© Debby Segura
Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
(serves 8-12 as an appetizer)
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame chile oil
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
soy sauce, to taste
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a heavy roasting pan, combine the squash, apples, oils and honey well. Tuck the apples under the squash to avoid browning them. Place the pan in the oven for 25 minutes, stir and continue roasting 10 minutes more or until tender.
Transfer the roasted squash and apples, and all the pan juices, to a soup pot. Add two cups of the broth to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Allow the soup to cool. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender until completely smooth. Add additional broth to achieve the desired consistency. Season to taste just before serving with soy sauce.
Place the pumpkin seeds evenly in a small cake pan. Place the pan in a 450-degree oven (if you like, you may efficiently do this while roasting the squash) and remove from the oven as soon as the seed begin to puff up, 7 to 12 minutes. Do not allow these seeds to over-cook.
Serve the soup hot, warm (my favorite) or at room temperature with a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds on each serving. You may also pass the sesame chile oil around so people who like a spicier soup may drizzle it on top of their soups.
Chinese Five-Spice Chicken
2 3 1/2 pound chickens
1" piece of fresh ginger, slivered and mashed
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
1/4 cup mango chutney (or apricot jam)
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chickens in a large rectangular glass baking pan. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, five-spice powder, salt, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Rub a teaspoon of the mixture inside each chicken. Add the chutney to the mixture and coat the outside of each chicken generously. Quickly pat the scallions all over the chickens and place the pan into the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the scallions have crisped and the juice from the thigh of each chicken runs clear when pierced with a fork tine. Allow to cool 10 minutes before carving. Carve carefully, with a poultry shear, if possible, to keep the skin and scallions as intact as possible.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
a pinch dried and crumbled oregano leaves
2 16 ounce bags of frozen, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
toasted pine nuts
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and the oregano. When the garlic becomes aromatic, about 1 minute, add the spinach and stir occasionally over a medium flame until liquid no longer pools at the bottom of the pan and the spinach no longer appears wet. Reheat over a medium flame rapidly, and add the lemon juice at this point, just before serving.
French Apple Tart
3 golden delicious apples, cored and sliced into 1/8-inch wedges
3 red apples, such as empire or Rome beauty, cored and sliced into 1/8-inch wedges
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and unfolded
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts (or plain cookie crumbs, if you do not use nuts)
2 tablespoons honey or 1/4 cup sugar, combined with 1/2 teaspoon
cinnamon) whichever you prefer to symbolize sweetness)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
egg wash (1 egg, whisked together with 1 tablespoon water)
Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the puff pastry carefully, until all the creases folds, and cracks are smoothed out and the pastry measures about 11 x 16". With a rotary (pizza) cutter and a ruler, carefully measure 1/2" borders around the pastry and cut them, short ends first. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Carefully transfer the pastry to the cookie sheet, egg wash border side up. Place border strip of pastry over the egg wash it matches most closely in size, trimming the excess off the corners. Sprinkle the cornstarch and the hazelnuts evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1" border around the edges. With a pastry brush, paint a 1/2" edge around the pastry and place the 1/2" pastry borders upon the edges they match most closely in length. Cut off the excess.
Place the apple slices, alternating the red and yellow skin colors, in neat rows to cover the entire surface of the tart, right up to the pastry 1/2" edge. Drizzle the apples with honey or sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Using a pastry brush, paint the 1/2” pastry edges with the egg wash.
Bake the tart for 35 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the apple juices are bubbling. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.