Tag Archives: squash

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Curried Apple Chutney

23 Dec

Winter is in full bloom in Minnesota, although this dinner was cooked and eaten when it was still officially fall. My apologies for taking a full season to update this blog with a new post!

When the colder seasons make their appearance, I like nothing better than to turn on my oven and bask in the smells and warmth of baking warm comforting food and sharing it with friends.

Butternut Squash Soup

I got together with a few of my friends at the house of Kyle (the photographer of the professional looking photos on this post–thanks, Kyle!!), we had a lovely dinner and as always, fun conversation and a great time together.

We enjoyed the Bear’s Den (aka Kyle’s garage) and the great company. We had butternut squash soup with curried apple chutney (recipes posted below), potato leek soup with bacon jam (recipes will be posted at a later date), grilled cheese sandwiches, purple cabbage salad and brats with onion jam, topped off by apple crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce (recipe taken from the caramel here with sea salt added).

Purple cabbage salad

Purple cabbage salad

Laura loosening the sauerkraut lid

Laura loosening the sauerkraut lid

John got it open!

John got it open!

Apple Crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce

Apple Crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce

But back to the recipes…butternut squash is a favorite of mine. It’s fantastic cut up and roasted, is delicious roasted and mashed as a side dish and it makes a beautifully creamy soup. As a shortcut to prevent cutting off your own extremities, roast the squash first, then simply scoop the softened flesh out of peel, rather than struggling with cutting and peeling the slippery, solid whole squash.

Butternut Squash roasted

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with melted butter, then salt and pepper and pop right into the oven.

onion and apple

While the squash is roasting, finely chop an onion and an apple (aren’t they just so pretty?)

apple and onion

Saute the chopped onions and apple along with some sliced fresh sage and salt and pepper in a large pan over medium heat.

Butternut Squash Soup 027

Once the squash is soft and fully roasted, scoop it out of the peel and add it to the soup pot along with the chicken stock and water and let it simmer.

Butternut Squash Soup 038

Once everything is soft and well cooked, blend it well. You can put it in your blender in batches – carefully so you don’t burn yourself or blow the top off your blender – or with an immersion/hand blender. I love my immersion blender as it makes tasks like this so easy! Mine has a plastic blender base, so I can use it with my enamel cookware without fear of damage to the pots.

Butternut Squash Soup 048

I served this soup with curried apple chutney (the one in the middle), which was a snap to mix up and let cook for a few hours on the back of the stove.

Onion Jam, Curried Apple Chutney and Bacon Jam

Onion Jam, Curried Apple Chutney and Bacon Jam

Curried Apple Chutney 006

Just add all the ingredients to the pan and cook. Really. It’s that easy.

Curried Apple Chutney 002

1-Curried Apple Chutney 013

Cook until the apples are soft and it’s all cooked into even more of a browny-beige color (if that is even possible).

1-Curried Apple Chutney 018

This recipe made three jars of this chutney and was an excellent addition to the soup.

1-Curried Apple Chutney 026

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup 
adapted from Chow

Ingredients
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions
Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C and arrange a rack in the middle.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Curried Apple Chutney
recipe from West Coast Mama – adapted from the Well Preserved Cookbook

Ingredients
9 cups peeled, chopped and diced apple
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom and ginger

Instructions
Combine all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until thickened, stirring often. Stir almost constantly during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time to prevent scorching.

Remove from heat. Ladle into jars and store in the fridge for up to 30 days. If you wish to be able to preserve them outside the refrigerator, you will need to follow the instructions below and learn about canning here.

If canning or preserving, then prepare the preserving jars.
Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilized jar leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims clean. Seal and process jars.

Quinoa Stuffed Squash Rings (Dinner Party – part 1)

27 Feb

Plated dinner

This past weekend I had a dinner party. It came about because my friend Christine just finished her kitchen remodel and currently has the best dinner party kitchen around with lots of work space, a beautiful long center island and quite a few places to set out food and drink! I wanted to cook in that nice kitchen and what better excuse for a dinner party than a lovely home, good food and great friends?

Terri, Jane, Christine, Jill/Gracie, B, Kate

Terri, Jane, Christine, Jill/Gracie, B, Kate

Olive and Kevin

Olive and Kevin

Christine, the hostess with the most-ess

Christine, the hostess with the most-ess

I also had the pleasure of working with Kyle Krohn who took the photos that I’m using on these two dinner party posts. He’s quite talented and is a great instructor. I plan to keep improving my own photography with his help.

The menu was a good solid winter dinner:

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce (recipe to be featured in my next post)
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings
Smashed Potatoes
Roasted Carrots
Chopped Salad
Tiny Pies

The squash rings were a new dish for me. I’ve been cooking with quinoa quite a bit recently and have found that it’s a tasty good-for-you grain that is so adaptable to many different flavors. I like the tri-color variety that I get at Trader Joe’s.

This time I decided to make a quinoa stuffing for squash. This would be a great holiday dish for one of the many US holidays that involve squash, such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or any random dinner really. Cutting the squash into rings allowed me to make these individual portion sizes for a larger group.

Acorn squash

I cooked up the quinoa with chicken broth according to the package. It’s very similar to rice in that you use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa.

I rinsed one cup of quinoa first, then added it to a large stock pot with two cups of chicken broth and brought it to a boil.

At that point, I turned the heat down to low and covered the pan and let it cook for 15 minutes before removing it from the heat for another five minutes.

Quinoa

I chopped an onion, a red pepper and two tomatoes and sautéed them in a separate pan. When they were all softened, I added the cooked quinoa, some dried cranberries and slivered almonds and a splash of chicken broth, along with some salt, pepper and a pinch of dried sage.

Because I like stuffed squash but wanted individual servings, I cut the acorn squash into rings. Cut them, using a sharp knife and a lot of caution, as the last thing you want as part of your dinner party is a visit from the paramedics to stitch up your finger!

Squash slices

Cut the squash in one inch (2.5 cm) sized rings and remove the seeds.

Removing seeds from squash

Place the rings on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and spoon the quinoa mixture in them.

Filling squash

Bake at 370 F/190 C for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Remove carefully from baking sheet with a wide spatula and place directly on plates.

Dinner!

The side dishes were very simply done. I boiled baby potatoes until they could be easily pierced with a fork. After letting them cool, I smashed them with a glass, put them on a roasting sheet, drizzled them with a bit of melted butter and popped them in the hot oven until they were crispy – about 20 minutes.

For the carrots, I peeled them and cut them into 2-3 inch segments at an angle just to make them pretty. Then I tossed them with one tablespoon of olive oil in a large plastic bag to thoroughly cover them. Then they too went onto a baking sheet, were sprinkled with a large pinch of kosher salt and placed into the hot oven for about 20-25 minutes, until they had some caramelized bits on the bottoms. The carrots prepared this way were so good! They were like candy.

I’ll be back for my next post with part two of the dinner party to give you the delicious stuffed pork roast recipe.

Quinoa Stuffed Squash Rings
Serves 6-8

3 acorn squash (or any other squash that can be cut into rings)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 teaspoon dried sage
salt & pepper

Rinse the quinoa. Add to a medium saucepan with two cups of broth and bring to a boil over high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, let it cook for 15 minutes then remove from the heat, still covered for another five minutes.

As the quinoa is cooking, cut the squash into rings or slices and remove the seeds. Use a sharp knife and use a solid cutting board, as your knife could slip and your fingers will be in danger.

Place the cleaned out squash rings or slices onto a baking sheet covered in parchment or baking paper to keep the stuffing from sticking to the pan.

In another pan, saute the chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil until it becomes translucent.  Add the red pepper and tomatoes and let them soften for a few minutes. Then combine with the cooked quinoa, dried fruit and nuts and season with salt, pepper and sage to taste. If the mixture seems a little dry, add some broth a half cup at a time until it has achieved the consistency you would like.

Fill the squash rings generously with the stuffing. Bake at 375 F/190 C for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Camarão na Moranga (Squash with Shrimp)

28 Jan

Alice’s dish reminded me of this quote from the movie Forrest Gump:

Bubba: Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Funny thing is, he didn’t list either one of our shrimp dishes…

Growing up in Brazil, our special occasion dishes were not the same dishes that most of my American friends had. And we didn’t go to a grocery store to get our produce. We, and by we I mean our gardener Zé Branco, grew it. Meet Zé…

This shrimp dish was one of our special dishes, introduced to us by our Brazilian family. They served it in a large Cinderella pumpkin and it was as beautiful as it was delicious. It became a dish that I made for holidays, but I had to make it in individual acorn squash, because I couldn’t get the beautiful giant pumpkins in Minnesota at Christmas time. In fact, I just had it with my dear friends a month ago.

This is a dish that reminds me of family and love and celebration.

The method is quite simple, bake your squash, cut the top off and scoop out the seeds.

You can do those previous two things in any order. Usually, I cut the top off the squash, scoop out the seeds, put the lid back on and bake it until it is soft. This time, I reversed the order because the squash seemed very hard, I had already injured myself once that day… and wasn’t interested it doing it again. So I baked the squash for about an hour, then cut off the tops, scooped out the seeds and filled them with the shrimp sauce. Oops, getting ahead of myself.

While the squash was in the oven, I set to making the sauce.

I chopped up an onion, three cloves of garlic, half of a bunch of parsley, half of a bunch of green onions and four tomatoes.

I sautéed the onions in a large pot, over medium heat, with a tablespoon of oil. They just needed to soften a bit, about five to seven minutes, while being stirred once in a while. Then I added the garlic and let that soften a bit as well. By the way, the smell of sautéing onion and garlic together is quite possibly one of my favorite scents in the world. So inhale deeply at this point. You’re welcome!

Then I tossed in the chopped parsley and green onion, mixed them around a bit,

then added the tomatoes. The whole mixture cooked for a while, until everything started softening up and breaking down.

Then I added about four to five tablespoons of ketchup, two tablespoons of tomato paste, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of dashes of a hot sauce, like Tabasco, and some salt and pepper to taste. Stirred that all together, and topped it off with four cups of chicken broth. I tasted it for seasoning and then let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

When the squash was soft, I cut the tops off, scooped out the seeds,

then smeared the insides with onion and chive flavored cream cheese.

You can certainly use plain cream cheese, or you can use Requeijão Cremoso if you have access to it. It’s a creamy cheese that is readily available in Brazil and sometimes available in Latin markets in the US.

The shrimp can be added to the sauce for a minute or two before you scoop it all into the squash.

Don’t let it cook for too long, or the shrimp will become quite rubbery. Raw shrimp works best for this dish, but I have also tossed in some of the teeny tiny precooked shrimp in a pinch.

I filled the squash with the sauce, put the lids back on

and put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes, while I made the rice.

We always served this over rice, but it really can be served as a one dish, errr gourd, meal.

Brazilians are very fond of their rice and will usually not have a meal without including it. And once you taste some well made Brazilian rice… you will realize why. It’s garlic-y, soft and absolutely delicious on its own or as a complement to a nice sauce.

I will post the recipe and method for Brazilian rice another time. You’ll just have to check back!

Camarão na Moranga (Squash with Shrimp)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons of oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped (use the greens and whites)

4 large tomatoes, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of ketchup

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2-3 dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco)

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of chicken broth (I used 1 carton of store bought chicken broth)

1 lb of shrimp, peeled or with shells according to your preference

1 tub (12 oz/ 350g) of onion and chive flavored cream cheese (can also use plain)

1 large Cinderella pumpkin or individual acorn squashes

Method:

Place squash in a 350F oven, let bake for at least one hour or until it is soft when pressed. Alternately, if you feel brave, cut top off squash, scoop out the seeds, replace the lid and place in oven to bake for one hour or until soft when pressed.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium/high heat, add chopped onions and sauté five to seven minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add chopped garlic, cook two to three minutes longer. Add chopped parsley and green onions, mix around, then add chopped tomatoes. Stir intermittently, keep cooking until the tomatoes start to break down.

Add ketchup, Worcestershire and tomato sauces, then some salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the chicken broth and lower the heat to medium. The sauce should be at a high simmer, lightly bubbling. Let sauce cook for 45 minutes or longer, if needed.

When squash is soft, pull it out of the oven, cut off top and scoop out seeds if you haven’t done so yet. Be careful, it will be very hot! Spread cream cheese around the inside of the cooked squash, including the lid.

Add shrimp to the sauce and let it cook for just a few minutes. Stir in any remaining cream cheese.*

Fill squash with sauce. You will most likely have some extra sauce remaining.

Place squash back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Remove squash from oven, if using large squash, place on a serving platter in the middle of the table and serve by scooping sauce along with some of the squash and cream cheese over rice.

If using individual squashes, place one on each plate, serve with rice and allow each person to scoop their own.

*If you prefer a creamy sauce, feel free to add some cream cheese, sour cream or a cup of creme de leite to the sauce before you scoop it into the squash.

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