gastronome
November 30, 2005
Winter Squash Soup

Dinner: November 28, 2005

Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.

Blustery November weather calls for soup - warm, hearty and comforting, it's just the thing to take the chill off.
We've actually had this particular soup twice in the last few weeks - the first time, following the Epicurious.com recipe to the letter (with Gruyere croutons), and the second, with a garnish of crispy fried sage leaves. Both were delicious, and I have to say the soup survived being frozen, thawed, and reheated beautifully. This one's a keeper.

WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH GRUYERE CROUTONS

Soup
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Croutons
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
24 1/4-inch-thick baguette bread slices
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

For soup:
Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and sugar; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

For croutons:
Preheat broiler. Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange bread, buttered side up, on baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle cheese, then thyme and sage over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with croutons and serve.

Serves 8.

Recipe from Bon Appétit, December 1996

Posted by jenblossom on November 30, 2005
November 27, 2005
turkey pie

For some reason, meat in a double crust pie is a particularly French Canadian comfort food. This is my very favourite thing to do with leftover turkey.

Before starting on the turkey filling, get your pie on. You can use any two-crust pastry recipe. Or use mine, from the Joy of Cooking, here. . The pastry needs to rest for at least 30 min before you roll it out (and woe betide you if you don't let the gluten rest--the pastry will sulk and come out all patchy). Also, pastrymaking wants a cool kitchen, so it's worth doing this well before you preheat the oven. Wrap your two balls of pie dough and leave them in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In any large pan that you favour, sauté together onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in butter. I use about 4 tbsp. butter, 1 onion, 3 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, and about 15 mushrooms. I chop everything coarsely, except the mushrooms -- small bite-sized mushrooms you can leave whole are best; leave them as large chunks if you can't. These are not exact proportions: use what you like and have on hand. Leeks or shallots make a nice change from the onions, and sometimes I leave out the celery in favour of celery seed.

When the onions are softened and translucent, sprinkle the contents of the pan with about 1/4 c. flour. Stir constantly as the flour cooks to form a roux. Add enough turkey broth to make a quick velouté sauce around the vegetables in the pan. For 1/4 c. flour, I use about 2-3 c. liquid. White wine and sherry (if you have bold mushrooms) or milk make a nice addition to plain broth. Meriko has more to say about roux and velouté sauces, here.

When the sauce thickens a little, add chopped leftover turkey, and any other vegetables that you might have blanched, like peas or pearl onions. Season with parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay, salt, and pepper (omitting any of these at will). If you are feeling decadent add some cream. Taste the creamed turkey -- if it tastes dull, try adding a little lemon juice to brighten the flavour. A few drops to one or two teaspoons of lemon is usually enough to bring it into balance. Leave the creamed turkey on low heat to simmer while you roll out your crust.

Roll out the bottom crust to fit your pan. I roll my crust on waxed paper to make it easier to turn into the pan. Turn the crust into the pan and prick the bottom with the tines of a fork to create a few vents. Dabbing your fingertips in a cup of water, moisten the rim of the crust around the edges of your pie plate. Roll out the second crust for the top of the pie.

Fill the pie with the piping hot creamed turkey and vegetables. If the sauce around the turkey and veg is looking thin, crumble a few soda crackers on top. They will vanish into the pie and add some more body to the sauce. Gently place the second crust over the pie, trim the overhanging edges, and crimp the top and bottom crusts together to seal the turkey in. Using a knife, cut v-shaped vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake 15 min and lower the oven temperature to 350F. Bake 30 min more -- the total cooking time is about 45 min to an hour. When the pie is done, the filling will be bubbling up at the vents and the pastry will be toasty brown. Make sure that you leave it in at least 45 min to ensure that the bottom crust is cooked through.

Serve!

---
A note on freezing -- I often freeze just the creamed turkey for later use in pies (with or without a bottom crust, in which case you have pot pie rather than pie) or with a biscuit top. You can also undercook the pie and freeze it in the shell. If you're making extra pies for the freezer, bake the pie for only about 30 min, just enough to set the pastry. To bake a frozen pie, defrost it in the fridge for about 8 hrs, and then bake for 45 min at 350.


Posted by naomi on November 27, 2005
flaky pastry

I've posted this before, but not as its own entry. This makes a top and bottom crust for a 9" pie (with a little extra in case your pie plate is large). You can fill with fruit or meat. Leftover turkey in a light cream sauce with veg is especially nice...

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. icing sugar (or 1 tsp. white sugar, if you don't have icing sugar)
1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 stick cold unsalted butter

about 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp. ice water

A word about substitutions: you can use all butter in this crust, but it's a bit trickier to work with. likewise cold tap water for the ice water. if you only have salted butter, use the salted butter and omit the salt from the flour mix.

To make the dough for the crust:
Sift flour, sugar, salt together into a good steady mixing bowl. Cut shortening and butter into small chunks, and cut into flour with two knives or a pastry blender. Make sure that you bring the flour up from the bottom and distribute the contents of the bowl evenly -- you should end up with evenly pea-sized bits of stuck-together flour and butter: dry flour with little chunks, not cookie dough.

Sprinkle about half the water onto the flour mix. Using either your hands or a spatula, collect and press the dough together lightly. This is easier to do than explain, unfortunately. Add the rest of the water very slowly -- you want the dough *just* sticking together as you press it down into the bowl. Collect the dough together into a ball and knead it against the sides of the bowl 5 or 6 times. Don't worry if you have a bit of flour left that won't stick as long as you've managed a good-sized ball.

Wrap the ball of dough in cellowrap or wax paper, make it nice and round and press it down into a flat circle about 2 " thick. Refrigerate at least 30 min before trying to roll.

Posted by naomi on November 27, 2005
November 13, 2005
Creamed Kale

See what happens when meriko leaves the country? In lieu of our scheduled Sunday Dinner, I tried to pick up the slack and learned how to cook a new vegetable. Last Sunday I left Food Network on while I cleaned the tv room and caught Bobby Flay making kale, a veggie I know my husband loves but rarely makes for himself. I had to try.

Creamed Kale
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped Spanish onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk, scalded (or plain soy milk)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 pounds kale, center stalk removed, and coarsely torn into pieces
Caramelized Shallots (optional, recipe below)

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, not allowing the mixture to obtain any color. Whisk in the warm milk and cook until thickened. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. Keep warm until ready to use.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and then return to pot. Add cream sauce and cook until flavors meld, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Plate creamed kale and then top with Caramelized Shallots.

Caramelized Shallots
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
10 shallots, peeled and sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until they begin to brown all over, about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings
Original recipe posting at foodnework.com

Posted by rebecca on November 13, 2005
November 01, 2005
Parsnipalicious!

OMG, so, like, I probably would never have tried this crazy healthy-sounding soup except for how one of the local hippie groceries sells parsnip mashed potatoes in their deli section and they're downright fabulous. I don't like sweet vegetables made sweeter, so this recipe was perfect for my tastes. And super rich tasting without much fat at all. And easily made, like, vegan, man. Kickass!

To follow: Creamy Parsnip Soup with Horseradish

This is from "Entertaining for a Veggie Planet" by Didi Emmons. She notes, "Don't buy extra-large parsnips, since they tend to be woody in the center." Hehehe. She said "woody."

2 T. olive oil
1 lg yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 lbs parsnips, peeled or scrubbed and cut into 1" pieces
1 T. minced fresh sage, thyme, or rosemary
(I used some fresh rosemary and some ground thyme)
1 t. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
About 2 T. prepared or fresh grated horseradish
(I used maybe 2 tsp of cream-style prepared horseradish, but I am not a huge fan of the stuff)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. sour cream (optional)
(I used lowfat sour cream and added it directly to the bowl)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent (8-10 min.). Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add potatoes, parsnips, herbs, and 7 c. water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 25 minutes, or until potatoes and parsnips are tender. Remove from heat.

In a blender, puree soup in batches, or use immersion blender to puree it in the pot. Return soup to pot and heat through. If soup is too thick, add 1/2 to 1 c. water. Stir in vinegar and horseradish to taste, then season liberally with salt and pepper. Whisk in sour cream, if desired. Do not boil soup or sour cream will curdle. Serves 6 to 8.

Posted by leek on November 01, 2005