Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter

While unloading my CSA box, I spoke with another member about what she was making with all of the butternut squash we were receiving in our share. She said that there was no better way to use it than this soup! It was a great recommendation.

This recipe was adapted from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon,” via The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. Hesser described it as “astonishingly flavorful and complex.” It was creamy, silky, and incredibly delicious. I made it for my mom on her birthday! 🙂 It would also be wonderful as part of a holiday meal.

I loved that it incorporated leeks, shallots, and yellow onions- and brown butter, of course. The toppings also gave it a lovely presentation.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 3-to-3½-pound butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (about 2 leeks)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, more if needed
  • Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves or cheesecloth
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1½ teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast until completely tender, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
  3. Meanwhile, using a paring knife, peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
  4. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and thinly slice into half moons. Soak in a bowl of water. Using a slotted spoon, lift from the top before using.
  5. Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the diced squash, garlic, 11/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring.
  7. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  9. Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  10. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni.
  11. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and purée. Alternatively, use an immersion blender in the pot.
  12. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  13. Place the crème fraîche in a small chilled bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk until the crème fraîche holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.
  14. Gently reheat the soup until just hot. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.
  15. Heat a medium skillet or butter warmer medium-over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup — keep a safe distance, it may sputter — then stir.
  16. Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and sprinkle on the chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Roasted Rutabaga & Pears with Browned Butter, Honey & Rosemary

I considered making this side dish as part of our Thanksgiving feast but was unsure if the bag of root vegetables I received in my CSA share contained rutabagas or turnips! I didn’t want to take the risk. 😉

The interior of a rutabaga is a creamy yellowish-orange versus a turnip which is very white inside. Rutabagas are also much more mild and sweet in flavor compared to a turnip which can be spicy like a radish.

This recipe was adapted from 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I modified the method and proportions. I loved the combination of the starchy caramelized roasted rutabagas with the sweet pears and browned butter. Very nice.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 T salted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 T minced fresh rosemary, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 ripe but firm Bosc pears (about 1 pound), unpeeled, quartered, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 T honey
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar OR cider vinegar OR white wine vinegar
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium, melt the butter; remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of rosemary, 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
  4. Add the rutabaga and toss to coat, then distribute in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet; reserve the bowl.
  5. Roast the rutabaga for 15 minutes on convection or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven.
  6. Meanwhile, in the same bowl, toss the pears with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter; set aside.
  7. Set the pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter over medium and cook the butter, occasionally swirling the pan, until the milk solids at the bottom are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 1 minute.
  8. Off heat, whisk in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary, the honey, vinegar and generous 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; transfer to a heat proof bowl, cover and set aside.
  9. When the rutabaga has roasted for 20 minutes, add the pears to the baking sheet and toss to combine with the rutabaga. Roast until a skewer inserted into the rutabaga and pears meets no resistance and the rutabaga is well browned, 10 to 12 minutes; stir once about halfway through.
  10. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, immediately drizzle the rutabaga and pears with the browned butter mixture and toss to coat.
  11. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish. (I sprinkled fine sea salt over the top of the dish.)

Toffee Sandwich Cookies with Almonds & Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling

WOW. My daughter declared that these are the best cookies I have ever made!

They are composed of crispy and crunchy, thin toffee cookies sandwiched with fabulous brown-butter buttercream. The filling is the perfect complement to the toffee flavored cookies.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I modified the method and increased the amount of filling. I also used toffee with chocolate- now I’ll have to try them without as well. Amazing!

The original recipe notes that these cookies are ideal for shipping and sharing because they have a long shelf life. They didn’t last very long in my house! 😉

Yield: 34 to 36 sandwich cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 227 g (about 1 1/2 cups) English toffee bits, preferably without chocolate (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)(I used Trader Joe’s Toffee Chips with both dark and milk chocolate, coarsely chopped)
  • 112 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 3 T (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, white and yolk separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (224 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) sliced almonds, or more, for garnish

For the Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling:

  • 16 T (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp plus a pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a food processor, process the toffee bits, sugar, baking soda and salt until the toffee is mostly ground and the mixture is sandy, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer the toffee mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
  3. Add butter, egg white and vanilla. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy and fluffy, stopping once to scrape the bowl and paddle, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add flour, and mix on medium-low until the mixture comes together into a soft dough, about 30 seconds.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before proceeding. (I wrapped each disk in plastic wrap.)
  6. Dust a piece of parchment paper and dough with flour. Top with a second piece of parchment paper.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick between the two sheets of parchment (the thickness of two stacked pennies), turning the dough frequently to ensure it moves freely, dusting with more flour as needed. Each sheet of dough will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
  8. Place the dough on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out cookies from one sheet of dough. Using an offset spatula, transfer rounds to a parchment paper lined rimmed sheet pan, placing another sheet of parchment paper between layers. (I stacked the rounds between sheets of plastic wrap but it was slightly difficult to remove them once frozen- parchment paper seems like a better plan.)
  10. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough.
  11. Gather and knead together any scraps, refreeze and re-roll, repeating until all the dough has been rolled out for a total of about 68 to 72 cookies.
  12. Wrap the rounds of dough on the sheet pan with plastic wrap; freeze on sheet trays for at least 30 minutes before baking. (Alternatively, once the cookies have firmly frozen, stack them between parchment in a freezer-safe container or zipper-lock bag for up to 3 months.)
  13. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  14. Whisk together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly brush on the tops of half (34 to 36) of the chilled cookies.
  15. Sprinkle the yolk-brushed cookies with almonds, pressing gently to adhere.
  16. Bake the cookies until deeply browned like a pretzel, switching the sheet trays from top to bottom and rotating from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes. (I simultaneously baked 3 pans of 12 cookies each for 10 to 11 minutes on convection.)
  17. Bake the remaining cookies (without almonds) at the same temperature for the same duration.
  18. Let cookies cool completely on the sheet pans.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Set a piping bag in a tall and narrow container, like a deli quart container, and fold over the top edge to secure.
  2. Flip over the cookies without almonds. (You need to pipe the icing onto the cookies immediately after mixing, so make sure you are set up.)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking butter, stirring and scraping frequently with a stiff silicone spatula, until the sputtering has subsided and the butter solids look deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the butter and any brown bits into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl if mixing by hand).
  5. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Sift over the powdered sugar.
  7. With the paddle attachment, mix on low until creamy and combined, about 1 minute, stopping once during mixing to scrape the bowl and the paddle. (You can also mix with a stiff silicone spatula until creamy and combined.)
  8. Transfer the icing to the piping bag and cut a 1-inch wide opening at the tip. (I used a round piping tip instead.) The icing will be warm and fluid.
  9. Pipe a scant tablespoon of filling onto a flipped cookie and immediately top with an almond-topped cookie.
  10. Gently press to adhere so that the filling reaches the edges of the cookie.
  11. Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Salted Brown Butter Birthday Blondies

My daughter is a blondie girl. ❤ We enjoyed these amazing no-frills blondies as part of her 15th birthday celebration this year.

The original recipe is titled Caramel Canvas Blondies in Midwest Made: Big Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever, one of my favorite books. Sever comments that they are known by many other names such as Butterscotch Bars or Toffee Bars in Midwest community cookbooks.

The salted caramel-esque base could easily accommodate any add-in but my birthday girl requested this minimalist version. 🙂 Classic, crowd-pleasing deliciousness.

Yield: about 2 dozen bars

  • non-stick cooking spray, for pan
  • 384g (3 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 480g (2 cups plus 2 T, firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, fridge cold
  • 1 large (20g) egg yolk, fridge cold
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups or 339g) unsalted butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 to 3 cups (about 300 to 450g) chocolate chips, nuts, candy bits, or other mix-ins, optional
  1. Make the Brown Butter: Place the butter in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Cook until foaming, amber in color, and until the milk-solids brown and separate, about 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl to cool.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 325 F (170 C), preferably on convection.
  3. Spray a 9×13-inch (23×33 cm) metal baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 opposite sides. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and flaky and fine salt.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla until lighter in color and texture, about 1 minute.
  6. Whisk in the cooled browned butter.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture just until no dry floury streaks remain.
  8. Fold in mix-ins, if using. Stir until just combined.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use and offset spatula to smooth the top.
  10. Bake until the blondies are fragrant and golden, with a slightly glossy surface and a raised, wrinkled perimeter beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  12. Using the parchment paper, lift the blondies out of the pan to transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars of desired size.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Brown Butter Asparagus & Peas

This dish is a fresh and healthy springtime meal. It was also very quick and easy to prepare. I served the salmon and vegetables over rice, making it a complete meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kay Chun. I used Meyer lemons and modified the method and proportions. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pound salmon fillet, with or without skin (I used skinless)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds asparagus, tough stems trimmed, stalks sliced 1/4-inch-thick on a slight bias (leave tips whole)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste, plus wedges for serving (I used Meyer lemons)
  • 3 T drained capers
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • white Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; lightly coat with cooking oil spray.
  2. Arrange the salmon “skin side-down” on the baking sheet. Rub the top surface of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the salmon in the preheated oven until medium, 10 to 15 minutes. (I roasted mine for 12 minutes on convection roast.)
  4. While the salmon roasts, prepare the asparagus: In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium to medium-high heat. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  5. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a plate.
  6. Reduce heat (if set to medium-high) to medium and add butter to skillet. Cook, stirring, until foam subsides and butter is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be careful not to burn).
  7. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, capers, peas, parsley and cooked asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide rice, if using, and vegetables among plates. Top with salmon and spoon over any remaining pan sauce.
  9. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

Cinnamon Roll Blondies

One of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done is to “join” baking groups on Facebook. The beautiful baked goods that are shared make me feel compelled to bake and to try cookbooks that are raved about.

This recipe is from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer. This book has a major fan base online. I’m only one recipe in and am already a huge fan. 🙂

Baked goods that involve cinnamon-sugar are a crowd-pleaser in my house so selecting cinnamon roll blondies out of this book was an obvious choice. These blondies had the added bonus of incorporating nutty brown butter too. I weighed the ingredients when possible. Fabulous!

Yield: One 9×13-inch pan, about 24 small blondies

For the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  • 2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz (113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt (I used coarse salt)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

To Make the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) baking pan and line with a parchment sling. (I used a metal baking pan.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons (170g) of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and smells nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons (57g) butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming.
  6. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  8. Transfer the butter-egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth into an even layer. Set aside while you make the toppings.

To Make the Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.

To Make the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  1. In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.

To Assemble:

  1. Dollop the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar over the top of the brown butter blondie batter base in the prepared pan, alternating between the two.
  2. Drag the tip of a butter knife through the batter, creating swirls. (I created swirls parallel to the length and the width of the pan.)
  3. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies comes out with only a couple of crumbs. (The testing spot should be in a central location that does not have the toppings because they will appear wet when the base is fully baked.)
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into bars.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. (We placed a few in the refrigerator and they were also absolutely fabulous chilled.)

Pasta With Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, & Parmesan

This is another wonderful weeknight pasta that uses simple ingredients. I was excited to make it while Meyer lemons are still readily available. The lemon added brightness which had a nice contrast to the richness of the browned butter and cheese.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I used a mandoline to slice the lemon into 1/8-inch thick (thin) rounds. I loved that the original recipe called for “an almost ridiculous amount of pepper.” I’m a huge fan. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 lb. short tube pasta, such as paccheri or rigatoni (I used mezzi rigatoni)
  • coarse salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
  • 1 small regular lemon or Meyer lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed (I used a mandoline)
  • 1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling generously salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).
  2. Meanwhile, heat half of the butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium until melted.
  3. Add lemon slices and cook, stirring often, until softened and bottom of pot is browned in spots, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, transfer one-third of lemon slices to a plate; set aside.
  5. Just before pasta is al dente, scoop out 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid to butter sauce. (This may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.)
  7. Add remaining butter a piece at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding more, until the sauce is emulsified and creamy.
  8. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
  9. Cook, stirring often and adding the grated Parmesan a little at a time.
  10. Once all of the cheese is added, continue to cook, still stirring, until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy and clings to pasta, about 3 minutes. If sauce looks very thick, add more pasta cooking liquid 1–2 Tbsp. at a time to thin (saucier is ideal as it will thicken as it cools).
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper (about 2 tsp.); toss once more.
  12. Serve pasta topped with reserved lemon rounds and more Parmesan.

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