Three Very Good Things: Squash and Coffee Soup, Lo Bak Go, and Honey Lemon Tea

{This is part of a series in which I share three delicious things recently tasted and enjoyed. Please feel free to share your 3VGT list in the comments below, or on your own blog!}

My latest “three very good things” are as follows:

~ Red Kuri Squash Soup with Arabica Whipped Cream

I was just in Valence for a work project, and had the opportunity to dine at one of Anne-Sophie Pic’s establishments: not the three-star gastronomic restaurant, but her chic bistro, simply called Le 7 (after the highway that runs alongside it!).

We had a wonderful evening and ate very well, and I was especially taken with my first course, a velvety soup of potimarron (a.k.a. Hokkaido or red kuri squash) served with a scoop of whipped cream spiked with Arabica coffee.

I had heard about another vegetable/coffee pairing that Pic does, partnering beets with Blue Mountain coffee, and this one works just as well, shaking up the sweetness of the winter squash with a measured touch of bitterness. Coffee is an underused ingredient in savory cooking; shouldn’t we all do something to change that?

~ Lo Bak Go

It’s become a bit of a tradition for Maxence and me to celebrate his birthday with dinner at our all-time favorite restaurant, Yam’Tcha*. The meal was spectacularly this year, as it always is, but the dish that stood out for me was course number three, which the chef, Adeline Grattard, introduced as her take on lo bak go, a steamed turnip cake that is traditionally made to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

I wasn’t familiar with the dish so I looked it up, and although recipes I’ve found out there call for dried shrimp and Chinese sausages, her version seemed to be mostly grated Chinese daikon bound together with rice flour and starch. It was also topped with a snowfall of microplaned truffle, which never hurts, but I was absolutely smitten with the unique texture of the turnip cake, soft and sticky and marvellously goopy, an effect only rice flour can achieve.

* Yam’Tcha will close at the end of February and until mid-May, while Adeline Grattard and her husband Chi Wah Chan attend to dining room renovations and family stuff.

~ Honey Lemon Tea

I’ve been knocked flat by a pretty bad cold for almost a week, something that hardly ever happens to me fortunately, and while my appetite had gone fishing, I held on to my mug of honey lemon tea for dear life.

I’m not talking about anything you can buy in sachets at the store. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned way of making honey lemon tea: a generous squeeze of lemon juice (bottled is fine if squeezing feels insurmountable), a teaspoonful of honey (I used a creamy spring honey we brought back from Alsace), and boiling water poured on top.

Stir to dissolve, go back to bed, and breathe in the steam until the beverage has cooled enough that you can drink it, and soothe your aching throat.

  • Feel better soon!

  • hi clotilde,

    sorry to hear you’ve been feeling under the weather – hope you’re all better now!

    if lo bak go is what is called daikon-mochi in japanese (which probably is), it’s one of my all-time favorite chinese dishes/treats! i usually use shredded daikon, rice flour, and a bit of dried shrimp. haven’t made it in ages but now you’ve mentioned it, i think i might be whipping up a batch soon.

    p.s. got a box of es koyama chocolate which includes the daitokuji-natto one along with others with interesting-sounding flavors. excited! :)

    • Daikon mochi sounds like an apt name for those turnip cakes! And if you post about your recipe sometime, I’d love to read about it. And I’m envious of your access to those chocolates! :)

  • Oh no! Feel better soon. In Germany, what you’re drinking is called a Heiße Zitrone (hot lemon) and it is the best medicine.

  • Squash and coffee?! I would never put those flavours together, but it looks like a great soup! I want to taste it!

  • Feel better soon. There’s lots of colds going around here as well.

  • What a great idea to take a coffee flavored spin on the squash soup! Will def. have to give that a shot.

  • I hope you’re feeling better and that the soothing lemon honey tea helps.

    I also can’t imagine pairing coffee and squash but am so glad someone has been creative enough to think of and try something completely different like this.

  • Honey lemon tea? Thanks.

  • I make vegetarian chili with a shot of espresso and a little cocoa. I don’t even like coffee as a drink, but it is perfect here for making the dish richer.

    Get well soon!

    • That chili sounds wonderful! Have you posted your recipe anywhere?

  • Liz Thomas

    Hope you are feeling better. A slug of brandy in that hot lemon is good too. Doesn’t cure you but sure makes you feel better!

    I’ve never heard of a coffee/veg combination either but I feel that coffee and pumpkin would work. I’m going to try this.

    A recipe I found years ago — I cannot remember where so unfortunately I cannot credit the author — is a beef casserole with coffee in the gravy. I’ve tweaked it somewhat over the years and now I call it “Bica Beef”. It’s very good and the coffee makes the gravy quite rich but not coffee flavoured. What you’d call a “secret” ingredient perhaps!


    • Great suggestion. I add chocolate to my boeuf bourguignon, and coffee isn’t so different!

  • I hope you’ll feel better soon. I drink honey lemon tea when sick too. I belive it has magical properties when it comes to colds. ;)

    I don’t often use coffee in my cooking (but I agree, it should be used way more often) but what I absolutely adore is a cheese plate with parmigiano reggiano or similar hard, spicy cheeses trickled with honey and sprinkled with freshly ground coffee. Delish!

    • That cheese plate sounds so intriguing, I’ll have to try that!

      • If you do, let me know what you think. :

  • Natasa

    Try adding some fresh ginger juice in that hot lemon tea – this is some sort of natural medicine that really works! Even better, instead of honey (which as fas as I know is not supposed to be put in boiling water) try using barley malt syrup…

    • Richard

      You beat me to it! We also make that, with fresh lemon, honey, and some sliced fresh ginger.

  • Three very good things:

    1)Lait ribot drunk cold from the fridge, with a dash of lingonberry syrup whisked into it.
    2)Potatoes cooked on the fire – we need our log fire in all day these cold days, and have been taking advantage of it as free cooking heat – with some best unpasteurised butter from the same farm as the lait ribot.
    3) Guernissons/bricolins from our local food box scheme, Voisins de Paniers (as were all the above items, except the lingonberry syrup, which I have to admit came from Ikea!). I was delighted to find that these are so obscure that the only other reference to them on the internet was on a Gallo patois website, a short memoir in basic HTML! They are the hearts of the winter cattle feed cabbages, very green and tasty, like a tender kind of kale. Just simply steamed and chopped, with the butter or with walnut oil and a few chopped walnuts.

    Get well soon, lemon and honey is simply the best.

    • Lovely trio of very good things, Lucy, thanks for sharing! And I’d never heard of those cabbage hearts either. Interesting!

  • that honey lemon tea is great! i use it all the time and sometimes even as a preventive measure. but you know a little bit of grater ginger or a stick of cinnamon immersed just briefly in the mug works wonders too. it gives that extra little bit needed to take your through the night! i hope you feel better soon!

  • Thanks for the tea idea. I have a bad cold and spend my nights couhing away. Hopefully my throat will smooth. Besos.

  • I’ve had coffee BBQ sauce over grilled chicken… delicious!

    • Liz Thomas

      Oh, that sounds delicious Malli — do you by any chance have a recipe?

      Funny thing is that I don’t drink coffee, don’t like it but I find it works in food and I like sweet coffee dishes like with chocolate!

  • christiana

    Clotilde, hope you are felling better!
    In my honey and lemon flu beverage, I also add 1/2 tsp of cayenne warms you and your throat up to a nice comfy temperature, and it works to get things moving along!

  • Betsy

    1) roo + veggie pot pie
    A lunch I made while working at home the other day. Kangaroo mince, peas, grated carrot, rosemary, little bit of soaked linseeds, salt, slices of potato on top. Delicious. There will be more kangaroo pies in my future!

    2) coffee
    I have a coffee grinder on loan at the moment, so I can grind beans (which I bought at a plantation while travelling a while back and have saved in the freezer until I found a grinder) and drink right away! I don’t know if it’s the freshness of the grinding or the beans themselves, but it’s so much better than what I was drinking at home before

    3) biscuits
    I made your Almond & Orange Blossom Croquants a few days ago, with orange juice + zest instead of orange blossom water. Eating them fresh from the oven with the above coffee made for a very lovely morning tea indeed :) Merci!

    • This all sounds very good, Betsy! Regarding the coffee grinder, I just thought I’d mention that I got one second-hand on an auction website for a very low price. I myself use it for spices rather than coffee, but if you find it changes your life, it may be worth considering!

  • I grew potimarron in my garden this year, and next year I will be planting more. They were delicious, and I love that the skin is edible.

    I hope you are feeling better–honey and lemon are wonderful medicine.

  • Love honey-lemon tea – my mom always makes that tea for me when I am sick too! Now, I’ve started doing it myself…and I actually do the juice of a whole lemon to give myself a good does of vitamin C! :)

  • Honey and lemon (not tea, surely – nothing is infused!) is even better with a slug of whisky. But even without, it’s a great cold cure.

    I’m knocked flat by a virus and it really does sound like a plan!

  • I hope you’re feeling better! I would have never thought to pair squash and coffee but that soup looks amazing.

  • Kristin

    Oh…your post had me nodding my head in the charm of happy coincidences and shared experiences. First, I grew up being giving mugs of honey lemon tea whenever I had a soar throat. It’s probably one of my earliest food memories. Now I swear by ginger tea with honey. Magical stuff for soothing soaring throats. Second: I just made a Japanese kabocha squash soup with coconut milk. I wish I’d thought to add some coffee–it would have been even more perfect for a warm winter breakfast. I actually like to add coffee to my oatmeal (which I make with bananas and either soy, coconut or almond milk). I normally just put in a few dashes of coffee granules. I love that dark, smokiness the coffee adds to the sweet bananas and toasty oats. Third: lobakho is one of my favorite dim sum items. I’ve made it at home once or twice I love it so much. A chinese friend of mine uses lobakho as her benchmark for measuring the quality of the restaurant who serves it. And last: I dream of Yam’tcha; it’s number one on my Paris wish list! Hope you’re feeling better and thanks for an inspiring post. Oh…and I’m in the midst of making a set of napkins per your last post. I loved that they were double sided. I’m using some Japanese indigo prints for one side and an Ikea black and white cloud print for the other.

    • Wow, this certainly resonated with your own experiences! Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Sharen

    hi~I’m Taiwanese, and I love “lo bak Go”, it’s actually the sound translation of CHinese Daikon cake. The cake word in Chinese means products made from flour (rice flour, wheat flour…)and takes the shape of a cuboid or flat cylindor shape. You can use the shrimp or chinese sausage or not, it depends what kind of taste you want to acheive. Pure Chinese Daikon with a pinch of white pepper, and salt tastes great too! It’d be even better if you use soaked white rice and blend it with water to replace the rice flour. It is fresher and tastes much better!

    • Thanks for the info and tips! I assume the soaked white rice is cooked first, right?

      • Sylvia

        Salut Clotilde! Non, le riz pas cuisiner avant. Il est cuit à la vapeur au cours du processus du gâteau. Réfrigérer jusqu’à froid, coupez dans p’t tranches, puis poêlé. Voilà, comment nous le faisons dans ma famille cantonaise. :)

  • I don’t want to sound like a broken record with regards to the coffee squash combo in soup…but that sound a looks delicious. I was aware of using coffee with certain desert dishes. Never did the idea came to me by adding coffee to my meals. Thank you for the idea. Great site!

  • Nancy Wood

    I agree with adding grated ginger to the honey/lemon tea. Sometimes i add a splash of orange juice and always a dash of cayenne pepper, to really warm the throat! Feel better soon.

  • lillian

    lo bak go is sooo good. especially if you pan fry it up add a little sirracha hot sauce and you are good to go! i love eating my mom’s.

  • I love honey lemon tea :) Are you try it tea with heney and milk? it’s great!

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