Friday, November 21, 2008

There's nothin' like a bowl of squash soup on a cold night

There are a lot of versions of butternut squash soup - smooth, creamy, thick, spicy, curried. I love all things squash, but when I make it myself, I make this super easy light version. of butternut squash soup. The ingredients and quantities are a little vague, but I promise you - you can't screw this up.

olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 butternut squash
2 potatoes (any variety)
2 carrots (sometimes I throw in a parsnip too, if I have them)
1 apple
2-4 cups veggie or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
dash cayenne or red pepper flakes, chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Peel and chop all vegetables. (It doesn't really matter how big or small you chop things because it is all going to be pureed, but it's best to chop all of the harder veggies about the same size). Saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, the apple and bay leaf, and cover with stock. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. When the veggies are soft, let cool a little before blending with a stick blender or in a food processor or blender (be careful blending hot things!). Return to soup pot and season with salt and pepper and other herbs if desired. Garnish with croutons (as in photo), toasted pumpkin seeds, sour cream, or fresh herbs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My review of Chard Gratin recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

This was my first recipe review for the CHOW's Cookbook of the Month.

This was a fabulous way to use up a bunch of greens I had bought at the Farmers Market last week. Recipe was simle and easy to follow, I have just a couple of suggestions: 1) next time I would add a little more milk - the finished result was tasty but could've been a little moister. 2) If you use chard the cooking time would probably be appropriate, but since I used mixed greens (including some tougher types like collards), I pre-cooked the greens a little longer. All in all a very tasty healthier and heartier version of "creamed spinach".

Here's the original recipe:

from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food


1 1/2 bunches chard, washed and stemmed, saving half of the stems
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. After washing and stemming the chard, save half the chard stems and slice them thinly. Cook the stems for about 2 minutes in 2 quarts boiling salted water. Add the chard leaves and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid from the stems and leaves and coarsely chop them.
2. Toss the breadcrumbs with 2 teaspoons melted butter. Toast them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, stirring now and then, until lightly brown, about 10 minutes.
3. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the diced onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons flour over the onion-chard mix. Stir well and add 1/2 cup milk and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more milk if the mixture gets too thick. The chard should be moist but not floating in liquid. Taste and add salt if needed.
4. Butter a small baking dish. Spread the chard mixture evenly in the dish and dot with 2 teaspoons butter. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake in a 350°F oven until the gratin is golden and bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yu-um! I'm not sure what was more delicious this morning - the breakfast I made or the photo I took of it with our new camera! I now have a new tool to further my obsession with food and writing and reading about it.

My first model was the breakfast I made for MO and myself on this beautiful Sunday morning: Poached Eggs over Fried Green Tomatoes and Toast. I dusted sliced green tomatoes* in cornmeal, then pan-fried them until golden brown. I messily poached some eggs (a technique that I definitely have to work on), layered them with the tomatoes on toast and topped it all with a mixture of chopped red tomatoes*, parsley*, a splash of champagne vinegar and s&p. It was delicious and fresh and we didn't even miss the rich hollandaise that would normally drown a dish like this at a restaurant.

* = from our garden!