Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup Season!

Butternut Squash Soup

A beautiful reminder holiday season is here.
Butternut Squash Soup Shooters - Caylena 2016.
Growing up in California I enjoyed Thanksgiving, though it wasn’t until my first East Coast Thanksgiving in 1999, that I truly fell in love with the Holiday Season!  Weather changes, seasonality of food, and traditions that really have made it all the more special! I look forward to Butternut Squash Soup season every year! Now that it has become part of my tradition, I enjoy it wherever I am.  
I’ve made butternut squash soup a dozen different ways thru the years, have eaten it more so… this recipe is generally my go to and favorite. I tend to make this one with a bit more herb and spice to even out that sweetness from the squash. This is a great way to start a party off as a shooter like above as people arrive - which is also easier for hosting and cleaning after. Or you can serve it more traditionally in a bowl for sit down of course. Either way, it’s a wonderful start to a festive gathering.
This is a very easy dish to make. Take your time and make it right. Follow the steps, there are a lot,  and be patient while the flavors develop. You should make it in advance so that it’s not worrisome the day of.  This reheats well and time allows the flavors to mature. If it’s too thick you just add a bit of stock while reheating.
For the garnish - you can get as creative as you’d like. I love to serve it with duck or squab confit! That of course is very elegant, you can roast pumpkin seeds or others and add spice to them, fried sage, or here simple chives over crème fraîche with nutmeg, is simply perfect.


Serves 6,  x3 if serving as shooters Difficulty: Moderate/Easy
*Note in my pictures, the recipe is doubled.
  • 3lbs - 4lbs Butternut Squash. (1 large or 2 smalls)
  • 6-8 cups Veg broth (I use Chicken broth)
      • Reserve 2 cups for reheating
  • 2 large Leeks - white & green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 large White Onion - diced
  • 2 medium Carrots - diced
  • 2 medium Shallots - diced (same amount as onion)
  • 6 cloves Garlic - crushed
  • 4 Sage sprigs
  • 1 Bouquet Garni ( in cheesecloth wrap: 8 sprigs Thyme, 4 sprigs Parsley, 2 Bay leaves, ½ tsp Black Peppercorns)
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil Blend -or- Canola Oil
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ tsp ground Nutmeg
  • Salt & Ground Pepper - plenty! Don’t be stingy!
Garnish:  ¼ cup Crème fraîche & 1 tsp ground Nutmeg mixed together - kept cool.
  • Chopped Chives & Olive Oil
Note * this soup will get sweeter the longer it rests in the fridge, so don’t worry if it seems a bit too peppery - I’ve adjusted the recipe for it to balance out as the squash develops.

How it’s done

Read all the way thru first so you know what’s next as it comes.
This is very easy to make though it takes time, and time is what you need to make it perfect.
  1. Preheat oven to *350F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut off the neck of squash - about 2-3 inches from top off, set aside.
  3. Cut the Squash in half long wise.
    1. Use a spoon and scrape out all seeds out and stringy bits, throw away.
    2. Using ½ the oil, coat the flesh of the squash, and generously season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
    3. Cut a small insert in the squash’s center, and tuck a sprig of sage in the center of each halve.
  1. Flip over, flesh side down, skin up. Roast 1 hour or until tender.
  1. Meanwhile, remove skin from the squash neck, using a knife. Don’t get crazy or cut yourself, just cut the edges like you would crust off bread. Then cut into small dice - uniformly for cooking, don’t worry if not perfect, you’ll puree it later.
  1. In a Stock Pot - put remainder oil over Med-High. Add the onions, shallots, carrots, and leeks. Cook until tender, stirring often. (about 8 minutes.)
  2. Add Squash, garlic, red pepper, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper - cook another 5 minutes. Watch out for garlic and squash - not to burn - turn heat down if need. Now add honey - cook another 3 minutes.
  1. Finally add stock and Bouquet Garni - bring to a simmer, cook for another 25 minutes, stir occasionally.
  1. Once the roasted Squash has finished cooking, and is cool enough to handle, remove flesh with a spoon, throwing the sage and skin away.
Try not to eat it all now!
  1. Put the roasted squash in the stockpot (after step 6 is completed.) Gently simmer for another 30 minutes letting all flavors meld together.
  1. Once finished remove bouquet garni, and then puree soup in batches.  
Be careful when blending hot soup! Make sure to use a cup to pour into blender, do not fill over ⅔ full, and make sure lid is on tight. Do not release any part of the top until liquid has completely stopped moving.
  1. Take a fine sieve, or tamis, or strainer - thin as you have, pour soup thru into clean pot.
  2. Taste for salt & pepper, adjust.
  1. If reheating later - cool, cover,  and place in fridge. Once ready to serve, add additional stock if needed then continue from here. If continuing on, put over heat until very gently simmers. Continue to stir not to burn bottom or sides.  
  2. NOW is the last chance to check for salt and pepper until you eat it. The brown butter will finish and make the dish rich and creamy with a hint of nutty from the hazelnut butter. This will add a whole new dimension to the soup.
  1. When ready to serve: In a saute pan take butter over med-high eat, melt and watch as is turns hazelnut brown - swirling with handle gently until bubbles dissolve and butter has browned. Remove immediately after hazelnut brown or it will burn very fast at this point.
    1. Take the butter and pour over soup, getting all the brown bits on the pan. Turn heat off. Stir soup gently until all butter is incorporated.
  1. Plating: Put in your shooter cups, or soup bowls, while hot.
    1. Use a spoon or put in a ziplock bag, cut the corner, and use as a pastry bag to pipe out dollop of cream.
    2. Drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle chives.
Your finished! You’ve done it! Yes this is a very long process, but a gorgeous dish well worth it and one to be proud of! I hope this makes it to your holiday or seasonal traditions, as it has mine.
#ButternutSquashSoup #Vegetarian #Vegan #GlutenFree #DIYSoup #Thanksgiving #FallDishes #Autumn #HolidayMenu #ChefCaylena #FoodPorn # FoodStyling #PartyFood #Entertaining #Soup  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ricotta Gnocchi

Ricotta Gnocchi!

Enjoy a lite and delicious Gnocchi this summer with sweet corn, arugula, and truffle oil!
Take the pride in serving something you completely made from scratch and rolled out by hand. You can make the Gnocchi up to 3 days in advance or even freeze it until ready to use. And then the cooking process is very quick and easy, and well simply beautiful.

Ingredients for Ricotta Gnocchi

Yields: 4-6 entree
  • 2 cups Ricotta (1 pound)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup all - purpose flour to roll out and coat dough
    • NOTE: If using fresh Ricotta - this might be dryer than store bought. Add ¼ cup milk to mixture. See image below to see if necessary.
*Make it extra special and follow my easy recipe for your own homemade Ricotta!

Ingredients for Dinner

  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Sweet Corn kernels - Cooked. (canned or frozen is just fine.)
  • 4 cups Arugula
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan (plus more for garnish)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Black (or white) Truffle Oil for finishing. (flavored olive oil is fine.)
  • Parsley for garnish

For the Gnocchi

This is a two part process. First you boil the rolled out dough, then you finish cooking in a pan. You can make in advance and freeze, or hold in refrigerator for 3 days after the boil process.

  1. Start with mixing all ingredients together until completely incorporated forming a Wet Dough. (Get your hands dirty!)
  1. Coat cutting board with flour. Coat hands.
  1. Work dough in small batches. Start with a ball, coat in flour so it’s dry enough to roll out into ropes. -Using hands for whole process. Keep covered in flour.
  1. Cut to desired size - no more than 1 inch because these will swell and get larger rather than smaller when cooked. Use knife or bench scraper to keep clean edges.
  1. Boil large pot of water with Tons of salt - salty like the sea.
  2. Drop in batches, swirl at first so they won’t stick, then leave them be for a couple of minutes. The timing is different on sizes, basically the dumplings are going to float when finished, let float for no longer than 30 seconds.
You can bite into it, and will be soft and delicious.
  1. Use a slotted spoon to pull out as ready, set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Dish

For this dish you can cook in batches. But don’t worry - it goes very quick, so you can still serve all at the same time. The trick is to build as you go, and have all your plates, and mise en place.
  1. Take a large frying pan and melt butter over High heat. Turn down to Medium once the butter starts to foam and brown - Noisette: when the milk produce separates and browns.
  1. Put in Gnocchi - don’t over crowd pan but enough to brown all sides of Gnocchi. -Great time to practice your pan flipping skills. Make sure the brown butter bits coat Gnocchi & Do Not Over Cook- gently pan sear.
  1. Add cheese. Toss
  1. Add Corn Toss - Do not let this pop and turn into popcorn! Just enough to reheat the corn.
  2. Salt, Pepper, and handful of Arugula - Toss and turn off heat instantly. You do not want to wilt the lettuce.
  1. Plate: pouring excess butter as dressing. Drizzle truffle oil, cheese, and parsley - serve immediately.
#Ricotta #RicottaGnocchi #Gnocchi #SummerCooking #SummerCorn #SummerGnocchi #FoodPorn #Foodie #FoodStylist #FoodPhotography #DIYGourmet #ItalianCuisine #FromScratchCooking #HomemadeGnocchi #ChefCaylena

Monday, August 1, 2016

Make your own Ricotta!

Make your own Ricotta!

Simple, easy, fresh, organic, and beautiful.

Start here and turn it into something beautiful like homemade Gnocchi…
Easy Simple Makes 1lb.

  • Juice 1 Meyer Lemon
  • 1 Gallon 2% Milk
  • 1 Qt Buttermilk (reserve ¼ Cup)
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • You will need Cheesecloth - if you can’t find ask your butcher or meat dept for some.


  • Place milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, and small into a small pot.
    • Bring to a boil.
    • stir constantly not to burn milk or it’s all over!
  • Once start to boil - drop heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Stirring occasionally avoiding sticking and scorching.
  • When the curds start to form and float to the top, turn off heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Dampen the cheese cloth, and lined bowl or strainer.
  • Carefully pour curds over cheesecloth

  • After drained, pour the remainder buttermilk on top slowly to let absorb.
  • Tie around large spoon, and let hang over dripping bowl for about 1 hour.
  • Remove cheesecloth, and refrigerate until chilled. Cover until ready to use - up to 3 days.

#FreshRicotta #FreshCheese #HomemadeCheese #Ricotta #DIYGourmet #CaylenasCourses #ChefCaylena