Tag butternut squash

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ultimate Winter Couscous

Yotam Ottolenghi, introducing his recipe for “The ultimate winter couscous” in Plenty, wrote that when he first published the recipe in his Guardian column, a reader complained about the long list of ingredients. And indeed, the list is long: from apricots to vegetable stock, the recipe calls for 23 ingredients.

A tagged and soon to be splattered page from my copy of Plenty

So lets start with a confession: I left out the half cup of dried apricots, and the preserved lemon too. (For reasons too boring to explain, I’d had to come up with a new dinner plan that afternoon and didn’t have time to buy the two missing ingredients.)

Did it matter? Not too much: The Professor liked the dish, giving it a B+/A-. Although when he heard about the missing apricot, he was curious, so I will include it next time. And based on The Professors comments, I think it could improve the dish on each of the three grading dimensions.

For taste, he gave it an A- and said that it was “good, but a little bit one-dimensional.” For both satisfaction and interestingness, he gave it a B+, and suggested adding a side of sauteed greens to make the meal more satisfying.

While I’m glad that he didn’t suggest a side of sausage, I wonder if the sweetness of the dried apricot might have deepened the flavor of the dish, satisfied the corner of our brain that loves sweet things, and made the dish more interesting.

A second confession: I’ve made the dish twice, and both times, i replaced the couscous with a small round pasta that is often called Israeli couscous. The second time, I didn’t have enough Israeli couscous so I added some quinoa.The Professor isn’t exactly a fan of health grains, so I didn’t tell him before the fact. But after the eating was done and I’d come clean, he said that the quinoa added to both the taste and texture of the dish.

Confessions done, next time I make Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous, I’ll include the dried apricot. And maybe even the preserved lemon.

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Immersion Blender

After posting this morning about soups, I couldn’t stop thinking about my immersion blender and how much I adore it.

For those unfamiliar with these wonderful gadgets, they are hand-held blenders and they make it infinitely easier to make pureed soups. Rather than transfer the soup into a food processor to blend, one batch at a time, you just stick the immersion blender into the pot and blend.

And presto!

Mark Bittman on Easy Soups

I am very late commenting on Mark Bittman’s first column for the The New York Times Magazine. It ran a few Sundays ago and focused on soups. “Creamy, Brothy, Earthy, Hearty” was the title.

I’m a big fan of soups, and already make several similar to those he suggests — a creamy and gingery butternut squash soup; a tomato soup with fresh basil; a black bean soup. I find the challenge is turning a yummy soup into a satisfying meal.

With the tomato soup, for instance, I serve grilled cheese sandwiches or bruschetta (as my “Italian” Mom taught me to call thick cut toast) rubbed with garlic and olive oil, and served with a selection of cheeses.

The butternut squash soup I served with seared scallops until I suddenly and inexplicably turned against the tasty molluscs. Now I’m struggling to find a good complement.

In any case, I’ll post my soup recipes soon. In the meantime, enjoy Mark Bittman’s.