On Your Mark, Get Set: Winter Layers Upon Layers
By Amri Abuseman
New York, NY –This year autumn in New York has been very mild, with daily temperatures averaging in the high 60s. Then, all of a sudden, last Saturday we got hit with the first snowstorm of the season. The quest for meals to keep me warm and get me through the cold months has begun.
Being from a tropical country (Malaysia), I have not gotten used to the cold weather despite living in the northern hemisphere for more than 17 years. Once the temperature hovers at 40F, I pile on layers to keep warm. This gave me the idea about layering food to achieve the same warmth.
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In this week’s Relay, I plan on using techniques and ingredients that layer flavors, texture, and taste of the dish. I wanted to continue exploring recipe ideas using winter squash, onions and green leafy vegetables, inspired by Brianna’s White Bean, Red Kuri and Kale Soup. On top of that, I plan on using warm spices like turmeric, cumin and cayenne to add some heat to the dish.
Chilies and spices are widely used in Southeast Asian cooking, mainly to encourage sweat to beat the hot and humid temperature. Growing up, I can hardly remember a day of not eating something spicy. So, when I moved here, cooking with spices reminds me of home.
To get this meal started I headed to the market. My first stop at the Union Square Greenmarket was Michisk’s Farm where I found a few varieties of kale. I usually get the curly-leaf kind, but this time around, I decided to try out Siberian kale with red stems and flat leaves; and dinosaur kale with dark green bumpy leaves. Personally, I feel that kale, a nutrient-rich vegetable available in the cold months, can ward-off any wintery ills.
Pumpkins, gourds and butternut squash were in abundance, especially because Halloween was just a few days away when I was shopping. I picked a medium-sized butternut squash to balance out the texture of kale and complement the spices. I also got some red and yellow cipollini onions to add to the flavor profile. I am purposely leaving out one mystery ingredient in this post, which I will reveal on Thursday. Come back for more winter layers, and stay tuned for a spicy adventure.
Amri Abuseman likes to try out new recipes and venture on food explorations when she’s not churning out software releases. She is also Sarah Maine’s designated Asian food ingredients person.