Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Item Numero Uno

If I ever open my own restaurant I think I found the first thing that will definitely be on the menu, especially during the winter. This Butternut Squash Soup will warm you up on even the chilliest of days. It's the perfect menu item, no matter what type of restaurant - little soup and sandwich bistro, specialty baked goods and treats, five star gourmet. I could see people coming back again and again just for this soup.

It would be a great appetizer as it wakens all your taste buds. At first you taste the sweet butternut squash and coconut milk, then you get a hint of thyme and sour cream before the heat of the jalapeno fills your mouth. Every bite is a journey for your mouth.

Quick & Dirty

  • I didn't remove ALL of the jalapeno seeds because I wanted to make sure it had enough "kick".  I left about half of them in, and it was just about perfect for my taste buds
  • Sprinkled some dry thyme on top, didn't have any fresh
  • Also ate it with whole wheat crackers mixed in, very very tasty
  • The mix of sweet and spicy is my favorite, and this is a new combo of the two for me
  • Both the warmness and the spiciness of the soup is perfect for a cold winter day
  • I ate it all too fast to try it, but this would probably freeze well if you made a huge batch of it
  • I was selfish and ate it all myself, next time I'll try to make enough to share
  • Butternut squash is kind of a pain to work with, otherwise I would make this all the time
  • Making soup like this makes me want to get an immersion blender...just what I need, another kitchen gadget!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eating an Identity Crisis

For about the last year and a half the project I've been working on is for a client out in Boston. We finally went out there a couple weeks ago to do on-site training and implementation. The clients were nice enough to provide muffins and other goodies throughout the day and in the morning I helped myself to what looked like a Boston Cream Pie muffin. They raved about how good these muffins are and how we wouldn't be able to get anything like them back in Minnesota. Well, I didn't think mine was that great. In fact, I didn't really like it at all and was glad I only took half. It had some weird flavoring that I wasn't expecting (orange flavored custard?). So after a long day of training and an awesome but not quite satisfying dinner, we went in search of dessert. On a dark, cold and rainy night we were lucky enough to wander into Quincy Market which was lined with various restaurants and bakeries. After walking up and down the aisle checking every place out, we finally picked out a couple creamy pies and sat down with forks at the ready. Only to be disappointed again. It was at least better than the muffin; the custard was pretty tasty. But there wasn't enough of it and the cake wasn't very flavorful. I guess that's what you get when you buy something that's probably been sitting out on a shelf all day.

I didn't get my craving satisfied while I was out in Boston, so I decided to satisfy it myself in my own kitchen. I've actually had this recipe for at least a year now, thinking I would make it when the project was over. Well, it's pretty close to being over now (crossing my fingers) so I thought it was finally time to celebrate. It took me almost all day on Sunday to make (scratch-made yellow cake, scratch-made chocolate cake, vanilla-rum custard, chocolate glaze, and assembly) and I was so worn out by the end of the day that I ended up having cold waffles for dinner (homemade buttermilk waffles that I had made the day before, don't worry they weren't frozen Eggos). It was all completely worth it though, especially getting to share it with everyone at work. I brought it in and everyone was so excited that I had made cake. But, I said, it's not a cake - it's a pie! Or is it a pie-cake? One thing is for sure, it was absolutely delicious!  And it's the least I could do to say a big Thank You for all the hard work everyone has put in.

Unfortunately I got this from a free preview issue of Cuisine at Home and they don't have the recipe online.  I'll have to type it up soon and post it so everyone can share in the goodness!

Spreading the second layer of custard

I thought it kinda looked like a hamburger at this point

Final chocolate glaze

Quick & Dirty

  • Will try to use real vanilla bean in the custard next time (I had a couple but I didn't realize they went bad!  The ones I had were stiff as boards and there was no way I could split them and get the goodness out of them)
  • After making the cakes, I think I should've stored them in airtight containers instead of letting them sit out all day to cool.  I think they may have dried up a bit.
  • I used 8x3 pans instead of 9x2 because that's what I had.  I think it made the cake taller but not a big deal.
  • The chocolate glaze was amazing
  • Everything...even though this was quite a bit of work I could definitely see myself making it again.  I only got one little piece!
  • The Vanilla-Rum Custard was pretty tasty, I could see making it for other things (maybe some custard filled donuts?)
  • I think fresh vanilla bean really would've helped the custard pop even more
  • Did I mention I only got one piece?!