Tag Archives: holiday

Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce

TangerinePortCranberrySauce|Spoonwithme.com-2

We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.

TangerinePortCranberrySauce|Spoonwithme.com-19

I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.

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Spiced Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Butternuts with Caramelized Pepitas

Spiced Glazed Butternuts|Spoonwithme.com-34

The way we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving throughout history has both changed and stayed the same.  What if, instead of the venison and freshly harvested vegetables the Native Americans and the pilgrims shared to celebrate the harvest, this happened:

Once upon a time, back on the first documented Thanksgiving in 1621, the pilgrims that had arrived on the Mayflower shared a feast with the local Native Americans.  

“Thank you for welcoming us to this bounteous land.  I offer unto you this can of cream of mushroom soup as a gesture of peace.  Please prepare it with your freshly harvested green beans and crispy fried onions.”

 “Why thank you, kind pilgrim.  Please, take this gift of congealed cranberries as a symbol of this shared celebration.  And as an extra special bonus offering, this bowl of mashed potatoes, from a tuber that will not actually make its way to ‘America’ until many years from now.”

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Fragrant Dried Herb Salts

I’m forever trying to preserve the best of what the garden offers. and can’t bear to see my frost-bitten little babes giving me sad eyes from the compost pile.  At this very moment, jars of charred tomato and habañero salsa are boiling away in the canning pot. It’s enough to drive a girl crazy trying to figure out how to preserve 30 pounds of tomatoes that all decided (“okay, go!”) that it would be a good idea to ripen all at the same time.  I just keep telling myself that future me will thank present me.  Or maybe future me will be running around like a chicken with her head cut off too.  She’ll be convinced that future-future her will be able to relax due to all the forethought and industriousness.  I just love-hate food preservation!

At this point, in the frost-bitten apocalypse that was once my flourishing garden, only a few survivors remain.  The root vegetables, the leafy greens, and the cold tolerant herbs.  Normally, I use up as many of the herbs as I can for cooking, and make a feeble attempt at drying or freezing the rest, never completely happy with the results.  On a recent Splendid Table podcast, Sally Schneider (my favorite improvisation-friendly cookbook author) described the process for making dried herb salts.

Keep in mind that at the time I decided it was a good idea to harvest massive amounts of herbs to make my own dried herb salts, all surfaces of my kitchen and dining room were covered.  Baskets…and bowls…and sheet pans of green tomatoes were taking over the house, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes-style.  I am happy to report, that even in the midst of the green-tomato maze, bunches of herbs, and photography equipment, the process for actually making the herbs was quick and simple.

No fancy equipment required–just a good knife, a cutting board, and a little time–and I literally mean little.  Whether you use the hand chopping method or the food processor method, you’ll have fragrant herb salt ready to dry within 20 minutes.  This recipe is of my favorite type–the kind that teaches a skill that can be improvised upon, and used over and over again.

My herbs dried in a couple days, spread on parchment paper over baking sheets.  I experimented with different combinations of parsley, sage, thyme, and dill… the herbs I had growing in my garden.  Once dry, the herbs retained more of their color and fragrance than most of the herb mixtures I have bought.

If you can get your hands on some herbs, I can assure you that future you will be singing praises to present you (or would it be past you?) for your efforts as he or she sprinkles some fragrant sage salt on a fried egg sandwich, or pulls a beautiful herb-roasted chicken out of the oven.  The possibilities are endless!

 Fragrant Dried Herb Salts

Adapted from Sally Schneider and the Splendid Table

This recipe can be adapted to incorporate any herbs you may have on hand.  You can find the combinations I tried, plus a few extra ideas below.  The hand chopping method is quick, but if you prefer, the food processor method also yields a good-textured herb salt.  If incorporating shallot, use the hand chopping method only, as the food processor will cause the shallot to release too much liquid.  

Ingredients:

  • Scant 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh herb leaves, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, etc…
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
  • zest from 2 lemons (optional)
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced (optional)

Hand Chopped Method:

1. Cut the garlic cloves in half lengthwise, and remove the sprout, if there is one.  Mound the garlic on top of the salt on a cutting board.  Chop the garlic into the salt until the garlic is minced.  Mound the herbs on the cutting board and coarsely chop.  Add the herbs (and shallot and zest, if using) to the salt, and chop until it reaches the texture of very coarse sand.

2. Spread the herb salt in a thin layer on parchment paper covered baking sheets.  Set out in a well ventilated area (such as near an open window or underneath a ceiling fan) for 2-3 days, until dry.

3. Store in clean, dry jars.

Food Processor Method:

1. Cut the garlic cloves in half lengthwise, and remove the sprout, if there is one.

2. Put the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the salt into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the garlic is chopped medium-coarse.  Add the herbs, and pulse until the mixture has the texture of very coarse sand.

3. Transfer to a parchment paper covered baking sheet and toss with the remaining salt.

4. Set out in a well ventilated area (such as near an open window or underneath a ceiling fan) for 2-3 days, until dry.

5. Store in clean, dry jars.

Herb Combinations:

The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Tuscan herb salt:  Rosemary + Sage
  • Herbes de Provence salt:  thyme, savory, rosemary, marjoram, lavender and tarragon
  • Egg salad mix:  dill + minced shallot + chive + lemon zest

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Honey-Glazed Pear Breakfast Crisp

“…And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ev’rywhere you go…”

I can almost taste it.  Christmas va-ca is almost here.  Just a few obstacles before two well-deserved weeks of relaxation.  The kids at school are excited too–VERY excited.  So excited, in fact, that I just want to take a nap.

I can’t say I completely blame them.  I mean, Santa Claus, gifts, and sugar.  Lots of sugar.  Luckily, the school will be closed until after the new year, and hopefully, students’ high-fructose corn syrup intake will have decreased by then.

Now, I’m daydreaming about my red polka-dot pajama pants.  They’re a symbol of good things to come.  They say, “I’m gonna wake up when I want, and drink my tea when I want, and eat whatever I want for breakfast, and get dressed when I’m good and ready.  So there.”

Normally, I eat breakfast by myself in my work clothes before sunrise, usually consisting of fruit and nuts, or maybe an egg sandwich.  No fun.  On Christmas morning, I will wear my polka dot pajamas.  There is an unwritten rule that when donning fun jammies, one must eat a special breakfast.  Mine will look like a jewel-studded christmas ornament and taste like dessert.  Festive enough, do we think?

Now by special, I don’t mean time-consuming.  I won’t want to be in the kitchen all morning, not with puppies to spoil and family to enjoy.  I’ll make the granola a day or two ahead of time–slightly sweet and full of toasted pecans and nutty flax, and re-crisp it in the oven before topping with honey-glazed spiced pears and sparkly pomegranate seeds.

So, when the world says, “Bah Humbug”, you can say “Not now…I’m still wearing my polka-dot pajama pants”.

Honey-Glazed Pear Breakfast Crisp

Serves 4-6

The granola can be made up to three days in advance, and re-crisped in a 275˚ oven for 15 minutes.

For the Granola:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Pears:

  • 4 medium pears (ripe, but not overly soft), peeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mild honey, such as clover, to taste (depending on the sweetness of the pears)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • seeds from one pomegranate, rinsed and dried

For the granola:

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.  Combine the oats, ground flax, and pecans in a medium bowl and set aside.   Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  When hot, add the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Stir and cook until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the butter mixture into the medium bowl with the oats.  Stir well, until the oats are coated.

Spread the oat mixture onto a large baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir, and then cook for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until golden and crisp (note: the granola will continue to crisp as it cools).

For the Pears:

Heat a large frying pan or saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pears, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pears release some of their liquid and the edges begin to take on a transparent appearance.

Push the pears to one side of the pan.  On the empty side of the pan, melt the butter together with the honey and vanilla extract. Toss to coat the pears in the honey mixture.  Sprinkle the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt over the pears and stir to combine.

To Serve:

Scoop some of the granola into small bowls.  Top with the pears.  Sprinkle a little more granola, and pomegranate seeds over the pears.

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Caramelized Onion Dip with Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

‘Tis the season of ugly sweater parties and open houses, online shopping, and mulled cider.  Weekend nights are hot commodities, and booking up fast.  Where there are holiday parties, there are sure to be appetizers–my favorite things to eat and cook.  I’m not a big fan of the kind of fancy schmancy parties where appetizers must be eaten daintily off of little plates.  I want people to flock around the table, napkins in hand, nibbling, conversing, and laughing between bites.

Campfires, puppies, and dip have one thing in common.  They bring people together.  Just think… Your eyes meet.  The corner of his lip curls into a smile.  You tuck your hair behind your ear.  Your hands brush, halfway between potato chip and dip.  It’s love at first bite.  Who needs mistletoe when you have caramelized onions?

I’ll admit to noshing on chips and dip mixed from little packets on occasion, but that’s another subject.  What I’m talking about here is what store-bought french onion dip secretly wishes it could be–complex, savory, salty and sweet.

Like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas, the onions start out angry, but really, they’re just lonely.  Once they are given the special treatment (a little butter, some salt, sugar, and some slow attentive stirring), they mellow and sweeten, just like the Grinch’s heart.

Fold them into sour cream, along with fresh thyme, sauteed garlic, and some fresh onions for balance.  Serve with sea salt and cracked pepper potato chips, and you’ll have a dip with enough magnetic power to draw everyone into the smallest room of the house, which is where all the best parties happen anyways.

 

Caramelized Onion Dip

Serves 6-8

  • 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced (reserve 1/3 cup raw onions)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onions, chopped (reserved from above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves

Caramelize the Onions (Process adapted from The Improvisational Cook, by Sally Schneider, and a guide from Real Simple you can find here):

Heat the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir.  Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the onions have released their liquid.

Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the onions turn a slight golden color.  Sprinkle with sugar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden brown, 10-25 minutes more. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool, then finely chop.

Saute the Garlic:

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just beginning to turn golden, about 2 minutes.  Remove the garlic from the heat immediately.

Make the Dip:

Stir together the chopped caramelized onions, raw onions, sauteed garlic, thyme, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, sour cream, and kosher salt to taste.  Using an immersion blender, or a food processor, puree about half of the dip.  Stir together once again.  Serve with vegetables or Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips.

Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

  • 3 medium russet potatoes
  • canola oil for frying (enough to fill a dutch oven or medium saucepan to 2 inches)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer, thinly slice the potatoes, skin and all.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or medium saucepan until shimmering and hot, but not smoking.  Fry the potatoes in batches until golden around the edges and crispy.  Remove to a paper towel covered plate.  While still hot, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

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Spiced Maple Roasted Yams + Leek and Mushroom Wild Rice + Tangerine Ginger Cranberry Relish

Anyone who has ever had a significant other to share the holidays with knows that the first time away from home for Thanksgiving is a little strange.  The gravy tastes different, and mom’s apple-raisin stuffing is nowhere to be found, but there is something special about being invited to sit around a table with a new family.

Ten-year-old me had pretty straightforward Thanksgiving plans.  Wake up.  Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with dad.  Eat a little breakfast, but not too much; don’t want to fill up before the main event!  Help mom all day in the kitchen:  Boil cranberries with sugar, and watch them pop. Peel mountains of potatoes.  Set the table “Martha Stewart style”, as per mom’s request.  Observe my brothers play video games and bum around the living room.  Skip lunch, and eat dinner at an odd time.  Watch brothers collapse on the couch exhausted after a “hard day’s work”.

Nowadays, my husband and I come as a package deal, alternating between in-laws each year.  Traditions vary from house to house, but one thing is certain–she (or he) who roasts the turkey rules the roost (at least for a day).  The turkey-roaster holds the job of historian and delegator, deciding which traditions to keep, and which to set aside, dictating what goes where, and who makes what.

The Thanksgiving table reflects its eating audience.  As our family expands, so does our menu; starting with tradition, and branching off into new dishes that fit our vast array of nutritional needs and tastes.

Some may consider this sacrilege, but I have decided to eschew marshmallows this year.  Instead, I’ll roast the yams with a spiced maple glaze.  I don’t think the pilgrims would mind.  For the vegans of the family, I will make my leek and mushroom wild rice (sans the butter and parmesan, of course).  Grandma is making the cranberries–two kinds, but it just doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving unless I whip up a batch on my own.  I think a batch of tangerine-ginger cranberry relish is in order.  This year, the leftovers come before Thanksgiving!

All three side dishes are traditional enough to sit proudly aside mom’s family stuffing recipe or next to grandma’s roasted turkey, but new enough to mix things up a bit.

This year, Vernie (my grandma in-law) will be making the turkey, and grandpa’s favorite giblet stuffing.  This year, traditionalists, turkey-lovers, vegans and vegetarians will unite around our table once again.  Next year? Who knows what will be on the table…

Tangerine-Ginger Cranberry Relish

Makes 8-10 servings

  • 6 cups cranberries (approx 2 12 oz packages)
  • 2 small tangerines (or 1 medium), chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups of sugar, to taste
  • 1 rounded 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Toast the Walnuts:

Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the walnuts in the pan until aromatic and golden, tossing and stirring often (Be careful…they will burn as soon as you look away!).  Allow to cool slightly before chopping.

Chop, Chop:

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped.  Remove to a bowl.  Pulse the tangerine pieces until finely chopped.  Place in the bowl with the cranberries.  Pulse the toasted walnuts until chopped.  Add to the bowl.  Place  the remaining ingredients in the bowl, stir, and serve.

Spiced Maple Glazed Yams

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 1/2 pounds yams, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and chopped into 3/4 inch half circles
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch more
  • 3/4 cups raw walnut pieces

Roast the Yams:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  In a large bowl, combine the yams, canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Toss to coat.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  Flip the pieces, then roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until softened and browned in spots.

Make the Glaze:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the maple syrup and brown sugar, stirring until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Add the cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and a pinch of salt.  Stir to combine.

Toast the Walnuts:

Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the walnuts in the pan until aromatic and golden, tossing and stirring often (Be careful…they will burn as soon as you look away!).  Allow to cool slightly then roughly chop.

Bake the Yams:

Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F.  Transfer the yams and toasted walnuts to a glass casserole dish.  Pour the maple glaze over the yams and toss to coat.  Bake for 20-30 minutes longer, or until the yams appear lightly carmelized.

Leek and Mushroom Wild Rice

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice (I used a mixture of wild and brown rice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 leeks (white and light green parts only), halved, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 5 cups chopped mushrooms (I used crimini, oyster, and shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon (add to taste)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (omit to make vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (to make vegan, use olive oil only)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry

Cook the wild rice:

Put 1 1/2 cups wild rice and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Saute the vegetables and herbs:

Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter is melted, and the mixture is hot.  Saute the onion and leek until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, herbs, and a pinch of kosher salt.  Saute for another minute, stirring constantly.

Push the leek-onion mixture to one side of the pan.  Add one tablespoon olive oil to the empty side of the pan.  Add the mushrooms and salt (to taste) to the empty side of the pan and saute for 2 minutes.  Now, stir the leeks and mushrooms together and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through, but still firm.

Add the sherry, and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1-2 minutes.

Mix the Rice:

Add the leek-mushroom mixture to the bowl with the wild rice.  Add the parmigiano, pepper, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Salt to taste.  Does it need a little extra wake up?  Add more lemon juice and/or salt until the flavors lock in.

And Some More Ideas…

Recipes with asterisks* are recipes I daydream about, but haven’t yet tried

Appetizers:

Turkey:

Sides:

Breads and Rolls:

Desserts:


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Cooking With Friends Part Two: Roasty Pumpkin-Butternut Soup with Frizzled Sage Leaves

 

I’ve had soup on the brain lately.  At the first sign of crisp Fall air, I made tomato soup.  When my father in-law gifted me with a batch of smoky white bean soup, I eagerly accepted, and promptly devoured.  Whether chowder or bisque, gumbo or stew, brothy or hearty, filling or light, Fall means soup.  Soup in epic proportions.

So, I will ask your forgiveness, readers, for posting about soup three times in a row…but I never turn down an invitation to cook with friends.  When my close friend Karissa, geographically far (but always close in mind), invited me to make pumpkin soup, I had to accept.

You see, Karissa lives in Morocco.  Although Skype and e-mail suffice for now, I miss the simple things that make up our friendship, like browsing and chatting over tea at the bookstore…random photography excursions…double-dates and speed scrabble with the husbands…and most of all, cooking good food together.

I admired Karissa’s charming white pumpkin, gifted by her co-worker Imane, and journeyed to the last farmers market of the year to find my own pumpkin–an heirloom variety with plenty of character of its own.

I found this delightful lad at the farmer’s market.  He just wouldn’t leave without his friend, a precocious little butternut squash, so I relented and took both home.  As I marched through the un-raked leaves on my walkway, satisfied with the crunch beneath my feet, I felt as if Fall had finally arrived.

My pumpkin soup embodies everything I love about Fall:  rich roasty flavors, comfort-food spices like cinnamon and allspice, and the aroma of sage-browned butter–a combination I crave like clockwork every year during the colder months.

This pumpkin soup tastes best when eaten with friends; so whether your friend lives next door, or in Casablanca, Morocco (many of Karissa’s friends, ironically, fit both of these criteria), share a few spoonfuls!

Roasty Pumpkin-Butternut Soup with Frizzled Sage Leaves

Serves 4-6 as a main course

For the Soup:

  • 1 small/medium pumpkin (3 pounds)
  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds), halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 fresh sage leaves (for frying)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for roasting
  • 1/2 tsp allspice, divided
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper, plus extra to stir in at the end
  • 1 teaspoon real maple syrup
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt to taste

For the Croutons

  • 2 cups cubed bread (from a baguette or loaf of ciabatta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • a pinch of kosher salt

Prepare for roasting:

Preheat the oven to 425˚F.  Cut off the top of the pumpkin (like you do for Halloween), and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Cut the pumpkin into wedges and place on a baking sheet.  Cut the butternut squash into 3/4 inch thick slices and place on a separate baking sheet.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the pumpkin and squash.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and about 1 teaspoon kosher salt over the pumpkin and squash pieces.  Toss to coat.

Roast the Pumpkin and Squash:

Bake in the 425˚ oven for about 45 minutes, flipping the pieces over after 30 minutes.  You want your pumpkin and squash to be softened and lightly browned. (Keep a careful eye on the oven, because your butternut squash may cook faster than the pumpkin)

Allow to cool slightly before handling.

Build Your Soup:

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven or saucepan until butter is melted.  Wait until the mixture is hot, and then fry the whole sage leaves, 8 at a time  until the edges curl up slightly (the leaves will crisp further upon cooling). Remove to a paper towel-covered plate. At this point, the butter-oil mixture should be a light golden brown.

Saute the onion, carrot, celery, and chopped sage in the brown-butter mixture until the vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add the garlic, and saute for two more minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and squash, and add to the pan.  Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon allspice, a pinch of white pepper, and the maple syrup, and salt to taste.  Stir, then allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Make the croutons:

While the soup is simmering, set the oven to 350˚F.  Toss the bread cubes in the olive oil and salt, and bake on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

Finish the Soup:

Blend the soup together until smooth, adding additional broth if needed to reach the right consistency.

Serve while hot, garnishing with croutons and fried sage leaves.


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