Sunday, September 19, 2010

Episode 21 - Fall Harvest

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I hate fall.  It's cold and it might as well be summer's funeral.  Fall is also when school starts again. This presents 2 major issues for me.  1) I have to attend classes, do projects and study and more importantly 2) it makes people go crazy while shopping for "back to school" clothes and they make my life at work a nightmare.  Yes, fall pretty much sucks.  It's only redeeming feature for me is that it brings squash back into season! MMmmmm squash...

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Prosciutto Topping

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced into half moons
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream (we just used table cream)
4 thin slices of prosciutto, sliced into small strips

Saute the leeks and the garlic in the olive oil until they shrink down and get nice and wilty.  Add in your squash chunks, ginger, brown sugar, molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it starts to smell really good.  Add the broth, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes.  You need the squash to get nice and soft.  Next puree the soup with a hand blender.  I guess you could try to do it in a normal blender but I foresee it being messy.  The last thing you need is to waste this soup because your blender can't handle hot liquids and it has now exploded delicious soup all over your kitchen.  Speaking of things exploding all over the kitchen, I once made one of those little ketchup packets explode in my parent's kitchen.  I punched it.  Ketchup everywhere. My status as my parent's preferred child never recovered...  Anyways, after the soup is nice and uniform turn the heat all the way down to minimum and stir in the cream.
To make the crispy prosciutto, heat up a frying pan to medium-high and lay the pieces flat.  Cook until crispy...not complicated.
Ok, so now ladle the soup into bowls top with some prosciutto sprinkles and serve with warm fresh bread!  We made this one from  Try's pretty incredible!

Makes 1 loaf.

4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN'S RapidRise Yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon SPICE ISLANDS Marjoram
3/4 teaspoon SPICE ISLANDS Thyme (leaves)
3/4 teaspoon SPICE ISLANDS Rosemary
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 egg
Additional SPICE ISLANDS Marjoram, Thyme (leaves), and Rosemary, optional

In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, salt, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. Heat milk, water, and 1/4 cup butter until very warm (120° to 130°F); stir into flour mixture. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 30-inch rope. Braid ropes; pinch ends to seal. Tie knot in center of braid; wrap ends around knot, in opposite directions, and tuck under to make round loaf. Place on greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.

Bake at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until done, covering with foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excess browning. Melt remaining butter; brush over loaf. If desired, sprinkle with additional marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. Remove from sheet; let cool on wire rack.

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