Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup and Sausage-Apple Empanadas

I don't know if you are like me, but when I think of Butternut Squash soup, I think of healthy food that I need to "get down" so I get my daily dose of vegetables. Well this soup made me a believer by taking away the bland flavor and adding a delightful kick. Here is what you need and how to make it:

2 T. each olive oil and butter
1 cup onion, diced
1 T garlic, minced
2 t. minced fresh sage
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup brandy
8 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1'' chunks
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Finish with:
8 baguette slices, toasted
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Saute onion, garlic, sage, sugar, pepper flakes, and cinnamon in oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
Stir brandy into the onion mixture and simmer for 1 minute; add the squash, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Return soup to the pot.
Finish soup with cream, salt and pepper. Preheat broiler to high.
Toast baguette slices on a baking sheet under the broiler; sprinkle with cheese, then broil again to melt cheese 1-2 minutes. Top each soup with a baguette slice.

The soup is great, but the empanadas that accompany are marvelous. I would totally make these for a party, for breakfast or for any occasion that needs a little festivity. Serve these straight from the oven with your butternut squash soup for an absolutely perfect fall feast.

1/4 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/3 Braeburn apple, diced (I used ambrosia apples -- see previous post.)
2 T. chopped pecans
1 T. dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1 T water
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Grated Parmesan cheese and paprika

Preheat oven to 400; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Saute sausage in a skillet over medium high heat until brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the apple, pecans, then deglaze with the sherry. Season the mixture, then chill while preparing the dough.
Beat the egg and water together; set aside. Roll the pastry dough out onto a floured surface to a 13" square. With a pizza wheel, cut the pastry into 8 triangles as if cutting a pizza.
Fill each triangle with a heaping tablespoon of sausage mixture. Brush the edges with egg wash, fold in half to enclose filling and crimp the edges closed with a fork. Place empanadas on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Source: Cuisine at Home: Splendid Soups and Sides

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Fall Find : Ambrosia Apples

Everyone talks about how great Honey Crisp apples are, but I never really got into them. They are tasty, but I always thought that the normal Granny Smiths tasted just as great and were easy to cook with or eat. But I have found an apple that rivals both, and I am so happy to share it with you; it's called an Ambrosia Apple.

I found them at Whole Foods, but I haven't looked for them anywhere else. They are so tasty. I have eaten them and baked with them, and they have been perfect each time.

Here are some more facts about the Ambrosia Apple: Considered an all-purpose apple, it is good for eating out of hand, for dessert or with cheese. Ambrosia is slow to oxidize and remains fresh and white for a long time when cut or sliced so it is excellent for salads, fruit plates etc. Ambrosia retains its shape when cooked so is beautiful in open pies or tarts. Ambrosia is harvested in early October and should be in most stores in November. Ambrosia is a sweet, low- acid apple with a heavenly aroma. Crisp in texture, its fine-grained flesh is crunchy and very juicy! It has been called "a very civilized, refined apple, destined to be loved by connoisseurs of the good life everywhere."

Compliments of Organicambrosiaapples.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cranberry Coffee Cake

I realize it has been over a month since my last post, and I will try to do much better! I don't really have any excuse, but I do has a delicious coffee cake as a peace offering. I made this last year for my friend's bridal shower, and was so sad to realize that cranberries are not sold in grocery stores all year long. However, when I was at Whole Foods Monday I saw that they were back, and I had to buy them. Hence the cranberry coffee cake.

This is one of the best coffee cakes ever... anything with nearly four sticks of butter better be good, but this has fruit and nuts too, so it must have some nutritional value. I will not post the calorie count because I think we are better off without it :) but this is something that you can certainly share with lots of friends. Everything in moderation right?

Here's the recipe:

Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cuisine at Home Issue #78

Makes 16 servings

Total Time: 1 ½ hours + Cooling

For the Streusel

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. minced orange zest

For the Cake

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 ¼ cup sugar, divided

Zest of ½ an orange

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. each table salt and cinnamon

½ tsp. baking powder

4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened


Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges to create handles; spray again.

Melt the ½ stick butter; stir in 2/3 cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, pecans, cranberries and orange zest. Set aside.

Pulse fresh cranberries, ¾ cup sugar and zest in a food processor; set aside. Whisk together the 2 cups flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and yolk; set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream the 3 sticks butter and remaining sugar. Add flour mixture and eggs alternately to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and the rest of the batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries; top with streusel.

Bake cake 55-60 minutes; cool on rack 20 minutes before serving.

It's super easy and very delicious. I hope you can find someone to share it with!

I promise I won't be an awful blogger... I've got lots to share!