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butternut squash

Fresh Pea Spelt Tartine + Butternut Squash No-Knead Bread

Fresh Pea Spelt Tartine + Butternut Squash No-Knead Bread

A quick shout out to everyone who helped choose the cover image for this post. I had sent out a request to all email subscribers (if you aren't on the list, you can sign up on the right) last week to vote on whether they preferred the shot of this gorgeous boule on a dark background or light. Light was the overwhelming choice and here it graces the beginning of the post!! Thank you guys!

As you can imagine, for me the act of asking was more than just about this picture. It was as much to get an understanding of what you as readers were feeling, as also about learning to take feedback on my work. The truth is I preferred the dark one because of the high notes of contrast and how much it stood out. Also, I love pairing brown with black and just showing how glorious brown can be.

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Yes.. I have been away

Roasted Butternut squash

And, when I came back.. the world had changed...

ok.. not quite ... but almost ;) So, yes, I have been away.. on VACATION!! A blissful 2 weeks in UK and family catch up in India after. When I left NYC in mid-September it was still barmy and Summer-y and I came back a month later to a cold and windy city..

But.... it is FANTASTIC to be back home! :))

Butternut Squash Soup

There will be a vacation post sometime soon but I just want to say that UK is a stunningly beautiful country and we had a blast doing a road trip through all the way North to Inverness and back to London.

For now, it's back home and warm comforting foods like soups and tarts. The winter squashes are out in full force and their bright, warming, Fall colors translate so beautifully on to the plate.. don't you think?! :)

Today I leave you with Butternut Squash Soup and Pear Frangipane Tarts with Saffron Rhubarb Compote.


Of Springy thoughts...and Breakfast Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza

Spring is in the air and so is snow... I know, wacky as it is.. it's true.

A few days back when I came back from Orlando, I thought I would bring the warmth back with me. But, poor little me and my mere 125 pounds could make nary a dent on the chill in the North East.

Yet, Spring is valiantly trying to make herself felt. The cherry trees are defiantly blooming despite the cold and the vagrant weather. Amidst all this confusion, and I must say, my gloom at not really being able to make NYC as sunny sweet as Florida, it's just easier to just chill and go with the flow...swing between the hot and cold...

Butternut Squash Pizza sliced

This pizza is heartfelt. It is all about a salute to finding the balance between indulgence and healthy and along the making it as made from scratch as possible. That is aside from me actually planting, farming and all that....

This pizza is really an ode to one of my favorite winter vegetables, Butternut Squash. There are so many great ways to eat it and roasting is just the simplest and easily best preparation. It does not need much more than a touch of salt to bring out the best in its flavor.

Instead of the standard tomato base, I made a puree of roasted butternut squash spiced with chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and smoked paprika. The sweetness of the Winter squash (enhanced by roasting) is balanced nicely by the heat of the chillies and full bodied flavor of the paprika.

Banana Ice Cream1

An homemade thin crust pizza topped with more chopped roasted squash, red onions, Bellavitano cheese and quail eggs is just the perfect, guiltless Sunday breakfast or even dinner, I say!

And, then rounding off with an easy, one ingredient, two step ice cream is my way of making Spring welcome!

Chipotle Butternut Squash Thin Crust Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza

Standard Pizza dough (below), spiced with 1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 small butter nut squash
1 small red onion, julienned
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, deseeded and chopped fine
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp adobo sauce
other vegetables per your choice
3-4 quail eggs or other eggs
3 T of grated fresh Bellavitano cheese (it is a short aged cow's milk cheese that has a fruity parmesan flavor and yet creamy. also pairs beautifully with bold red wines)
salt to taste

The idea of using aged cheese is that a little goes a long way in bringing flavor.

Slice the squash into two halves. Remove the seeds of the squash. Retain one half as is. Peel and dice the other into half inch cubes. Wrap the other half in foil. Lightly toss the diced squash in very little oil and a touch of salt. Arrange on a sheet. Place the wrapped half as well on it. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Let the squash cool for a bit. Unwrap the foiled half and scoop out the flesh. Mash well. Mix in the paprika, adobo sauce, chipotle and mash together with the cooked squash. Season as needed.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 F. Roll the dough out as thin as you can. Lightly brush with oil. Spread the squash puree over the dough. Distribute the roasted, diced squash, onions and cheese over the pizza. Crack the eggs and distribute them around.

Bake for 7-8 minutes until lightly browning on the edges. Remove to board, slice and enjoy!

Pizza Dough

1 -1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water + a bit more, if needed
1 T olive oil

Stir together the dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Knead the dough for a minute or two until it forms a smooth, tacky dough. Lightly oil the bowl, put the dough back in, turn it over to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place till it doubles in size.

When the dough has risen, on a floured surface gently degas using the balls of the your palms. Fold the dough into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes. The dough will be pretty elastic so you can stretch it bit and fit into a ball shape. It will retain shape once formed.

After about another half hour, the dough will be ready to be rolled out into a thin pizza base.

Farm to Table: A Simple Fall Lunch - Soup and Dessert

Voting for round 7 of Project Food Blog is now open until Nov 18. I would much appreciate your votes. You can read my challenge post and vote here. Thank you very much! :)

Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli soup1

Two consecutive posts with the word 'simple'. You must think I really mean business. I do! Stick with me and there will be more of it coming up.. :)

The last couple of weeks have been extra busy with some travel thrown in. Between that, trying to get posts ready for PFB, and a couple of other projects, it was just a mad scramble. If you had dropped by to visit in between, you would hardly have recognised the smooth, suave, collected lady from here.. hehe.. ok, I am not any of that there either but atleast I don't look like a mad scientist! ;-)

Orange Poached Pears

Last week, I also got to meet some wonderful bloggers who had come down to the city for a baking contest. I finally met my dear dear twitter friend Barbara and made a number of new friends from all over the country; Amanda, Alison, Tiffany, Liz, Jen and Sara. Much laughter and getting to know each other's work happened.

Also, this weekend, I finally met the baby that made me go all cute-sy, a month back for the Daring Bakers challenge, piping out royal icing to draw baby carriers on sugar cookies. She is the first among my friends to have a baby; so my first at close quarters; an experience, I must say! And, a trip to her place is never without a generous dose of soul satisfying, finger licking good Mangalorean food. A day well spent! :)

Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli soup2

In between all these meet and greets, I made Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup and Orange Poached Pears.

Soup is always perfect for a chilly Fall afternoon and poached pears are the easiest dessert ever that are always elegant and haute couture. I like such hands-free, no fuss meals. They are easy to make, taste great and leave you feeling full and happy! Besides, you can always use what you have and create variety easily.

Orange Poached Pears 1

This was also a completely farm fresh produce inspired meal. This week was my last delivery from the farm. I can't believe 6 months have flown by so fast! It was an eye-opening experience to eat fresh, organic, seasonal produce. It also gave my brain cells some exercise trying to figure out different ways of using the same produce! :)

For more ideas on cooking fresh, seasonal produce, please click on the "Farm to Table Series" tab above.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup
(serves 2)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
3/4 cup of broccoli flowerlets, washed
2 shallots, diced fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of all spice
3 cups water/stock
salt, pepper and olive oil as needed
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
5-6 brussel sprouts, halved (optional) for garnish

Toss the squash, broccoli and brussel sprouts (if using) in a little EVOO, salt and pepper and set for roasting in a 350 F oven. Let them roast for about 30 minutes, turning the vegetables once during this time. I usually let my nose tell me time. The whole house with fill up with the aroma. Also, keep an eye on the broccoli, if you cut them too small, they tend to get scorched. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic and ginger in a little oil until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted squash and broccoli and toss well. Add the ground cumin and all spice and toss to mix well. Saute for a minute. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Transfer to a processor and puree to a smooth mixture. Transfer back to the pan, add remaining water and bring back to a boil. Simmer on low for a few minutes. Adjust water content if needed.

Serve topped with roasted brussel sprouts or croutons, sprinkle of chili flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.

Orange Poached Pears

4 firm but ripe Bartlett Pears, peeled, stem on
juice and zest of 2 oranges
1/3 cup sugar (will depend on how sweet the pears and orange juice are)
5 whole cloves
1 star anise
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 cups of water

In a heavy bottomed pan, large enough to hold 4 pears horizontally in one layer, bring the orange juice, sugar, zest and water to a boil with the whole spices. Lower the heat to a simmer, gently place the pears in on their side, cover and leave them alone for about 12 minutes. Turn over the pears and cook for another 10 -15 minutes until a tooth pick goes through easily but the fruit is not too soft.

Using a slotted spoon or by their stems, carefully, remove the fruit from the poaching liquid. Reduce the liquid to half it's volume. Turn off the heat, transfer the pears back in. You can serve it warm or refrigerate for upto a week. Gently warm it before serving.

Farm to Table: Simple Baked Meals

Apple & Red Grape (gluten free) Cobbler

November 15, 2010: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today

I love that I can bake again, enthusiastically. Only a couple of months back, it was unbearable to even think of switching the oven on. I have a gas oven and I do think they radiate more heat than the electric ones. Nevertheless, these days even that is a blessing; multipurpose efficient energy use! :)

That the cooler months bring out a bounty of vegetables and fruits that inspire more baking just makes it perfect. Roasted vegetables satisfy the palate in a way that no other preparation can while keeping individual flavors clean and perceptible. Besides, baked meals are so much lesser effort than stove-top! Less labour, more flavor! Can't beat that :)

Butternut Squash Gratin

Anyway, recently due to an overcrowded life schedule, we have been eating some simple meals that are mostly done in the oven and polished off happily. One such was the Roasted Butternut Squash, Potato and Feta Gratin. We rounded off the meal with a gluten free Apple and Red Grape Cobbler.

On the topic of gluten free, do you know how many cuisines are mostly gluten free. When I thought about it, I realised that Indian food is largely gluten free. Even the rotis that are staple to almost half the country are not always made with wheat. A variety of grains such as bajra, millet, sorghum etc. are used which are all gluten free. And, of course, rice is the easiest substitute!

Apple & Red Grape Cobbler top view

In the south, rice being a staple is used in its many forms in various dishes - regular, dried flattened, broken like semolina and the flour in various savory snacks. I always have some lying around and so, when I was planning this cobbler, I just decided to go with rice flour instead of regular all purpose.

Rice flour is lighter and sweeter than all purpose flour. You do have to adjust for volume of liquid as also sugar. But, these qualities make it an healthier substitute. Flavor wise, there was really no difference. Also, I used almond flour in the cobbler topping to give it an extra punch of flavor.

And, the gratin? It really speaks for itself! Layers of thinly sliced potatoes, roasted butternut squash and feta lightly drizzled with light cream and topped off with Parmesan bread crumbs! What more do you need for a good lunch?! :)

Butternut Squash Gratin spooned

Btw, aren't those cocottes really adorable??! I won them at a giveaway on Naomi's gorgeous blog. YIPPE!!:D. Also, I am sending my cobbler for the cook-off Damaris is hostin at her site, Kitchen Corners. The theme of the month is apples. Do check it out! It's a fun event:)

And this glutenfree cobbler is also perfect for the Monthly Mingle hosted by Meeta and Deeba. The theme of the month was Fruit in Baking.

For more ideas on cooking fresh, seasonal produce, please click on the "Farm to Table Series" tab above.

Apple and Red Grape Cobbler (Gluten Free)

Apple & Red Grape Cobbler many

1 - 3/4 oz. rice flour
1 oz. almond meal
4-5 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup light cream
2 T butter, melted and cooled

2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
handful of red grapes
3 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. rum
4 cloves
2 tsp. lemon juice

Toss together the filling ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes. Sift together the flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, cream, and butter. Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine till the dough just comes together. Divide the filling between 8 ramekins. Drop pieces of the crust batter on top of the filling and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes until the crust is browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Butternut Squash Gratin cleaned out

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK