you go: The Washington Post says that too much protein could lead to an early death. Yikes! Not all that great after all, eh? "U.S. and Italian researchers tracked thousands of adults during nearly two decades and found that those who ate a diet high in animal proteins during middle age were four times more likely to die of cancer than contemporaries with low-protein diets — a risk factor, if accurate, comparable to smoking. They also were several times more likely to die of diabetes, researchers said."

Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart

If you're like me, you just got a legion of pears in your produce box.

It was quite a thrilling experience though, I must say. This go-around, they were red pears! Huzzah! Growing up in Alaska, I've never seen red pears before (I don't want your pity.) They were the most beautiful pears I'd ever laid my eyes upon and I knew they had to go towards something special. 

Everyone is poaching pears it seems, but I don't know think that's my thing. It seems a bit too stuffy of a dish. So very bovaristic. Besides, I don't like the name. I find them intimidating. And I wouldn't go as far to say that poached pears creep me out, buuut...yes. That is what I am saying. They're weird and make me want to run away. All naked and strange. There is no logic for this, I am fully aware. 

Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.
— Steve Maraboli

Anyways, moving on. This tart. It's an inspiring departure from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Such narcissists, don't you think? Share the spotlight a little won't you?Fresh ginger and juicy pear lay abed this sweet walnut and date crust. A novel dessert for this Thanksgiving. Just push aside the other desserts for later.

Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.

This ginger, I had just bought from the store and whoa doggy...it was spicy as hell!! I had to scrape off the ginger bits because I didn't mince them as well as I intended. Doh! Use your brain and use a grater...unlike me. 

Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.

Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart

An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust. NOTES: Be sure to use grated fresh ginger, or a fresh ginger paste, or mince it into eternity. You don't want a spicy little bite of ginger! Make sure to lay the tart pan on foil, it will boil over.

Yield: 10 slices (1 8" tart)

Ingredients

  • -- Crust--
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. whole flax seed
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • splash of maple syrup
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • -- Pears --
  • 3 large ripe (but not super ripe) pears, sliced into about 1/8 inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. In a food processor, process all the crust ingredients for a few minutes until it about forms a ball.
  2. Press into a tart pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Place the sliced pears and remaining ingredients, excluding the brown sugar in a medium bowl and toss well to coat.
  4. Arrange in the tart pan over the uncooked crust. Top with the brown sugar.
  5. Place the tart on a foil-lined baking sheet (don’t skip this!!) in the oven for about 40 minutes until the tops of the pears are slightly browned.
  6. Remove and allow to cool completely before removing from the tart pan.
  7. Serve warm, or chilled.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.
Produce On Parade - Walnut Crusted Pear-Ginger Tart - An inspiring vacation from the apple and pumpkin pies of the season. Fresh ginger and juicy pears lay abed a sweet walnut crust.

Dutch Word of The Day

Snow --> Sneeuw (snee-eww)

Good Deed of The Day

So...the insane amount of snow that blanketed Buffalo, fell just short of the disputed one-day snowfall record set in Valdez, Alaska in 1963. I have no words for this, and it's not really related to the Good Deed of The Day, but...WHATISHAPPENING?! I still have no snow...in ALASKA! Now you know. Go tell your friends of your brilliant trivia. See the full story in our local Alaskan paper