Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1-1/4 LB potatoes, peeled and diced 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1 QT vegetable stock 2 TSP lemon juice 2 TBSP brown sugar 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped 1 Pint cream 2 TSP curry powder 2 TSP curry powder

In large heavy pot, melt butter on low heat.  Add onions, squash, potatoes and carrots.  Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are translucent but not brown, about 1 hour.  Add vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add cream and curry powder.  Use hand blender and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Birthday Wine+Food Extravaganza

When Mrs. B's birthday was approaching, I asked her what she wanted to have for dinner.  My offer was to make anything and open any bottle of wine, because that's how we roll in Chéz Bakas. She just said she wanted some sort of cream based pasta and that's it.  I ended up making 2 courses because it was a school night, and she didn't get home until almost 8pm.  So here's what we had:

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Créme D'asperges Soup

paired with P Gimmonet Brut Champagne

2 lbs asparagus 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 potato (wrap in a towel and microwave for 5 minutes, cut into cubes) 6 cups chicken broth 3 TBSP butter 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 TSP fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup créme fraîche or heavy cream 3/4 TSP sea salt 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper

Cut tips from a dozen asparagus

Cut asparagus into 1/2" pieces (not the base of each stalk - flavor is bitter). Cook onion, potato and garlic in 2 TBSP butter in large pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are soft. Add 6 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered until asparagus is soft - about 20 minutes.

Purée soup in small batches (seriously! small batches.  I burned the @#$* out of my hand when the top of the blender popped off).  Tranfer small batches into a large bowl.  Once all soup has been puréed into a smooth texture, pour back into the pot and add créme fraîche.  Add more broth to thin if needed.  Bring just to a boil and whisk in 1 TBSP of butter.

Add lemon juice, then serve garnished with reserved tips.

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Linguine with Lemon Orange Cream and Crab Cake

paired with 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris

2 TBSP butter 3 shallots, minced 1 cup chicken stock (or broth) 2 TSP grated lemon peel 1 TSP grated orange peel 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper 1 cup frozen peas (thawed) 1 cup heavy cream 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice 12 oz Linguine (cooked) 3 TBSP fresh mint leaves, sliced thin salt and pepper fresh grated Parmesan cheese

For the crab cake I saved some time and picked one up from Whole Foods. My crab cake recipe of choice is here.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer over medium-high heat until it's reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add cream, lemon and orange peel and cayenne pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens—4 minutes.

Stir in peas, then simmer another 2 minutes.  Add in half the mint leaves and lemon juice.  Stir in cooked pasta until coated, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a large bowl or plate with crab cake on top, garnished with remaining mint leaves.  Add fresh grated Parmesan to taste.

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Grandma Jay's Hamburger Steak in Mushroom Gravy

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This is a recipe my Grandma made for my Mom, who in turn made it for us growing up.  Chances are we'll make this for our kids some day.  It's quick, easy and can be substituted with ground turkey.

INGREDIENTS

1 LB ground beef 1 egg 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs 1 TSP Worcestershire sauce 1 PKG dehydrated onion soup mix 2 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP flour 1 can mushrooms, drained (save juice) 1/8 TSP ea. Salt and Pepper

Mix meat, egg, crumbs, seasonings and half the dry soup mix together.  Shape into 4 patties and brown in a large skillet on both sides in oil.  Remove meat, set aside.  Blend flour into drippings, then add mushroom liquid plus enough water to make approx. 2 cups.  Cook until thickened and smooth, stirring occasionally. Add remaining onion soup mix plus mushrooms, cook 5 minutes, then add meat.  Heat meat in gravy, spooning gravy over top until desired serving temp.

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