Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Winter Dinner Menu

Okay, I think I'd better get this one out there as Winter is almost over!  This post has been sitting in draft form for about six weeks now.

We had some friends over for what was supposed to be a casual pizza Friday night thing.  And what did I do???  Well, of course, I got all ambitious.  I thought, I'll just make this super easy soup, salad and rolls.  Hahaha.  Yeast dough isn't always something you want to contend with on a Friday night when your husband is late coming home and you are trying to corral children and entertain friends.  C'est la vie!

This is a fantastic combination.  I will make this meal again and again. Being me, of course I neglected to take a photograph of the salad, so you'll just have to trust me.  Below, however, is photographic evidence of the soup and bread.

The oatmeal knots are a Cooking Light recipe I've had clipped and sitting in my file for an eternity and it was time.  They are kind of labor intensive for one as lazy as me, but luckily I had my trusty helper Kayleen.  Many hands do make light work.  I mixed the dough and she shaped it, so it didn't seem so bad.

The soup is a slightly edited version of my friend, Audrey's.

1 butternut squash, halved, ends trimmed, seeds removed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 in pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 in pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 in pieces
2 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Place squash, cut sides up, and remaining veggies in large heavy roasting pan.  Sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and pour chix stock in.  Cover tightly with foil and roast about 2 hours, until veg are soft.  Remove foil and let cool slightly.  scoop out squash and place in heavy soup pot.  Add remaining veggies.  Add chicken stock to liquid remaining in pan to total around six cups and add to soup pot.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of mace, nutmeg, or a combination, 2 tsp minced crystallized ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer ten minutes.  Puree soup until very smooth.  Heat through and check for seasoning.  It will need salt and possibly black pepper (but I am a pepper monkey).  I garnished with chopped Italian parsley.  Audrey also used pine nuts.

The salad:
1 crisp apple of your choosing, chopped
1 head belgian endive or radicchio, thinly sliced
1 head escarole, tender inner leaves only
1 small bunch watercress, stems discarded
1 small-medium shallot, minced
1/4 c olive oil
2 T sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 oz your favorite blue cheese, gorgonzola, or stilton
1/3 c toasted pecans

Toss first four ingredients in a large salad bowl.  Steep shallots in oil and vinegar while you finish preparing dinner.  Lightly coat greens with dressing mixture, add pecans and cheese and serve immediately.

This salad doesn't keep, so gobble it up.  Depending on the size of your greens and apple, you may need to adjust the amounts slightly so the proportions are pleasing to you.  This salad has a "chop salad" quality and bitterness which is the perfect complement to the complexity of the soup and the sweetness of the bread.

For extra credit, get some super fresh cream and whip up your own butter for the rolls.  A dab of creme fraiche would be appealing on the soup as well.

Enjoy, Winter's about gone!

1 comment:

  1. yum. each and every bit of it. yum. perhaps i should just start a list of all the meals i'd like you to prepare for me when i return.