Sensational Soups: Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter

As we move into these chilly fall and winter months, there’s nothing I love more than brewing up a big pot of homemade soup. The herby aroma wafting through the house, the steam warming up the kitchen, the inevitable leftovers…ah! It’s the best. So it’s no surprise I volunteered to review 300 Sensational Soups, a new cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds. If one pot of soup is good, 300 is excellent!

This extremely comprehensive book is full of winter cooking inspiration. While it would be easy to phone in some recipes in a cookbook this large, Sensational Soups os written with thoroughness and creativity. It starts out with a section on how to make your own stocks from scratch, then goes into chapters on a variety of soup categories such as chilled, garden vegetable, chowder, fish and shellfish, and cheese (a whole section purely about cheese-based soups?! I’m into!) The collection wraps up with a section on toppings and garnishes (which includes glorious ideas like grilled cheese croutons and maple cream). Truly something for everyone!

I had difficulty selecting just one recipe to review for this post, but I finally narrowed it down to chowder, one of my favorite soup subsets (soupsets?) I ended up going with the butternut squash chowder because it includes one of my favorite garnishes ever—fried sage leaves! My dining companions all agreed that drizzling the frying butter with the sage leaves on top was a major game changer. I also love how the recipe uses mashed squash to add thickness and texture instead of a massive amount of cream (although, don’t worry, there’s still a healthy amount of cream involved).

This soup was so comforting, so rich and velvety, and so flavorful! I will say that I made a few changes to the recipe—as with basically every soup, I doubled the recommended amount of spices, salt, and pepper. I also added an extra few squeezes of lemon. Oh, and clearly this chowder was begging for a sprinkle of cheese on top, so I grated up some nutty aged parmesan for garnish alongside the sage leaves and butter drizzle. I also highly condone serving with a hunk of crusty sourdough bread.

Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter

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Cooking with Love: Carla Hall's Rustic Mushroom Tart

Hey, guess what? I got an opportunity to review Carla Hall”s brand new cookbook, Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You.  I was obviously very excited.  Thanks, ES!

I have been a fan of Carla Hall since her first season on Top Chef, Season 5.  When she came back for All-Stars, I also enjoyed rooting her on.  She has a southern style of cooking that focuses on comfort food and fine dining spins on classics.  Plus, she has a super perky and positive personality, but not in an annoying sort of way.  Like in a contagiously sunny kind of way.

This book has so many great recipes that I”ve bookmarked to try, like goat cheese grits and buffalo wing burgers (yum!)  It also has some little anecdotes and tips from Carla.  Carla was a caterer before she made it big and has some great tips about serving large groups, if you are into that kind of thing.  If I had to give a constructive criticism about the book, it would be that I would like a picture for every recipe.  That”s probably not doable to have so many photographs, but that”s what I like.  Although the pictures that are already in the book are quite stunning.

All in all, I”d say everyone should definitely have this cookbook on their shelves.  It”s pretty rockin”.

So, I decided to make the mushroom nbso tart recipe and it was pretty boss.  Super easy and oh so tasty.  I didn”t use a paddle attachment on a food processor , so my dough was a little more crumbly than hers appears.  It was still really good, though.

You should make this and pop over to Amazon to preorder her book, which comes out November 6th.

Rustic Mushroom Tart from Cooking with Love

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Lodge Cast Iron Goes to the Printing Press

I can attest to the durability and sturdiness of cast iron. It was with a huge cast iron pan that I injured my shoulder last year, while tossing fingerling potatoes, sizzling hot from the 500-degree oven, during a particularly busy Lenten fish fry dinner service.  Still, from enameled cast iron to that nice, seasoned, Lodge pan, anything cast iron gets my vote.

And Lodge is the cast iron standard. If you don’t have a Lodge cast iron in your pan collection, go buy a Lodge.

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Christmas in August: Pickled Watermelon Rind

Ed Note: Our friend Julia, canning lover and far mar worker, is back to rant about a newly acquired, and blogger-inspired, cookbook. Julia’s previously written about roasted rhubarb and Meyer lemon syrup.

Discovering my inner Southern grandmother has opened up my cookbook addiction in a whole new direction: canning and preserving texts now fill my shelves. Apparently many, many others have also become a part of this “canvolution” (not my word – I swear) and so a whole crop of canning books are popping up. As such, it seems that all sorts of canning bloggers are scrambling to write books to cash in on the craze.

For those of us who love cookbooks, but hate to follow recipes, canning presents a unique challenge in that, not following a recipe or procedure to a “t” can result in some really nasty things.  Like death.  From botulism.  Not a pretty way to go.

As a result, every canning book that I have come across lately has – rightly – dedicated a good amount of space to describing the process of canning safety measures and the history of various methods.

The most recent canning book to my collection, WE SURE CAN! How Jams and Pickles Are Reviving the Lure and Lore of Local Food (courtesy of Arsenal Pulp Press) does not break from that format.  In fact, author Sarah B. Hood spends 60ish pages writing about the history of canning…Then the resurgence of canning…Then the people responsible for the resurgence of canning…. Then the way to can…

And then (YAY!) we get two recipes.

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