Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mulled Pomegranate Orange Sipper--A "Simple Saturday Sipper" for Fall

I am so ready for fall!!! I know what you are thinking..."What does the person in Hawaii have to whine and complain about?" Yes, normally it is paradise here but tomorrow is November and it has been more like summer--hot and humid for well over two weeks now. Also Vog (sulfer dioxide, other gases and crud from Kīlauea, our active volcano on The Big Island) has filled the air this week and it triggers my allergies and asthma and frankly it all makes me GRUMPY! I want a nice crisp, cool fall day--heck, I'll take a cold, rainy fall day even. The kind of day where one can curl up on the couch without feeling sticky. A cozy blanket kind of day with a good book and a nice warm fall drink. Our trade winds just started coming back yesterday, the air is getting clearer and the temperature slightly cooler and so I wasted no time "getting my fall on" last night by making this autumn-feeling Mulled Pomegranate Orange Sipper in the November/December issue of Clean Eating magazine.

Clean Eating says: "Nutritional Bonus: Pomegranate is an excellent source of potassium, an essential mineral that support kidney function, and is also an energy-supplying electrolyte."

Mulled Pomegranate Orange Sipper
Clean Eating, Nov/Dec 2009
(Makes 4 6-oz Servings)

2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
Peel from 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
1/2 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
2 tsp raw organic honey

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Cover pot and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain cinnamon sticks and cloves from liquid and divide mulled juice into mugs. Serve with or without orange peels pieces in beverage, as garnish.

Nutrients per 6-oz serving: Calories: 100, Total Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 24g, Fiber: 0, Sugars: 15g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 15mg, Cholesterol: Omg

Notes/Results: Bright, tangy and comforting it instantly put me in a fall frame of mind (even if I did end up drinking it in shorts and a tank top sitting in front of my fan!). The drink's combination of pomegranate and orange with the cinnamon and cloves is delicious and the small amount of honey sweetens it just enough. A definite make again recipe--especially since they are saying we may get our first "winter chill" by the end of next week. (Of course it's all relative--here that just means shorts and a tee shirt and no fan!) ;-)

Happy Halloween and Happy Weekend!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Borlotti Beans with Woody Herbs: A Repeat for (Our Final!) Tyler Florence Fridays & A Few Of My Favorite Tyler Recipes

This Friday is a little sad for me as it marks the official end of Tyler Florence Fridays. Almost a year ago, it began as an idea; a cooking group with the recipes of a hunky and talented chef and flexibility--being able to select the recipes we wanted to make each week and not have them selected for us. Emails went back and forth, a fearless leader (Natashya) got us organized and whipped into shape with a website and a plan and TFF was born. It has been a fun year full of good food and good friends but like all good things, it must come to an end. (Or at least be morphed into a new group, I Heart Cooking Clubs currently featuring the recipes of Nigella Lawson).

So what recipe to close this chapter with? I decided to go with a repeat performance of one of my Tyler favorites, his delicious Borlotti Beans with Woody Herbs. I first posted these in March (here) after traipsing all over for months trying to find borlotti beans before I found out they are also called cranberry beans. I loved Tyler's recipe for these creamy, homey beans and since a recent trip to the farmer's market yielded some fresh borlottis from North Shore Farms, I thought I would make it again using fresh beans instead of the canned beans Tyler calls for.

Borlotti Beans with Woody Herbs
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence
(Serves 4-6)

1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into large chunks
1 celery stock
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh sage sprigs
1 small fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans (28 ounces each) borlotti beans
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor and pulse to chop fine. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the finely chopped vegetables and red pepper flakes and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, bay leaves, broth, and remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, or until the beans are flavorful. Taste for salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves before serving the beans.

Notes/Results: As good as I remember--a perfect, comfort food dish with lots of flavor from the finely-chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic. I cut out most of the oil as I did before and used veggie stock instead of chicken to keep the dish vegetarian, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Using fresh beans, I wasn't sure how long to cook them and found varying times and instructions so I just kept testing them. I ended up cooking them about 45 minutes total, as I wanted them pretty soft and creamy in this dish. In addition to the herbs (local from my CSA box) cooked in the beans, I used a bit of olive oil to quick cook some more to top the beans with. I like the crisp texture it adds to the dish. A delicious dish!

Tyler and I have cooked a lot of delicious dishes together this past year--in fact there were only a couple "clunker" recipes for me that I just didn't like. I look forward to cooking more of his recipes now and then, even without motivation from TFF. So which recipes did I enjoy the most? If I had to pick a few in addition to my beloved Borlotti Beans with Woody Herbs above, these five would be my all-time favorites.

Zucchini Carpaccio: I posted this once before TFF started (here), then repeated it this past May and I make it all the time for an easy lunch or side dish for dinner. The paper-thin zucchini slices soak up the olive oil, salt and pepper, the herbs add a fresh flavor and the creamy ricotta brings it all together. It also looks stunning on the plate, making it a great dish for company too.

Saltimbocca: Another recipe I just had to repeat (I also made it here), because it was so darn delicious for being so incredibly easy. Veal cutlets pounded thin, crispy prosciutto and sage in a lemony sauce and it was on the table in way under 30 minutes--what's not to love?!

Salmon Potato Hash: The ultimate comfort food; roasted salmon, poached egg, crispy potatoes and a creamy, lemony sauce, this one even survived my lightening it up and taking the butter out. Great for brunch or a light dinner and better than the hash at my favorite breakfast spot.

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese: This is one gorgeous salad--both in taste and on the plate. I was able to use fresh, local figs and the combination of their sweetness, along with the honey, the peppery arugula, sharp blue cheese and savory chicken was amazing. It was only helped along to its favorite status by being chosen as a TFF featured dish and being shown on Tyler Florence's blog. ;-)

Sauteed Feta Cheese with Parsley, Raisin, Caper & Pine Nut Sauce: One of my early Tyler recipes and still a favorite as it fills my need for a salty-cheesy fix. The combination of ingredients may seem unusual but the flavors work really well together and when the cheese is spread on a good crusty baguette or served on top of salad greens it is sublime.

Those are my favorites--so hard to choose just a few dishes as there have been so many Tyler recipes I really have enjoyed!

Mahalo to Natashya, and Megan and to all of the great friends who joined us at Tyler Florence Fridays, either popping in from time to time or coming by regularly. (I hope you all come join us at IHCC). You can check out the final TFF round-up here.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cookbook Review: "Cooking The Cowboy Way"

I am going to be honest, when I received a copy of "Cooking The Cowboy Way: Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons, and Ranch Kitchens" by Grady Spears with June Naylor, I wasn't all that excited. I never really thought or cared how cowboys cook their food and I assumed it would be just a bunch of recipes for barbecue, beef and beans. Well, we all know what happens when we assume and I am happy to admit I was wrong--cowboys eat a lot more than barbecue, beef and beans--and they eat really well too!

Spears, former cowboy turned chef and restaurateur known for taking cowboy classics and making them upscale, along with Naylor, journalist and author, traversed the country finding cowboy cuisine and getting a look behind the scenes at the different ranches and places where the recipes are from. As you would expect, much of the time is spent in Texas but they also visited Arizona, Calgary, Alberta, Florida and Missouri. With stories and gorgeous pictures combined with the recipes, the reader gets an interesting glimpse at the cowboy life. The book manages to fit in close to 100 recipes and there is a big variety of dishes to choose from There are breakfasts, salads, side dishes, baked goods, cocktails and desserts (who knew cowboys eat crème brûlée?). With so many recipes it was hard to pick just a few to road test but I was able to narrow it down to six.

The first recipe I tried was the Cuban Picodillo, from the Bellamy Brothers Ranch in Darby, Florida. Picodillo is a homey classic Cuban comfort-food dish and I had been wanting to try it, even though the combination of ground beef, olives and raisins sounded a bit odd. It really works though--this dish was easy to put together and really delicious with the sweet and salty combination. I used some ground bison/buffalo and served it over brown rice--Yum! I will definitely make this one again. (Here's a link to the recipe)

Next I felt it was my duty to make some kind of cowboy beef recipe and chose the King Beef Oven Brisket from the Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, Texas. Owner, cowboy and cook, Tom Perini cooks his brisket in a smoker, but the recipe in the book is for the average home cook and can easily be made in the oven. It is perfectly simple, all it needs is time, and it is so delicious! A beef brisket is rubbed in a mixture of spices, roasted uncovered for an hour, then beef broth is poured in, the pot is covered and is roasted low and slow for about 3 hours. The meat is sliced thin and tender, juicy and nicely spicy from the rub. Perfect for sandwiches the next day too. I don't cook a lot of brisket but this is some of the best I have tried.

Of course I had to make some beans too and chose Tom's Ranch Beans also from the Perini Ranch. Another easy recipe, dried pinto beans are combined with salt pork, garlic and chili powder and they bubble away on the store for a couple of hours until tender and then jalapenos and cilantro are stirred in. The beans are hearty, creamy and have a nice kick to them. You can find the recipe for them here.

Looking for a non-cornbread pairing for the beans, I found this Cheddar Pan de Campo from Fred's Texas Cafe in Fort Worth. It is a cheesy camp bread that can be made with any biscuit dough or the simple crust recipe in the book. The dough is rolled out, topped with red onion, jalapenos and cheddar cheese and then baked in the bottom of a dutch oven or on a pan or pizza stone in the oven until the crust is baked and the cheese melted. Yum!

A simple, delicious side dish was the Baked Acorn Squash with Pistachios from the Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Arizona. The squash is roasted, then pulled out, brushed with a mixture of butter and maple syrup and tossed with roasted pistachios. The syrup enhances the sweetness of the squash and the pistachios add a toasty, nutty flavor and a nice crunch.

Finally, since some of the food is spicy, you need a good drink to wash it down with like Grady's West Texas Sunrise, a drink he makes for his own "Texas Tailgate Party". This concoction is made of lemon-infused vodka, lemon liqueur, sparkling water and just a touch of pomegranate juice. Fresh, lemony and just a little tart, it is a great thirst quencher.

Charming writing, beautiful photography, and the opportunity to see what life on the ranch is really like make "The Cowboy Way" a good read, and the variety and quality of recipes makes it a fun and useful cookbook too. It would be perfect for the cowboy, cowboy wanna-be or anyone hankering to try some delicious hearty, accessible, family-style recipes. It would be a fun gift with a few of the ingredients or items listed in "The Cowboy's Chuck Box" resource in the back of the book.

My big takeaway from "The Cowboy Way"? If the recipes in the book are the way cowboys cook and eat, I need to get me some cowboy friends to hang out with!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's Tuesday and time for the "Things I Am Loving This Week", those (mostly) food related things I am enjoying and want to share. Since we are smack in the middle of fall and Halloween is Saturday, I have a few seasonal treats I'm loving.

First up, Whole Foods had these cute little Boo Chips, little potato chips in the shape of ghosts and bats so fun for a Halloween party. Pringle-like in texture and flavor, I thought they need a festive but healthy dip like a Carrot Hummus to be dunked into.

Hummus is something I love and I thought adding carrots would make it fit the season. Creamy, slightly sweet (in a nice carroty way), it's a good way to sneak some carrots (antioxidants and Vitamin A) into your snack and very good for you when combined with the protein and fiber in the chick peas. Adding in some of the carrot cooking water, to help make it smooth and "dip-able" keeps it lighter than pouring in the olive oil. To make it really healthy, ditch the chips and use it to dip some raw veggies or whole wheat pita.

Carrot Hummus
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed well and drained
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Cover carrots with water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer until just tender (about 8 minutes). Drain, reserving water and cool. In a food processor combine cooked carrots, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and cayenne. Process gradually adding reserved carrot water until mixture is smooth and the consistency you want. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a couple of hours so flavors have time to blend. Serve with assorted dippers like veggies, tortilla chips pita or crackers.

One of my guilty pleasures is the Cinnamon Chip Bread at Great Harvest Bread. It is great on its own, fabulous with almond or peanut butter or even a smashed banana on top and a little slice of heaven toasted with just a tiny bit of butter. (Yes, I love this bread!)

For Halloween they take my favorite bread, add some green food coloring and make these cute/creepy "Witches Fingers". Although I prefer my bread in its natural color and shape, they are certainly fun for the holiday.

And BTW--how can you not love a place that offers to cut you a big chunk of bread to nosh on when you enter the store?!

Finally although it isn't a Halloween treat, I am pretty proud of the Pot Pie I made at my Vegetarian Casseroles class this weekend. I am lucky that our local community college has wonderful classes and some of my favorites are the vegetarian ones taught by Alyssa Moreau.

This is only my second pot pie (Yep, I'm scared of pie crust too!), and although my partner and I worked on the filling together, we did our own crusts. This pot pie is dairy free/vegan and uses cashews blended with water for the creamy sauce and seitan, a wheat gluten that has a texture like shredded chicken for the meat. It has great flavor and texture and with the sage, thyme and poultry seasoning, it tastes of fall. To make it gluten free--switch the seitan to a soy product or omit it and top with mashed potatoes.

Pot Pie
Alyssa Moreau
(Serves about 4)

1 Tbsp oil or margarine like Earth Balance
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 cup raw cashews*
2 1/2 cups water*
1 cup potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup lima beans or sliced green beans
1 soy cutlet, cubed or seitan, hand-shredded
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup peas
1 Tbsp fresh parsley. minced

In a large skillet, saute onions, celery and carrots in oil. Add thyme, poultry seasoning and sage. Then the potatoes, beans, and soy cutlet or seitan. In a blender, blend together the cashews and water until creamy (a few minutes), then strain through a fine mesh colander into the vegetable mixture. Add salt and pepper and stir until the sauce starts to thicken. Take off the heat and add the peas and parsley.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp water

Mix crust ingredients together (dry + wet). On floured surface, roll out into circle and top pot pie. Crimp down edges and make a vent in the middle of the pie. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until crust is nicely browned.

*Note: If you prefer, instead of cashew "milk" you can substitute 2 cups milk & 3 Tbsp flour.

So these are the "Things I Am Loving This Week." How about you? What kinds of things are you enjoying?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nigella Lawson's Calvados Syllabub--A Spooky Treat with "Spirits"

This weeks theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs, featuring the recipes of Nigella Lawson is "Spooky Treats & Spirits"--Halloween inspired drinks or goodies, Nigella recipes slightly "twisted" to make them spooky and fun. I chose to take an easy dessert with fall flavors, her Calvados Syllabub--basically a frothy whipped cream dessert full of cinnamon, calvados (apple brandy) and hard cider, and make it into some spooky fat ghosts. (Mainly spooky because they ended up looking like a kindergarten art project!). ;-)  

Syllabubs are defined (in The New Food Lover's Companion) as: "This thick, frothy drink or dessert originated in old England. It's traditionally made by beating milk with wine or ale, sugar, spices and sometimes beaten egg whites. It's thought that the name of this concoction originated during Elizabethan times and is a combination of the words "Sille" (a french wine that was used in the mixture), and "bub" (old-English slang for "bubbling drink")." I first made one of Nigella's syllabubs a few months ago for Cook the Books, our virtual foodie book club, when I made her Turkish Delight version--you can see that one here. I was pleased with how light, delicious and easy to make this dessert is. 

With the alcohol, this is a dessert for the adults hanging out at your Halloween party. So give the kids some cookies and give your friends a glass or bowl of this frothy, fluffy, festive fall concoction for a spooky treat with the "spirits" mixed right in. 

This recipe can be found in How To Be A Domestic Goddess (pages 138-139) or on Nigella's website here.

Nigella says: "Syllabub is one of those ethereal, dreamy confections which seems at odds with the description "dessert". But this scented, whipped cream, piled up to swell cloudily out of it's container, is a perfect way to end dinner and gloriously easy to boot."

Calvados Syllabub
How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson
(Serves 4)

8 tablespoons dry cider
2 tablespoons Calvados
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
300ml double cream
4 cinnamon sticks (optional)
4 x 150ml glasses

Put the cider, Calvados, ground cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and stir until the sugar’s dissolved. Keep on stirring as you gradually pour in the cream. Now, using a wire whisk or an electric one at low speed, whip the syllabub until it is about to form soft peaks. It should occupy some notional territory between solid and liquid – you’re aiming for what Jane Grigson calls ‘bulky whiteness’ – so be careful not to let the cream become too thick or, indeed, to go further and curdle.

Spoon the syllabub into the glasses and puncture each semi-solid mound with a cinnamon stick, just as a Flake is plunged into a scoop of ice cream. If that’s just a little too frou-frou for you (and I quite understand), simply dust the uneven tops with the merest haze of ground cinnamon.

Notes/Results: Oh my friends, this is a good one! So easy to make and so delicious too. It is a nice combination of light and sweet, but not too sweet and the flavors put you in an autumn mood. With dishes that contain alcohol, I am often concerned that that is all that you will be able to taste but the calvados and the hard cider, (I used a lovely Pear Cider from Fox Barrel Cider Company--which I am going to buy more of for fall. It is so good!), are both smooth, taste of fruit and combined with the cinnamon cut the sweet taste down a bit. It is very quick and easy to make. For a party, I would prepare the flavor base and then right before serving quickly whip in the cream until "pillowy" and serve right away. Speaking of serving, I would put this dessert in smaller glasses or bowls. I was going for picture effects here and the glasses were the ones that fit that Halloween mood best. I had hoped for them to be a bit more firm to mold into ghost-like shapes, but did not want to take away from the integrity of the dessert texture or over-whip them until they curdled so I went for fat, puffy ghosts, drawing the eyes and mouths with a black gel frosting tube. In the book, Nigella had these looking very sophisticated in pretty glasses with cinnamon sticks stuck in the sides of the syllabub, so you can easily make this into an elegant dessert too. I will make this again

Talk about spooky--for some reason one picture I took had some interesting effects when I downloaded it off of my camera. ;-) Were the spirits moving?

You can check out what the other I Heart Cooking Club Participants made this week by going to the IHCC site here. And for other spooky Halloween treats, check out my Breadstick "Bloody Fingers" with "Pink Eyes" cocktails for last years Blog Party "Gross Anatomy" here. And tune in tomorrow for some festive Carrot Hummus. 

Happy Haunting!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lentils & Greens Soup--Hearty & Healthy for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Craving lentils, I had about six different recipes for lentil soups tagged to make this week but then a big bag of collard greens showed up in my CSA box, plus I had a couple of Yukon gold potatoes and sweet yellow onions that were on the downward slope of their prime and needed to be used up quickly, so I created my own soup. The end result is this very hearty and very healthy Lentils & Greens Soup that just happens to be delicious too. Perfect for when eating has been a bit off-track and you need something simple and good. I made this a two-pot/pan soup so I could get the onions nice, soft and caramelized, but you could throw it all in one pot if you prefer.

Lentils & Greens Soup
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 6 servings)

2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked through 
6 cups water or good, low-sodium veggie stock
1 bay leaf
2 Yukon gold potatoes, chopped small
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, (sweet preferred), chopped
4-5 cloves or garlic, minced
1 large bunch (roughly a pound) of greens, center stems removed and leaves chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you prefer)
Juice from 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, place rinsed lentils and add water or stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower soup and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add potato and continue to simmer another 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat oil in medium pan, add onions and cook on medium-low until onions soften and begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add garlic to onion and continue to cook another 10-15 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Turn up heat on lentils, add greens, reduce heat again and simmer about 15 minutes. Add caramelized onions and garlic to soup, stir in cilantro and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Notes/Results: Great, healthy, exactly what I wanted taste-wise and no pantry waste. ;-) Lemon and lentils are a perfect combination, the greens and potato add texture and depth and the slight sweetness of the onions is a nice compliment. This is a hearty soup and I served it with a thick slice of homemade whole wheat bread spread with a white-bean "Uncheese Boursin" (more about that later), for a hearty but not heavy dinner. I would make this again.

Now lets see who is in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week and what they brought with them.

Debbie at Dining with Debbie has a perfect for fall, this Hazelnut and Watercress Pumpkin Soup. She says, "An Over the Top Recipe that I think you might enjoy and have fun with is this special pumpkin soup. You will need a steamer basket, bamboo steamer or a pasta pot with a steamer insert. You don’t, of course, have to serve the soup in the pumpkin shells, but it makes a really pretty presentation when you do." You can check out another great soup by Debbie, a Broccoli Cheese Soup and get the details on her fun "Crock Pot Wednesdays" event on her site. 

Sumana from With Coffee & Tea is here again this week, sharing my passion for lentils with her Black Lentil Soup. This one is full of spices, garlic, tomatoes and a whole lot of ginger, fully designed to warm you up. Sumana says, "This earthy lentil soup is my take on "Dal" an Indian side dish."

Chaya from Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog made Nigella Lawson's Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup this week. She says, "This will keep you warm and sweet. If has that rich sweet potato taste even though, I put in more squash. All, I know, is that it is delicious and for those cold nights, will be a pleasure to drink or eat (which is it?)"

Mary from One Perfect Bite pulled out her crock pot for this gorgeous brightly-hued  Scandinavian Yellow Pea Soup, a childhood favorite made by "Mrs. P" every Thursday. Mary says, "This is one of my favorite soups. It was made in the German and Swedish kitchens of my childhood with very different ingredients and results." You can read her great story about this soup and where it came from on her post. 

Donna from My Tasty Treasures is with us with week and she whipped up a perfect for the season soup. Donna says, "This was the best Turkey Soup I have ever made. And it all began with a carcass.. And so easy peasy. Please try this after Thanksgiving. The recipe is adapted from The Gourmet (bye bye we'll miss you) Cookbook, also found here, and is just perfect, IMVHO." A bowl of this soup and the peanut butter pie she posted with it would make me happy!

"Die-hard squash lover" Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, used some of bounty of on-sale squash to make a savory Garlic & Butternut Squash Soup. Reeni says, "If ever a soup could sing then this one did. The roasted garlic and Parmesan balanced out the sweetness of the squash. It was a perfect harmony of earthy, sweet, and salty. This is an extremely forgiving soup, as most are, that's just one of the many things I love about them. A little extra squash - vegetable instead of chicken stock - heavy cream instead of milk - Romano instead of Parmesan - nutmeg instead of sage - no problem! Twist it around your little finger and make it your own. Just be sure to make it!"

For a stick to your ribs dinner that you can stick a fork in, Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies made this hearty Mushroom Barley Stew. She says, "We are all for hearty stews here in the fall and winter. Hearty enough that your spoon or fork will easily stand up in the bowl, without risk of falling anytime soon. Mushrooms pair beautifully with barley, and the Worcestershire sauce brings out their natural meatiness. Serve hot with finely grated Gruyere and all will be right with the world."

A big welcome back to Ulrike from Küchenlatein who confesses she has been a bit "lazy" in her soup making lately. No matter--the beauty of soup is that is always here and waiting! Ulrike more than makes up for her absence with a striking White Bean and Tomato Soup with Fennel and Quail's Eggs that she says is "from the slow cooker. I was happy just with the quail's eggs, but my gentlemen had some extra spicy sausages with it. A very delicious soup."  Happy to have you back Ulrike!

What a treat! My elusive blogging buddy Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness snuck in with this perfect Chicken Soup with Jasmine Rice and Ginger. Stephanie says, "A surprisingly filling soup. A homemade chicken broth for Matt, vegetable for us. Jasmine rice is simmered in water for a bit, then stock, salt, soy sauce (in place of fish sauce) & sugar are added, rice simmers a little longer. Stir in the ginger, and...yep, tiny bit more. Ladle into bowls, top with chicken & reserved ginger...and eat. Warming, hearty & just generally good." Good to see you Stephanie!

We have a salad this week from a new face, Radha from Urban Bites: Delizie da Hong King. Radha made a unique and delicious looking Huge Bean Salad with Caramelized Onion Puree. She calls this a simple salad, where huge beans are steamed, cooled and mixed with caramelized red onions, pureed and mixed with sugar, then sprinkled with pepper and basil seeds. Welcome Radha and thanks for joining us!

And a sandwich this week! Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is back with delectable Mozzarella Fried Sandwiches with Nira. She says, "If I had to suggest only one aromatic herb to grow, I don't have any doubts: the Nira, or Chives Garlic (Allium Tuberosum). It's similar to chives, but with longer leaves and a richer aroma. It's perfect for every dish that need an aromatic touch, strong but not overwhelming. The Italian name of this recipe is 'Mozzarella in carrozza': carrozza means coach... yes, the fairytales one. My mother prepared it when I was a child and I imagined that the coach was the fried sandwich, which carried the Cinderella/mozzarella to some dancing party... and the happy ending is when you eat them! (Ok, I have to improve my fairy tales before my baby grows up)."

A plethora of delicious soups and even a salad and sandwich to go with them--our soup cup runneth over with good food and friends this week. Thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a dish to share for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sandwich) Sundays, then click on the button on the side bar to get all the details on how to join in.

Have a wonderful week!