Monthly Archives: October 2014

Halloween Soup: So easy it’s scary

 

Almost instant squash soup, with pro toppings for extra credit.

Almost instant squash soup, with pro toppings for extra credit.

This is the whiny thing I was going to post: “I give up. I will never, ever be able to produce an exact recipe for soup. I’m into my third pot of butternut squash soup of the season and have yet to really measure the ingredients, or actually even keep track of them. For me, homemade soup is like a hall pass to use whatever I have and crave at the moment….”

But then…but then…then it all changed. I discovered a trove of pumpkin/squash soup recipes that take the same basic ingredients and, with nary a knife unsheathed, produce a deliciously complex and satisfying soup. A soup that can be served hot in a big bowl as a meal, or cold in a shot glass as an appetizer.

I am including my non-recipe below, for when you have the time and ingredients to create something uniquely yours. In the meantime, here is the sheer brilliance of nearly instant pumpkin/squash soup.

A few notes: I love red curry paste so I probably sneak in a bit extra. You can also use red curry powder, though you would be missing out on the twin goodness of garlic and lemongrass.  I roast my own kabocha squash because its thicker and sweeter than other squash, and makes the house smell good. But dang, the option of opening two cans instead is money! Finally, I cannot tell you how much I love toasted unsweetened coconut flakes and the healthy, tasty, crunchy I daresay almost bacony finishing touch they add.

Now my little kitchen witches and goblins, go forth to your pantry and make some Halloween Soup!

Ingredients

2 Tbsp red curry paste (more or less to taste)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces (one carton)
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree (or 4ish cups cooked squash of choice.)
1 3/4 cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 Tbsp (slackers—pour in the whole
an and be done with it)
1 large red chili pepper, sliced (totally optional but a nice touch for hotties)
Cilantro for garnish if desired
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish if desired (strongly encouraged)

Method

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.
  2. Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.
  4. Serve with Best French Bread, Paleo Crackers, Dirt Bread or your dipper of choice.

And now for…

Edie’s Seat of Pants Squash Soup

While I can’t provide an exact recipe, I can provide a process, some ingredient guidelines and of course my sincere encouragement at every step. There really is nothing that says comfort like a pot of your own signature soup.

Ingredients

Olive oil (for silkiness)
Butter (for tastiness)
1 onion
1 apple or pear
Savories (your choice of curry, garam masala, cumin, dried or fresh herbs, fresh ginger, red or green curry paste, a squeeze from a tube of lemongrass paste my new fave go to ingredient.)

  • Optional deglazing hooch (sherry, wine, calvados, hard or regular apple cider)
  • Cooked winter squash (and/or any leftover cooked root vegetables)
  • Diced potato (if no leftover roasted potatoes were in your leftovers above)
  • Maple syrup, a tablespoon or more to taste
  • Chicken or vegetable broth

 Method

  • Saute chopped onions until slightly soft.
  • Add apple or pear and continue cooking until all are soft and starting to brown.
  • Add savories and continue to cook a minute or two, or until aromatic. You want to really get the flavor infused before adding liquid.
  • Just as you are thinking “OMG look at the stuff sticking to my pan!” pour in a healthy splash of deglazing liquid of choice and give the pot a good stir/scrape. Watch the browned bits disappear and rejoice as the liquid cooks down.
  • Add in broth and potatoes. If potatoes are raw let them cook for 10 minutes or so before adding squash. If cooked add them with squash.
  • Add squash and maple syrup. Continue cooking, giving flavors time to meld. I have no idea if this step is necessary, but it gives me ample time to check email, read The Skimm, take a shower or get through a few more minutes of Serial.
  • Turn off heat, let soup cool a bit and then process until smooth with an immersion blender (you just plain need one for fall) or in a blender.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with Best French Bread, Paleo Crackers, Dirt Bread or your dipper of choice and be very, very happy.
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Squash On!… on toast that is

 

Fall all over squash on toast

Fall all over yourself for these apps. Yep, they’re that good.

Foodwise, fall is my dream come true. First come the apples, and we’ve been through my apple addiction. They give us good excuses to make things like salted caramel cholliesauce and Joni Mitchell Apple Pie. Then comes Halloween season (it’s really not just a day you know) and all those excuses to make things like Crackle and Salty Malty Rice Krispy Treats with whatever Whoppers you didn’t polish off. And of course you’ve got the crock pot bubbling in the background with goodness like no-fuss chicken taco chili. Honestly though, what I love most are the fall veggies—the squash, brussels sprouts, beets and various roots all begging for their turn to get roasted in the oven.

In my fall food frenzy I’ve gone a little nutty on the winter squash, and now I find I’ll have to pace myself  because I have so many orange recipes to post. I’m starting with an appetizer, because it is the one that surprised me the most with its popularity and because party season is upon us!

Here, courtesy of  Jean Georges Vongerichten via NYT Minimalist Mark Bittman is the elegantly named “Squash on Toast.” I knew I’d like it well enough, because you know, the weirder the better. And onions caramelized into jam with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar? Come on! The mainstream was just as smitten. The first time I made these I brought them to a party and they were devoured. Crazy good.

Here we go with my disclosures. I used a kabocha squash, hollowed, filled with water and cooked whole in the oven. For cheese I used a spreadable brie because that’s what I had. Whipped cream cheese is also excellent. I adhered to directions and included the fresh mint which got high praise from all, so play by the rules here. For the bread I brushed thin slices of Easiest French Bread Ever with olive oil and toasted them in the oven. Make a lot of toasts so you don’t have to be mean and hide them from your family before party time.

Ok, squash on!

Ingredients

1 2 1/2- to 3-pound kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes, more to taste
3 tsp kosher salt
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave)
4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick
1/2 cup ricotta, goat cheese, feta or mascarpone
Coarse salt
4 Tbsp chopped mint

Preparation

1. Heat the oven to 450. Combine the squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, chile flakes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and toss well. Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook, stirring every few minutes, until tender and slightly colored, about 15 minutes or a little longer. Remove from the oven.
 2. Meanwhile, heat another 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onions and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well softened and darkening, at least 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and syrup, stir and reduce until syrupy and broken down, again at least 15 minutes or so; the mixture should be jammy.
3. Combine squash and onions in a bowl and smash with a fork until combined. Taste for seasoning.
4. Add the remaining oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add bread and cook until just golden on both sides, less than 10 minutes total; drain on paper towels. Spread cheese on toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with mint.

Bring It

Deconstructed is the only way to transport, and remember to bring the right sized platter and a spreading knife. When you get to your destination have a fine little chat while assembling the toasts (and try to keep up with production as they are eaten off the platter).

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Butternut Squash Casserole

Savory squash brings out the goodness of fall.

Savory squash brings out the goodness of fall.

For the October Ingredient of the Month, we quickly settled on butternut squash.  It is a perfect fall vegetable and something I always want to cook this time of year.  This recipe is called a casserole.  I always have trouble with this word. I can’t help but think of Cream of Mushroom soup spread over something mushy and unrecognizable.  To help overcome my issue with this word, I looked up the definition and here is what I found:

“A casserole, from the French word for “saucepan”, is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan”.

With this information, I was able to let go of my old definition , which was bringing me down and embrace this new definition. I was now thinking easy.  Who doesn’t want the cook vessel and serving vessel to be the same. The only thing that could make this better is if it were also the eating vessel too! 

I’m glad I forged ahead because this recipe combines some of the great flavors of fall with great flavors of New England – butternut squash, apple cider, and maple syrup. How can you not love this dish?  It’s like candy!  And if you are not already thinking of Thanksgiving side dishes, here is a start. This is definitely going on the list.  Enjoy this easy, tasty dish.

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Method

Combine squash and onion in 9×13 inch pan. In a small bowl, whisk together apple juice, olive oil, and maple syrup. Pour over squash and onions. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake for 15 more minutes or until tender.

To Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash

Click here to view a You Tube video of how to peel and cut a butternut squash

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Biscookies

Biscookies

Hot, sweet, buttery. Let’s not worry about what to call them (or that this picture looks like a mug shot). Let’s eat!

Who loves ya baby? Your family. First, you gave them Dutch Bunny, and now you’re going to give them Sunday morning biscuits. Not just any biscuits but biscuits brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with kosher salt. Yeah, now we’re talking. These come from the basement of Del Posto restaurant via Bon Appetit. I love the story of Rosa, the “linen lady” who was transferred to pastry duty in desperation and now practically runs the place. Go Rosa! She makes these for the staff so you know they’re full of love and goodness (and butter).

As a professional slacker I made slight modifications, in italics, which led to some pleasantly overbrowned and misshapen biscuits that my son christened biscookies. So here they are: biscuits, cookies, whatever. They’re just darned good, especially hot from the oven.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces; plus 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick), melted. Way too much. Half that for brushing on is plenty.
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overmix). Kneading was a sticky mess so I just stirred it up.

Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into 1” balls; place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart (you should have about 24). If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough until firm before baking, 15–20 minutes. I just spooned them out like cookie dough.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt. Serve warm.

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Sautéed Cabbage with Crisp Apples

Warm cabbage salad

Warm cabbage salad

I can’t stop with the apples! Here’s another recipe to help you use up all those great tart apples you have on hand. It also uses apple cider vinegar and apple cider – so all the bases are covered!

This coleslaw is vibrant, just like the foliage right now…perfect for a fall gathering with friends. You can sauté the cabbage to your liking – wilted, soft, or quite crispy. It’s up to you. And this is quite easy to make so go grab the ingredients and whip this up.

To give full credit, this recipe is from Clean Start, by Terry Walters. I’ve posted other recipes from her cookbooks. They have such beautiful food photos and they are all about “enjoying healthy, delicious, clean food every day”.  

Ingredients

1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp mirin
1 apple (tart, firm variety)
Salt

Dressing:
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp apple cider

Method

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion in oil 6 minutes or until very soft. Stir in cabbage and mirin and continue sautéing until cabbage starts to soften (about 4 minutes or to your liking). Remove from heat, add cranberries and set aside.

In a small dry skillet over low heat, lightly toast the mustard seeds for 2 minutes or until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar, and apple cider and whisk 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Core apple and cut into thin slices. Return cabbage to medium heat, add apples, drizzle with dressing and fold to coat evenly through. Season to taste with salt, remove from heat and serve.

Bring It

Easy, just throw it in a bowl and BRING IT! J

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