Sunday, November 18, 2012

butternut squash soup with ginger

Butternut squash soup is kind of the reason I started a food blog.  There are similar recipes everywhere, but the best preparation I've found is very simple and has a secret key ingredient:  fresh ginger.

I used to make this soup for my grandmother, Mimi, and she would go crazy over it.  I often serve it as a weeknight dinner or weekend lunch in colder months.  

You already know my feelings about roasting vegetables, and there's nothing new here.  Roasting cubes of butternut squash makes it tender and slightly sweet without adding a bit of sugar.  And you won't lose any nutrition to a pot of water that took forever to boil (on my stove, anyway).

The fresh ginger sets this recipe apart from others I've tried.  I store fresh ginger root in freezer until I'm ready to use it.  I think Rachael Ray taught me that.  When I'm ready, I cut off (most of) the peel and use a fine grater to grate the ginger-- still frozen-- right in to whatever I'm making.  It's so much easier to grate when it's frozen that way. You can use 1 teaspoon of ground ginger instead, but it's not the same.

I make this soup the same way every time; and I can't think of a thing that would make it better.  The recipe follows.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

mini pot pies with leeks and mushrooms

I love pot pie.  Until I made these miniature versions (which, by the way, afford endless possibilities for fillings), Kevin was pretty sure he did not.  Something about cafeteria versions with frozen peas had turned him off to pot pie nearly permanently.  But a buttery, flaky, super savory, handheld version won him over.  What's not to love?

This filling is full of flavor from leeks melted into butter, tiny chunks of potato, thyme, and sauteed mushrooms.  Since I was already a fan, it's safe to say this is the best pot pie I've ever had.  You can make a version with chicken by using diced yellow onion, carrots, and some shredded rotisserie chicken.  Try Giada's broccoli and cheddar filling, or Ina's indulgent lobster filling.  Heck, you can even add frozen peas if that's your thing.

The body of this recipe is a homemade, part-whole wheat crust that puffs just a little, but you certainly use store-bought pie crust if you prefer.  Either way, the technique is the same: roll out the dough until it's quite thin, cut into circles, press into greased muffin tins.  Fill with your favorite version of the savory filling and bake until they are golden. They are a crowd-pleaser in miniature and absolutely delicious hot or at room temperature.  And they are pretty darn cute.

For the filling, the guiding principle is using the same 1:1 ratio of butter to flour to make a perfect roux.  From there, the possibilities are endless.  I created this filling with mild leeks, rich mushrooms, and hearty potato.  And lots of butter of course.  The recipe follows.