Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Curry in a Hurry

With the turn in weather, I find myself craving woollen socks, hot cocoa and warm, stick-to-your-bones sorts of foods. Coupled with the fact that Mr Cycling Chef is leaving shortly to bike around Central America for 6 weeks, I thought what better than a curry reminiscent of the flavours of the Americas? This, I think, is one of the best things about food. With a little imagination, a few choice ingredients and an adventurous palate, you can travel to far off and exotic places simply with your taste-buds. So I invite you to pack your bags and head down to Latin America with me.

This region is a true melting-pot of international flavours. You will find African, Native American, European and Asian influences intermingling with indigenous grains, produce and meats. Many of the foods that we know and love today are direct byproducts of this cultural interaction. Tomatoes brought us pizza sauce, potatoes became french fries, chillies now lend heat to Pad Thai and cacao turned into chocolate.

I have made this curry before with both butternut squash and pumpkin (both were delicious!) but this time around I tried a squash unknown to me. I won't lie, I chose it because I thought it was pretty. I'm shallow like that.

Hello! I am a red kuri squash and I am adorable. 

Red kuri squash is chock full of vitamins A and C, plus betacarotene, calcium and iron. And did I mention fibre? No? Because this little cutie has that going for it as well. 

This curry (or should I say, kuri?) has a delicate and sweet flavour and is not particularly spicy. Rather, it is seasoned with softer flavours, most notably cinnamon and saffron. 

Red Kuri Curry with Basmati Rice
Inspired by Celia Brooks Brown

Serves 4

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 bell pepper, finely diced
generous punch of cayenne
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
generous pinch of saffron threads
500g red kuri squash, chopped into 1/2" cubes
3 tomatoes, finely diced
1 large garlic clove
1 14oz can of coconut milk
salt and pepper
2 cups brown Basmati rice

  • Place rice in a pot with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium and add the oil. Add the onion and pepper and saute until translucent.
  • Add the spices and stir until fragrant.
  • Add the squash, tomatoes and garlic and cook until the tomatoes soften.
  • Add the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, until the squash is tender.
  • Serve alongside rice.
This is best eaten curled up on the sofa, wearing woollen socks and listening to the rain outside. 


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Bespoke Dining

Hello! And welcome to The Cycling Chef, where eating and cycling are celebrated as two of life's simple pleasures (although not necessarily at the same time. Eating while cycling can lead to indigestion and accidents, neither of which I recommmend. Just saying). For me though, the two are inextricably linked. I like to pack some snacks, hop on my noble steed and go for a ride in my beautiful hometown of Victoria, BC, all while keeping an eye out for the ideal picnic spot. Or meander my way through tree-lined streets to the local farmer's market, a cidery or a fantastic restaurant.

This is my cat, Basil. I figured I should introduce him, as he will most likely end up in some posts. I have two bikes (one is in the shop right now) and the one pictured here is Pippa. She's a small-framed little lady with a great rack and enjoys long sojourns and dinner by candlelight. 

It feels like everyone and their dog has a blog these days and I kinda hemmed and hawed a bit on making the decision to start one. What do I have to say that is so important? To be honest, I'm not sure I do! But I do know that I love food and I love to share food (and have food shared with me!). My relationship with food has been a tumultuous one. Born with severe food allergies, I was only able to eat yams and pineapple until the age of two. With the help of a specialist, I managed to reintroduce food over time, resulting in my ability to eat everything and anything. Life was sa-weet! Until I was 21, when I started to have some dietary issues. After many tests and elimination diets, it was determined that I suffer from Celiac Disease and cannot handle cow dairy very well. I had mixed feelings about this information. First, I was so happy to finally know what was wrong and how I could stop being in pain all the time and get back to being healthy. Second, I was a little bit crushed to know that I wouldn't be able to eat some of my favourite foods (Jarlsberg cheese on a fresh baguette from the Italian Bakery was about my favourite thing to eat. And ice cream. And any other kind of cheese. Chocolate croissants, almond croissants, Reese's Pieces, whipped cream and the focaccia at Pag's). But after a while, the cravings went away and I started to recreate my old favourites and create new ones. I had never been interested in cooking until that point in my life; I had always enjoyed baking because it was an exact science and I'm a little bit anal about taking directions. Sometimes things are a giant failure and other times, a resounding success. Throughout this journey, I have found myself following food blogs like Sprouted KitchenMy New RootsOh She Glows and 101 Cookbooks. I appreciate the wealth of delicious recipes and information that blogs like these provide, not to mention the beautiful photographs. How lucky I feel, to be welcomed to the table of a virtual stranger. If I can provide a little help, a little inspiration and a little knowledge to someone else with food limitations, I'll consider myself honoured. 

So what kind of recipes will you find here? Well, I can pretty much guarantee that they will all be gluten-free and cow dairy-free. A great deal of them will be vegan, most will be vegetarian and all will be made with kindness. I don't have a mandate or agenda here, I don't believe in labels and I'm not judgemental. I make decisions about what I eat, but those are my decisions and I don't hold anyone else to them. I generally don't like meat and have been an on-again-off-again (mostly on-again) vegetarian since I was a kid. There will be eggs, honey, goat and sheep cheese present, as well as the occasional bit of fish. Whole foods are the way I roll and I hope to prove that healthy can also be tasty!

So after this long-winded introduction, I leave you not with a recipe, but with some pictures of a bike trip that my boyfriend I took in September. There was much eating and drinking, riding and resting. I promise that the next post will feature a delicious recipe. Cheers! 

We loaded the bikes with the camping gear and headed off to Salt Spring Island for 4 days. It was glorious! Salt Spring Vineyards sits on the top of a hill (we found out there ain't nothin' but hills on Salt Spring) and they allow you full access to the vineyard. We enjoyed some of their wine and a brie-style goat cheese from here. The best thing about going up the hill to get there? The ride down afterwards! 

Don't let those big brown eyes fool you. The deer had excellent taste and proceeded to eat half a loaf of gluten-free banana bread and an entire bag of homemade quinoa porridge mix. I'm still holding a grudge. 

Goats at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. This place is so cool! The dairy is designed in such a way as to be an interactive self-tour. You walk around the outside of the building and get to learn about the different processes involved in cheese making. The whole place is designed with large windows for you to look in and there's a huge sampling table. Heaven! There was even goat gelato. As my friend Andy said, the great thing about riding hard is getting to eat with impunity. So we did!