Thursday, February 28, 2013


I love soups that are pureed/blended.  They are always creamy but, frequently, without the cream.  Here is a recipe for a nice Fall or Winter soup that is very easy to make, quite nutritious, and special enough to serve to guests.  Also, like most soups, it can be made ahead, frozen, and reheated.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PARSNIP SOUP.  Serves 8.   Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
*  2 tablespoons canola oil
*  1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
*  2 carrots, peeled and diced
*  3 parsnips, peeled and diced
*  1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
*  6 sprigs of fresh thyme
*  1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
*  6 cups chicken stock [For vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth.]
*  1-1/2 teaspoon salt
*  Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*  2 tablespoons champagne vinegar [I substituted Rice Wine Vinegar.]
*  1 bay leaf
In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the oil, then add the squash, carrots, parsnips and onion.  Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly tender and warmed through, about 5 minutes.  Add the thyme, coriander, chicken stock, salt, pepper, vinegar and bay leaf.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs, and puree the mixture.  I use a stick blender but you could use a blender, being careful to puree small amounts so as to not get burned.

 Tip:  Use a grapefruit spoon to remove seeds from the butternut squash.
Tip:  Put a towel under your chopping board to keep it from moving while chopping.
 Tip:  Set up all of your ingredients before you begin to cook.  This is called "mise en place."  Mise en place [pronounced - miz on plas] is a French phrase which means "everything in place."
This is what it looks like as it cooks.  After cooking, the thyme and bay will be removed and the soup will be pureed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


We've watched Julia Child, Paula Deen, and a host of other cooks slather on the butter.  That's what we'd like to do but we know better!  But, everything in moderation and we can still enjoy everything!

Recently Cooks Illustrated (TV & magazine) reviewed butter and our local "Land O'Lakes" brand was highly ranked, coming in just below "Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter."  I've always liked Land O'Lakes but I've been buying the Kirkland brand butter ever since I become a Costco member.  Well, I've decided to switch back to Land O'Lakes as it is much, much more creamy and rich than Kirkland.

Whipped butter can be convenient and the texture is nice.  Sometimes I can find butter mixtures in the grocery store, but it is relatively expensive.  Thus, I've started making my own, healthy version.  Here's the recipe:

* 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature (NOT via microwave which can affect the taste)
* 1 cup olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon table salt
Whip the butter with an electric mixer on low until the butter lightens in color.  In a slow, steady stream, mix in the olive oil.  Add salt and continue mixing until the mixture is light and fluffy.

This butter is better for our health, because of the addition of olive oil, and is very tasty!