Squash and Parsnip Soup

We’ve reached the bottom of the barrel. Of all  the squash that we zealously purchased at the pumpkin patch in the fall, only this one lonely squash remains to await its fate.

bottom of barrel

But the good news is that the market opens on Saturday! A day of celebration in our house, we’ll be there at 9 for the ceremonial tossing of the cheese that officially marks spring as returned.

Here’s a good soup to get that last bit of chill out of your soul. It’s fairly sweet but also has a nice layer of flavors. Serve as appetizer portions at the beginning of your meal.

Squash and Parsnip Soupsoup2

1 large winter squash, weighing about 1 1/2 pounds (I used butternut, but anything you’ve got left will work.)
4 large parsnips
1/2 onion (Winter onions tend to be stronger, so I’d just recommend half. If your onion is milder, adjust according to your taste.)
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 tbls. fresh ginger
2 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk
2 tbls. butter
olive oil
salt, pepper
half and half (optional drizzle on top)

Preparing the ingredients:

  1. Halve squash. Remove seeds with spoon.
  2. Peel parsnips and chop off the top. If they are woody, quarter lengthwise and slice to remove the woody center.
  3. Place squash, cut side down on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on the prepared parsnips and place on the sheet, as well.
  4. Roast at 425 for about 1 hour. At about 30 minutes, check and remove parsnips when they look golden. (They will be done cooking before your squash. Alternatively, you can toss them on the sheet a half hour after you put your squash in.)
  5. When the squash is tender, cool, and remove skins.

Time to put the soup together!

  1. Dice onion. Melt butter in the bottom of your soup pot. Saute of medium low for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Add ginger and garlic and cook for one minute more. Add stock and squash. Simmer for a half hour.
  2. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  3. Add milk.
  4. Keep on low heat until serving.

Notes:

  • You may want to thin the soup with additional water or stock, per your taste.
  • Roast extra squash and save it in the fridge for baking.

Cabbage and Potato Piroshki

cabbage and potato piroshkiEat as if you were in Sochi. Bake up these “buns” and enjoy them with friends as you take in some Olympics coverage. Serve a little borscht on the side and you’ll feel like you’re right there in Russia. Maybe.

This recipe makes a soft, yeasted dough which will pair well with the filling of your choice. I chose to make a traditional filling of potato, cabbage and cheese. (It’s winter! My remaining vegetable stash is mostly cabbage and potato.) They were wonderful right out of the oven, but I think this recipe could have a lot of potential for travelling – planes, snowy road trips – it’s a meal in your hand.

Potato Cabbage Piroshki

Dough:

3-4 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 tbls. butter
1 tsp. salt
poppy seeds, egg wash (one egg + a little milk) for top before bake

  1. Warm the milk. In the bowl of your electric mixer, whisk the whole wheat flour, sugar, and yeast together. Add milk. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
  2. Melt butter. Add this, the eggs, and the salt to the bubbly milk mixture.
  3. Attach the dough hook to your mixer and insert the bowl with your ingredients. Begin mixing on low. Add flour gradually, one cup at a time, until the dough looks stretchy, but not sticky.
  4. Knead for another five minutes.
  5. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Filling:cabbage piroshki

2 cups mashed potatoes
2 tbls. butter
2 cups chopped cabbage (about half of a large cabbage)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup mild white cheddar, grated
3 tbls. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbls. dried)
1 tbls. chopped fresh chives (or 1/2 tbls. dried)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. caraway
1/2 tsp. white pepper

  1. In a skillet, melt butter. Saute onion over medium low for about five minutes. Add cabbage. Stir and leave covered for five minutes.  (Cooking with the lid on will sweat the ingredients a bit and create a bit of delicious browning on the bottom of the pan.) Remove lid and stir. Cook for a few more minutes until the cabbage is tender. Cool.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together.

Assembling

  1. Butter a 13 X 9 pan or line with parchment.
  2. When your dough has risen, flour your counter and cut it into five equal pieces. Cover the pieces that you are not working with.
  3. Roll one piece out into a flat circle. Cut across middle into six triangular pieces. Place a heaping 1/4 c. of filling on the large side of the triangle. Stretch the large side of the triangle over, seal, and roll. Add each piroshki to your 13 X 9 pan.
    (For a beautiful and detailed tutorial about shaping baked piroshki, please see this article.)
  4. Let rise for 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
  5. Paint with egg wash. Sprinkle on poppy seeds.Cabbage and potato piroshki
  6. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Getting through the Dark Days: Two Potato Gratins

Always grateful for our boxes of storage potatoes, onions, and garlic from Laughing Crow Farms, winter is naturally the time to indulge in those ingredients. Betsey’s potato varieties are all tasty and different. I like to use the Alby’s Gold for gratins, the German Butterball for mashing, and the Red Bliss for roasting. (Of course this is just a matter of personal preference – they’re all interchangeable per your taste.)  As with any dish, when you start with really high quality, fresh ingredients, assembling even the simplest of recipes scan result in something wonderful. If you’re used to buying the ubiquitous grocery store varieties, choosing a few new potatoes from your local farmer will elevate your meal, even if it’s just a baked potato! Do get out, brave the elements, and explore the potatoes at your winter market.

hasselback gratin

Isn’t this a beautiful gratin presentation? When it’s dark and winter, who doesn’t want a dish of baked potatoes for dinner? Here are a few variations for you to work through.

Turning the potato slices on their sides creates a whole new look for this standard dish. Find the recipe here. I adapted it only by reducing the amounts and baking it in a 1/2 quart gratin dish (pictured). We found that this was just the right amount for a family of 3.gratin

For a similar look without all of the cheese and cream, I’ve also had success with this version.

And lastly, I will never shrug off my favorite recipe for scalloped potatoes. Give it a try using the ‘sideways’ potato technique.

Guest Post: Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

squashThis month’s guest post comes from Rebecca K., island mom, artist, and home baker. She turned wintertime’s abundant storage squash into a healthy staple for her family. Thank for sharing, Rebecca!

Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

EVERY MOTHER NEEDS TO KNOW! Your children will eat and enjoy vegetables, given they can be properly hidden. This bread is loaded with nutrition from veggies to whole grains. If any of your children eschew the goodness of veggies, keep them well-stocked on this bread. The recipe is a modification of Small Potato’s Oatmeal Bread recipe, so follow the steps of that description with a few tweaks.

4 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp.—1/4 cup brown sugar (depending on taste)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 generous tbsp. vital wheat gluten
2 ½ tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cup pureed butternut squash*

  1.  Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together until the brown sugar is incorporated.
  2. Add in the dry ingredients and mix together.
  3. Ensure your squash puree is lukewarm and mix into the bread. If you have a good mixer with a dough hook, I just let it do the rest of the job and set it on a low setting. Let it go at it for about 5 minutes. This is where you have to watch the dough a bit. You want it to be soft and a bit sticky but not so much as a sweet bread or cinnamon roll dough…it should hold its form and ball up. Depending on the water content of your squash puree, you may need to adjust your flour content by 4 tbsp. to achieve the right consistency.
  4. Oil your bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise 1 hour than punch down dough, roll out into a rectangle and roll to fit in your loaf pan.
  5. Cover and let rest for about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake bread for 40 minutes then cool on wire rack.

*Rebecca’s notes:

  •  I have also done a mix of pureed carrots and squash with great success.
  •  I always keep butternut squash stocked in our house because it is so conducive to use in many breads. I’ve used it in cinnamon rolls, waffles, and pancakes and not seen any reduction in the rate of family gobbling. Just assume it is equivalent to most liquids you might use and substitute.

Grandma’s Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread snowflakesHave you been on a baking binge? Tis the season! Well, here’s a recipe that you can make if your ingredients are running low. Out of eggs? Out of butter? Turn to gingerbread. Of course, there are a lot of other reasons to make this cookie – it looks beautiful, adds a little nostalgic spice to your cookie platter, and goes well with eggnog.

For me, it’s a cookie that I make every year. It’s the cookie that, as a kid, I used to look forward to getting in the mail from my grandma. I wrote down the recipe a long time ago in my middle school handwriting on a piece of looseleaf paper. This year, I had my own helper and, as we worked side by side in the kitchen together, I looked over at this fourth generation cookie baker and felt a little amazed.

cutting out gingerbread

The type of molasses that you choose really informs the flavor of this cookie. A dark molasses will produce a very bold type of cookie. While delicious (and my preference), it might not appeal to everyone. A milder molasses produces a gentler cookie that doesn’t have as much zing, but will probably appeal better to children (and finicky grown ups.)

Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/3 c. shortening, room temperature (I use palm oil shortening.)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c. dark molasses
2/3 c. cold water
6 c. AP flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

  1. With an electric mixer, cream shortening, brown sugar, and molasses together until fluffy.
  2. Mix in cold water.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet.
  5. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch. Cut shapes and place on baking sheet covered with parchment.
  6. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes.
  7. Cool.

If you’d like glazed cookies, you can pour it on when the cookies are warm to make a light glaze. Dipping your cooled cookies makes a pretty effect.

Glaze

2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbls. cream
Whisk together and thin with a couple of drops of water, if needed.

Grandma’s notes:

  • Cut a piece of cardboard in the shape that you want. Place it on top of the dough and cut around it with a knife. No cookie cutters necessary.
  • To make large gingerbread boys, add 1 more cup of flour. This makes the dough stiffer. Display these like decorations or eat them up.

Roasted Vegetable Party Platter with Thyme Vinaigrette

Please pardon me if I brag a little about my new favorite party trick. It’s just so…beautiful.

roasted veg platter

This dish went together super fast and was a crowd pleaser. With the bits and pieces left from our generous Tani Creek Farm Fall CSA and starring some of Laughing Crow‘s potatoes, I was able to put together an appetizer in under 30 minutes without having to buy a thing. This healthy option can hold its own on the table next to all the breads, cookies, and cheesy concoctions.

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Scrub veggies with a vegetable brush. Slice, if you like. If using squash, halve, remove seeds, and slice.
  3. Group each vegetable by type on a parchment-lined baking sheet.(Wrap beets in foil so that they don’t taint everything else with their vibrant red drips.)
  4. Drizzle on olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Begin to peek in around 20 minutes. You may want to use tongs to flip harder to cook vegetables (like carrots and parsnips.)
  6. Garnish with greens and herbs.
  7. Serve at room temperature with a dressing for dipping.

roasted veg appetizerThyme Vinaigrette 

In a jar, add 1/4 c. sherry vinegar (or other mild choice), 3/4 c. olive oil, 2 tsp. whole grain mustard, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1 tbls. fresh thyme leaves. Shake. (This will keep on the counter at room temperature and gets even better as the thyme steeps.)

For this platter, I used parsnips, small carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes and delicata squash.