Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Homemade Apple Chips


...The summer ends and we wonder who we are
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car
And today I passed the high school, the river, the maple tree
I passed the farms that made it
Through the last days of the century
And I knew that I was going to learn again
Again, in this less hazy light
I saw the fields beyond the fields
The fields beyond the fields

And the colors are much brighter now
It's like they really want to tell the truth
We give our testimony to the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer,
You can spin the light to gold.

from Dar Williams Lyrics
"The End Of The Summer"


Ingredients for the homemade apple chips:
  • 2 large apples (Gala or Idared work well)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Ingredients for butternut squash soup:
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil  
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots 
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock, warmed, plus more as needed
  • 1 butternut squash (midium size), peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and diced (optional)
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. curry
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • small sage leaves for garnish

Directions for homemade apple chips:

Preheat oven to 200˚F.
Thinly slice apples crosswise about 1/8-inch thick with a mandoline or sharp knife. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets.
In small bowl, combine cayenne pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Put mixture into a sieve and sprinkle evenly over apple slices.


Bake in the top and bottom third of the oven until apples are dry and crisp, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and let ‘chips’ cool completely before transferring to a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Makes about 2 cups apple chips.


Directions for butternut squash soup:

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the squash, the carrots, potato, broth and the 1/2 tsp. salt, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.


Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.


In a blender or food processor, puree the soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the heavy cream. Heat the soup until just hot, then stir in the curry and adjust the seasoning with salt. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve immediately. Garnish with small sage leaves.



Poached Pear and Almond Souffle Cakes


Adapted from Tartelette.


Ingredients for the poached pears:

  • 6 small pears like Forelles or Seckel
  • 1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 5-6 allspice berries
  • 1-2 star anise
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water


Ingredients for the souffle cakes:
  •  3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (190ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup ground almonds (blanched or skin on - your preference)
  • 1/4 cup 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions for the poached pears:
Place the pears, spices, lemon and water in tall saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and let them simmerfor 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just soft (poke with a toothpick to check).
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on paper towel or baking rack.


Directions for the souffle cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Slightly butter or spray 6 ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.


In the bowl if an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffly (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one a time and beat well in between each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, heavy cream, almonds, flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Fill each ramekins about 1/3 full with the batter and place a poached pear in the center.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Serve at room temperature with some powdered sugar dusted on top if desired.
Serves 6.



My Neighbors, a Bottle of Vinegar and Marinated Mushrooms.


Although  I am far from being a professional writer, I’m often compelled to tell a story every now and then. This story is about my world, how I see it, the people that care about me, how I care for them, and about the precious moments in the life of my children.


My family lives in a small house and sometimes I have an urge to move. But even if one day  Ishould  find my dream house, I would not be able to take my neighbors with me. We became very close. Different people, different cultures, but one thing in common - we care about each other. If we go on a trip and the kids are staying with their grandmother, I always know that they will have plenty of milk, eggs and bread. My grass will be cut and my cat will be fed. We exchange presents on holidays; we always share the most delicious food and we laugh together.


Our neighbors have a wonderful vegetable garden with tomatoes, pumpkins, and cucumbers. It also has an amazing variety of herbs: rosemary, thyme, dill, fennel, basil (purple and green) and mint, but not just any mint -  lemon mint, peppermint mint, and chocolate mint. And of course the lavender, after all what garden can be without such an aromatic beauty.


From time to time, I find lovely gifts on my doorstep. It can be a bowl of cherry tomatoes, bread with shallots, bunch of herbs or even a flower.


Few days ago, I found a ruby red bottle with delicious homemade vinegar. Oh, the aroma of the garlic and basil immediately makes imagine all of the possible dishes that I could cook with it.
I come up with this recipe that I'd like to share it with you. And we are not going to eat that alone tonight.
Guess who is coming to dinner :-))


Ingredients for marinated mushrooms:
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds baby portobello or button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/3 cup homemade vinegar
  • 3-4 shallots, sliced
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for homemade vinegar:
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • garden herbs - red basil, fennel
  • pepper

Directions for marinated mushrooms:

Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.


Add the mushrooms and cook them for about 3 minutes.


Stir in shallots, then the homemade vinegar and thyme.


Pour over the remaining olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper.


Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.



Picture from my blog on FoodPornDaily.

I am so happy to tell you that one of my picture from blog got selected by FoodPornDaily.

I hope this is just a beginning-)))



Lemon Cupcakes



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and chopped
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 36 mini muffin cups with paper liners.
Place the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk and and flour and beat with electric beaters until just combined.


Divide the mixture evenly among the paper liners. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of clean when inserted into the cake. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
Decorate each cupcake with some strips of zest and meringue.



Carrot Creme Brulee with Blood Orange Reduction


Adapted from Amuse-Bouche book by Rick Tramonto


  • 3 3/4 cups blood orange juice
  • 1 1/4 cups carrot juice
  • 1 3/4 plus 2 tbs. chilled heavy cream
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed, and coarsely grated
  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 7 sheets gelatin
  • granulated sugar for creme brulee effect
Put 2 1/2 cups of the blood orange juice in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the juice is reduced to 2/4 cup.
Strain the reduction through fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.


Put the carrot juice in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minuts or until the juice is reduced by half.
Remove from the heat.


Put all but 3 tbs. of the heavy cream in a large saucepan with the grated carrots, the 2 tbs. granulated sugar, the carrot reduction, and the blood orange reduction and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat.


Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water. Gently drop the gelatin sheets into the cold water, several at a time, until all are submerged. Let soften and bloom for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the carrot mixture to a blender and puree. Strain it through a chinois or fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Using your hands, lift the gelatin sheets from the water and squeeze them gently between your fingers. Transfer the sheets to the still-warm carrot mixture and stir gently until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.


In a chilled bowl with a chilled whisk, whip the remaining 3 tbs. cream until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the carrot mixture.
Lightly coat a small jelly-roll pan, or other rimmed metal pan about 9 by 12 inches, with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon in the carrot mixture. Smooth the surface and refrigerate, uncovered, for about 4 hours or until set. When the flan has set, cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to use.


Put remaining 1 1/2 cups of the blood orange juice in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the juice is reduced to 1/4 cup.
Strain the reduction through a chinois or fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.


Using a small cookie cutter, cut the carrot flan into shapes. Dip the shapes in the coarse sugar. Using a kitchen torch according to the manufacturer's instructions, move the flame continuously in small circles over the surface until the sugar melts and lightly browns.
To serve, put 2-3 of the shapes on a small plate and drizzle with a little orange reduction.


Beet, Grapefruit, Peach Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinegar and Smoked Salmon sandwich with Pea Shoots

Ingredients for salad:

  • 3 red beets, about 1/2 lb. total
  • 2 tsp. olive oil for roasting the beets
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 2 firm, ripe peaches, peeled,
  •   pitted and sliced
  • 1 tsp.Fig balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • small leaves of fresh mint
  • sprouts for garnish  

Ingredients for sandwich:
  • 1    split and toasted multigrain roll
  • 2    tablespoons light cream cheese
  • 2    slices smoked salmon (2 oz.)
  • ½    ounce Pea Shoots

Directions for salad:
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
If the beet greens are still attached, cut them off, leaving 1/2 inch of the stems attached. Place the beets in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and turn to coat. Roast, turning the beets occasionally, until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 1/4 hours. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins with your fingers. Cut each beet into slices.


Cut a thick slice off the top and bottom of each grapefruit. Stand the grapefruit upright and, following the contour of the fruit, carefully slice downward to remove the peel, pith and membrane. Holding the grapefruit over a bowl, cut along each section of the membrane, letting each freed section drop into the bowl.


On a platter, alternate slices of beets, grapefruits and peaches. Drizzle the olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar over all , and then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Garnish with the mint and garnish. Serve immediately.


For the sandwich:
Spread the cream cheese and top with a slice of smoked salmon on each multigrain roll half. Arrange the Pea Shoots attractively on top of the salmon.


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