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Posts Tagged ‘butternut’

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Fall ushers in soup time. The house is cool enough that I can leave a pot of chicken stock on the back of the stove overnight, and winter squash and root veggies are everywhere and make hearty, warming meals.

I made this butternut squash soup for lunch. Butternut squash soup is perhaps the most ubiquitous winter vegetable soup and is so easy to make.

I cut about three inches off the small end of a butternut squash and chopped it into 1″ cubes. In a saucepan I covered them with water and boiled until tender. I drained some (but not all) of the water and added homemade chicken stock– ladled right out of the pot (about 1 1/2 cups). After throwing in a large clove of garlic, salt, pepper, about 1/2 t each of ancho chile powder and paprika, and 1/4 t cumin, I blended it until it was fairly smooth. It’s better to start with less liquid and add after blending so you get a consistency that appeals to you.

When served you can add chopped parsley or cilantro and avocado…

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i received a himalayan salt block for christmas from my ex- husband, i had been really curious about cooking on one. i decided to start off slow, with grilled apricots and butternut squash. the salt block did impart a bit of a salty flavor, but it was very complimentary and not overwhelming in the slightest.

i macerated the apricots in some locally hand- crafted aqua vit, a splash of triple sec, and some sugar. i just rubbed the squash with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

while the apricots were stewing in the aqua vit, i heated the salt block. i started it on a low flame, then slowly increased the flame every 15 minutes for almost an hour [it’s about 45 minutes for a smaller block to get it to cooking temperature]. i never let the flame get past medium. i took a small sliver of squash with nothing on it and stuck it in the corner as a temperature control.

when the block was adequately heated, i drained the apricots, put a little butter on the slab, then arranged my apricots stone side down. i was amazed that they sizzled immediately, and after a few minutes the butter was browning beautifully.

i flipped the apricots over and allowed them to cook on the other side. at this point i turned off the flame, but let it sit on the hot burner grate. i sprinkled the tops with a little sugar and flipped them once more on their stone- side to see if the sugar would caramelize nicely. it did.

i squeezed a blood orange into a pan with the liquid from the apricot maceration and added some honey, about 1 t of butter, and a bit more sugar. i let it come to a boil until the sugar was dissolved and it was a little syrupy.

when i removed the apricots from the block, i started the squash. they browned and cooked through quickly. i ate the apricots for lunch with the syrup dripped over and some whipped cream.

i was very pleased with the results. i was glad that i tried something manageable and not meat or fish. but that’s next!

EPILOGUE

so, if you have read by blog before, and you are still unconvinced of my excitement for food [and this blog], i offer some evidence. i ate the apricots at my desk while i downloaded, saved, uploaded, and wrote this post. and not only did i leave the kitchen a complete disaster, but i left the butternut squash on the salt block. the squash became shrunken and salty to the point of being inedible, and circles where the slices had cooked become canals; the slices had sweat and dissolved the salt block. live and learn.

i left the block on the stove burner to allow it to cool slowly. i cleaned the salt block with a sponge that has one of those textured sides [but not abrasive], then just wiped the moisture off with a paper towel. a brush is also recommended, and a patina will develop over time. the block needs to dry thoroughly before next use, overnight. evidently a salt block has a life expectancy of about 24 uses, so plan accordingly. now i have to go clean the kitchen…

[that’s a pot full of stock i made after roasting a turkey yesterday, sitting on the back burner of the stove. looks like soup again soon…]

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this was my hair-brained idea for lunch, that usurped my day. it turned out well, although next time it will be better. still, it was very yummy.

i started this morning by making crepes. i was going to do a sweet baked crepe thing, but then decided i wanted something savory.

for the crepes, beat 3 eggs with 4 T of low- fat milk. add 4T of flour and a pinch of salt. let rest for 20 minutes or more, then make the crepes. put butter in a skillet over medium heat, and add butter. when it is sizzling, add about 1/4 cup of the batter and swirl the pan so that the crepe covers the bottom of the pan. the crepes should be slightly bigger than the pan you will bake the dish in. flip crepe and allow to cook briefly, then remove. put a bit more butter in pan before each crepe, although not much is needed. try to make one crepe that is bigger than the rest. put crepes on a plate under a dishcloth and set aside.

cut about half of a butternut squash into large chunks. add 2 cloves of garlic and a couple of chunks of ginger root. add about a 1/2 cup of water to the lidded dish and microwave until squash is soft. drain water. remove ginger and mash squash and garlic while hot. add 1T chopped fresh sage.

while the squash is cooking, prepare the volute sauce. make a roux from 2 T butter and 3 T of flour. saute until light brown but not burned. add 2 cups of hot milk or half and half. stir until thickened. add 1/4 c white wine, some cayenne pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, salt to taste, and ground black pepper. when squash is done, transfer the ginger to the volute.

the trick to this dish is to minimize the amount of liquid that comes out of the squash. allow the squash to cool completely, so that a lot of moisture evaporates. if the squash seems really wet, put in a skillet with a little olive oil, and allow the squash to condense a bit to evaporate some of the moisture.

when the squash has cooled, mix in two beaten egg yolks and 2 T flour. beat egg whites until stiff. fold egg whites into squash mixture with as few strokes as possible as to not deflate the whites. if the squash is still warm, add some squash into the egg yolks first to temper the eggs, then add to the rest of the squash.

put about 2 T of melted butter in an oven- proof dish that is slightly smaller than the diameter of your crepes. brush butter to coat entire inside of the dish.

put the largest crepe in the bottom of the dish [i used an iron skillet]. spoon some of the squash mixture on top of the crepes. spoon some of the volute on top, and some grated cheese. i used a goat gouda, which was fantastic. continue to layer, splitting the filing amounts depending on the number of crepes you have, knowing you will end with a crepe, volute, and grated cheese, but not the squash filling.

continue to layer, ending with a crepe, the volute sauce, and grated cheese. bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. gently open the door and cut vents in the top with a sharp knife, to allow steam to escape. bake for another 20 minutes or so until the top is brown. let rest for about 10 – 15 minutes after, to allow more moisture to escape. cut into wedges and serve.

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