What’s Cooking?

5 Nov

This past weekend saw more kitchen action as I hosted a small brunch. Not sure which I enjoyed more…the food or the time with friends. The combination of good food and good friends is always a winner.

We dined on:

Butternut Squash Soup
Mixed Green Salad with
Carrot Ginger Soy Dressing (this is similar to the dressing that comes on your salad in a Japanese restaurant…yum)

The food was easy to pull together in advance. Try it yourself, you’ll see.

Silky Butternut Squash Soup
Cook’s Illustrated

If you don’t own a folding steamer basket, a pasta pot with a removable pasta insert works well. Instead of pureeing in a blender, I put the liquid and squash back in the pot after straining and pureed with a stick blender.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts, serving 4 to 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium shallots , minced (about 4 tablespoons)
3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fibers scraped with spoon and reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin.

Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard solids in strainer. Wipe out Dutch oven.

In blender, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream and brown sugar and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

Carrot Ginger Soy Dressing with Cilantro
Adapted from Dave Lieberman, Food Network

2 medium carrots, peeled, ends trimmed and sliced
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Combine the carrots, ginger, shallots, soy sauce, vinegar, water, sugar, and vegetable oil in a food processor and puree until dressing becomes a slightly thick sauce. Season with the salt.


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