Thursday, October 23, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

 Ah, Autumn's Bounty! I can't think of a better combination than apples and butternut squash! Together they make a hearty brew! The RQ's mom introduced this thick soup when our family moved to her town. We've been making it every Autumn and every Thanksgiving since! One spoonful and the diner instantly knows why!
Butternut Squash Soup
(Epicurious, 1998)

butternut squash, 2 1/2- 3 1/3 lbs, peeled & chopped into 1/2" chunks
carrot, one large, peeled and chopped
celery, 4, peeled on ribbed edge and chopped
butter, 6 Tblsp
5 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple cider
thyme, dried, heaping teaspoon
sage, healthy three-finger pinch
apple, cored, peeled, chopped
onion, large, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
plain thick Greek yogurt, scant cup
thyme, fresh sprigs, garnish (optional)

The squash, carrot, and celery cook down in the melted butter over medium-high heat. The apples, thyme and sage are added along with the broth and cider (reserve 1/2 cup of the cider).  The soup simmers on med-low for about 30 minutes, covered.

While using an immersion blender, the remaining 1/2 cup of cider can reduce stove top till about 1/4 cup. This mixture can then be stirred into the plain yogurt to "dress" the soup. Remember to stir in the heavy cream after pureeing the soup! The chef will notice a few substitutions when comparing recipes. As regards ingredients likely to be on-hand, a large sweet onion, fresh thyme from the garden, and plain yogurt work just fine in this recipe! As always, ENJOY!

Note:  if the veggies/fruit are prepared ahead of time, this could be considered, dinner in "a snap!"

Thank you Epicurious!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dinner in "a snap" - Parpardelle Egg Pasta alla Carbonara

Mouth watering!
With fresh and simple ingredients any meal becomes a feast with the right recipe! The RQ prepares many versions of this recipe but this one is simple and made with ingredients that are often on-hand! Pair this with a lovely green leaf salad dressed with honey* and the meal is complete!

Parpardelle alla Carbonara
Serves 2
Parpardelle or desired pasta, 4 ounces
Bacon, 4 slices (apple-wood smoked, opt), cooked in skillet
half 'n half, 1/3 cup (whole milk can be substituted)
eggs, 2 (organic preferred)
Asiago or other dry-sharp Italian cheese, 3/4 cup, finely grated
parsley, 2 Tblsp
salt & fresh cracked pepper

Begin by measuring out the half 'n half and mixing in the two eggs; set aside. Place water for pasta on stove to boil adding pasta when ready. Fry the bacon in a skillet stove top turning frequently to not burn! Once done immediately move to paper towel to absorb excess fat. While bacon sizzles and water boils, grate cheese and chop parsley. Mix cheese with egg mixture. Chop resting bacon into bite size pieces. Swiftly drain al dente pasta and get it back into the hot pot and toss with egg & cheese mixture. Top with bacon, parsley, and freshly cracked black pepper. ENJOY!

Green Salad
Green leaf lettuce, sunflower seeds
*Honey Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp honey, half a lemon, s&p

Note: Is the sauce hot enough to "cook" the eggs? How swiftly can you get the pasta and remaining ingredients back into the pot?


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup has always been a favorite during the Autumn season! My Italian grandmother made this often and always reminded me of its simplicity! Lentils impart a hearty stew-like soup. So be careful not to overburden the soup with too many additions. Carrots, celery, onions, and garlic are essential and all that's needed to lend a meaty flavor. Between prep and cooking "soup is ready" in ninety minutes!

Lentil Soup the way my Gram used to make

1/2 pound lentils, (French or brown), rinsed, set aside
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh tomato, chopped (Roma/canned diced)
Bay Leaf
4 cups chicken stock, (homemade ideal)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Asiago cheese, finely grated

Wash lentils (pick over-sometimes pebbles). Heat oil in thick bottomed pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot saute onions, garlic, celery, and carrots (pinch of salt) for about 10 minutes or until veggies are slightly brown. Next add chopped tomato and bay leaf cooking 10 additional minutes. Then add lentils, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid cracked slightly, and simmer for about an hour. When lentils are soft but not mushy, add parsley, salt & pepper to taste. If desired sprinkle with grated Italian cheese to serve. Crusty bread and a simple salad complete this meal. Relax and enjoy!

NOTE: If you want to add an extra step to prep the beans try sweating them. For this recipe I would add the beans along with tomatoes and bay leaf.