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Monday, December 27, 2010

winter solstice, december 21

apply the fire with kindling now
i'll pull the blankets up to my chin
i'll lock the vagrant winter out
i'll fold my wandering in

-- joni mitchell, "urge for going"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

roasted pear and delicata squash soup

fall is the season for soups made of squash and fruit. last year i posted about a butternut and apple soup-- this time, it's roasted pear and delicata squash, and it's scrumptious. i can always tell how well rob likes something i've cooked by whether or not he reaches over and rubs my leg while he eats-- this soup got two pats! he had the best description of it, too, that it tasted like something starbucks would brew up as a seasonal drink. he then astutely observed, "i feel like i need something to make me not feel like i should be drinking this out of a mug. maybe some croutons floating in it or something?" well, as a matter of fact, rob, the original recipe called for just that!

the soup is rich, delicate, and charmingly, lightly sweet. because the squash and pear flavors are fairly subdued, i can't imagine this soup with overpowering store-bought broth. i'd only use homemade, or substitute water. we had it with a fresh loaf of bread, but making some rustic croutons really would be a great addition.

roasted pear and delicata squash soup
serves 2-4
from pear and delicata soup with parmesan croutons

1 1lb delicata squash
1 pear
olive oil
2 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock, or water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. cut pear in half lengthwise and core. rub squash and pear flesh with olive oil, and roast, cut side down, about 30 minutes, or until tender. cool.

scrape the flesh out of the squash and pear and process it in food processor until smooth. add some of the stock or water to the processor and puree. move squash mixture to a soup pot and stir in the remaining broth, the cream, sugar, and nutmeg to taste. bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering, 10 minutes. season to taste with salt and pepper. (i added close to a couple of teaspoons of salt because, again, these flavors are pretty mild.)

serve with fresh grated pepper and parmesan cheese, and/or crunchy croutons.

delicata squash from boistfort valley farm
pear from martin family orchards

Monday, December 6, 2010

delicious salad and a fruity side built from what was in the fridge

you know what it's like. you're pumping away on the exercise bike, watching an episode of "the office" on the ipad, and going over the list in your head of produce that will go bad if you don't act fast. this time, the scene lead to two successful side dishes-- the watercress and pear from the ravioli dish i never made were split up and turned into a salad using fennel leftover from the pickled fall veggies, and a zingy side of pear and roasted beets with apple-mustard vinaigrette. 

this salad is out of this world. spicy watercress and cool fennel take on a vinaigrette sweetened by dried cranberries, and are perfectly complimented by nutty, toasted pecans. absolutely delicious, quick, and special enough to serve to guests or for the holidays. 

fennel and watercress salad with cranberry vinaigrette 
adapted from

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch watercress
1 fennel bulb
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

mix the two vinegars in a bowl and add the cranberries. let the cranberries soak for about a half an hour, then whisk in the salt and olive oil.

shave the fennel bulb into thin slices using a mandoline. combine watercress with fennel, toss with some of the cranberry vinaigrette, and top with toasted pecans.

this pear and roasted beet combo is really nice and is a great way to sneak some fruit into your diet. (somehow, i love to buy fruit, but when i get it home the appeal vanishes. so i kinda *have* to trick myself from time to time.) the oil-free dressing using apple jelly and mustard would be wonderful on just about anything, i've decided. and, bonus, the pears turn PINK!

asian pear with roasted beets and apple jelly-mustard vinaigrette

1 bunch small beets
1 asian pear
2 Tbsp apple jelly (we used a cinnamony apple cider jelly-- sooo good)
4 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard

preheat oven to 400 degrees. remove the beet greens (save these to saute in olive oil or toss in a casserole or soup!), scrub the beets, and wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil. roast them on a cookie sheet or baking dish until they are tender. this takes FOREVER. allow more than an hour, even for small beets. when beets cooked, allow to cool and slip the skins off. slice thin using a mandoline or knife. 

peel the pear and cut into chunks.

to make the dressing, heat the jelly, balsamic, and mustard over low heat in a tiny saucepan until jelly is melted. combine with pear and beets and serve. 

beets from alm hill gardens
georgia pecans from my wildly awesome aunt jane!