Thursday, October 08, 2009

Autumn is here

We all talk about the change of weather affecting our food patterns. It's not news. But it sure is truth. As soon as I find myself donning my long sleeve shirts and reaching for a scarf, my food desires start to adapt to the weather. After pining for and savoring the fresh foods of summer, it's hard to believe that I welcome the change. If I look down deep, I've got to be honest with myself. It's there. The cravings for more autumnal flavors and textures run deep.

Of course, it doesn't help that the Dexter Cider Mill is alive and hopping. Fresh cider and cinnamon sugar donuts, warm, and waiting two miles from my house.

For the past three weeks my Tantre Farm share has included a lone winter squash, one week it was butternut, the next a sweet dumpling, and just yesterday a buttercup squash. (which is a very odd looking one. Odd, but yummy.)

This afternoon I had an opportunity to prepare dinner earlier in the day because I knew that my evening time would be crunched from kids activities. Since fall flavors have been calling, and the butternut squash is two weeks old, I decided to go with:

Butternut squash soup

1. Roast one butternut squash in a 375 degree oven for approximately one hour. Don't make this more complicated than necessary. All I did was quarter the thing and put it flesh side down on a lined baking sheet with one sprig of rosemary and a half cup water.

2. When squash is softened, take it out of the oven. Wait until it is cool enough to the touch, then peel the skin off, cut the stem off, and scoop out the seeds.

3. Drop chunks of roasted squash into a stock pot full of two quarts of homemade chicken stock. Here's where you can add your own variations. I had made homemade stock last weekend after I roasted a chicken, so I had some in the freezer. If you don't have any stashed, used a box of stock from the grocery store. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, use homemade or store bought vegetable stock.

4. Bring to a slow boil. Puree with an immersion blender to make a homogenous soup texture. If you don't have one, use a standard blender, but be aware of the dangers of blending a hot liquid. (Then consider buying an immersion blender.)

5. Simultaneously boil one package of noodles in salted water. This morning I found a bag of imported Betchle spaetzle at Sparrow market (why they're selling these on Amazon, I'll never know). I knew I wanted a thicker noodle than a plain egg noodle because the broth would be thicker than plain stock.

6. Because I wasn't eating this soup right away, I gently rinsed the noodles and generously drizzled with olive oil. That way they wouldn't be stuck in a big clump when I went to serve dinner a few hours later.

7. To serve, place a nest of the reserved spaetzle in a bowl. Pour the hot soup over the noodles, until they're swimming in a golden pool of autumnal heaven.

8. Serve with soft pretzels from Zingermans', sharp cheddar, and fresh honeycrisp apples, from Michigan, of course.

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