Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Butternut Squash: Autumnal Optimism

Mom, a week ago: "You need to post right this minute. I just know you're losing all your readership...every time I click on Pie in the Sky, I just see that stupid Mac 'n Cheese, and it makes me go ugghhh."

J., two days ago: "You have to blog. Tonight, so you won't disappoint anyone else."

Email from Anonymous reader/straw that broke the camel's back, last night: "What's the deal, Kate? Don't you eat pie anymore?! I'M DYING OVER HERE"

I'm back and blogging, kids. Sorry for the hiatus.

There's so much to catch up on! Autumn, NEW-new employment, blueberry crumble, butternut squash (I just discovered it properly)...

Let me begin by saying that I'm feeling very optimistic about this season. There's something about seeing September hit the Greenmarkets like a steroid that puts me in frantic squirrel-joy-mode - So many acorns! I must collect ALL of them to store in my nest for winter!!!

My apartment isn't really suited to massive canning endeavors, preparation- or storage-wise (to my vast disappointment), so I can't stock up for winter with local tomatoes and green beans the way I'd like to, but I'm really looking forward to putting my winter diet into seasonal focus. Though for the last few years I've been passionate about local, seasonal eating, I must admit a little voice in the back of my head was always adding, except in winter, of course. I had this idea that in New England, surviving winter on the fruits of harvest wasn't really possible. How wrong I was! W. and I have just discussed continuing our CSA membership through the winter months, and enjoying the fruits of December: onions, turnips, potatoes, squashes, garlic, dried beans, granola...the best! And of course we'll continue getting eggs, yogurt, and cheese. So must potential for roasted root veggies and yummy soups...like the one featured here:

Butternut Squash Soup


1 2-lb. butternut squash
1 t. olive oil
1 t. sea salt
fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste

1 large shallot, coarsely diced
2 T. plus 1 t. salted butter
1 t. chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 5-10 fresh sage leaves for garnish
1½+ cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you want ot keep this dish vegetarian)
1/2+ c. heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste


Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. light oil cut sides of squash; sprinkle with salt and place cut-side-down on baking sheet. Bake at 370 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until squash is very tender when pierced with a fork. Cool slightly; scoop out pulp, discarding the skin.

melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When butter begins to froth, add onions; cook three minutes; add chopped sage. sauté for 2 more minutes, or until onions are tender and translucent. Melt additional butter in pan; add 1 cup stock and bring just to simmer. Remove onion mixture from heat and stir into squash pulp; puree in food processor in batches, adding more broth as necessary.

Pour pureed mixture into medium saucepan. Over low heat, stir in heavy cream, nutmeg, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste (be sure to salt after adding cheese, which is salty itself!). Remove from heat.

Melt remaining teaspoon salted butter in small sauté pan over medium heat; lay whole sage leaves in butter and fry until frizzled and slightly brown. transfer to paper towel to drain; garnish soup with crispy sage leaves. (Hint: frizzle ribbons of prosciutto with the sage for a special garnish!)

Aside: nobody come visit me at Candela (the anonymous restaurant pictured in the Mac 'n Cheese post that makes my mom go uuggghh)...because I won't be there! I took a similar position at a different establishment...but more information on that later. Get very excited - we're talking NUMBER TWELVE on the New York Times' "Top 100 Places to Dine in New York" list!

Regular (twice-weekly, approximately) blogging is promised from here on out.

Love y'all.


Jennifer said...

Hi Kate,

I have to say that I'm with your mom. Not that I groaned at the mac and cheese, but it sure did make me miss you and your posts :)

I hope you'll keep your promise! I can't wait to hear about the new job.

Katy said...

I knew you would be back! Thanks for another beautiful and inspirational post! I'm curious to see what winter has in store for my CSA box as well :)

chrispy said...

I am currently writing up a post (up later today) and put a goal on my endevour. Good luck.

My husband and I just renewed our CSA for the winter and he was so happy to sign the check.

Alexis said...

Kate! I too was wondering when there'd be a new picture up. Hope all is well with you and your new-new employment. We have to do something soon!
Love and butternuts,

Mom said...

You are so back! And you didn't loose me as a reader either!

Now you know, I loved your mac 'n cheese...but you just try looking at it five time a day, and you'll realize how anxious a mother gets to read some different news about her daughter's endeavors. I mean, Pie in the Sky is my life-line! (Thank goodness Kim calls me every day or so.) :)

Soups...great idea for fall and winter. Dad and I made a delicious squash soup, way back almost 30 years ago, we put it in the blender (hot, I‘m afraid) and the lid blew off and squash soup went every where. We've laughed about it ever since. Nothing like a really warm bowl of soup to make you feel better and healthier too!

Anonymous said...

Oh thank god! I missed reading.

ThursdayNext said...

Thank you for the post, Kate! :) Last Fall is when I discovered the butternut squash! I made it mashed, made it into mac and cheese, and did a soup! I am going to try this recipe out this weekend! The sage sounds like an excellent flavor to blend into it!

Oh my! A new restaurant you are working in? Hmmm. I better go check my Zagat to see what 12 is!


connie said...

i bought my first autumn squash of the season at the farmers market on monday!

yay fall foods!

Jen said...

Welcome back!

Monisha said...

Hi Kate -
Glad to have you back, life sometimes gets in the way of blogging regularly, but when you do blog, we'll be here and it will be well worth it - yum ! butter nut squash soup :).

Ivonne said...

Glad to read that your mom, J and the anonymous reader knocked some sense into you. I was about to come see you and give you a lecture on how brutal it's been without regular posts from you but I see my work has been taken care of.


Now I shall sit back and enjoy all the food you make for me ... I mean for everyone who reads your blog.

Yes. That's what I meant.

By the way, don't you know I'm without an oven until October? Very selfish of you not to bake for me.


Jann said...

Great post today....this is one of my favorite soups!