Where do I begin? This week has been insane - but in the best way. On Friday I found out I won for Best Main Dish in the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Contest. Remember that Lentil & Chickpea Curry with Coconut Milk? That was the winning entry! Lucky, indeed. Thank you so much to Canadian Lentils for the recognition. I'm super pumped, and that Amazon gift card is going to be put to good use: new chef's knife, maybe an ice cream maker because I keep whining that I don't have one. And books. Like this one, and this one. And maybe the Drive soundtrack, if only to remind me of Ryan Gosling every time I hear it. Le sigh.
Then yesterday happened. I was listed amongst the The Best Canadian Food Bloggers in the National Post. Pinch me. Really. When I got the email Wednesday evening from Nathalie Atkinson wanting to interview me for the article in Saturday's paper, well I freaked out. I called Stacy and we were both like "holy cow"! Well, we had other words to say, but those are the ones I'm going to print. Nathalie then called me bright and early Thursday morning and we chatted and she asked me really good questions and I tried not to sound like a huge dork. To see the interview for real Saturday morning made my life, my year. Plus being listed amongst such food blogging talent still makes me spin around my living room. The cats think I'm totally bonkers, but what else is new. Thank you Nathalie and the National Post for such an amazing honour. The fact that I was noticed blogging away in my little corner of the country is incredibly flattering. And a huge thank you goes to my readers, old and new, because without you there would be no Sweetsugarbean. The fact that you guys check into this space now and again to read my ramblings and leave comments and make my recipes is the best thing about this blog. To know that I make a difference in your day is the reason I keep telling you about what's happening in the little green kitchen. So thank you times a million. One day I'll have a big ass party in the backyard and you all are invited!
So many good things are happening to me right now I've got bruises from the pinching to see if it's really real. Maybe the stars are aligning perfectly or some kindly soul is looking down on me with good fortune. Or maybe it just shows that hard work and doing what you love will eventually work out in your favour. About ten years ago, I'd contemplated giving up cooking as a profession. The money was crap, the hours were crap, and I didn't feel satisfied creatively. Working in a kitchen is tough business. I was ready to throw in the towel and go back to University. But I stuck it out. Hope will do that to you. Truth is I couldn't imagine doing anything else but cooking professionally. Through sidewinding events of serendipity I am where I am now, doing what I love and look at that - I'm listed amongst the top food bloggers in all of Canada, and I have an original recipe published with Canadian Lentils. That Oprah lady sure knows what she's talking about.
I've wanted to tell you about this soup for awhile, but with all of this good stuff happening, it's been hard to sit down at the computer without having my mind wander away on me. But the snow is again falling here in Saskatoon (?!) so this Sunday seemed like a good time to talk soup. It's a straight forward recipe, full of my favourite aromatics: ginger, garlic, red curry paste, coconut milk, lime juice and maple syrup. The whole triumvirate of curry, lime and maple is pretty amazing here. If you have a bunch of carrots hanging out in the crisper and you don't know what do with them, give them a good chop, simmer in broth, and purée them into creamy oblivion. It's only soup, but to really crank it over the edge, why don't you bread some shrimpies in a coconut/Panko crust, give them a hot oil bath and set them atop your lovely orange bowl of goodness. Don't forget the squeeze of lime!
There is a third thing that happened this week, and it's the best of the bunch. I'm pinching myself just this second to make sure it's really real. Seeing as it's early days I can't tell you yet, even though I totally want to and I hate keeping secrets from y'all. I want to tell you in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS because it's so damn good, but I'm gonna keep it under my hat for just a little longer, so as not to jinx it all to hell. But I will tell you this: it's not about the blog, or about food even. It's just really good and I'm really happy. This week has been the best ever, and I can't seem to stop smiling or dancing around the house. If I were a good whistler, I'd probably be doing that too. All I know is that I don't want this good feeling to end. I'm on a roll.
Curried Carrot Soup with Coconut Crusted Shrimp
2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
5 1/2 - 6 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1-2 tsp Thai red curry paste OR Indian curry paste OR 3 tsp curry powder (this is a heat preference issue - you decide how much to use. I used a heaping tsp of red curry paste and it was medium heat)
6 cups of chicken or veggie broth
1 can of coconut milk
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large soup pot. Toss in the onions, and cook until soft and translucent about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and carrots and cook a few more minutes. Add the curry paste and cook a couple of minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and either with a blender or immersion blender, puree the soup. Return to heat, stir in the can of coconut milk, lime zest and juice, maple syrup. If too thick, thin with more stock. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the crusted shrimp. Makes 4 servings.
Coconut Crusted Shrimp
11-12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
zest of one lime
Rinse and pat dry shrimp. Beat egg in small bowl. Combine the dry ingredients and lime zest in another bowl. Dip the shrimp into egg then into crumb mixture. Place on a small plate. Repeat with rest of shrimp. Heat oil in skillet (about 1 inch or so) and when the oil is hot, dip the shrimp in and fry one side then the other until golden and pink. This happens quickly! Remove and drain on paper towel lined plate. Serve on top of soup.
My sister and I spent Saturday afternoon together, having a celebratory lunch and shopping session. She totally didn't want her picture taken because she thought she was covered in cat hair, but I'm older and the boss of her so I snapped anyway. Love you Juan. xoxo