Archive for the ‘squash’ Category

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes

 

We’ve had snow here in Seattle. Some areas have been harder hit than our house, but in the Seattle area even a couple of inches of snow is enough to bring the city to a standstill.

Luckily, before the snow hit, I fortified our home with supplies to get us through the storm (though we are running tragically low on Rum) including plenty of options for soup. To me, nothing tastes better on a cold, snowy night than a steaming hot bowl of soup.

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about this particular soup, but after I posted the photo above a friend asked for the recipe. Since it had turned out so tasty I thought why not share it. However, since I hadn’t planned a post, the iPhone photo above is the only photo I have, no process photos. The steps are fairly straightforward though.

I served the soup with foccacia bread that I had dotted with kalamata olives. The salty tang was nice with the soup but any bread will do in a snow storm.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
If you are not a fan of tomatoes, feel free to leave them out. Same goes for the red pepper flakes, add a little or as much heat as your mouth can stand.
Ingredients
Soup
  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons (or more) red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ onion
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While the oven preheats, peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with the olive oil, herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown around the edges.
  3. While the squash cooks, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Toss them, along with the tomatoes, with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  4. Once the squash is done cooking remove it from the oven and place the pan with the cauliflower into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring once during the cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the cooked squash with the chicken broth and bring just to a boil. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender) puree the soup. Stir in the vinegar and check for seasoning adding salt and pepper as desired.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower and tomato mixture between the bowls. Ladle the butternut squash soup around the cauliflower. Enjoy.

 

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Chopped Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

So far this summer, my trips to the farmer’s market have been largely uninspiring. With the cool, wet weather that we are having in Seattle, summer produce is late arriving. My most recent trip, however, brought a wealth of inspiration. This particular farmer has been using a greenhouse to help summer along so I was able to find my first “warm weather” produce.

I decided to take advantage of one of our few sunny days and do some grilling. This, combined with some leftover chicken and a couple of ingredients from the pantry produced a wonderful main dish salad. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I cut the bell pepper into quarters, removing the seeds and what not and then cut the eggplant and zucchini into planks about 1/2″ thick. Then I cut the sweet onions into quarters and pushed them, as well as the garlic, onto skewers. I rubbed everything down with olive oil and then seasoned them all with salt and pepper.

I started the onions and the garlic on the top rack of the grill and then walked away … for too long. Sigh. Burned. That’ll teach me for trying to do three projects at one time. I forged ahead and put the rest of the veggies on the hot grill. Flipping them as they browned …

… and removing them as they cooked through.

I decided the garlic was a goner (and it ended up being unneeded), but went ahead and peeled the charred layers off of the onions so that I could use them. I chopped everything into 1/2″ pieces, including a couple of the greens off of the sweet onions.

I stirred together the pesto, lemon juice and mayo and chopped the chicken. Finally I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossed the whole mix together.

Delicious!

 

GRILLED VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CREAMY PESTO DRESSING
serves 2 generously

This salad can easily be made with prepared pesto and mayonnaise. However, if you have the time, take it and make a batch of pesto and homemade mayo. Put any leftover pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way you’ll have a tasty touch of summer all year round. I used two “ice cubes” worth of pesto in the dressing. Mayonnaise from scratch might sound hard, but it’s easier than you think (especially if you have an immersion blender) and totally worth it. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe (which I’ve added below) and Chef John’s method (here’s a link). If you can’t find new sweet onions, use a sliced mature sweet onion (for the bulb) and scallions (for the greens). I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken to keep my kitchen cool.

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 new sweet onions, bulbs quartered, some of the greens chopped
10 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (see recipe below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped

Prepare grill for cooking. Grill all the vegetables, flipping as they brown, until they are softened and cooked through. Cool, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Stir together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

In a large bowl, toss together the cooled and chopped vegetables, onion greens, chicken, lettuce, cheese and dressing. Divide between plates. Enjoy!

 

Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn

In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you’ve got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It a pretty universally held belief that all women crave chocolate. I think, for the most part, that’s true. At one point I had a personal trainer who had given up all forms of sugar and sugar substitutes, yet she still kept an “emergency” chocolate bar in the fridge.

I, however, am not one of those women. I used to be a great lover of chocolate but a few years ago I developed the food allergy I feared the most, chocolate. My mom developed the same allergy when she was my age. Luckily, it’s not a “I’m gonna die allergy” just a scratching, tickling feeling in my throat that last for hours (and makes me crazy). I can still eat milk chocolate (in moderation) and every once in a while I’ll see something made from deep, dark chocolate and decide the irritation will be worth it. But for the most part, my chocolate cravings are cured.

When I get a craving now, it’s for cake. Carrot cake to be exact. Just a few days ago I got one of those cravings. Often I’ll have the husband pick me up a piece from work. But the cake his office cafeteria provides has a way too sweet frosting so it’s just not my favorite. I decided to tackle the problem on my own, make my own carrot cake. Alas, no carrots in the crisper.

I thought perhaps I could replace the carrots called for in the recipe with zucchini (which I had an abundance of). A lot of zucchini bread recipes call for the kind of seasonings that carrot cake usually has so it seemed like there would be a better than reasonable chance for success.

I adapted the cake recipe from the wonderful Pioneer Woman Cooks blog (except I added raisins because carrot cake should always have raisins), but the frosting is mine, one I have been making for years. A cream cheese frosting that’s not overly sweet.

Here’s the ingredients:

In one bowl I stirred together the dry ingredients.

While in my mixing bowl I combined all the wet stuff (except for the zucchini and the raisins). I let this mix for a couple of minutes until the eggs had lightened a bit to a pale yellow.

With the mixer on low I poured in the dry ingredients.

And once that was all combined I added the grated zucchini and the raisins.

And mixed it a little more.

I divided the batter between a muffin tin (the big muffin kind) and a loaf pan and popped them both into the oven.

The muffin-sized cakes took 25 minutes to bake and the loaf-sized cake took 50 minutes. Once the cakes had cooled a bit I removed the muffin-sized ones from the tin.

While I waited for the cake to cool I set my mind on the frosting. Here’s the ingredients.

I put the softened cream cheese and butter into a mixing bowl and then sifted my powdered sugar into the bowl. You don’t necessarily have to sift the powdered sugar, but I’ve found that if you don’t, sometimes you get unattractive little balls of powdered sugar in the finished frosting.

I turned on the mixer, slowly at first, adding a touch of vanilla as it mixed. Once the cakes had cooled completely I frosted each one.

Then put each of the muffin-sized ones in their own little container. These have been stashed in the freezer to be thawed whenever the craving hits.

The loaf-sized cake cured my cravings for days. While the cake may have been a tiny bit too sweet for my taste (but not so much to keep me from eating it) I was extremely pleased with the results of my experiment. This was great as an after dinner dessert, a mid-day treat and even, one day, breakfast.

xxx

xxx

ZUCCHINI CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

For the cake:
10 ounces (2 cups) flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 ounces (2 cups) sugar
7.5 ounces (1 cup) vegetable oil
4 whole eggs
1 pound (2 cups) zucchini, grated
6 ounces (1 cup) raisins

For the frosting
8 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a second bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the sugar, oil and eggs.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Add the zucchini and raisins and mix until the batter is well combined.

Pour batter into a greased pan (or pans). Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 25 minutes for muffins, 50 minutes for a loaf pan. Cool completely.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Sift powdered sugar into the bowl and mix until the frosting is combined. Spread on cooled cake.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve had an acorn squash sitting in my pantry for a couple of months (luckily squash are forgiving when it comes to going bad). Now, I love squash so I’m not sure why it has been sitting there taunting me for so long, but that is just the way it goes some times.

I decided that it was finally time to cook the thing. And since it had been waiting patiently for me to cook it, I decided that I wanted to try something new and maybe a little special.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 cup rice, cooked (I used a brown and wild rice mix, but any old rice would work)
2 chicken sausages, casings removed (I used a hot Italian variety but another kind of sausage would work too)
1/2 onion, diced
5 mushrooms, sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
4-5 leaves sage, chopped
2-3 sprig thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoon Alfredo sauce (yes, I could have made a little bechamel sauce here but I had half a jar of sauce leftover from a lazy/tired night of cooking dinner, so I used that instead, and it worked great, so why go to the extra effort)
1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for the top
1 acorn squash, cut in half with the seeds and what not scooped out

To start, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. While that was going I browned the sausage along with the onion, then after a couple of minutes I added the mushrooms, garlic, sage and thyme (some rosemary would have been great too, but alas, the super cold week we had here killed off my rosemary) and continued to cook the mixture until the onions were translucent and the mushrooms were browned. I removed this from the heat and stirred in the cooked rice, Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese. At this point I cooled the mixture down and stashed it in the fridge (I had a big spurt of cooking energy so I cooked this filling while I made a different dinner), but I could have easily continued on at this point.

A couple of days later I continued on with my cooking. I stuffed the rice mixture into the cavity of the squash and then piled some more on top for good measure. I made a couple of rings out of aluminum foil and placed each of the squash halves on each of the rings so that they couldn’t roll around while they were in the oven.

I covered this loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and popped it in a 350 degree oven. After an hour of cooking, I took the foil off and added a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. After another 20 minutes the squash was cooked through and the rice mixture was nice and bubbly.

I served the stuffed squash alongside a pear and romaine salad.

This turned out really good. With each bite a little bit of rice, a little squash and a little sausage, yummy. The husband really liked it too, a lot. And he is not a huge squash fan so that surprised me a little. I can imagine a few variations on this meal (different rice, different meat (or no meat), different cheese) and I can hardly wait to try them.

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Smoky Potato and Leek Soup

I feel like I haven’t cooked in forever (but really it’s only been about a week). After training this morning I went out with the team for coffee. A couple of people asked what I was going to do today, and with nothing else pressing to do, the only thing I could think of was “cook”.

We met this morning at 8 a.m. and it was only 30 degrees. Even though I eventually worked up a sweat, I ended up chilled to the bone (a weird sensation, to be sweaty and cold at the same time). A nice, steamy bowl of soup sounded like just the ticket for warming up.

Here’s the ingredients:


1/2 onion, chopped
2 leeks (white and light green part only), cut in half then sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 Tablespoon flour
4 cup chicken stock (veggie stock would work too)
2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 kubocha squash, peeled and chopped (while this isn’t really necessary to the dish, I had it left over from the risotto last week, and it did bring a tiny bit of sweetness to the dish)
2 Tablespoon cream (also optional, but it adds a nice touch of creaminess to the soup)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (a last minute addition so it’s not in the picture)

To start I warmed about a teaspoon of olive oil in a 3-quart pot. When it was warm I added the onion, leeks and a sprinkle of salt and cooked until they were softened and translucent. I added the garlic and cooked it for about 30 seconds longer.


I sprinkled on the mustard powder and the flour.


Then stirred it for about a minute to make a roux.


Next I stirred in the chicken broth (making sure to get rid of any lumps) then added the squash and the potatoes.


I brought the mixture to a boil then let it simmer until the potatoes and squash were cooked through, then added the cream. I tasted for seasoning, and it was just missing something. Something like bacon. Sadly, there is no bacon in the house (I do not know how that happened). I realized that smoked paprika might just give the soup the bit of smokiness that I was looking for, so I added some to the mix (along with a hearty helping of fresh ground pepper). It worked (and gave the soup a beautiful tint).


To serve, I topped the soup with a few of the pickled peppers (as well as a bit of the pickling liquid) that I made with my chef group about a month ago.

How was it? Well I was a little worried about this soup as I was tasting it as it cooked. It just didn’t have great flavor. But, the addition of the smoked paprika really turned it into something great. Filled my belly and warmed my bones quite nicely. Delish.

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Risotto-Style Barley with Kabocha Squash, Caramalized Onions and Sage

This week my Team in Training team started training in earnest. We meet every Monday and Wednesday night (plus Saturday mornings) plus I have hand bell choir practice on Tuesday nights. Well, frankly, I am not used to having to go out in the evening quite so much. So, I have been an extra lazy chef this week. Well, yesterday I had the day off, and nowhere to go in the evening, so I decided to take advantage and make a slightly more complicated meal than I have been making this week.

I wanted to use the Kabocha Squash that was in my box two weeks ago before it started to go squishy. My original thought was to roast it, but I didn’t have anything to go with roasted squash to make it a meal. As I looked through the pantry I found pearled barley and decided to use that to make a risotto-style barley (which would make a delightful meal). Whenever I make risotto, I use barley instead of arborio rice (mostly because that’s the way the husband likes it).

Here’s the ingredients:

1 onion, divided, half diced and half julienned
3/4 of a kabocha squash, diced (I was going to use the whole thing, but it was just too much)
1 cup barley
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 cups chicken broth (veggie stock would work too)
14 sage leaves, divided, half minced and half julienned
2 ounces Parmesan cheese

In a stockpot, I brought the chicken broth to a boil, then turned the heat down to low. In a saute pan I heated a little olive oil and added the julienned onion to caramelize. In a saucier, I heated a little more olive oil then added the diced onion and squash. I let it saute until until the onion was cooked through.

Whew, that’s a lot of pots (glad I don’t have to do the dishes).

I added the barley to the saucier and let it cook, stirring often, for another minute or so.

Next I added the white wine and let it simmer until it was almost gone. Then I added a ladle of chicken broth and let it simmer until it was almost gone.

I continued this process of adding a ladle of broth, then stirring until gone, over and over. The photo above is at about the 20 minute mark, which is when I added the julienned sage to the onions and the minced sage to the risotto.

After about 40 minutes, the barley and the squash were both cooked through, so I added the Parmesan cheese and tasted for seasoning.

I ladled the barley into a bowl and topped it with some of the caramelized onions.

How was it? Well, this was not one of my finest moments. While the flavor was good, the risotto got really thick as it set and the onions were a little bit over-caramelized (read slightly burned). So, while not an epic fail, things could have been better. Still, a tasty meal for a stormy night. If I made it again, I would add a bit more broth right before serving to held with the thickness problem and keep a better eye on the onions. Plus, I think a little sausage or maybe some bacon would have made this meal really shine.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Roasted Zucchini Soup

A couple of years ago I spent a week participating in the Farm Culinary 101 program at Quillisascut Farm School in Eastern Washington. The first night that we were there, the chef on staff prepared a delicious meal that started with courgette soup. At the time, I didn’t have a clue what a courgette was, all I knew was that I was eating some of the best soup that I have ever tasted. When I returned home, I looked up courgette to find that it is the British term for zucchini (duh).

I set out to create my own version of this delicious soup. Over the last couple of years I have refined my recipe into the version that I make today. The additional step of roasting the squash seems to be the real key to making this soup really shine.

This summer this recipe has come in especially handy. Two of my three weekly clients have been growing their own vegetables this year. If you’ve ever grown your own zucchini, you know that at some point you are going to be swimming in zucchini (and there is only so much zucchini bread that one person can make). This soup tastes great and freezes nicely (it’s a nice little blast of summer flavors in December or January).

This soup is best made when the zucchini are little so the seeds are small and the skin is tender. If, though, your zucchini got away from you and ended up really big, once you have cut them in half you can simply scrape out the seeds, then once the zucchini are roasted, scrape the flesh out of the tough skin and discard the skin.

Here’s the ingredients:

2.5 pounds zucchini (or any other summer squash)
1 Walla Walla Sweet onion (other onions work well here too, but a sweet onion make it extra delicious)
3-4 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/2 cup cream (totally optional but it gives the soup a nice mouth feel)
olive oil
salt and pepper

To start I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. I also lined a sheet pan with aluminum foil (because I’m lazy and it make clean-up a snap). Next I cut the ends off of each of the zucchini and then cut them in half lengthwise. I arranged these on the sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then I julienned the onion, spread it over the cut zucchini and drizzled with a bit more olive oil and salt and pepper.

I popped the pan into the oven. Forty minutes later the onions were slightly caramelized and the zucchini were roasted through.

I put the whole mix into a stock pot added the cream and enough stock to almost cover the veggies (you can always add more stock later, and I did, but if you add to much at this point the soup can get too thin).

Next I took the stick blender to it.

Keep going…

And…done. At this point I checked for seasoning and added just a little more stock so the soup was a good consistency.

Yum. A client favorite and a chef favorite. This made a lot of soup, about eight cups in all. I stashed a bunch of the soup in the freezer for quick meals come winter (and had a bit of it for lunch). The roasted sweet onion really makes this soup sing (but it really is good with regular onions too). I can hardly wait for winter when I pop this out of the freezer.

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Grilled Acorn Squash and Orange and Grilled Aspargus Salad

I have two grills, one gas and one charcoal, and I tend to be a year-round griller. In the winter the gas grill gets the most action. It’s faster to light and heat so there is not as much time spent in the cold. Charcoal is reserved for summer when sitting outside for an hour while the coals get hot, makes sense (although I have been known to light the charcoal in the winter for a special occasion, say Christmas dinner)

Today in the Seattle area, we had our first day above 60 degrees in a long time (it was snowing three days ago so this is a welcome change) and I had the need to get outside.

We made a special trip to get propane for the gas grill, but as I was sitting outside, thinking about what to make, the charcoal grill started calling my name.

I started up the grill and made a two-level fire (hot on one side, medium on the other).

I bought a flat-iron steak and rubbed it with the Steak Seasoning mix from Costco (hey, there is nothing wrong with taking a little help now and then) and then turned my eye towards side dishes. I decided to make acorn squash and an asparagus and orange salad.

Here’s the ingredients for the Orange and Grilled Asparagus Salad

1 tablespoon homemade pear and honey infused vinegar (sherry vinegar would be a good substitute)
1 teaspoon, brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped

In a bowl I whisked together the vinegar, brown sugar, shallot and oil. I cooked the asparagus on the hot side of the grill, tossing occasionally until it was cooked through.


I removed it from the grill cut it into smaller pieces and added it to the bowl. Once it cooled down, I added the orange segments and tarragon and tossed it to coat.

Here’s the ingredients for the Grilled Acorn Squash with Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glaze

1 acorn squash, cut into rings
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup brown sugar
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan I combined the butter, whiskey, brown sugar, cayenne and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes, until it was thickened a bit.

I rubbed the acorn squash rings with oil and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put them on the cooler side of the grill to cook for 15 minutes, turning them over once.

Once they were fairly tender, I started brushing them with the glaze, about 5 minutes more of cooking and three or four coats of glaze.


I sliced the steak and served everything family style, along with some grilled bread.

The asparagus was a little overcooked (burned) but the salad was really good, as my mother (who is visiting) said “it’s an unexpected combination of flavors”.

The squash was really good, sweet and spicy. I served the leftover extra glaze alongside the squash so that a bit more could be added if desired. We ended up adding this to the spice-rubbed steak and it made it extra delicious.

I liked it, the husband liked it, and the mother kept saying “just a little more” to everything I made. Looks like the first serious grilling of the season was a success!

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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