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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Squash Soup & Pizza Stones

I'm going to be honest with you; I like snow when it's falling and for like, a day after that. Then it becomes an immovable mass that makes getting around rather annoying. I cleared a path from the front door to the driveway, but our driveway is so narrow that one ends up knee-deep in snow before getting into the car anyway. As I get older and my upper back gets more jacked-up, I am starting to be envious of all the old people on my street with snowblowers. When we buy a house, we are getting a snow blower. End of story.

It is soup weather, bitches*! That is just fine with me. I think it may be some kind of law around New England that 60% of non-ethnic restaurants must serve Butternut Squash Soup. The best that I've had is at Apollo Grill and since I used to work there in a former life I remember the recipe. Mwah-ha-ha.

BUT since I don't think Casey would appreciate me broadcasting the recipe for one of his key menu items on the internet, I'm going to give you a different version that I think is just as tasty. It is also super easy and CHEAP. In season, butternut squash runs about 39 cents per pound. If you have a farm share, you probably have a ton of it lying around anyway.

I cooked the squash in my crockpot. Slice the squash lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. I quartered it to fit, and cooked with 1/4 c water - high for four hours.

You don't have to puree' the final result, but I like a silky textured soup. This will serve four if it's your main course.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash, roasted, skin removed
3 c broth (I used chicken, or strong veg stock)
1 onion, diced
1 T chopped garlic
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2T butter
2T olive oil
1 c heavy cream or half & half (or milk, it will just be thinner and not as creamy)
s/p to taste

Sautee' onions, garlic and celery in the oil and butter. Add squash, nutmeg, and chicken broth. Lower heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree using immersion blender, stir in cream, season to taste.

We like to have it like Apollo serves it, with crumbles of blue cheese and shredded pear (or apple).

I also made pizza, using my shiny new KitchenAid mixer (best boyfriend, best Christmas gift) for the dough. So good! I like a big, bready, chewy pizza crust. I always use Red Star yeast and Hecklers' unbleached flour when I bake bread, and I recommend both. I started using a pizza stone years ago, and I'll never go back to pans. I have one round stone that I've probably had for ten years now, and then my friend Gary showed up with a stack of quarry tiles from Home Depot and I was all whaaaaaaaaat and he was all "duh". Quarry tiles are unglazed terra cotta tiles used for flooring. You can also use them as pizza/bread stones because guess what - it's the same material.

Here's the thing: Pizza stones are expensive. Quarry tile is cheap. A pizza stone comes in a size. If you want to make more than one pizza at a time, you have to buy more pizza stones. Quarry tiles are generally 6x6 squares and a box of ten or so is like, three bucks. I can line both of my oven racks end to end with quarry tiles and bake four small pizzas at once for less than ten dollars.

Like with a pizza stone, quarry tiles should be seasoned to prevent the dough from sticking. Just rub them with a little vegetable oil before popping them in the oven, the first few times you use them.

*Bitches like, "my bitches" - a term of endearment. You are all my bitches, and I love you.








3 comments:

*magic* said...

Soup should be in every restaurant in New England !!! I am on coastal Maine, I live on chili during the winters. Sometimes shrimp or scallops too. Poor me...
Agree with the d*** snow though. 6" at a time Pleeze !
-mark-

Jennifer said...

I have forgotten snow. But I persist on calling October "fall" even though here it is springtime. Hmm.

And this soup sounds amazing... filing it away for March when the squash come in season here! Yum yum.

James Sutter said...

Oh my god! That tile-as-pizza-stone idea is BRILLIANT! Just when I thought there would never be any further advances in home-pizza-making technology...