30 November 2008

What's Cooking?

The sun has set on this rainy Sunday and tomorrow it's back to the daily grind of teaching and seminars. Despite the few extra days off, I must admit to not wanting to return to the old routine. I'd love nothing more than to stay at home, cook read and spend some more quality time with my cats. Only one more week, though, and then I will be done teaching and will only need to focus on writing papers.
Since I last posted, however, I did find some nice time to cook a couple of good, local meals. Friday I had a few friends over for whom I made a butternut squash risotto, served with steamed broccoli glazed in lemon and mustard (like the brussel sprouts I prepared the other day) and a cabbage salad with pomegranate seeds and apple. I slowly heated some local apple cider, as well, with cinnamon sticks and cloves, which we mixed up with some bourbon for some tasty hot toddies!
Tonight I returned to the leftover butternut squash (it was a big squash) and made a butternut squash soup following a recipe my friend Elisha just emailed me and along with it a potato-sweet potato-turnip gratin following an Alice Waters' recipe. I feel a cold lurking somewhere deep inside me, so the soup should hopefully help curb that (along with all the tea I've been drinking), and there's nothing more comforting than potatoes! I imagine I'll be feeding myself off of this CSA meal for a few days...

Butternut Squash Soup
variation of Elisha's recipe

1 2lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped into medium dice
1 tablespoon sucanat
3-4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion chopped
1 qt water
1 cinnamon stick
2 ounces raw milk (the recipe calls for cream and Elisha has used both soy milk and soy creamer in the past with great success, so use what you want!)
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot sautee the squash, sucanat and some salt in the butter, covered, for 3 mins on a med-low heat. Add onion and sautee for another 10 mins. Add water and the cinnamon stick and simmer covered for 30 mins, or until squash is good and soft. Puree (in batches if necessary) in the blender until smooth (I used my hand blender). Finish with milk/cream/soy milk, salt and pepper to taste.

Potato-Sweet Potato-Turnip Gratin
adapted from Alice Waters' recipe for Potato Gratin in The Art of Simple Food

3 small to medium potatoes (I used red potatoes, but Yukons would be good too)
3 small sweet potatoes
3 small to medium turnips
ca. 1 cup raw milk
3 tbs butter
salt and pepper

Thinly slice potatoes, sweet potatoes and turnips. In a baking dish that has been greased with butter line the various roots in an order you see fit (I had a row of sweet potatoes, then turnip, then potatoes). Overlap the slices like shingles. Salt and pepper this layer, then add another layer. Salt and pepper it and add another layer if you have more slices (you don't want to make more than three layers). Chop the butter into pieces and disperse them over the surface of the gratin. Pour in milk carefully. You want the milk to come to the top of the bottom of the top layer. Adjust milk accordingly. Bake in an oven heated to 35o˚F for 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft and top is golden brown. (yum).

Both recipes could be varied infinitely. I can imagine using coconut milk in the butternut squash soup and perhaps adding a dash of curry. Pure potatoes or any variety of root vegetables could be used in the gratin. I like the combination of the warm, buttery potatoes and how the sweetness of the sweet potatoes is curbed by the spiciness of the turnips.

On another note: What's cooking is that I am going to start contributing posts on the Farm to Philly blog a few times a month! Look for me in the coming days. My bio is being set up, and then I guess I'll start posting. I am very excited to participate in this great Philly blog dedicated to eating local!

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