Saturday, November 28, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

For many years, I've made some kind of squash soup for the first course for the Thanksgiving meal.  I like all of them, but this one with ginger is probably my favorite.  The ginger flavor is delicate, but a definite plus.  A tip on peeling butternut squash:  I find that a Swiss-style vegetable peeler (which you pull towards you rather than pushing away) makes short work of this task.  If I didn't already have one, I'd buy this polka dot one.

adapted from Jane Brody Gourmet Food Cookbook

This low-fat soup can be prepared with virtually any kind of winter squash, including pumpkin, but butternut squash is the easiest one to peel.

2 T. unsalted butter or margarine
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored and diced (other apples also fine; Honey Crisp is good)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened apple juice (I've also used a 6-oz can of orange-pineapple juice when I forgot to get apple juice)
1 T. (or more) finely minced ginger
1 cup 1% milk (skim milk also fine)
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish (optional--nice if you have it)

1.  In a stockpot, melt the butter or margarine over medium heat.  Add the onions, and cook them, stirring them occasionally, for 10 minutes until softened.

2.  Add the squash, apples, broth and juice.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

3.  Puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or in several batches in a food processor), adding in the minced ginger.

4.  Stir in the milk and heat the soup through, but do not boil it.  Add the salt and white pepper and serve the soup garnished with the nutmeg, if desired.  (One year I forgot to put in the milk.  The soup was still very good!)

Makes 11 cups.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Spicy Nut and Pretzel mix

I made this snack, one of my favorites, to have on hand for Thanksgiving, and am surprised to see I haven't ever put it up on the blog.  Simple to make and very tasty--nice to have something that is sweet, salty, spicy, and crunchy.

Spiced glazed nuts and pretzel mix
adapted from  (Nice photos here of the final results)
makes about 4 cups; easily doubled

2 cups mixed raw nuts  (I like pecans, almonds, macadamia, and hazelnuts, but cashews and walnuts would be good too.)  
1 T. butter
3 T. dark brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 t. chili powder
1-1/2 T. maple syrup
1 t. flaky sea salt (or kosher salt if you don't have sea salt)
2 cups small pretzel twists.

1.     Preheat oven to 350.
2.     Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, stirring once when halfway done.
3.     Put the butter in a medium-sized glass or ceramic mixing bowl and use the microwave to melt the butter.  Take out of the microwave and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper and maple syrup (but hold off on the salt and pretzels).
4.     Add the warm nuts and stir until the nuts are completely coated.  Then stir in the salt and add the pretzels.
5.     Prepare the baking pan so that all this won't stick--grease lightly, or put a piece of aluminum foil on and grease that.  Or use a silicone mat if you have one, or a non-stick baking sheet.
6.     Spread the nut-pretzel mixture in the pan, and return to the oven for 13-15 minutes, stirring a couple of times during cooking to break up any clumps.  The baking is done when the nuts are toasty and the mixture is nicely glazed.
7.     Remove from the oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.

Once cool, you can store the mixture in an airtight container for about a week.