Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rain, Butternut Squash Soup & Caramel

It's rainy out there this morning!

The daily a.m. egg count has risen to two eggs though, rain or no rain. Chicken Man poaches them and puts them on top of english muffins. Although lately we've been having oatmeal with craisins in it, so the eggs are starting to pile up. I'm hoping to maybe incorporate the eggs into some kind of bread recipe soon. Maybe challah? French toast challah to use even more eggs?

Of course the chickens don't just provide us with eggs. Even though they aren't meat birds, you can still eat them if you cook them right. Which mainly means stew!

This is lunch today. It's butternut squash soup. Here's the story:

A few months ago we had to kill the roosters. Sorry, animal lovers. But they were starting to get loud and get aggressive towards each other, and they were going to start mating with the ladies. And even if you want to be kind to animals, they sometimes aren't to each other. I don't think chicken sex is exactly the most gentle thing in the world.

This past weekend we defrosted two of the roosters and made soup. Instead of going the traditional chicken soup route, I thought of the beef pho that Wandering Chopsticks inspired me to make last January and decided to make chicken pho broth.

I typed up the recipe but it's making this post really long. Plus there are a variety of recipes online already from much better sources than myself (such as this one by Momofuku for Two.)

The soup was delicious on its own. But we also have a ton of squash from our CSA. Like, there are seriously at least eight squash in the house right now. And I really wanted butternut squash soup.

I'm pretty proud that I managed to make it without a blender!

Many of my DIY skills come from experimentation and not having the proper tools. To make the soup, I just simmered chunks of squash in the chicken stock. After about 15 minutes of simmering, I mashed the squash chunks with a potato masher. For the next 15 minutes I let the soup simmer and whisked it really hard every so often. No blender needed.

Here's another photo but the soup was still cold, so the chicken stock is gelled:

I added the chunks of chicken back in at the end.

We made one other rainy fall food last night: caramel.

I blame it on watching Top Chefs Just Desserts! Usually I don't have such a sweet tooth. Also, Chicken Man's roommate had a craving for caramel and apples. And I thought well, I have brown sugar + butter + salt + vanilla..... I've never made it before but figured it couldn't be too hard. Just don't let the pot get too hot, and keep stirring.

Hah, it's awesome seeing someone's face when you casually say you're going to whip up a pot of caramel.

Can I also add here that this is why having a well stocked pantry is awesome. Although it means cooking more, having all the pantry staples also means you can make a variety of food, instead of just that specific food you bought at the store that week. It was fun being able to show the roommate what caramel is actually made of, and that it's not just a thing that comes from the store.

I modified a recipe from the King Arthur baking book for a caramel frosting. Just melt equal parts butter and brown sugar (I used a cup of each. Whoa!) plus a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then stir constantly for two minutes on low. Add 1/4 cup of milk and bring back to a boil. Then turn off the heat and add a teaspoon of vanilla.

The sauce was really runny when it was warm. It kept pouring off our apple slices. After sitting over night in the fridge it got nice and chewy.

This morning I dropped a few teaspoons onto a plate and stuck it back in the fridge to make separate little caramel candies.

I'm kind of wishing I had remembered to bring one to work. At least I have my soup for lunch!


Kara Mae said...

this book has some good fricasees and a few other things to do with "matured" chickens' meat, I love it

************* said...

"The Southern Heritage Plain and Fancy Poultry Cookbook "

Hah, thanks! Plain and Fancy sounds like an amazing name for something....

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