I've updated by roasted butternut squash soup recipe by adding a unique winter spice blend. This blend has everything from orange peel and candied ginger to pink peppercorns and cinnamon sticks. The roasted quash with its delicate yet subtly sweet flavor is the perfect vehicle to bring out this array of spices (and flavors!) And making it was an absolute cinch.Read More
Winter Cooking Favorites
Nothing says cozy to me like a warm bowl of soup made with autumnal squash. I strayed from my traditional pumpkin soup since I didn't have any fresh pumpkins on hand--just a butternut squash and an acorn squash. Since acorn squash isn't very sweet (or orange for that matter), I also threw in a few small carrots and an apple for good measure.
This recipe uses coconut milk instead of cream. I converted to coconut milk in my squash soups after hosting a fall dinner party last year for friends, many of whom don't consume dairy. I made two pumpkin soups--one that was vegan and dairy free and one that wasn't. The vegan one was by far superior, and I've been using coconut milk ever since.
I've tried this recipe with boxed or canned squash, and I highly recommend roasting fresh squash. By roasting the squash, you get a wonderfully nutty flavor that imparts an elegant complexity to the soup. Also, I'll include what I used in this soup, but with any soup, be open to free styling. You don't have to follow the recipe exactly. If you like your soups thin, you'll want to add a little more water. If you like them thick, a little less water. As a Louisiana girl who's no stranger to spicy food, I love the kick from the curry powder and cayenne pepper, but maybe you'll want to tone those flavors down. Make this soup your own!
Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
One butternut squash, quartered
One acorn squash, quartered
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small carrots, roughly chopped
One small apple peeled, cored and chopped
One can of coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon curry powder
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Roasted Pumpkin seeds, to garnish (optional)
A note about garnishes: Here's your chance to really go wild. Try topping it with roasted walnuts, crumbled chèvre, sautéed shrimp or crispy bacon. I also used pumpernickel croutons which were an excellent vehicle to soak up this soup with, made from my botched pumpernickel bread making this weekend.
Place the quartered acorn squash and butternut squash on a lined baking sheet. You can leave the pulp and seeds in tact. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and bake in an oven at 375 F for about one hour. The squash should be lightly browned and have a few brown spots. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove the stringy pulp and seeds with a spoon. Scoop the remaining flesh out and reserve in a bowl.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute them until they soften, about five minutes. Add the carrots and sauté an additional five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Add the chopped apples, squash, coconut milk (reserve a couple of tablespoons to use as a garnish), maple syrup, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne powder, curry, fresh thyme & vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer on low, covered, for about 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup**, or transfer the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning by tasting the soup to see if it needs anything else. If the flavors aren't there yet, add a little more salt. Or maybe you want to add a little more curry powder. If it's too thick, add a little water to thin it out. This is the most important step--be bold in making sure your soup is flavorful.
Transfer the soup to bowls and garnish with coconut milk, fresh thyme, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, or any other toppings you fancy. Serve immediately.
**I purchased an immersion blender after accidentally pouring piping hot soup on myself instead of in the blender. Be very careful!
I have decided to celebrate the 25 days leading up to Christmas by blogging about a different holiday delight each day for the next 25 days. Over Thanksgiving, I had a number of people ask for tips on easy holiday dishes, so I'm going to label each dish over the next days as either "Piece of Cake" (fairly simple) or "Impressive challenge" (multiple complex steps). I've decided to start these 25 days off with a bang--a sophisticated twist on the classic pumpkin pie that finds its way to so many of our dinner tables around the holidays.
Day 1- Pumpkin White Chocolate Mousse Pie
Difficulty: Impressive Challenge
This pumpkin pie has the airy and custardy texture of mousse and is sweetened with white chocolate. The crust is made from pulverized gingersnap cookies and melted butter, and the hard crunch of the cookie crust provides the perfect balance to the light and airy pumpkin mousse custard.
- FOR THE CRUST
- 6 ounces gingersnap cookies, pulverized
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- FOR THE FILLING
- 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (the finer its chopped, the more easily it will melt!)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the pie crust. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until finely ground; transfer to a bowl. Add the melted butter and use your hands to combine. Press the crust over the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until set. Transfer to a rack and cool.
- Prepare the filling. Place 1/3 cup of water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the finely-chopped white chocolate in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar.
- In a small saucepan, simmer 3/4 cup of the heavy cream with the bay leaf, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla for 1 minute. Discard the bay leaf. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle the heavy cream mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk in the gelatin mixture. Immediately pour the hot egg mixture over the white chocolate; let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and salt until incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cold, about 1 hour.
- Once the mixture is cold, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form; gently fold into the pumpkin filling until incorporated.Dollop the filling into the baked crust and spread in an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
My studio apartment may be 375 square feet, but that didn’t stop me from serving a four-course dinner for eight, which included an intermezzo course of...Read More
Fall is settling upon us, and it's the perfect time for a saucy pasta dish that will stick to your bones! This homemade bolognese uses poblano peppers to spice things up; although, the heat is tempered by the vegetables, cream and pasta in the dish. The cream not only thickens the bolognese, but adds a hearty richness to the red sauce. Top it with freshly shaved, aged parmesan for a surprisingly elegant twist on this homemade bolognese. I unapologetically and unabashedly got a second helping. And finished it!
Although the prep time is only about 20 minutes, it needs to simmer for quite some time. This is a perfect dish to make on a leisurely winter or fall afternoon. This recipe is adapted from Tasting Table.
- 2 carrots
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound ground beef chuck or ground turkey
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 box fettuccine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- aged parmesan, freshly shaved or grated
- Pulse first three ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add one tablespoon olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed skillet (such as a cast iron skillet or Le Creuset dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the meat and cook until it has browned and the fat has been rendered, about 15 minutes. Drain the fat, and transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to the heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until they have softened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Add the wine. Cook until it has reduced by half, about ten minutes.
- Crush the tomatoes with your hands. Add the crushed tomatoes, browned meat, bay leaves, nutmeg, and thyme sprigs.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for one hour with the top of the skillet or dutch oven slightly ajar.
- Prepare pasta according to directions. Drain, and reserve one cup of of the cooking water.
- Once the sauce has simmered for an hour, add butter to a separate large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add finely chopped poblano pepper and cook until fragrant, about two minutes.
- Finally, add the sauce, reserved cooking water, and heavy cream. Cook for an additional five minutes. Add pasta and toss, coating the fettuccine with the sauce. Once plated, top with freshly grated parmesan.
Start 2014 with this simple, delicious, vegetable-ridden hash. It uses vegetables that are still in season, so you should be able to find them fresh at your grocer. Plus, it's loaded with proteins and veggies, and is naturally GF, paleo, etc.
This recipe is super versatile and can be served at brunch, or even at dinner. Also, you can substitute some of the bacon (or all of it!) with andouille sausage to add an extra kick. I only used half of the recommended bacon, and substituted andouille sausage. Next time, I will use no bacon and all Andouille Sausage! For a vegetarian variation: substitute the bacon for vegetarian sausage.
Winter Vegetable Hash Recipe, adapted from Southern Living
Ingredients: 4 thick slices bacon (or 6 ounces Andouille Sausage) 1-2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium-sized onion, chopped 1 medium-sized sweet potato (10 ounces) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes 2 medium turnips (12 ounces total), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 pound small, fresh brussels sprouts, quartered 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- Cook bacon (or sausage/veggie sausage) in a skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon; drain, reserving 1-2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Coarsely chop bacon.
- Add olive oil to hot drippings in skillet (for about 3 tablespoons oil total--adjust to taste). Cook onion and sweet potato in hot oil and drippings over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add turnips; cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.
- Combine vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic, and vinegar mixture to skillet. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in bacon; add salt and pepper to taste.