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Posts Tagged ‘Squash’

Based on the title of this post one might gather that this post will be about squash. One would be wrong. Squash Fest is a tradition now executed for the second year. The first year was fairly impressive — sweet dumplings, carnivals, acorns, butternut, and two pumpkins in which were carved “Squash Fest 2009”. It was pretty incredible. This second year we fell a bit short. We purchased a spaghetti squash but were wholly uninspired. We did make a pretty excellent curried butternut squash soup. Acorn squash wedges made an appearance as did garlicky greens and some mushroom risotto. The real star of the night, however, was a chewy sticky dark chocolate beet bundt cake.

I have to be honest, it wasn’t the most beautiful of cakes and certainly should have been spruced up with some confectioner’s sugar or something, but we were in too much of a rush to try it that presentation became secondary.

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake

1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
2 c sliced beets
1/2 c semisweet chocolate, chopped and melted
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 375F, and lightly oil a Bundt pan.

Cream together oil and sugar. Add beets, chocolate, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet beet mixture, and stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely before turning out.

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Christmas Day Soup

We had anticipated hosting Christmas for months, and correspondingly we had been planning our menu for almost as long.  It was an intimidating task but also an enjoyable way to count down to hosting our first Christmas as a married couple.  The final, executed menu was a 9 lb slow-roasted pork shoulder, mashed purple and sweet potatoes with kale ribbons, brussel sprouts with shaved Romano, savory-citrusy cranberry sauce, New York style cheesecake, and butternut squash soup.

I’m going to talk about the soup because I’m bitter about how the pork turned out.  Sure, everybody loved it and thought it was great.  Even the people who know that after cooking for 12 hours it still wasn’t done.  But I didn’t like it at all, and I don’t know if it’s just a mental thing, but either way, I’m off of pork for a while (except maybe I’ll cook ribs again soon).

There was a bit of debate over whether to serve the soup first (per Western tradition) or last (nod to Chinese tradition), but given that the rest of the meal (though arguably not the occasion itself) was Western, we settled on soup as a first course. This soup can be modified a number of ways — with curry, sage, or coconut milk. Add in some quinoa or brown rice and you have a full meal. Chopped nuts might also be a good addition, along with some lemon or orange zest.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 quart chicken broth
3 stalks celery
1 onion
salt and pepper to taste
curry powder or sage if desired

Preheat oven to 400F. When butternut squash is cleaned, peeled, and cut, place in Pyrex baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast for ~1 hour until squash is very tender.

Chop celery and onion into small pieces. Saute with olive oil in bottom of a large saucepan or stock pot. Add butternut squash. Remove vegetables from heat and cool.

When cooled, puree vegetables in blender or Magic Bullet with enough chicken broth to cover.* Transfer vegetables and broth back into saucepan or stock pot. Add the remaining chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, sage or curry powder to taste.

*Note: If you don’t have a blender or a Magic Bullet or even an immersion blender, cut the vegetables into very small pieces initially, and you’ll have a slightly chunkier soup.

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