My cousin Alice from Germany has been staying me this week and exploring Boston, and we’ve done quite a bit of cooking in the evenings.

On Saturday we cooked Indian: a dish of tomatoes and masoor daal (based on a recipe titled rasam, but it didn’t come out remotely like that, though it was tasty enough), potatos and eggplant with fenugreek seeds, and rice with fresh fenugreek leaves.

Monday, I made one of my favorite dishes … a Southeast Asian (quasi-Vietnamese) chicken soup with rice noodles. It’s all about the garnishes: we had bean sprouts, fresh mint and coriander, sliced chiles, lime wedges, and ginger paste.

Tuesday, we made a dish that Alice learned from her brother: rigatoni with winter squash. You basically cook the squash until it is soft, mash it with parmesan and black pepper, and then mix in the cooked pasta. Very good and not at all something that I’d normally make myself. We made it with buttercup squash which gave the whole dish a slightly flourescent yellowish-green color. Apparently it is even better when made with pumpkin.

On Wednesday we cooked cod with the remaining fresh fenugreek, together with couscous with dried cranberries (something that I picked up from Rosanna and Jonathan recently), and a relish of apple, minced serrano peppers, mint, and lemon juice. A real treat and less than a half hour of total preparation and cooking time.

Tonight we took leftover mashed squash from the pasta, and combined it with leftover chicken stock from the soup on Monday night, cooked it for a while with some pieces of star anise, then pureed it, and added a bit of cream. Voila, winter squash soup. We had that with good bread from Whole Foods and a cheese and bean sprout omelet.

All in all, it’s been a fun and tasty week.

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