Tag Archives: Butternut Squash

Super Soups! Fresh and Frozen

Our “soup freezer” broke down last month, all better now (thank you Charlie Groeter and Mary Anne to the rescue). In the process of pulling all the soups out we took stock of what we had. Now we know why our savviest customers walk in and head straight for the soups. We’ve got a pretty impressive collection to suit most anyone anytime. All our soups are made here with fresh stocks, herbs, vegetables and lots of love. It may sound trite but as any true cook will tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than making a delicious soup.

Often we have some of the stocks we make, chicken of course, but also a roasted chicken jus for making sauces or gravy and fish stock. Many are vegetarian, some are vegan, all are fresh, clean and delicious. The mix is constantly changing of course but to give you an idea we’ll run down a partial list:

  • Chicken Soup, far and away the best seller, they don’t call it Jewish penicillin for nothin’
  • Butternut Squash and apple, made with local cider and Granny Smith apples Carrot Ginger, smooth with lots of fresh ginger and yogurt
  • Italian Minestrone, rich with bean, tomato and packed with vegetables
  • Minestrone Verde, a green vegetarian version of the classic
  • Potato Leek, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes classic with chicken stock
  • Harira, spicy with lamb, barley, lentil with lemon, traditional to break fast of Ramadan
  • New England Clam Chowder, we steam fresh chowder clams ourselves!
  • Vegetable Beef, packed with vegetables and beef in a rich beefy broth
  • Curried Mussel, one of the most requested, check our specials menu for dates Chili con Carne, stew meat and ground meat with multiple layers of flavor
  • Turkey Black Bean Chili, a popular lighter version of chili con carne
  • Split Pea and Ham, simmered with smoked pork shanks

We take requests and are always happy to be reminded of something we haven’t made in a while. We also make and freeze Marinara, Putanesca, Bolognese and vodka sauce along with Lasagna and Mac n’ Cheese. Occasionally, you can find chicken pot pies or our chicken burgers with feta and olives in the freezer as well. Stop in, check it out, a couple of quarts of soup or a great sauce can be a real lifesaver if you get snowed in!

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Have you ever eaten a cloud?

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

Bread pudding has been a staple in our dessert case since we opened Bistro-to-Go three plus years ago. The sweet version made with chocolate croissants and bananas has been the most popular. Bread puddings are incredibly satisfying to make; it’s something about the process of transforming humble day old bread or croissants into something really special that I love. I never tire of making them!

For sometime now I’ve been contemplating a savoury bread pudding recipe. I’ve wanted to create a dish that would work not only here in our store but also for our catering menus – something for late summer and fall would be the best. A couple of weeks ago I made a butternut squash soup with caramelized onions, sage and Parmesan cheese and as I was making it I said to myself, “this is it –  this would make a great bread pudding”.

Start by peeling several butternut squash, then remove the seeds and cut into 3/4” cubes. Season with salt, pepper, chopped fresh sage and enough olive oil to coat. Put the squash cubes onto a cookie sheet and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until tender. While the squash is cooking, caramelize several finely sliced Spanish onions with fresh sage until soft, sweet and deep brown and set aside.

The next step is making the custard and soaking the bread. Place whole slices of bread in a buttered baking dish, then soak the bread with plain milk and cover lightly with grated Parmesan. If you have an old baguette (we freeze them when they’re day old and save them just for this purpose) cube it as if you were making croutons and put in a mixing bowl. Then in a separate bowl whisk together 4 whole eggs, two egg yolks, 1/2 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan with a pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and several cloves of roasted garlic for each quart of milk you are using. Pour this mixture over the cubed bread and let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Now it’s time to assemble the dish. Spread the caramelized onions on the bread layer in the baking dish, then add the roasted squash. Finish by pouring the soaked bread custard mix over everything. Adjustments in quantities of each element may need to be made to suit your size baking dish. The most important thing is that the bread is well soaked (wet) – a bit soupy even – otherwise your bread pudding will be dry.  This “recipe” is the kind I like best – one that give you the reader a chance to have fun and experiment! Consider adding some apples or pumpkin puree in the fall, or a different kind of cheese like Fontina….. you get the idea. Have fun and enjoy eating the cloud!