Searching for butternut squash: that’s what I’ve preoccupied myself with while everyone else is anxiously leaping into spring, baskets overflowing with the first bundles of asparagus and green garlic.
It’s the one piece of Fall and Winter produce that I keep a tight grip on for as long as possible, reluctant to let it go and dismayed to go without it for another six months, even if that same time period brings delightful indulgence in strawberries and, eventually, nectarines.
I love butternut squash. Its sunny, bright orange flesh ushers me through months of bleak greyness. I live for butternut squash. When strawberries turn sour and nectarines disappear from the market and all produce stands point to cabbage and kale,** the appearance of butternut squash brings a smile to my face and puts the spring back into my steps. I have a serious butternut squash addiction.
** I do enjoy eating more than my fair share of both cruciferous veggies, but I don’t feel overwhelmingly excited when they’re all I see at a farmers market. (more…)
Before I complete the last three posts in my Project Wedding Dessert Bar series, I need a break from the sugar. I went through just about 20 pounds of the stuff for my baking and candy making bonanza, so I think a savory reprieve is justified.
I’ve been craving savory Fall foods like crazy. Especially squash. And cheese. Anything warm and comforting will do, but even more so if there’s some hint of freshness.
These stuffed jalapenos brought all those things home for me. (more…)
In the wake of last night’s employee fiesta and on the eve of the BlogHer ’11 Conference in San Diego, I thought it only appropriate to commemorate my first annual conference with another, seasonal kind of party: a tomato party.
Tomatoes are perhaps the single piece of produce whose season I most look forward to. So when I came across Yottam Ottolenghi’s tomato party recipe in Plenty, I felt inspired.
This dish highlights tomatoes in all their glory, from the gorgeous variety of bright red, yellow and green colors to the wide range of raw, slow-roasted, and partially-roasted flavors. It truly is a tomato celebration.
But for me, a cheese-less tomato gathering is akin to a cocktail-less dinner party. Something had to be done to liven the mood. (more…)
It’s teeth-chattering cold in my San Francisco apartment. That makes it a perfect night for using some freshly roasted, pureed and frozen butternut squash leftover from one of these to make butternut squash soup. It’s also a good time to wonder why I always visit Boston and its bone-chilling weather in January.
Usually, we venture back East for the New Year, excited to experience that magical bit of winter wonderland that snow-less San Francisco can never quite achieve. But this time around, Christmas decorations have already been re-packed and my cute tabletop rosemary Christmas tree has made its way into soups and stocks and even an aromatherapeutic bath or two. With the holiday season so utterly behind me, except the extra pounds that have chosen to stick around, I wonder how the blistering cold and the post-blizzard, muddy snow could possibly retain their charm. Regardless, I look forward to visiting with Jay’s grandmother, checking in with the Tarves family, and eating some of the best food Boston has to offer, from Frank McClelland’s sophisticated New England-French fare at L’Espalier to authentic Italian and hand-made pasta dishes at Francesca’s. And this time, when Francesca asks why Jay hasn’t made an honest woman of me yet, as she has every visit for the last several years, I’ll flash the bling her way.
But back to the soup: onions, marjoram (or oregano!), and garlic add aromatics and a delicious depth of flavor to roasted butternut squash puree. But two other ingredients really transform this vegetable soup into something luscious. Cream cheese blended with the seasoned puree creates a sumptuous, velvety texture, and a kick of cayenne adds an unexpected, utterly delicious spiciness to balance the rich creaminess of this soup. (more…)
Consider this an ode to the other squash. The quickly forgotten summer squash, often left behind at this time of year as people, including me, find themselves lured toward the oranger, more festive squashes of autumn. But these bright green and yellow varieties want you to know that they, too, can make delicious fall and winter food fare.
Unlike the dishes of summers past, where these bright baby squash were grilled, sauteed or roasted with salt, pepper, a little butter, and a sprinkling of lemon juice, this summer squash gratin is anything but summery. It’s hearty, rich, and creamy, but, despite the cream sauce, it doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down. (more…)