Thursday, September 15, 2011


So, I'm still wearing shorts and short sleeves, but I was making plans for well into October and November, and then it struck me that autumn is one week away. The tomatoes in my garden are way past their prime. While it's not cool by any means, it's certainly not 100+ degrees anymore.


I believe it has something to do with the orbit of the earth.

The seasons march on, bringing us cooler weather, a whole different palette of flavors and vegetables, and wonderful holidays centered around eating.

So while I have a few autumn recipes built up already, I'm always looking for more. What are your favorite recipes to make in cooler temperatures? Put a link or a recipe in the comments.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

 Sorry, no photo on this one guys. I know, it's sad. I'm sad, too. The kicker is, it was really, really pretty and would have made a great photo, with the juxtaposition of the white cream and the rich orange soup. Just make it for yourself and then you can look at the absolutely beautiful, autumnal (I know it's still 90 degrees outside, but ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I've always been rather obsessively punctual) bowl of gently spiced, just-a-little-sweet goodness.

The whipped cream topping gives it kind of a fun presentation, I thought, but take a word of advice from someone who's done this before; put it in at the last possible second, because it melts quickly in the hot soup. However, even after it's melted, the white swirls with the cinnamon are beautiful.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, diced to 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large Macintosh apple, diced to 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet, yellow onion, diced to 1 inch cubes
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 0.5 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup whipping cream, divided
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 0.25 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the squash, apples, and onions in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, and cover with salt and pepper. Stir them all to evenly coat the vegetables. Place in the oven for 45 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring the chicken stock to a boil (reserve about 2/3 a cup to deglaze the roasting pan), then reduce to simmer. Once the vegetables are done roasting, add them to the simmering chicken stock. If there are browned bits of veggies stuck to the pan, add the reserved chicken stock and stir to remove them, then add them back to soup on the stove.

Using a hand blender, or in a blender or food processor in batches, puree the soup to a very smooth consistency. Add the apple cider, 0.5 cup of the cream, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg to the soup, and puree (or stir) until smooth and incorporated. The the soup just barely simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the remaining 0.5 cup of cream and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Serve the soup with a dollop of the cinnamon cream.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

I had never touched a real beat in my life, I don't think, until last summer.  I had seen canned beets, but the consistency and shape left me unsure of what the actual vegetable in it's natural form was really like.  You know, in the wild.

Then all of the sudden they show up everywhere.  I am helping my sister apartment shop in a big city, and we stop in this tiny little restaurant with 8 tables and even few things on the menu, and I look down and see a "Roasted Beet Salad."  I was intrigued, and the intrigue was rewarded with a warm, delicately flavored salad with the most beautiful color I had ever seen in my life.  Then next, in a quick trip back to see the family, I try a new restaurant and HOLD THE PHONE they have a roasted beet salad too, with goat cheese.  Let me tell you, my mind was going places, here. Finally, on a trip to the farmers market where the most beautifully red beets you have ever seen stared back at me from the small little stand and actually screamed at me (I really think I heard them) "You must take me home and cook me right now!", so I did.

I learned a few things. First, your hands will be red for the rest of the day, so just go ahead and accept that. Second, they're really good (I actually knew that already, but I was reminded of it). Third, beats tend to be a little polarizing. I made this for a large group of young women, and many of them didn't venture out far enough to try them, which was a shame.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 4-5 red or golden beets, peeled
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • goat cheese, sliced into approximately 0.25 inch slices
  • Spring mix, or your favorite salad greens
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the beets into wedges (approximately 6-8 per beet).  Place the wedges, some olive oil, salt, and pepper in the mixing bowl, and stir until evenly coated. Pour the wedges out onto a large sheet of aluminum foil in a single layer--have enough aluminum foil that you can fold over half of the foil over the beets and cinch off the edges, creating a large envelope, and keeping the beets in a single layer.

Place the beets wrapped in foil in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a slight crisp edge forms and the centers are tender when pierced. Be careful when opening the foil--retain as much of the oil and juice from the roasting as you can, because you'll add it to the dressing.

While the beets are cooking, place the walnuts in a dry frying pan on the stove on medium heat. Keep them stirring and moving so they don't burn. After a few minutes, add the butter and brown sugar, and stir to coat. You want to form a beautiful candied layer on the nuts. Stir for 3 minutes or so, until slightly carmelized.

To make the dressing, add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey the roasting juices, and some salt and pepper, and whisk until mixed. Toss the dressing with the lettuce, and arrange on plates. Top with cheese, beats, and the nuts.