Friday, October 2, 2015

Butternut Bisque

Cooler weather is moving in, just as one would expect for the first week in October, and sexy butternut squash are turning up at Farmer's Markets. However special and seasonal they may be, I passed on a beautiful specimen that was going for $7.00! $7.00?? I love shopping local and supporting small farms, but that seemed a bit steep to me, even with my extravagant tendencies.

None the less, the seed had been planted and I started to get a hankering for some squash goodness. Luckily I found a perfectly serviceable organic squash at my neighborhood supermarket for a fraction of the cost. It was delicious simply cut in half, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed in a 350 degree oven.

But I had bigger plans for my squash and it involved apples and fresh thyme, which is still growing nicely on the deck but won't be for long. I'm talking about butternut bisque, people! Mmmmmm, so good and tastes much richer and creamier than it really is. Did you see that picture? I bet you wish you could taste it! I'll sell you a bowl for $7.00!

butternut bisque

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups roasted butternut squash, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups veg stock
1 cup milk 
coconut milk and more fresh thyme for garnish

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add onions, apples, carrots, thyme, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute.

Add butternut squash, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Add milk and transfer to a blender to puree. Return to pot, adjust seasonings (if you like more herbs and spices now's the time to add them in); cook just to heat through. Garnish with a swirl of coconut milk and a sprig of fresh thyme. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sourdough Kuchin

Hello, and welcome back to Almacucia! Again I missed your birthday, so please except this delicious sourdough kuchen, made for the Sourdough Surprises August coffee cake bake-along, as your 3rd year celebration cake!

The original recipe, on which I based this sourdough version, was handed down to me by my friend and fellow pastry chef Curtis.  Not only was Curtis a talented baker, a successful entrepreneur, and an ace salesman (we always joked that he could sell sand to a camel), he was also a hell of a nice guy! Not to mention, funny. One of the kindest, most sharing and truly most gentle souls I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with.

After saying all that about this sweet guy you can bet I didn't want to ruin his recipe by tampering with it. But I went with my instincts and my feelings that Curtis would be behind me 110 percent in the interest of furthering our collective knowledge of the pastry arts.

Curtis's recipe is mighty tasty with it's sour cream batter swirled with a cinnamon and walnut filling. So it wasn't so much tampering as tweaking. All I really did was sub out some milk and flour for an equal amount of sourdough starter. I also added a handful of chopped dark chocolate to the filling because, chocolate!!!

I know Curtis would have loved the results. Mildly tangy with a moist crumb, laced with spicy nuts and chocolate. Slightly warm from the oven it is, in my humble opinion, not only the perfect coffee cake but also a great way to honor the coming together of old friends with newfangled internet sharing! 

Thank you Curtis, and thank you Sourdough Surprises!

sourdough kuchin

1/2 cup butter
1 cup raw cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached AP flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sourdough starter (discard is fine)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 4 quart (roughly 9x9) baking dish, set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla extract.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture, alternately with sour cream and starter, in about two additions, mixing well after each addition.

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl. Pour half the batter into prepared baking dish, sprinkle with half of the filling. Pour in the remaining batter and carefully spread it over the filling. Top with remaining filling.  Take a small knife and swirl the filling through the batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack before slicing. Serves 8 to 10.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Star Spangled Blueberry Tart

This is one of those serendipitous treats that happened to come together with very little effort. The stars just kind of alined, you might say. I had a pack of dough in the freezer from the last Sourdough Surprises challenge. I picked up a quart of blueberries at the Farmer's Market and someone was nice enough to bring home a pint of ice cream. Voila, dessert is served!

The ice cream is a great foil to the tangy sourdough crust. But the blueberries really shine here, just a bit of sugar, some lemon rind and a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. This is the best kind of summer dessert ever; fresh berries, easy preparation and delicious. Now that's really something to celebrate. Commence the fireworks!

star spangled blueberry tart

10 ounces pie dough
1 quart fresh blueberries
1/3 cup raw cane sugar (plus some for the top)
rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon potato starch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
egg wash
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a 10 inch circle.  Fit dough into a 9 inch tart pan; trim excess dough and reserve for top. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in 5 or six spots. Refrigerate for 10 minutes then bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large bowl combine blueberries, sugar, lemon rind, lemon juice, potato starch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fill baked tart shell with blueberry mixture. Roll out the remaining dough and cut out stars using a star cookie cutter. Arrange stars on top of blueberries. Brush stars with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Chill before cutting. Top each slice with a scoop of ice cream.