Autumn cooking: Butternut squash and apple soup and Pear cake

Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog – due to some unintended and rather ridiculous decorating on my part, or potentially a ghost, I had to turn off some of the electricity to my house, including the part that houses my internet and wireless. I was without lights or Netflix or TV or anything for awhile. It was one of those times you could REALLY use a glass of wine, so I was cursing my burgeoning belly. Thank god for handy husbands when they finally return from Africa!

I’ve been doing some autumnal cooking, trying to use the yummy produce of the season. Also trying to make some healthy dishes I could potentially tempt X into eating where he might be tricked into consuming a vegetable. So far, no go. This kid just doesn’t want to eat. Ever. He’s getting quicker on the uptake, too, when he realizes I’m trying to get food down his throat. Short of physically ramming things down his throat, I don’t know how to get him to eat anything. He has expanded his repertoire of “okay” foods from just chocolate to include cookies, though. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Only if he’s tied down, though, can’t move and there is no prospect of play in the immediate future. Then he might deign to have a cookie. Sigh.

But Z and I did really enjoy this meal, particularly. It’s got your flavour, your healthiness and all kinds of fall produce from the market, so what more could you ask for.

One note. I started to look up tips on making your food photography more attractive, in an attempt to have photos that are even remotely appetizing. The results I came across made me laugh out loud. Necessary equipment included three halogen spotlights with tripods, and a white backdrop, neatly pressed. Do you think you can find anything neatly pressed around here? On that note, here are some shitty photos of delicious food:

SquashSoup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Original recipe found at Epicurious.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, split lengthwise and seeded

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 apples peeled, cored, and sliced thinly

1 cup apple cider or juice

2 cups vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place squash cut side down on rimmed one-inch-deep sheet pan. Add 2 cups water and roast until squash is very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off any remaining water, and let cool.

Meanwhile, in heavy, 12-quart pot over moderate heat, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and pepper, and sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add apple cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by half.

When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and add to soup. Add stock and remaining salt, raise heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender until very smooth, then return to pot. Set over moderate heat and return to simmer.

You can top this soup with a blue cheese cream mixture, which sounded great but I’m off the blue cheese so I didn’t make any. Check out the original recipe if you’d like this. I just added some little pieces of blue cheese in the soup for Z, which works better than it looks. It went well with the crackers he crunched up into it. Also suggested is some toasted pumpkin seeds as a topper.

Pear Cake

Pear Cake

This was tasty, moist and absolutely delicious. Even X tried some, and ate most of it, except for the pears, because they were too obviously real food. The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson.

Ingredients

250 grams unsalted butter

300 ml sugar

4 eggs

300 grams flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 tablespoons milk (or cream)

3 pears

Sugar or cinnamon for sprinkling on top

In an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at the time, and stir well.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, mix some of it onto the batter, then add some of the milk, then some of the batter, etc. until all is blended. But mix as little as possible.

Smear half of the batter in a medium (about 23cm) buttered spring form.

Peel and take out the core of the pears, cut in pieces, and spread out on the bottom. Cover with the rest of the batter, and add a new layer of pear pieces if you like. Just push them a little down into the batter. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake in oven, 180 C for 30-45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to be sure. Ready when a cake tester comes out clean.

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