edible adventures from the centre of the universe

29 September 2007


As summer transitions to autumn, what could be more appropriate than a warm, comforting bowl of soup that features cheerful, sunny flavours? I found this recipe in my most-used cookbook, Rebar by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz -- I love the summery combination of fresh, juicy tomatoes with sweet corn and fragrant basil. A touch of cream brings a richness that's perfect for a blustery autumn day, and this chowder has a nice heat to it from the jalapenos (which I harvested from my very own container garden, thankyouverymuch), which also helps to keep summer alive just a little bit longer.

End-of-Summer Chowder

4 cups vegetable stock, warm
1 tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups diced baby potatoes
2 jalapeno peppers, sedded and minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1. Heat butter in a stock pot and sautee onion with 1/2 tsp salt, until soft. Add garlic, cracked pepper, oregano, and half of the basil. Sautee for five minutes, then stir in the potatoes, jalapenos, red pepper, corn, and remaining salt. Sautee briefly, then add stock. Cover, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
2. Stir in cream and return the chowder to a simmer. Add tomatoes, remaining basil, and cilantro. Heat through and serve immediately. Yum!

Serves 4


23 September 2007

My New Favourite Lasagna

When it comes to lasagna, I'm easy to please -- my love for this classic dish is nearly Garfield-esque. However, I've never really come upon a lasagna that truly blew my mind. I'm glad to say that streak has ended.

An issue of delicious. recently arrived in my mailbox with a particularly enticing photo on the cover of a butternut lasagna with sage butter. My interest piqued, I headed directly to the market to pick up supplies. This lasagna was surprisingly easy to throw together. As it baked, it filled my condo with the delicious aromas of roasted squash, nutmeg, and sage, and it came out of the oven golden brown and puffed up like a souffle.

Topped with a splash of rich and nutty browned sage butter, I fell in love with this lasagna at first bite. The creamy ricotta and smooth butternut puree make for an ethereal mouthfeel, and the warm Autumn-y flavours could not be more comforting. This is absolutely the best lasagna recipe I've ever tried, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Butternut, Sage, & Ricotta Lasagna

800g Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces (I buy the pre-cut squash from the grocery store)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes
1 tbsp chopped sage, plus 12 whole leaves to serve
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
350g ricotta
1 egg
1 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
8 fresh lasagna sheets, cooked in boiling water until not quite al dente
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place butternut on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil, and season with chile flakes, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, until the butternut is tender. Allow to cool slightly.
Puree butternut in a food processor with the chopped sage and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Clean/wipe out processor and then process the ricotta, egg, parmesan, and salt & pepper. Sometimes I add a pinch of allspice to the ricotta.
4. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking pan. Cover the base of the pan with lasagna sheets, and spread with 1/2 of the butternut mixture. Add another layer of lasagna sheets, and then spread with 1/2 of the ricotta. Repeat process, then sprinkle final layer of ricotta with extra parmesan.
5. Cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden and puffy. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.
6. Meanwhile, heat the butter, walnuts (optional), and whole sage leaves in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to turn golden (stir constantly). Remove from heat, and serve lasagne topped with a little bit of the sage butter and some extra parmesan.