Stephanie Says

Butternut squash soup with browned butter, cooked in a Tagine September 6, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — Stephanie Sue @ 9:00 pm

Today we enjoyed a tremendous butternut squash soup that nearly didn’t happen.  We didn’t have a couple of my typical ingredients and it was only at the last minute that I decided to wing it with what I had on hand.

Today’s recipe is my own but is based loosely on the number of times I have cooked Baked Winter Squash Soup from Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ book The New Basics.

soup series one


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 Russet potatoes (or, if you’ve got it, one medium / large sweet potato)
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 small red bell pepper (added at the last minute because the whole set looked a little monochromatic to me)
  • 3 14 oz cans of fat free, sodium free chicken broth
  • sprig of fresh oregano or other herb of choice
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • ~1/4 cup brown sugar loosely packed
  • scant 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder or more to taste
  • Olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

The approach:

Peel the potatoes and squash and dice into 1-2 inch squares.  Dice the red pepper.  (I typically gauge the dice by the size of the first knuckle on my thumb)  Place into a dutch oven, or if you’ve got one: a tagine.

Drizzle with 1 -2 TBSP olive oil to coat all the veg.  Season with freshly ground pepper and about two teaspoons Kosher salt.  Add half a can of chicken broth.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour, or until all the veg is steamed through.  You want it to be very tender.  Let it all cool for a bit as blending thick, hot soups can be painful or even hazardous if you end up with a spill.

While the soup cools, prepare the browned butter by melting the butter in a sautee pan.  Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and chipotle chili powder to taste.  Cook on medium heat until the butter has stopped foaming and the sugar is just beginning to melt and caramelize.

(Note: this entire step was a happy accident – I’d realized after the veg were cooked that I’d forgotten the butter and chili  powder.  This step was my improvisation to try and save the day – it turns out, in my opinion, to be what really makes this recipe!)

Blend the soup in batches adding chicken stock to help it all puree.

Make sure to add the browned butter to one your blender batches – you may need a rubber scraper to get all the sugary yum yum off your sautee pan.

I like my soup nice and thick and so only added just enough broth to get the veg to cooperate with the blender.

Heat the soup gently on your cooktop to bring it back up to temperature and serve.


Breakfast September 5, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Photography — Stephanie Sue @ 8:30 am


Deep Dish Pizza Crust August 1, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — Stephanie Sue @ 9:43 pm

I’ve been puzzling about how Gino’s East pizza crust is part raised dough and part cornbread-meets-a-biscuit.  This one turned out pretty close – I think the big difference between mine and theirs is the cast iron, well-seasoned deep dish pan.

For the Crust:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Masa Harina – fine corn meal used for tortillas etc
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 packets or 5 tsp yeast (I happened to have a pot of bread machine yeast because of a near sighted moment at the grocery store, but it worked fine!)
  • Two cups warm water – any warmish temp that seems hospitable to the yeasty beasties
  • 4 big TBSP olive oil
  • one TBSP honey

Mix together the yeast, honey and warm water and let ’em sit and proof till you see signs of life

Meantime, mix the flour, masa, corn meal and salt in a large bowl – then make a well in the middle

Pour the liquid stuff into the well you made in the dry stuff and mix it all together, once all the liquid’s been incorporated, turn it out on your counter top and kneed a bit, just to bring it all together

It’ll all come together and not seem to hold much promise as a pizza dough – the dough will have a firm texture and not want to kneed like a traditional crust – it sort of mashes instead.

I was kind of sweating it a bit at this point (as in, I stopped and bought backup dough) but I’m here to assure you, everything turns out alright in the end; the backup dough is in the freezer.

Roll into a ball and put back in your large bowl, give it a rub with some more olive oil, cover and LEAVE it for about 2 1/2 hours. **

** I think this was the crucial step: again because of the corn meal and masa and the overall different-ness of this dough, I think it needed more time to rise.  The dough roughly doubled in size but also ‘soured’ just a bit.

That hint of sourdough flavor was a pleasant surprise that I’ll be trying to develop more in the future.

Conjure up your favorite toppings.  Usually on pizza night, I lean towards Veggie, but deep dish just seems to be happiest when its full of pepperoni, sausage and their meaty friends

Grab a deep dish pan: I didn’t really have anything special for this…  I wanted something that was heavy enough to retain heat well and that I could grease up with olive oil to try and toast the outside/bottom crust.

Because my kitchen is tiny and  I’ve spent a small fortune in therapy getting over the fact that I can’t have a custom tool for every dish….  I grabbed a glass pie  plate.

Grease the pan – I used olive oil, but I might try butter or Crisco next time to improve browning of the outer crust.
Roll out the dough (about 1/2 to 1/3 of the recipe) to slightly larger than your pan, place in the pan and turn down whatever excess margins you have to make the edge crust a bit thicker.

So that’s the crust. Click the link to find out how we accessorized.