Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I don't usually do a lot of vegan food. I love my meat and animal products! However, it's always nice to come upon a recipe that is delicious and happens to be vegan friendly. I do have one vegan friend and one of my housemates is a vegetarian, so it's nice to expand the repetoire.

I found this recipe in the Gourmet Cookbook, a great Christmas gift from my boyfriend a couple of years ago. It's a massive book and I haven't even begun to make a dent in the recipes but I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every recipe that has come out of that book.

I love butternut squash, particularly in soup. I have several recipes that I've enjoyed from a very simple approach by Mark Bitman to a complexly layered (flavor-wise) one from Edna Lewis. This soup fits in the middle of the spectrum. It includes the basics to any good soup, onion, celery and carrots and adds creaminess with potatoes. My favorite thing about this soup, though, is the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes.

Here's the recipe:

2 tbs olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 1/2 cups water

I saute the celery, onion and carrots in the olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The I add the red pepper flakes, squash and potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Next I add the water and about 1 tsp of salt. I cover and cook the soup on medium for 20 minutes and then puree it and serve it.

The difficult thing about butternut squash is peeling and cutting it up. I like to cut it up into big sections, and peel the sections. I always use a chef's knife - well, I almost always use a 10-inch chef's knife in the kitchen anyway but in this case, it's particularly useful. Paring knives or peelers are just too small to deal with the thick skin.

For more flavor, I guess you could roast the squash first and then prepare as above. However, I never have time for that.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Request for Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

There are some recipes that are designed to please everytime in any situation. One of those that I've found is the Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Edna Lewis. This is a recipe that has never failed me. It's something that friends request I bring to occasions. It's one that I've shared with many people. My boyfriend's aunt in particular asked me to post this on the blog. I hope it's not too late for her to use it.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups (8 oz) elbow macaroni
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) extra-sharp cheddar cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup grated onion
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 2/3 cups (6 oz) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain well, and transfer to a buttered 9x13x2 in. baking dish. Mix in the cubed cheddar cheese.

Put the flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, dry mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl, and stir to blend. Add the sour cream, followed by the eggs, and stir in with a wire whisk until well blended and homogenous. Whisk in the onion, half-and-hald, heavy cream, and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Pour this custard over the macaroni and cubed cheese, and stir to blend. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the surface of the custard. Bake in the preheated oven until the custard is set around the edges of the baking dish but still a bit loose in the center, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 mintues to allow the custard to thicken.