The Casual Foodies

Creamy Roasted Squash Soup

Fall produce is arguably some of my favorite produce – all of the unusual shapes and the beautiful palette of colors. What isn’t there to love? During the autumn months, there are few things I enjoy more than a weekend morning spent with Jay at the farmer’s market, coffee in hand, to browse the many varieties of squash, eggplant, kale…
The truth is, though, that until recently, I really had no idea how to cook most fall produce. As a kid, my family and I took similar trips to local farms to buy baskets of gourds and squash. However, since my father is a florist/designer, our fall produce often took up residence as autumn décor.
This year, I’ve made a personal pact to prepare as many fall offerings as possible in our apartment kitchen, and to save the dried cornstalks and candy corns for decorative purposes.
This soup is perfect for anyone like me who is just getting acquainted with the season’s many produce options. It’s quick and easy and really captures the earthy flavors of the season.
Creamy Roasted Squash Soup
3 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large yellow onion
1 portabella mushroom cap
2 cloves of peeled garlic
About a ½ cup of olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 450. While oven heats, peel the squash, using either a knife or a heavy-duty vegetable peeler. Cut into small cubes (about 2 inches wide)*. Quarter the onion. Slice the portabella cap. Combine all vegetables in a casserole dish and mix with olive oil and about two teaspoons of kosher salt**. Roast for 15 minutes. Rotate vegetables and roast for another 15 minutes.  When roasting is complete, transfer all vegetables as well as 3 cups of broth into a blender and puree until completely smooth. Pour soup into a medium-sized pot. Add remaining broth. Heat on medium heat. Prior to serving, season with additional salt and freshly cracked pepper to desired taste.
*As I prepare the squash, I like to save the seeds. Give the seeds a quick rinse and, once you are done roasting the vegetables, remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and replace with the squash seeds. Toss with about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, put back in hot oven and let roast for about 15 minutes. The roasted seeds taste great on their own. They’re also good on top of salads.
**One of Jay’s many tips: to avoid uneven cooking, “hide” the portabella and the onion underneath a layer of the squash for the first 15 minutes of roasting.
Tuesday November 3, 2009

Creamy Roasted Squash Soup

Fall produce is arguably some of my favorite produce – all of the unusual shapes and the beautiful palette of colors. What isn’t there to love? During the autumn months, there are few things I enjoy more than a weekend morning spent with Jay at the farmer’s market, coffee in hand, to browse the many varieties of squash, eggplant, kale…

The truth is, though, that until recently, I really had no idea how to cook most fall produce. As a kid, my family and I took similar trips to local farms to buy baskets of gourds and squash. However, since my father is a florist/designer, our fall produce often took up residence as autumn décor.

This year, I’ve made a personal pact to prepare as many fall offerings as possible in our apartment kitchen, and to save the dried cornstalks and candy corns for decorative purposes.

This soup is perfect for anyone like me who is just getting acquainted with the season’s many produce options. It’s quick and easy and really captures the earthy flavors of the season.

Creamy Roasted Squash Soup

3 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large yellow onion

1 portabella mushroom cap

2 cloves of peeled garlic

About a ½ cup of olive oil

6 cups vegetable stock

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 450. While oven heats, peel the squash, using either a knife or a heavy-duty vegetable peeler. Cut into small cubes (about 2 inches wide)*. Quarter the onion. Slice the portabella cap. Combine all vegetables in a casserole dish and mix with olive oil and about two teaspoons of kosher salt**. Roast for 15 minutes. Rotate vegetables and roast for another 15 minutes.  When roasting is complete, transfer all vegetables as well as 3 cups of broth into a blender and puree until completely smooth. Pour soup into a medium-sized pot. Add remaining broth. Heat on medium heat. Prior to serving, season with additional salt and freshly cracked pepper to desired taste.

*As I prepare the squash, I like to save the seeds. Give the seeds a quick rinse and, once you are done roasting the vegetables, remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and replace with the squash seeds. Toss with about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, put back in hot oven and let roast for about 15 minutes. The roasted seeds taste great on their own. They’re also good on top of salads.

**One of Jay’s many tips: to avoid uneven cooking, “hide” the portabella and the onion underneath a layer of the squash for the first 15 minutes of roasting.

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Chili and Beef Noodle Bowls

Many moons ago, when I was a single 22-year old gal in NYC, I worked around the corner from this magical noodle restaurant. I sprinted there during many a lunch break to enjoy their part Malaysian, part Vietnamese, part Chinese, part Thai, part Japanese cuisine.
Since my love affair with New York has ended, and my love affair with Jay has begun, I’ve only visited the restaurant, REPUBLIC (www.thinknoodles.com) on several dinner dates with friends, but never with Jay. Until the other night.
Our first trip to Republic together began with a few rounds of crisp saki followed by glasses of freshly squeezed watermelon juice (which is unexpectedly delicious). For dinner, Jay ordered their Spicy Beef Broth Noodles, which I frequently leaned across the table to sample myself. As trickles of broth slid down both of our chins, we nodded to each other in mutual agreement: the dish had inspired us to try to create some Asian recipes of our own.
Chili and Beef Noodle Bowls
2 petite beef sirloins
About a quarter cup of veggie oil
1 white onion (1/2 sliced; ½ minced)
7 cloves of garlic
Small bunch of scallions, finely chopped
1-inch piece of ginger root, diced small
Beef broth (32 oz.)
Chili paste
3, 2-inch pieces of lemongrass
A splash of rice wine vinegar
A splash of soy sauce
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
Dry wheat noodles
Bean sprouts
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper
In large pot, bring water to boil (enough for dry wheat noodles). In wok or skillet, sear beef in veggie oil (2 minutes on one side; 1 minute on the flip side). Remove beef from heat and let rest. (If you’re using a different type of beef, just be sure to cook it so that it is very rare.) Add to leftover oil the minced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes and remove from heat. Add to remaining oil all beef broth, a full tablespoon of chili paste, 5 whole cloves of garlic and the lemongrass (before you add the lemongrass, it should be “bruised.” The easiest way to do this is put it on a cutting board and give it a few good whacks with something sturdy, like a frying pan). Bring broth mixture to a boil.  Add sliced onion and half of the scallion, 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and about a tablespoon of roughly torn cilantro. Add dry wheat noodles to boiling water and cook according to package directions. In large bowls, add cooked noodles, beef, a handful of roughly torn cilantro, a handful of raw bean sprouts, ginger/garlic/scallion mixture and broth. (Note: the noodles will suck up A LOT of the broth. The broth pretty much makes this dish so be sure to add quite a bit of the broth when serving.) Allow the prepared bowls to sit for a few minutes, as the hot broth will continue to cook the beef. Garnish with extra scallions and cilantro.
***Heat can be adjusted according to taste by adding more or less of the chili paste.
****As an entrée, serves one big guy, one small girl and one Tupperware container to take for tomorrow’s lunch.
Tuesday November 3, 2009

Chili and Beef Noodle Bowls

Many moons ago, when I was a single 22-year old gal in NYC, I worked around the corner from this magical noodle restaurant. I sprinted there during many a lunch break to enjoy their part Malaysian, part Vietnamese, part Chinese, part Thai, part Japanese cuisine.

Since my love affair with New York has ended, and my love affair with Jay has begun, I’ve only visited the restaurant, REPUBLIC (www.thinknoodles.com) on several dinner dates with friends, but never with Jay. Until the other night.

Our first trip to Republic together began with a few rounds of crisp saki followed by glasses of freshly squeezed watermelon juice (which is unexpectedly delicious). For dinner, Jay ordered their Spicy Beef Broth Noodles, which I frequently leaned across the table to sample myself. As trickles of broth slid down both of our chins, we nodded to each other in mutual agreement: the dish had inspired us to try to create some Asian recipes of our own.

Chili and Beef Noodle Bowls

2 petite beef sirloins

About a quarter cup of veggie oil

1 white onion (1/2 sliced; ½ minced)

7 cloves of garlic

Small bunch of scallions, finely chopped

1-inch piece of ginger root, diced small

Beef broth (32 oz.)

Chili paste

3, 2-inch pieces of lemongrass

A splash of rice wine vinegar

A splash of soy sauce

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

Dry wheat noodles

Bean sprouts

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

In large pot, bring water to boil (enough for dry wheat noodles). In wok or skillet, sear beef in veggie oil (2 minutes on one side; 1 minute on the flip side). Remove beef from heat and let rest. (If you’re using a different type of beef, just be sure to cook it so that it is very rare.) Add to leftover oil the minced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes and remove from heat. Add to remaining oil all beef broth, a full tablespoon of chili paste, 5 whole cloves of garlic and the lemongrass (before you add the lemongrass, it should be “bruised.” The easiest way to do this is put it on a cutting board and give it a few good whacks with something sturdy, like a frying pan). Bring broth mixture to a boil.  Add sliced onion and half of the scallion, 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and about a tablespoon of roughly torn cilantro. Add dry wheat noodles to boiling water and cook according to package directions. In large bowls, add cooked noodles, beef, a handful of roughly torn cilantro, a handful of raw bean sprouts, ginger/garlic/scallion mixture and broth. (Note: the noodles will suck up A LOT of the broth. The broth pretty much makes this dish so be sure to add quite a bit of the broth when serving.) Allow the prepared bowls to sit for a few minutes, as the hot broth will continue to cook the beef. Garnish with extra scallions and cilantro.

***Heat can be adjusted according to taste by adding more or less of the chili paste.

****As an entrée, serves one big guy, one small girl and one Tupperware container to take for tomorrow’s lunch.

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