Thursday, December 24, 2009

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash. Yum! A few weeks ago I bought a baby butternut squash. It sat in my fridge for a week, waiting for me. I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. So I decided to do a mock mini Thanksgiving dinner for myself. I baked some chicken, made a frozen bag of mashed potatoes, and I cubed that butternut squash. With it I put maple syrup, melted butter, half an onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and for a kick, crushed red pepper. Cooked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Usually, people put brown sugar or marshmallows on squash, but I love maple syrup on fish and mashed potatoes, so I decided to try something new. It was perfect. Crunchy on the outside and soft and mushy in the middle! I was so excited about this recipe, I wanted to make it for my family. For my birthday my mother bought a London broil and marinated it in honey and garlic. As a side I wanted real mashed potatoes and of course, butternut squash. I cooked the sides. Hey, if you want something done right, do it yourself. So I was pretty excited about everyone trying the squash. I kept checking it and checking it and it wasn't exactly caramelizing like I wanted it to and it was really sweet. However, it was cooked all the way through and it was scrumptious. All night and the next morning I couldn't figure out why it didn't caramelize like the way I wanted it to. Was it the altitude? No. Different oven? No. Did I forget to add something? YES I DID! The melted butter and garlic! How could I forget that?! It didn't turn into a beautiful golden brown because I forgot the butter and it was sweeter than last time. Melted butter and garlic. How on earth could I forget those two key ingredients? Anyway, my family still liked it, though it was just like eating melted sugar, in my opinion. Next time, I'll remember the butter.

Recipe for Butternut Squash
- 1 to 2 baby butternut squashes, cubed
- Half an onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- One cup of syrup, or until completely coated
- 1 Tbsp of garlic, minced
- Half a stick of butter
- Crushed red pepper, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish, or deep cookie sheet.
- Stir with hands, of course!
- Cook in oven for 35 minutes.
- Check tenderness. Remember crunchiness on the outside, soft on the inside.
- Enjoy! Oh and don't forget the butter!

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!" -James Beard

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Julia Child

Last night I watched the movie Julie and Julia. Such a wonderful movie! When I saw it in August for the first time, I went out the next day and bought the books Julie and Julia and My Life in France. I also looked all over for her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I couldn't find it anywhere! Every book store said they wouldn't get any for a couple of months! So one night I went to Williams Sonoma for a new knife, and when I was there a couple months before I had seen the books, Volume One and Two! No other book store had both of them. I asked the saleswoman if they had any, and of course they were out. Another saleswoman overheard and said she saw it out of the corner of her eye! It had been behind the other cookbooks! I went home with both volumes and eager to cook a French meal. However, I have not had time to do so. So after watching the movie again with my family, I am pleased to say that I will making Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon sometime this week!

Watching how hard she tried to get her book published is an inspiration to me. I have decided that I will be starting my own cookbook.
Difficult? Maybe. Long? Hopefully. Delicious? Of course!
Over the next couple of months I will be testing recipes and writing them down. Thank you Julia, thank you very much for inspiring.
She showed us that burning your food, salt caps coming off, losing your omelet, overcooking your steak, and using tons of butter is ok. It's ok to make mistakes. It's a kitchen. It's food. You're not perfect, I'm not perfect, so why is our food always going to be perfect. Food is an expression. Remember that.

"It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it." -Julia Child

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ok soup. What does it make you think of? I think of snow, warmth, hearty, runny nose, and chunky. I love soup! Any soup. My favorite is the traditional chicken noodle, but the only time I really it is when my mother makes it from scratch with corn on the cob and egg noodles! Yum. I remember coming home from school on snowy days and the house smelt like the soup. It was so comforting. Though soup is so basic, is makes us feel these warm feelings. Which makes me think, that the simplest things in life are the best things, is true. I know around winter we will be consuming a lot of soup! And why not? It warms our chilled bones and makes us feel better if we are a bit under the weather.
I know my youngest sister, Isabelle, is obsessed with soup. She is a "soup connoisseur" as we like to say in our family. Every time we go out she is always getting a cup of soup. Chicken tortilla, chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, corn chowder, french onion, etc. When I was in Florida last week, we stopped at a Perkins (gross, I know) on our way home from the beach. Isabelle ordered a kids chocolate chip pancakes, and of course a cup of chicken noodle soup! Now is it just me, or do these two things not really go well together? Oh well, she is ten, and hopefully she will grow out of it.
My favorite thing about soup is the "accessory" or side. Like a warm piece of french bread or a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Bread to me is an extra utensil used to wipe the bowl so you can get every last drop of that delicious soup. Oh, and I have to say that bread bowls are soup's greatest invention. It just sucks it all up and when you are all done eating all the soup, the bread bowl still has that great flavor.
I'm excited about winter and making more soups. I don't make soup too often, unfortunately, but I want to make more and maybe give some to families, neighbors, and friends. The holiday season is here and it is all about giving back to those you love, and soup gives warmth, and nothing is better during winter then to feel warm.

I have a great recipe for a quick Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. Don't forget the grilled cheese!

-Non-flavored oil, like a salad oil
-One shallot, minced
-Dy, chopped basil
-24 oz of tomato sauce
-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
-1 cup of half and half
-1 cup of chicken stock
-Season with salt and pepper to taste
-One bunch fresh basil, chiffonade

Heat a pot on medium heat with oil. When oil is hot, add shallot and dry basil. When the shallot is translucent add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir. Add the half and half and the chicken stock! If you want it creamier add more half and half, and if you want it thinner add more stock. Salt and pepper to your taste. Now with the fresh basil, you can add it to the soup, or as a garnish on top of the soup, either way it taste great! Bon Appétit!

"There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get you soup in a can."
-Laurie Colwin