Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

image

I realize that by this point most of you already know exactly what you’ll be making for dinner this Thursday – whether you’re in charge of an entire Thanksgiving meal for 20, or just picking up a pie on your way to dinner. But in case anyone is in need of last minute ideas for sweet potatoes or veggies (I think this dish could fall into either category), I wanted to post this gratin that I made for a “practice Thanksgiving” a couple weeks ago. It’s from Smitten Kitchen, again – I promise that after this I really am going to start getting more creative with the blogs I copy recipes I share. I’ve been wanting to try this for the past few years, however, and since I finally made it, I thought it might inspire the few of you that are still looking for inspiration.

Full disclosure, I’m still debating what I’m going to be making – and I have to start grocery shopping tonight. As much as I love the old school sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, about 90% of my relatives prefer a savory sweet potato dish like this one, so I’m going to be making a couple different casseroles (Grandma and I need our marshmallows!). Another favorite is this scalloped sweet potato and yukon gold casserole, which people go nuts for. If anyone has a favorite sweet potato recipe, sweet or savory, I would love to hear it in the comments.

image

My mandoline will be a year old tomorrow – it was a birthday gift last year and I love it even more now than I did when I received it. It makes the thought of potato casseroles for 45 so much less daunting.

image

The swiss chard is a pain to prep (wash, de-stem, chop), and made even more complicated because this recipe calls for the stems to be used as well – just separated from the leaves as they have to cook longer. They’re good for us, though, and if you use rainbow chard it looks so pretty!! I’m thinking of subbing spinach when I make it this time, just to save myself about three hours of chopping and stemming effort. You could use any green you like, I think – my friend Kirsten tried it with collard greens, which is even more Thanksgiving-y.

image

But the rainbow chard stems are really pretty – and surprisingly delicious.

image

image

Simply sauté the chard stems with a little diced onion, then add the greens, which will cook down significantly (I cut this recipe in half when I made it for practice Thanksgiving, and the raw chard filled my 5 quart Dutch oven; once cooked it was barely two cups of greens).

image

A pile of grated Gruyère always makes me happy.  This is probably more than the recipe called for, oops! Five ounces, eight ounces, who’s counting? Not me.  It is Thanksgiving, after all.

image

Layer: potatoes, herbs, cheese, chard, béchamel; repeat.  I’m starting to get concerned that all of my grocery stores are going to be out of fresh thyme again – I feel like it happens every year, and every year I swear I’m going to stock up ahead of time – and then forget to do so.  I couldn’t find fresh thyme when I made this the other week, so I just used dried (with fresh parsley) – but I bet it will be even better with the fresh thyme that I’m hopefully going to find tonight (fingers crossed).

image

A little more cheese, and it’s all ready for the oven.  SK says (and I hope she’s right!!) that this can be prepped ahead of time, and just baked on Thursday, or fully baked ahead of time and then re-heated before your meal, assuming you have oven space.  Oven space is a hot commodity when you have a large group in a non-commercial kitchen, so neither option is ideal for me, but I’m just going to worry about that on Thursday.  The good news is a gratin will stay pretty hot.

image

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin, from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 12

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 lbs swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into one-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 lbs medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly grated black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Prep greens: cook onion in two tablespoons butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper and then transfer to a colander and press out liquid with a rubber spatula or large spoon.

Make sauce: combine cream or milk and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Cook roux, whisking, for one minute, then slowly whisk in cream/milk and bring to an almost-boil, whisking constantly, for one minute longer. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Assemble gratin: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread half of the sweet potatoes in the prepared dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a quarter of the herbs and a quarter of the cheese. Distribute half the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a quarter of the cheese over that. Pour half of the bechamel sauce over the first two layers and then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs, and cheese, and then the remaining chard mixture, salt, pepper, and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake gratin: bake the gratin for about one hour, until golden, bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand for ten minutes before serving.

Do ahead: you can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance (just store it in the fridge). You can also make and bake it in advance, and reheat it, though it will take almost as long to reheat as they do to bake in the first place.

Advertisements

My First Pumpkin Pie

photo 2

I love Thanksgiving as much as the next person, but truth be told, if I had to list my favorite things about the holiday, pumpkin pie wouldn’t even make it into my top ten. Now that I think about it, that list would consist of hardly any food items, but rather things like going to see the new blockbuster movie with a group of twenty cousins after the meal, getting up early for the parade the next morning, or the fact that thanks to this holiday, my late November birthday hardly ever falls on a work day (because we all know the Wednesday before Thanksgiving should not be considered a work day). And even in terms of food items, as much as I have a sweet tooth, I’m not really a pie person. Couple that with the fact that by the time dessert rolls around on Thanksgiving day, I’ve already consumed so much wine and chex mix turkey and mashed potatoes that I really can’t even bear the thought of one more bite, and somehow pumpkin pie never sounds that good.  I know I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two months going on and on about my love for pumpkin, but for whatever reason it’s never really translated to the most quintessential of all pumpkin desserts – until now.

Technically, this isn’t my first pumpkin pie. I made one once when I was little, although I’m sure it was the recipe on the back of the Libby’s can with a frozen store-bought crust. The details are hazy, but something went wrong and my mom threw it away.  And I really haven’t had the urge to try again, until this year. My aunt is hosting Thanksgiving for about 45 of us, so she sent out an email asking people to bring certain items, and for some reason I decided to sign up for pumpkin pie on a whim (along with sweet potatoes, which I think I’m going to try to do three ways – am I crazy?).   Despite the advice of many to just stick with the Libby’s recipe, I found this variation when I went to do a trial run for a “Practice Thanksgiving”/”Friends Thanksgiving” last weekend, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s a little more work than your basic pumpkin pie recipe, but if you’re in the mood to branch out this year I think this pie is worth it.

photo-90

photo-89

To make homemade pie crust, or to buy store-bought? People feel pretty strongly about this, one way or the other.  Obviously the true food-blogger answer (even the true wannabe-food-blogger answer) should be homemade, but to tell you the truth, I’ve had some pretty delicious pre-made frozen pie crusts (you can buy really high quality French ones now, although my grandma has lived her whole life using Marie Callender’s and I don’t think anyone has complained). Having said that, it only takes one “did you make this crust from scratch” inquiry to make you feel like it’s worth the extra effort to do it yourself. I thought this crust looked perfect going into the oven, but somehow one half baked up perfectly while the other kind of shrunk – broke my heart, but it still tasted delicious.

photo 2

photo 1

photo 3

photo 4

Cooking the pumpkin-and-yam-mixture on the stove really adds a depth of flavor to the pie. You can mash the sweet potatoes as you cook them (as the recipe suggests), or just puree the mixture with an immersion blender when you’re finished cooking it, as I did. Another note that I’ll add here, for lack of a better place to put it: it seems one of Cook’s Illustrated’s goals in tweaking this recipe was to make a pie that wasn’t overly spiced. While I can appreciate that, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg seemed almost under-spiced to me, so I doubled both amounts (and list the range in the recipe). I also added a tiny pinch of cloves. I thought my pie turned out perfectly, but you could definitely go with the lesser amounts if that sounds good to you. I also used ground ginger, as Deb suggests, mainly just to save myself the hassle.

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

The straining step was kind of a pain, and I’m not sure it was necessary (especially since I used the immersion blender), but I will say the custard was incredibly smooth and creamy.  We’ll see if I do it again next week.

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

I had read in the comments to Deb’s post that the pie takes a lot longer to cook through than the recipe suggests, so I was prepared for it to take longer than the 30-45 minutes listed. Mine took well over an hour though – probably closer to an hour and a half – so I was glad I had the temperature instruction as well. And leftover pie dough to cut into tiny pumpkins and leaves to cover the hole that my candy thermometer made in the middle of my pie.

photo 3

Pumpkin Pie, from Cook’s Illustrated by way of Smitten Kitchen

A half recipe of your favorite pie crust, chilled (Deb recommends hers, here; I also like Melissa Clark’s, here or here – or you can always buy one, I won’t tell).

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams, from a 15-ounce can
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, which is what I used)
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
Pinch of cloves, optional
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the crust:

Roll out your dough on a generously floured work surface to make a 12″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Roll dough loosely around your rolling pin and unroll into your pie plate, leaving at least a 1″ overhang all around the pie plate.

Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the pie plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim the overhang to 1/2″ beyond the lip of the pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; the edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Using your thumb and forefinger, flute the edge of the dough (or finish it however you like, with fork tongs or otherwise). Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 15 more minutes.

To par-bake the crust:

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and line it with greased foil and pie weights (or old dried beans). Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes; remove the foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove the crust and baking sheet from the oven.

To make the filling:

While the pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine pumpkin, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (if using), and salt; bring to a sputtering simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Continue to simmer, constantly stirring and mashing the yams against the side of the pot, until thick and shiny, 10-15 minutes (I didn’t worry too much about mashing the yams, as I used my immersion blender at the end).

Remove pan from heat (and use your immersion blender here if you want to – or put the mixture in a food processor or blender – or skip this step entirely). Whisk the cream mixture in slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through a fine (or medium) mesh strainer and re-whisk.

To bake the pie: 

Pour the warm filling into the warm crust. Return the pie, on baking sheet, to oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges are set (and instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), about 20-35 more minutes. NOTE: in my oven, this took over an hour past the 10 minutes at 400. In many of the comments to Smitten Kitchen’s blog post, people complained that it took a lot longer to set, or that it never set. When I make this pie again next week, I’ll only turn my oven down to 350 rather than 300, and still budget about an hour of baking time. A thermometer is helpful to gauge when it’s done so that you don’t worry that you’re over-cooking it, but if you don’t have one, you’ll be able to tell it’s done when the center of the pie looks almost set and not too jiggly.

Once the pie is finished baking, transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. The pie will finish cooking with the resident heat; to ensure the filling sets properly, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.  You can serve the pie warm, cold, or at room temperature, but I’ve realized I like pumpkin pie a lot better when it’s chilled.  Top with lightly sweetened whip cream, cinnamon, and maybe a mini pie-dough cookie.  Or if you’d rather, just stick your pie on the dessert table and head out to the late showing of Catching Fire.  Something tells me it would make a pretty amazing pre-parade (or pre-shopping) breakfast on Friday morning as well – if there’s any left.

Friday Faves

image

{spicy tuna “roll” from Yardhouse – now that they list calories on the menu, it’s literally the only thing I can order, even when sharing}

Where did the first two weeks of November go? It feels like this month – and year, really – is flying by. The post-daylight savings time 4:30 sunsets always make me a little melancholy, but I love the beginning of holiday season. Seattle has been gray, but (knock on wood) not too rainy yet, so I’m trying to take advantage of being outside as much as possible while the leaves are still crisp, rather than soggy. And as much as this time of year makes me long for a Maui vacation, I’m getting excited about trying new Thanksgiving recipes and celebrating with family and friends in the weeks to come. Some highlights from the past few weeks (since I haven’t been very good about my “weekly” Friday posts):

image

{I saw this old school gum at paper source and it made me so nostalgic}

image

{kale and lentil salad from my oh-so-hip favorite lunch place, the Nordstrom cafe}

image
{love these anthro coasters}

image

{new obsession – lulu “vinyasa” scarf}

I hope everyone is looking forward to some R&R this weekend – and maybe a little football. Go Hawks!

Carrot Mac and Cheese and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

photo 1

So this is a recipe for all of my mommy readers, as well as my mac and cheese loving readers, mommies (and daddies) or not. I posted a lot of Melissa Clark recipes last winter before I realized I needed to start expanding my cookbook horizons, but I think it’s been long enough that I can start (over) posting again. While this mac and cheese might not be anything that exciting, but for the carrots, it’s a good basic recipe – it’s not overly un-healthy (as macaroni and cheese recipes go), you can throw it together pretty quickly, and you likely have most or even all of the ingredients in your fridge/pantry already. And the carrots make it fun because you can trick your picky eaters (or at least attempt to trick your picky eaters) into thinking the orange shreds are cheese. I took care of my cousin’s kids for a couple days last month while she and her husband were out of town, and after an afternoon of school pickups and after school activities, we arrived home at five and I had this on the table – with roasted veggies on the side, no less – by six. Which apparently is still really late for dinner for children, but hey, isn’t that what goldfish crackers are for? The four year old gobbled it up, carrots and all; the eight year old was a little more discriminating, but although there was a pile of grated carrots on his plate once the mac and cheese was otherwise gone, he still asked to take the leftovers in his lunch the next day, so I consider it a success.

photo 1

Just grate your carrots and throw them into your pasta three minutes before it’s finished cooking. You can buy pre-grated carrots, but it takes two minutes to grate them yourself (food processor or even on a box grater) and I feel like it really makes a difference.

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

Just whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream, salt, pepper, and mustard powder, and toss it with the pasta, cheese, carrots, and butter. Top with cheddar and parmesan and stick it in the oven for half an hour. Dinner for two hungry kiddos in under an hour, auntie win!

photo 2

<<If carrots aren't your thing, I also really love this butternut squash mac and cheese (also pretty tricky), or this broccoli version.>>

Carrot Mac and Cheese, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 6

2 cups whole wheat macaroni
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots (about 4 large or 8 small)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven.

2. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the carrots three minutes before the pasta is finished cooking; drain well.

3. While the pasta is hot, stir in the butter and all but 1/2 cup of the cheddar. In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder, and pepper. Fold the mixture into the pasta.

4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the parmesan over the top. Bake until the casserole is firm to the touch and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Notes from Melissa:

1. Feed this dish to kids as is; grown-ups should indulge with a squirt of fiery Sriracha or other hot sauce all over the top.

2. You can vary the cheese to give this rather plain (if tasty) dish more personality. Gruyère, aged cheddar, pecorino, and aged Gouda will all add a sophisticated allure that will raise it above mere kids’ food.

photo 3

In an effort to make the meal a little more well-rounded, I made brussels sprouts for the kiddos too – and they ate them, that’s how good these are! Most of you don’t need me to tell you how to roast vegetables, but just in case you’re someone who likes instructions: I usually roast mine at 400 for 20-30 minutes, just tossed lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top with a little grated or shaved parmesan, optional.  I’ve been doing a lot of Brussels sprouts, broccoli/broccolini, and squash lately – if anyone has any other go-to fall veggies they love to roast, I would love to hear them in the comments!

photo 4

Guilty Secret Pumpkin Pie Cake

photo 1

Ok, so. I realize the recipes on this blog aren’t always the healthiest (although I do try to keep it balanced!), or the most gourmet (I only try sometimes), but they aren’t usually embarrassing. I try to cook using “real,” unprocessed foods, buy higher quality and/or organic ingredients, etc. This recipe is a glaring exception to all of that, though, but it’s so good – and so easy – that I’m not even going to apologize for it. As evidenced from the photo montage above, there’s nothing “real” or healthy about this cake (even my vanilla is the super cheap, store-brand version – please don’t judge). However, it turns out boxed yellow cake mix and cool whip, while chemical-laden, are secretly delicious. So if you’re looking for a simple, crowd-pleasing dessert to bring to Thanksgiving this year, you should definitely try this recipe – just be prepared to cringe a little inside when you tell people how you made it (because trust me, they will ask).

This cake came into my family many Thanksgivings ago by way of a now-ex-but-at-the-time-future-in-law (the details of which I won’t go into), but although these days the ex herself is persona non grata at family holidays, people still whisper about her cake. My aunt Laurie is hosting Thanksgiving for our large-and-ever-growing family this year, and a few weeks ago she sent out a sign-up sheet asking people to volunteer to bring certain items. Under the standard “Pumpkin Pie,” “Apple Pie,” and “Berry Pie” categories she included “Other Dessert” – and then confessed to me “I’m secretly hoping that whoever signs up for ‘other’ makes – you know – the cake.” So you see, it’s our guilty secret for more than one reason. Should you bring it to your family’s Thanksgiving this year, though, you can call it whatever you like.

photo 2

The bottom layer – which will become the top layer – is basically just a super easy pumpkin pie filling. Just mix a giant can of pumpkin pie filling with a five ounce can of evaporated milk, and then the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. NOTE 1: canned pumpkin pie filling is different than plain canned pumpkin – that may seem obvious, but it’s actually easy to get confused, especially when the store is out of one or the other like they all inevitably will be soon. NOTE 2: sometimes it’s hard to find a five ounce can of evaporated milk (I couldn’t this time), but they do exist. If you can’t find one,  just get a regular sized can and use a liquid measuring cup (it works out to just over half a cup).

photo 3

Make sure to line your cake pan really well with wax paper or parchment. I find it works best to spray a little PAM directly into the pan so that the parchment sticks. Once the pan is lined, spray the paper generously – you want the cake to pop right out.

photo 4

Sprinkle your dry cake mix over the pumpkin, straight from the bag…..

photo 5

And then a cup of melted butter – see, I told you it was called a guilty pleasure.

photo 1

Finally, sprinkle the pecans on top of the butter.  It looks a little scary, but the cake mix-butter-pecan layer will become a delicious crust once baked.

photo 2

See, crust! (Kind of).

photo 1

Once the cake is completely cool, flip it carefully onto the platter you’re going to serve it on (or in my case, a parchment-covered cutting board) and frost.

photo 2

To make frosting, make sure to let your cream cheese sit out for a bit to soften, then beat it with powdered sugar and vanilla and fold in the cool whip. If you’re going to serve this anywhere other than your own home, I would recommend waiting to frost the cake until you get to your cake-serving destination (you can pack it back up in the cool whip tub).

image

Enjoy! And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Guilty Secret Pumpkin Cake

For the pumpkin layer:
1 large (30 ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
5 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust layer:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is ok)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces cool whip

To make cake:

Line a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with dry cake mix and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until golden brown.

After baking, cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool, invert pan onto a large serving platter, carefully remove parchment, and set aside.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in cool whip. Once the mixture is well-combined, frost cake. Cake can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Homemade Croutons and Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds

photo 1

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but one of the big ones is of course that fall means soup season is here.  If possible, I’m even more excited about soup season than I am about pumpkin season (and we know I’m pretty excited about pumpkin season). This soup makes a perfect weeknight dinner, as well as yummy leftovers for work week lunches. I found this recipe via a cooking show, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple and delicious it was. And the croutons and/or roasted squash seeds make it that much better (the best part about soup is that it can be a vehicle for so many fun toppings!).

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

The only prep work you have to do is chop your squash, dice an onion, and grate some ginger. And of course you could always buy the pre-chopped squash if you wanted to save yourself some time, although I think you get better flavor if you start with a whole squash – plus that way you have seeds too.  I have no problem with a pre-chopped onion, however.

photo 5

photo 1

The recipe calls for one full can of coconut milk and one cup of water.  And while it’s delicious when made that way, it’s pretty rich (and it would be so healthy but for the 700+ calories in that delicious little can). It also gets pretty thick once it cools.  Now I usually make it with light coconut milk, and/or extra water.

photo 2

Soups, previously: White Bean and Kale, Split Pea, Cream of Fresh Tomato, Pumpkin Black Bean. Hard to believe this blog has been around for almost nine months, and this is only the fifth time I’ve posted a soup! I’m sure we’ll remedy that in the months to come.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup, from The Chew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 medium white onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 two-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup water
For garnish: cilantro, lime wedges, Greek yogurt, croutons, or roasted squash seeds (recipes below)

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot or Dutch oven with olive oil. Add butter and melt over medium-high heat (you could omit the butter and just use a little more olive oil if you like). Add the butternut squash, onion, and a generous pinch of salt and cook until softened, 10-15 minutes. Add ginger and curry powder and cook for one minute longer. Add coconut milk and water and simmer until the squash is very soft, about 15 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves, a lime wedge, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and/or one of the delicious crunchy toppings below.

photo 3

Cut a loaf of bread into cubes (this is a great way to use up leftover baguette). Toss the cubed bread on a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice so that the croutons brown evenly. Stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag, these will keep for a couple weeks (if you don’t snack on them like I do).

photo 4

My new trick for squash seeds is to separate them from the squash flesh like pomegranate seeds – submerge the seedy flesh in water, then use your fingers to pull the seeds out – then drain. So quick and easy! Dry your seeds and then toss with a small amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper (you could also add some curry powder here, or any other spices you like). Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.