November 5, 2009

Fall Back, Part 4

These last few days have felt like a marathon of catch-up blogging.  The following gets us through most of  October and constitutes the final segment of “Fall Back.”

October 6, 2009

I worked on a recipe for pumpkin cookies.  All of the many variations (including one with molasses and another with chocolate chips!) were yummy, but not quite what I was going for.  There were very cakey and thus felt more like muffin tops than cookies.

 IMG_8342 IMG_8351

October 13, 2009
Orecchiette con Verdure e Pesce
orecchiette with vegetables and fish

This was the first recipe I attempted from my latest issue of La Cucina Italiana.  I adapted it to the ingredients I had on hand:
mahi mahi instead of monkfish,
chard instead of dandelion greens,
kohlrabi instead of celery root,
broccoli instead of cauliflower,
and homemade orecchiette instead of pasta shells.
The dish also included butternut squash, carrots and onions.
All the vegetables were julienned and sautéed, with the fish added in the last several minutes of cooking.

It was my first attempt at making orecchiette by hand.  It’s a fairly simple shape to make.  Just take a small ball of pasta dough (about the diameter of the nail of your index finger) and press it into the palm of your hand with the opposite thumb.  The dough should curl up around your finger. 

The challenge is making them all the same size and thickness.  Mine were all over the place, and thus did not all get cooked to the same degree. 
Oh, well.


October 25, 2009

Carnival Squash Soup
printable recipe

Serves 6 as a starter.

The following recipe will work with any winter squash.  I like carnival squash not only for it’s sweet, nutty flavor, but also because it make a great table decoration before it’s used for cooking.

2 medium carnival squash
olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
4-8 cups vegetable stock (store bought or homemade, see below*)
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Halve the squash.  Not an easy task.  I initially went with the Cook’s Illustrated recommendations to used a large chef’s knife or a metal bench scraper and a hammer.  Neither method worked well for me, so I ended up sawing through the squash with a serrated bread knife.
Clean out the seeds and fibers and reserve for vegetable broth. 
Place squash halves on sheet pan or baking dish and drizzle with olive oil (not extra virgin). 
Roast in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until flesh is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.  Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil a medium saucepan.  Sauté onions in oil until translucent, stirring frequently.

When squash is cool enough to handle, remove skin and roughly chop squash.  Add squash to saucepan.   Add 4 cups vegetable stock and allow to simmer for several minutes. 

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a traditional blender or food processor.

Add more vegetable broth until desired consistency is reached.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

At this point, you can add cream to the soup, but I find it is just as delicious (and a little healthier) without the cream.
Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fried sage, or freshly cracked black pepper.

*For this particular soup, I improvised a vegetable stock, using things I had on hand.  Feel free to use a store-bought stock or any other recipe for vegetable stock.  Do use the squash seeds and fibers for the stock, if possible.  It will boost the squash flavor in your final soup.  While the squash is roasting, fill a stockpot with onion scraps, a few stalks of celery (including leaves), parsley, reserved squash seeds and fibers.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.  Season with salt.

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