Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is seriously amazing, healthy, so easy, and I could not. Stop. Eating it.

I've gotten completely obsessed with roasting vegetables this fall. It all started with this fantastic roasted carrot soup by Jamie Deen. I threw the carrots in the oven after dinner, never set a timer, starting watching TV, and forgot all about them. By the time they came out they were much darker than I had intended... And sooo deliciously caramelized and good!

I followed that with a roasted butternut squash soup using the same method... Season, bake, and forget. And then I was doing it with everything. Cauliflower and potato. Ever tried roasted spaghetti squash??

I told my mom I'd cook up another butternut squash for turkey day, thinking I could either make a roasted veggie dip out of the puréed squash or just make a pot of soup depending on the number of RSVPs. This one makes a seriously silky soup, and with the added onion, garlic and yummy delicious caramelized bits, it's good straight out of the fridge on a spoon.

The biggest butternut squash you can find
One sweet yellow onion
One head of garlic

To prepare:
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and strings with a spoon.
Quarter and peel the onion. Cut off the top of the head of garlic.

To cook:
Place the squash cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Cover with salt and pepper.
Drizzle oil over onion quarters and season with salt and pepper. Cover the top of the head of garlic with olive oil, making sure it reaches all of the cloves, and wrap in a small piece of foil.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees. Check the onions for doneness after 20 minutes or so. Bake the squash for 45 minutes or up to an hour. It's done when the skin is easily pierced with a small knife.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, scrape the flesh from the squash with a spoon. The sides may easily peel away.
Squeeze the garlic cloves from the head. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a food processor and blend in batches until smooth.
Taste test: so far you have pretty much made really, really delicious baby food. If you like it, by all means spread it on a cracker and start now (or if you are making Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, go here).

To make the soup, transfer puree to a large pot and add 4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (depending on the size of your squash and the desired consistency). Bring to a boil and simmer until ready to serve.
Garnish with garlic bread, fresh basil, scallions, a dollop of Greek yogurt, season with curry powder... this is a great base recipe you can do almost anything with.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Triple Coconut Cream Pie (GF)

I created this recipe for my dad, who absolutely loves coconut, and for my mom, who has a wheat allergy.  My dad's not a big sweets guy but he loves custards, and coconut cream pie is his favorite.  I made this for Easter, which often coincides with my dad's birthday, and it's perfect for springtime!

I wanted it to be as coconutty as possible without excess sugar, which I why I use a combo of unsweetened flaked coconut and sweetened, shredded baker's coconut.  I found my unsweetened coconut at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (in the bulk bins section) and the coconut cream can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores (or your local Asian market, if you're lucky enough to have one).

The coconut crust really puts this pie over the top, with the added bonus of being totally gluten-free!  Enjoy!

3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Add the two types of coconut to the bowl of a food processor and blend for a few seconds, until coconut is chopped and thoroughly integrated. Drizzle the three tablespoons melted butter over the coconut and blend again.
Pat the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan using the bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

1 can coconut milk
1 cup half & half
2 eggs, plus one egg yolk, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp coconut extract

In a saucepan, combine the cream, half & half, eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and extract. Pour filling into the cooked crust and chill, about 4 hours or overnight.

1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

To serve, blend the heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer at high speed until thick and fluffy. Spread over top of pie and finish by sprinkling with toasted coconut.

Triple Coconut Cream Pie