Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Nothing makes me happier than blog requests.  I think it’s for the same reason I love to cook and feed people; I love taking the time and thinking about the delight and pleasure my guests will get out of the meal that I am preparing.  It’s my truest expression of love, with each turn of the spatula, each kneed of the dough, each slice of the knife, I am thinking of who I am preparing the meal for.  How to cater to their tastes, how to make them smile, to nourish not just the body but the soul and the spirit and with this act of love, I in turn, am nourishing my own self as well; feeling full not just from the meal but of love and gratitude for being able to give the gift of food to friends and readers.  Really it’s a win-win and then, a great meal too! So when a reader or a friend requests a recipe, I can’t wait to take the time to blog it.  My co-worker and friend Ellie, has been patiently awaiting this recipe after a party at my home.  I was worried I wouldn’t have enough food for the crowd that was about to descend upon the house so at the last minute I took stock of my pantry and saw that I had all the makings of Butternut Squash Soup.  Then one- two- three, soup’s on!  This recipe is simple but oh-so filling. It shines as a first course but has enough oomph to stand alone as a main dish and is perfect for those gluten free and vegetarian guests and loved ones.

Butternut squash is incredibly versatile.  The creamy texture works great in many dishes but it reaches its full potential in soup form.  It’s so velvety and dense; it doesn’t need a lot of work or added thickeners.    You can make Butternut Squash Soup with just the squash and onion but I love to add in tart, crisp apples and a sweet potato.  I feel these two extra ingredients take this recipe to the next level of yum.  Fresh herbs make everything better so try not to use dried sage if you can help it but in a pinch it will do.  With simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients is even more important.  Finally, whenever I make a soup, be it a broth based soup like chicken noodle or a creamy soup like this one, I always, always sauté my ingredients, it pulls out the flavors and it makes all the difference in the world.  So take the time to brown your veggies before you add broth and simmer them down. You will be left with a soup that you will make you want to lick the bowl when you’re finished.

All the making of a fine pot of soup

butternut squashperfectly easy to peel sage beautiful sagele creuset full of soupButternut Squash soup

You will need:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed*
  • 1 bunch of sage minced
  • 2 apples cubed
  • 1 onion minced
  • 1 Sweet potato cubed
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth**
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup cream or half and half (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

How to:

  • Heat butter in pan and add onion, cooking for 3 minutes or until translucent
  • Add squash (reserving 1 cup of cubed squash), potato, apples, and sage and sauté for 10 minutes
  • Add broth and bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer until vegetables are soft
  • Pour chunky soup into blender and puree
  • Pour pureed soup back into pot and add reserved cubes, simmering until reserved cubes are al dente
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and cream if desired
  • Serve

*How to prep your butternut squash:  Slice in half and remove seeds; with the flesh side down, use a peeler to remove the skin and then slice into cubes.

** For Marcella Rose’s simple chicken broth recipe click here

Soup’s on,

Marcella Rose

Butternut Squash Soup

Beet and Kumquat Salad

beet and kumquat salad

Beet and Kumquat Salad is my new favorite thing.  It’s so bright and so beautiful; it simply begs to be eaten.  This is also a perfect winter salad, utilizing the zesty citrus and cold storage beets, combining in an unlikely duo for a delectably seasonal way to start your next meal.  This salad really pops on the plate but the fun doesn’t stop there.  It also packs as much fun for the palate as it does on the plate.  There are so many exciting textures in this salad that your mouth will love it as much as your eyes.  The smoky earth of the roasted beet paired classically with creamy goat cheese from my favorite local micro creamery is perfection.  Add to that the crispness and tang of endive tossed with your favorite flavored vinegar, I used blood orange vinegar here, topped with the crunch of fresh matchstick beets and a zing of zest from the kumquats and there is a party in your mouth.  I love kumquats and every year when they come into season I get excited to play with them in the kitchen.  What I love the most about them in this salad is enjoying the skin as well as the juicy flesh; it packs a punch of flavor and nutrients, perfect to keep that end of the season cold away!

This salad is easy and fun to assemble, the only time commitment coming from roasting the beets.  You can buy beets pre-roasted if you are in a pinch or you can do it yourself.  I place mine, skin and all, in tin-foil and roast at 400 for about 45 minutes.  Then remove from the oven and let cool slightly before handling.  You can then peel the skin off with your fingers just like that.  I love the way they bleed onto your fingers staining them with their sweet earthy goodness.  I loved using different types of beets for this salad, the classic Ruby Queens for the roasted portion of this salad and the bright and fantastically colored Chioggia for the raw matchsticks.   “Eat your colors”, words of wisdom from my mother.  Well this salad is sure to make her smile and I hope it makes your taste buds dance!

beet and kumquat salad endive paper thin slices of roasted beet local goat cheese baby kumquats all in a row colorful raw beet beet and kumquat salad

You will need:

  • One roasted beet*
  • One beet cut into matchsticks – I used Chioggia
  • 1 Head of endive – separated and washed
  • ¼ Cup goat cheese
  • 4 Kumquats sliced
  • 1 tablespoon infused vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salt and Pepper

How to:

  • Using a mandoline or sharp chef’s knife, slice roasted beets paper thin and place on plate
  • Crumble goat cheese and arrange kumquats on top of roasted beets
  • Toss endive with vinegar and place on plate
  • Top with matchstick beets
  • Drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with mint leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

beet and kumquat salad

To eating the rainbow,

Marcella Rose

beet and kumquat salad

3 Course Valentines Dinner

the Main course -  Valentines Dinner

I am the kind of girl who loves a holiday.  Give me a day to celebrate and I am already planning the meals and thinking of decorating the house.  Life is hard sometimes and the daily grind can be well …daily … and grinding.  When we have an excuse to make a day special or to just give it some attention, I think it’s a beautiful thing.  So a day to celebrate love?  Well how could you not just love that!  Even if you don’t have a partner, you can celebrate the love you have for your girlfriends, your family; hey why not celebrate the love you have for yourself!

I do understand the animosity toward the commercialization of this holiday and I get it that going out to dinner can be a pain when that is what everyone else in town is also doing.  So to avoid both, I give you the 3 Course Valentines Dinner.  This year why not give the gift of a home cooked meal?  Open a bottle of wine, lock the doors, and make this dinner for your lover.  The way to the heart, after all, is through the stomach they say!

What if you don’t have time, you say? What if you aren’t a great cook, you tell me?  Well, Marcella Rose has you covered.  This meal shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to make; ten minutes the night prior or in the morning for the dessert.  It’s elegant, easy, and is sure to impress your guest for the night.   So easy that you, yes you, you handsome devil, you could make this for your lady!  This recipe is for two but it’s simple to double if you want to invite your girlfriends over.

I start with a Butter Lettuce and Pink Citrus Salad to cleanse the pallet, serve this with a glass of bubbly or a glass of scotch or heck, both; it’s Valentine’s Day after all.  Then you move to a perfectly Roasted, Herb-rubbed Rack of Lamb with Mint Mashed Red Potatoes and Broiled Asparagus.  For dessert, slow down and enjoy a Tart Cherry and Salted Chocolate Personal Pie and maybe a few kisses too.

romantic dinner for 2 Citrus and bitter leaf salad with blood

Timing is everything, in love, in life and especially in cooking, so here is how to time this meal so you aren’t in the kitchen fretting, but staring across the table into the warm glow of candlelight in your lover’s eyes.

  • Make the dessert the night before, again this should take 10-15 minutes tops, then throw it in the fridge to chill over night. Right before you serve, drizzle with chocolate and Himalayan Salt.  (You can also make this in the morning, it needs maybe 4 hours in the fridge to set but really, it’s delicious even unset.)
  • 30 – 40 minutes before you want to eat, start the rest of the meal.
  • Mix up your herbs for the lamb and slather it on letting rest for a few minutes while your over pre-heats
  • Place the potatoes in cold water on high-heat on the stove
  • Throw in your lamb (see cooking directions below) and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • Prep your salad, waiting to drizzle with citrus juice and olive oil right before serving
  • Prep your asparagus
  • Set your table and remember our lessons from Clueless, lighting is crucial
  • 5 minutes before your lamb is done, dress your salad
  • Turn off your potatoes, drain off the water and place them back into the pot with the butter, mint, salt and pepper, cover with a lid, this will keep them warm while you enjoy your salad
  • Pull out your lamb, tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes
  • Turn on broiler for your asparagus
  • Pour you and your guest(s) a glass and enjoy your first course salad
  • Once you are done with the first course, your lamb will have rested and be perfect for carving
  • Throw in your asparagus to broil while you prep the potatoes
  • With a masher, lightly smash your red potatoes incorporating the mint, salt and pepper and butter that have melted.
  • Remove asparagus, carve lamb and serve your second course
  • Your Personal Pies are in the fridge from last night. Whenever you are ready, take them out of the fridge, garnish with chocolate sauce and salt and serve

light pink hydrangeas to give a little love in these jeweled bottles

Tart Cherry and salted chocolate tart

Tart Cherry and salted chocolate tart Tart Cherry and salted chocolate tart the making of a perfectly light and pink salad pink grapefruit and blood orange
Citrus and bitter leaf salad with blood


Citrus and bitter leaf salad with blood asparagus broiled asparagus with sea salt and olive oil

broiled asparagus with sea salt and olive oilRoasted herbed rack of lamb and mint mashed potatoes roasted herbed rack of lamb Roasted herbed rack of lamb and mint mashed potatoes

You will need:

Tart Cherry and Salted Chocolate Personal Pie

  • 1 container Nosa Tart Cherry yogurt – or 8 ounces of your favorite
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 small ramekins
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Pink Himalayan Salt

Butter Lettuce and Pink Citrus Salad

  • 1 Head bitter lettuce
  • 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Pink Grapefruit
  • 1 Blood Orange
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted, Herb-Rubbed Rack of Lamb

  • 1 “Frenched” rack of lamb*
  • 2 Tablespoons Rosemary
  • 3 Cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt

*”Frenching” refers to removing some of the meat off the end of the bones.  It’s fairly easy to find at your local grocery store or ask your butcher. Also can refer to a type of kiss I hope you get this Valentines Day.  

Mint Mashed Red Potatoes

  • 2 handfuls small red potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Broiled Asparagus

  • One Bunch asparagus
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions :

Tart Cherry and Salted Chocolate Personal Pie

  • Preheat over to 375
  • Place two tablespoons of butter in each dish
  • Microwave on high until melted
  • Scoop in about ¼ of a cup of graham cracker crumbs into each dish and mix well
  • Using your fingers, press the crumb butter mixture to the bottom and sides of dish creating a crust
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden
  • While baking, mix together yogurt and mascarpone cheese
  • Once crusts are done, scoop half of the cheese/yogurt mixture into each dish
  • Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours
  • Once ready to serve, drizzle with chocolate sauce and salt

Butter Lettuce and Pink Citrus Salad

  • Place several leaves of butter lettuce on a plate with parsley
  • Cut grapefruit and orange into segments reserving the tops and arrange on lettuce
  • Using tops of citrus squeeze out the juice onto the assembled salad
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, serve

Roasted, Herb-Rubbed Rack of Lamb

  • Preheat over to 450f
  • With a food processor, process the salt, rosemary, balsamic, olive oil and garlic until they’re incorporated and minced
  • Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the meat facing up and slather with herb mixture
  • You can allow this to “marinate” for about an hour while you prep the rest of your dinner for added flavor, or just pop in the oven
  • Roast the lamb for 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes, covering with tin foil
  • Slice the ribs off and serve.

Mint Mashed Red Potatoes

  • Fill pot with cold water and add potatoes
  • Bring to boil
  • Boil until tender when pierced with a fork (15 minutes)
  • Tear up mint leaves and add to strained potatoes with salt, pepper and butter

Broiled Asparagus

  • Snap off fibrous end of asparagus and arrange on a sheet pan
  • Drizzle with olive oil mix and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes until roasted
  • Remove from broiler toss with salt and pepper, serve

To Loving love!

Marcella Rose

The final course - Tart Cherry and salted chocolate tart