Butternut squash soup with roasted red pepper puree

We made this recipe last week, and it was easy, and marvelous.

We served it with baguette (pain l’ancienne, to be fair, from Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which is easily my favorite bread text) and a peppered chevre (which, I’ll be honest, I enjoyed more melted in my soup than on the bread — dipping the crusty loaf into a melty, tangy, earthy puree?  HEAVEN).

This reminds me to take a moment to say: I see all this fuss about bread in 5 minutes a day, and it’s annoying to me.  Really?  I mean, now that I have the right tools and understand around bread, I think it’s a lot easier than I used to (instant yeast, you have changed my life).  And honestly: bread is easy, and cheap, to make (I’m about to start a whole wheat pain de mie now), and the more people who get on the bandwagon, the better.

But it takes MORE than 5 minutes a day.  It takes understanding of the science behind bread, and technique, and practice.  And I’m no expert.  And my loaves sometimes fail.  And even my most successful bread-outing doesn’t compare to Rustica loaves perfected in a brick oven with steam.

I’m hopping off my soap breadbox now.


Morning Glory Muffins

(adapted from an old Green family recipe)

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced apple (peel if desired)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Mix fruit and nuts together and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the wet batch of ingredients (above) together til smooth and set aside.

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned (NOT INSTANT) rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients listed above together in a 3rd bowl large enough to contain all ingredients.

Add the fruit and nut mix to the dry mix bowl and combine.  Add wet bowl and stir til just combined.  Spoon batter into lined muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Serve warm with honey butter.

These keep really well for a week or so and make easy, filling, on-the-go breakfasts.  This recipe typically nets me around 30 muffins.

Meal plan: October 15 through 21

Thursday: sharp cheddar and leek penne (Sauce wasn’t quite right their way — don’t be dumb, just use roux.  And if you follow the recipe, you end up with browned, not sweated, leeks.  also, it says it serves 6 — but is more like 12.  If you make this, plan accordingly.)
Friday: maple-glazed pork loin, roasted garlic sweet potatoes, blueberry pie
Saturday: Roast chicken, delicata squash, buttery collard greens
Sunday: Latin skillet scrambled eggs (brunch, from a recent Weeknight Kitchen newsletter)
Monday: Tuna Noodle Hotdish (don’t laugh, it’s awesome.  It’s also in the freezer, making it easy on Husband to heat up for the kiddoes while I’m out of town.  He’s a far better cook than I, but 2 kids on your own is just a lot of work).
Tuesday: Potato leek soup (again, in freezer.  see above).
Wednesday: leftover clean up.  also known as eat saltines and drink night.  we’re also known for having a bowl of cereal on nights like this.  We all need a break…

Meal plan: October 8th – 14th

Thursday: green salads with roast chicken, radishes, apples, craisins, and almonds in a vinaigrette
Friday: butternut squash soup and fresh baguette with herbed chevre
Saturday: morning glory muffins, sausages with peppers, onions, and sauerkraut; steamed chard and german potato salad
Sunday: german pancakes with apple preserves; beef, pepper and broccoli stir-fry
Monday: tator tot hotdish
Tuesday: leftover cleanup
Wednesday: broiled tunawiches and side salads

seeing your breath

I’ve been able to see my breath the last couple of mornings.  The trees are trying so hard to turn.

And the 5-day forecast calls for a freeze tonight or tomorrow night.

So, pull out your sweaters and pull the last of your produce out of your garden.   It’s time for mulled cider and squash and tucking yourself in for the winter.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli

Adapted from Food Network

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 finely minced shallots
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash puree
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely grated aged gouda cheese, plus 2 ounces
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 package of wonton rolls
  • 1 egg, beaten well
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons dried sage
  •  ¼ cup dried cranberries

Heat 2 tablespoons oil (we prefer extra-virgin olive oil) over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

Separate wonton rolls. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wonton roll. Brush two perpendicular corners of the wonton with egg.  Bring 1 corner of the square to the other, forming a triangle and seal the wonton completely (the egg wash will help the wonton seal to itself. Add the pasta to pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the pasta floats and is pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, melt ¼ cup of high quality butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the 2 ounces of cheese over each plate and garnish with dried cranberries.

Makes about 40 ravioli.  We eat about half with the sauce recipe here and freeze the remaining pasta for later.

Saturday projects

It’s gray and damp and chilly, as October can be in Minneapolis, which is OK in our book, as it’s a great day to be in the kitchen.

Today’s to-do list includes:

  • Potato-Leek soup
  • Pain de mie
  • Brewing

With my primary fermentation (rise) going on the bread and soup simmering away, I thought I’d share both recipes — as they are both simple and lovely.

Pain De Mie

(from King Arthur Flour)

2/3 cup (5 3/8 ounces) milk (we use whole milk for this loaf)
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter (I recommend Hope butter, if you are local)
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) potato flour (also called potato starch flour; you can also sub in corn or arrowroot starch if necessary)
4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (if you’re going to get serious about bread, it’s worth finding and using instant yeast.  I know Holy Land Deli in town carries it; I have had great luck ordering mine from King Arthur flour.)
Using a stand mixer, combine the ingredients above, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switch to the dough hook(s) and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow the dough to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 13 x 4-inch pain de mie pan. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a 13-inch log, and fit it into the pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it’s just below the lip of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen (it may rise even more slowly in a cool kitchen which is totally OK – a long rise gives bread better flavor).

Remove the plastic, and carefully place the cover on the pan, let it rest an additional 10 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until it tests done; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

You’ll get one loaf which will be gone in less than 5 days, guaranteed.

Potato Leek Soup

(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

½ pound bacon, fried crisp, fat reserved (you can also go with a ¼ cup butter if you are bacon-averse)
4 – 5 pounds leeks
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried herbs de Provence
2 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 cup whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

sharp cheddar, shredded, for garnish

Cut off roots and tough dark green portion of leeks, leaving white portion and about 3 inches of light green. Slice thin.
Heat bacon grease or butter in Dutch oven over medium-low heat until crackling; stir in leeks, increase heat to medium, cover and sweat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes (you don’t want them brown!) Sprinkle flour over leeks and stir to coat evenly.  Cook until flour dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high; whisking constantly, gradually add stock. Add bay leaf and potatoes; cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand until potatoes are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.

Discard bay leaf.  Finish with 1/2 cup cream or milk.  Once warmed through, season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crumbled bacon and a few shreds of sharp cheese.  Devour.

I’ll see if I can twist David’s arm to document his brewing event this afternoon.  But lunch is smelling too good to sit here much longer…

Make a list. You’ll feel better.

We’re big fans of lists here in Northeast.  Chores, long-term goals, shopping, what have you.  We should buy stock in KnockKnock, really, as they offer lists for just about every occassion, including What To Eat (also, Rate That Beer, All Out Of… I could go on, but you should really just visit them).

It strikes me that we create a What To Eat every week (on Wednesdays, based on what is anticipated in Thursday’s CSA box, as well as what we have in our freezer inventory, what’s coming out of the garden, and what’s going on that week), and create our weekly grocery list based on that.  And each week, at least two people ask how we do what we do — create delicious, simple meals from scratch with a vast majority of local/organic ingredients, on a shoestring budget (yes, it can be done).  So why not just go ahead and write about the things we’re always talking about, anyway?

With that, allow me to begin the ceremonial unveiling of This Week’s Meal Plan:

Thursday —
ruebens & cole slaw (these will be made with corned beef left over from Tuesday’s meal)
Friday —
butternut squash ravioli in cream sauce with craisins and walnuts
Saturday —
potato and leek soup with baguette (baguette made earlier this week, too)
Sunday —
ham and au gratin potatoes with steamed broccoli
Monday —
roasted pepper and chevre quiche with spinach salads
Tuesday —
ham salad and cheddar sandwiches on sourdough with rosemary olive oil oven fries
Wednesday —
leftover cleanup
The trick to effectively planning our meals is knowing what’s coming in the CSA (this week: garlic, onions, leeks, lots of peppers, two squashes, greens, broccoli & potatoes), having a good handle on what’s leftover in the fridge, having an updated freezer inventory (where we store the sauces, fruits and vegetables we don’t can as well as the meats we tend to buy in bulk), and what, if anything, is coming out of the garden (planning is a lot different in July than it is in January).  We’re at that place in the year where we’re finally not overrun with tomatoes or beans or fill-in-your-favorite-garden-produce here.  We also like to plan around what the Farmer’s Market could fill in (most everything is covered between CSA and our garden, but we still tend to grab certain things at the Market), what the season calls for, and what the kiddoes will each (which, frankly, is pretty much everything, but I’d be kidding everyone if I said it didn’t come into play at all).  We also try to incorporate one leftover cleanup day into the mix, so we don’t stack up too many one-serving wonders into the fridge (or, frankly, if we just feel like eating an apple and block of cheddar on a particularily busy evening after feeding the kids mac and cheese or something), and I try to plan one fish or vegetarian meal per week (for variety, and to blow through CSA veggies, and also because you know, healthy, all that jazz.)
My hope is to post recipes that work well, pictures of what we’re baking, cooking, canning, drinking…  and talk about the places we eat, what we’re canning or freezing, planning the garden.  I mean, we’re talking about it anyway.  We may as well have a place to keep it all.