Moosewood’s Acorn Squash Soup

Acorn squash soup, Moosewood style.

Acorn squash soup, Moosewood style.

The holiday season has prompted me to rediscover the cookbooks we have at home. My quest for the perfect soup recipe brought me to the Moosewood Cookbook. Published in 1977, this book presents an adaptation of the recipes originally served at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. The group of people who founded this vegetarian inspired restaurant brought together various recipes from their personal culinary heritage.

I decided to adapt Moosewood’s Curried Squash and Mushroom Soup. In this case, I simply opted to not add sautéed mushrooms and chopped toasted almonds to the soup. I also decided to roast my garlic.

The Moosewood Cookbook.

The Moosewood Cookbook.

Note: since the soup was prepared before the big day, the photo of the finished product does not exactly reflect how it was served.

Ingredients

  •  2 medium acorn squash
  • 1-½ cups of water or chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. of butter
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • 1 or 2 chopped leek
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp. of ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. of coriander
  • ½ tsp. of cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. of ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. of dry mustard
  • 1-¼ tsp. of salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Method

  • Half the squash and bake face down in an oiled pan for 30 minutes at 375 °F.
  • Cool and scoop out the insides and place in a large stockpot with broth of choice. Add-in spices salt and pepper. Let simmer.
  • In a large frying pan, sauté onions and leeks. Combine to the squash mixture and simmer. After about 30 minutes of simmering, purée squash mixture using a blender or hand blender.
  • Serve topped with a bit of cream, chives or thyme. I also added some Terra vegetable Sticks for just a bit of crunch.

The Book

Moosewood Cookbook
By Mollie Kazan, Ten Speed Press, 227 pages.

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And the Beet Goes On

We can pickle that! Libby's Stovetop Pickled Beets.

We can pickle that! Libby’s Stovetop Pickled Beets.

For the longest time, the process of pickling seemed like something complicated and quite honestly inaccessible. Earlier this year, I asked my Nonna how to go about it. She provided some advice on how to pickle the likes of peppers and mushrooms, but the process kind of ended there since at the time, I had nothing to actually pickle.

Christmas was around the corner and there was a large amount of beets in the fridge. Suddenly, it was all clear: “We can pickle that!”

With Portlandia’s catch phrase in mind, I began searching for pickling recipes. I stumbled upon a simple recipe in Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters. My partner offered the book to me over a year ago but it’s only recently that I’ve been consulting it. The book consists of a compilation of hand written recipes found and collected in yard sales and used bookstores. A true gem.

Washed and ready: beets.

Washed and ready: beets.

Libby’s Stovetop Pickled Beets

The recipe is from Elizabeth Corkery of Groton Massachusetts. The recipe is simple and effective. It has made me confident in my novice pickling skills!

Ingredients

  •  6 to 8 medium sized beets
  • 1 cup of vinegar (250 ML)
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ tsp. of salt
  • ¼ tsp. of whole cloves (which is about 4 or 5 cloves)
  • 1 cup of sliced onion (a medium sized onion)

Method

  • Wash beets. Leave a bit of the stem; do not trim tails (this will prevent the beets from bleeding hence less of a mess and an elegant presentation). Add beets to a pot of boiling water. Cook for about 35 minutes.
  • Remove beets from pot and le cool. Peel and slice into about ¼ to ½ – inch-thick rounds (that’s what the book said, I eyeballed it).
  • Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and cloves in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in beets and onions and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place in a glass container and let the beets cool down.
  • Refrigerate overnight and voilà! The beets are ready to serve.

 The book:

Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters
By Marilyn Brass and Sheila Brass, Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 285 pages.

Putting our green thumbs to the test: an update

Steady as they grow: Black Cherry tomatoes.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our gardening experiment with heirloom tomatoes on our deck. About two months in this endeavour, the seedlings have grown; hence, it’s time for an update.

All four tomato plants have grown, but not all at the same rhythm. The Black Cherry and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry have shot up quite a bit. Both are over five feet tall (a couple of inches shy of my height) and have several fruits waiting to ripen. We should be able to taste the fruits of our labour soon enough.

The situation of both the Yellow Pear and Vintage Wine is quite different. The seedlings didn’t grow nearly as much as the other two. They stand at about three and half feet tall. The Yellow Pear was quick to bloom and produced one fruit that has yet to grow or ripen. After the rain of the last few days, some of the branches have broken.

The Vintage Wine has been quite the late-bloomer, literally. Several flowers have blossomed over the last week and a half. Promising.

Thoughts on the process

We have been quite intrigued by the way our tomato plants have grown. The Black Cherry and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry have grown quite high. To protect them, we used two three-foot bamboo poles per plant to support them. We were expecting the tomato plants to grow a bit more in bushes, but instead grew in height. Apparently, this isn’t unusual. Heirloom tomato plants can grow up to six feet tall.

Based on discussions with family and searching through online publications, we’ve come to the conclusion that our plants are not having enough sunlight. Ideally tomatoes need between six and eight hours of light per day.

Looking forward to finally biting into one our homegrown pomodoros!

Got any tomato growing anecdotes?

Found: culinary advice on a dish towel.

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It’s always nice to have some culinary advice handy, literally… Especially when it’s easily accessible – in the form of a dish towel. This intriguing find was discovered one of our numerous treks to Value Village. I’ve learned over time that one must keep his eyes peeled to make some unique discoveries.

Produced by Lakeland Plastics‘ Home Freezing Advisory Services, this dish towel provides information about blanching vegies. First, it explains the process.

Blanching fresh vegetables in boiling water halts the activity of enzymes and helps to ensure that a good flavour, colour and texture is retained.

Scrolling down the towel, there is useful advice to blanch asparagus, beans, broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, leeks peas, peppers and spinach.

Some useful tidbits of information, without stepping out of the kitchen.

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