Thursday, February 4, 2010

Soothing Soups

With ourselves knee deep in winter and soon to be the same in snow, I thought it was a good time to break out the soup pots again. There's nothing like a good, hearty, satisfying bowl of soup when you're weary from the dreary. Ha. I rhyme. Anyway.  I bought this butternut squash after seeing an episode of "Good Eats" a few weeks back, intrigued by how tasty and simple Alton Brown made it all look. Well, it IS kind of simple, if you have the time. And it IS tasty, I'll give him that.

The poor thing sat in my fridge for nigh on two weeks before I got around to even Thinking about cooking it up. The good news is that it didn't rot, (but I get the suspicion that it was on its way to going down hill), so the squash keeps very well even if you're mean to it. My particular squash had a sticker with instructions, very similar to Alton's but I followed his since it was his recipe I was using. BTW, you can look his up on Foodnetwork.com by inputting "butternut squash soup alton brown". I'll leave the details to him, but the changes I made were these:

I tossed in a little cup of cinnamon applesauce we had sitting around on a whim. I'm not sure if it made a difference or not because it was so small.

I felt the finished product was kind of boring, so I diced and sauteed a small sweet onion and about three nice sized carrots in some bacon fat and added it to the soup, leaving the veggie addition chunky.

I added a little more salt than he called for, probably another 1/2 tsp of kosher.
I also used a little candied ginger instead of the fresh that he called for because I didn't have any.
Added maybe a 1/4 tsp of powdered ginger to help pump it up a bit.
Black pepper in addition to white pepper.
A dash of worcestershire sauce because I felt it was lacking depth of flavor. It helped but I ended up adding a dash of Bragg Liquid aminos as well, for some "umami" (long U, oo).
I think I would've added some nice chunks of bacon if I'd felt like cooking it, but I was tired.
Also added about a tbs or more of salted butter in the beginning before making all the other additions.
Oh yeah, and I put probably a good tsp or two of paprika in which was good too. I'm sure if you have the smoked kind it would be even better. Unless you Really feel like roasting peppers to add directly.

On the FN site there are suggestions to have it with cinnamon, brown sugar sans honey or with the honey too, apples, sweet potatoes (never white apparently), dallops of sour cream or yogurt. So apparently you can make it more sweet or savory depending on how you like it.

I recommend letting the flavor develop for as long as possible, as much as an hour or so at a just warm temp, stirring now and then to prevent scorching. I liked it much better when I did that. I think I will be adding this to my list of warming soups for those bone-chilling fall & winter days.

**Update** It is not only much better the next day but it is also Excellingly good with sour cream.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

May the Fork be with you..

Pizza is typically a finger food. Nay, more personal than that.  A deft grasp is required so you don't upset the delicate balance of hot, cheesy, saucy, goodness and ample toppings onto yourself with a cry of despair. Swift and clean amputation of your bites is a must, otherwise you run the risk of the same result as stated above. It is a wonderfully innate and privately choreographed dance between slice and self.

Sometimes though, I go a little heavy on the cheesy and the saucy and the toppings. But we must not let that interfere with our ultimate goal: piloting all that awesome flavor onto the landing strip of our tastebuds. So whip out your trusty prongs (I said Trusty not rusty) and dig in, because nothing should come between you and the perfection that is PIZZA.

My Latest Creation

I have been testing new ways to make pizza without tomatos because I know someone with allergies to them. I have decided that I like a white pizza made with a cream sauce, because otherwise it's just too dry. The pizza above has that white sauce along with onions, garlic, peppers, spinach, chicken tenders, bacon, shrooms and olives. IT WAS SO GOOD. ::smack leeps::