A little seasonal inspiration…

October 31st, 2009

Yesterday I discovered that fennel and butternut squash were on sale. I immediately had visions of a warm, comforting fall soup… I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked so I created my own… It turned out really well! One of those dishes that I’m quite proud to have made. The fennel and ginger complemented each other without being over powering (thanks to the suggestion of the Flavor Bible). The butternut squash and pear had just enough sweetness. If you want it to be a little thinner add some more chicken broth. I made a goat cheese grilled cheese to dip in it. A very delicious lunch!

Ginny’s Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

1 butternut squash, roasted (See Note)
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft.
2. Add the fennel and pear, saute until the pear is soft.
3. Add the roasted butternut squash.
4. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil until a fork goes through the fennel easily. About 15 minutes.
5. In batches, food process the ingredients until smooth.
6. Return to the stock pot, mix in the salt, pepper and ginger. Heat to desired temperature and serve.

Note:  I poked holes in the whole butternut squash with a fork and roasted at 450 for about an hour and a half.  About half way through, I rolled the squash onto another side.  Then I cut it open and scooped out the inside.  I always roast a whole squash, as opposed to trying to split it before roasting it, because the last time I tried to do that I almost took off a hand.  Be careful!


It is only Tuesday…

October 27th, 2009

More than one person today has lamented that it is only Tuesday… stumbling around the law school building, groggy from lack of sleep, slurping coffee and groaning at the loads of work that await me… at least I am in good company… it has been a really rough semester. This morning I was hit with the shock that I have a little more than a month before exams…. yikes! Thankfully (or should I say unfortunately), I’ve been through the whole exam process twice now so I know what to expect… sort of… It is going to be a long month.

On top of this, I have not had much time to cook. I’ve been so busy… eating staples and be boring… A few weeks ago, M&J came over for dinner. I made Hazelnut Chicken with Butternut Squash- Sage Orzotto. Both a huge hit! Making a risotto with orzo is so easy that I definitely will do it again in the future. Recipes will be coming tomorrow… but for now Tuesday is almost over and I need my sleep…

ok, now I’m more rested… the recipes:

Hazelnut Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 egg, whisked with a fork
1 cup of hazelnuts, chopped in a food processor

1. Heat the oven to 400.
2. Dip the chicken in the egg and then the hazelnuts.
3. Bake for 30 min or until the chicken is cooked through.

Butternut Squash- Sage Orzotto

12 oz butternut squash, chopped, cooked and pureed (see Note)
2 cups orzo
2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
4 cups of chicken broth (perhaps more depending on the absorption)
1/2 cup of parmesan, grated
4-5 sage leaves chopped

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Saute the garlic and shallots until the shallots are translucent.
2. Stir in the orzo and the white wine. Keep stirring until the white wine has been absorbed.
3. Then add the chicken broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly until the pasta absorbs the chicken broth.
4. Continue until the orzo is tender.
5. Mix in the butternut squash, parmesan and sage leaves.

Note about Butternut Squash: I boiled the butternut squash until it was soft and then pureed it. It was still good but I believe roasting would be a much better idea.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

October 21st, 2009

Last week when I was having dinner with my Chicago food blogging friends, everyone was talking about the great food in their neighborhoods.  I was taking mental notes of places I must go visit but it got me thinking about the great food in my neighborhood… Lakeview. Given that we also talked about the new FTC regulations, a small disclosure: I’m not getting paid for any of these recommendations.

Pastoral: This is my go-to when I’ve had a bad day. I walk in exhausted and grouchy… state my needs to the very able and knowledgeable staff and I walk out with delicious cheese, bread and sometimes a nice bottle of wine…

Bobtail Ice Cream: Delicious, homemade ice cream! Try the hot fudge! :)

Casbah Cafe: This is my favorite restaurant in Chicago. It is very small and intimate. The food is excellent- ask if they have the special and try the hummus! It is BYOB with a corkage fee but there is a liquor store across the street. Also, you won’t get rushed out of there, even if there is line around the building. Perfect for spending hours talking with friends over some good food and wine.

Brendan’s Pub: My neighborhood bar- fun place to meet a friend for a beer and talk.

I made the Pear Butterscotch Pie from the late Gourmet.  When I saw the picture in the magazine, I was excited.  I love pear and butterscotch.  Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the pie.  It was not butterscotchy at all- still good but not what I expected.  I halved the recipe, baked them in ramekins and topped with a crumb topping.