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Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Soups & Stews on a Summery October Day

I woke this morning, made a pot of coffee, and then opened the door to let my dogs out. Considering that it's October 24, I was expecting a chilly blast once I sent Lucy & Mia on their way, but instead, I got a warm breeze! Not exactly the weather that makes people want to make Soups & Stews, but that's our class topic today! Who knew?

Even though it feels like late Spring, our students are still here in our beautiful kitchen, cooking up multiple batches of soup and a couple stews. Today's menu features New England Clam Chowder, Chicken Paprikash with handmade spaetzle, Moroccan lamb stew, chicken tikka masala, naan, and butternut bourbon soup!

Even if you find yourself grilling today, autumn will arrive sometime soon. Crisp fall afternoons and evenings are perfect for a piping hot bowl of soup. Good soup, like everything else, starts with good ingredients, including good stock. If you've never made stock, you might want to learn! Making stock isn't difficult, but it can be time-consuming. Still, nothing compares to stock that was made from scratch - you'll be forever spoiled and won't consider using canned or boxed broth again!

Our Culinary School Boot Camp class teaches students how to make stock, which the students later use to make a batch of soup or a foundational sauce.

Once you've mastered stocks, you're certain to make the best tasting soup you've ever had! One of our favorite recipes is our Bourbon Butternut Squash soup with Challah Crouton & Apple Cider Reduction. Served with a dollop of creme fraiche, this soup makes for a satisfying and simple meal. You might be tempted to skip the croutons, reduction and creme fraiche, but don't! The extra effort is definitely worth it! Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butter or pure olive oil for sauteing
4 medium shallots , minced
4 cloves garlic, minced

4 honey crisp apples, peeled and shredded
1 oz. fresh ginger, minced

Bourbon (enough for deglazing the pan)

3 pounds butternut squash (frozen, that have been thawed)
2 qts. chicken stock (reduced by 1/3)
3 cup Apple Cider, Reduced to ½ cup
Maple syrup, to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

Reduce the chicken stock by 1/3 to intensify the flavor. In a separate pot, do the same thing with the apple cider.

Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the shredded apple and the ginger. Caramelize this mixture.

Deglaze the pan with the bourbon and allow the alcohol to evaporate and reduce. Add the squash and chicken stock. Adjust the flavor with apple cider reduction and maple syrup as needed.

In blender (or food processor), puree squash and reserved liquid, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste; serve immediately.

1 loaf challah bread, crust removed and cubed
8 oz melted butter
salt and pepper

For the croutons:
Toss the cubes of challah with the butter. Spread onto a lightly sprayed sheet pan and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 350 until golden brown.

Apple Cider Reduction
4 cups apple cider
1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped shallots

For cider reduction:
Place cider, vinegar, and shallots in heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain; discard solids in strainer. Return cider mixture to pan.


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