9 Aug
Posted in: food
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Easy Peasy Focaccia and Butternut Squash Soup

It’s time. Since three days it’s been cloudy and grey outside. Boo. I’ve been busy with the boys; running to the doctors, getting them organized, trying to organize my house (that’s a constant) and trying to find the time when I can to express the million ideas running around in my head. I needed to get in the kitchen. I needed to let my brain relax and just spend time by myself.

This afternoon I knew it was coming. The boys settled down into their giant play area and this Sugar Darling went to work. First of all, I made a lovely, tangy butternut squash soup. It’s my favorite soup for winter. All it takes is about 15 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes of cooking. It’s so easy it’s a sin. (Recipe to follow). Then I made focaccia bread. It’s probably the second time I’ve made focaccia. I love it. I just never make it, and I always forget how easy it is. Total preparation time today for tonight’s dinner? a half hour. Here it is:

Tangy Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1″ cubes
1 large yellow (Spanish) onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
3 cloves garlic, skin removed, slightly chopped
1.5 tsp ginger
1 tsp all spice
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock
shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large heavy pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and let them sizzle until they become translucent. Add spices, mix around in the pot with the onions for about a minute. Add the carrots, squash and vegetable stock all at once. Let simmer, occasionally stirring. Once the squash is tender (approximately 30 minutes) remove from heat. Now, I like to drain 90% of the stock to a smaller bowl and keep to the side in case I need some more moisture in the soup later. I then take a hand blender and blend the vegetables, adding a little stock as needed. Do this according to your tastes. I like thick soup, so I don’t add that much back. I then do some taste testing, making sure that there’s a balance that I like. I kind of like this soup a little bit on the peppery side, so I like to add a bit of black pepper and some Parmesan cheese to serve.

No-Fuss Focaccia
1.5 cups warm water
1 tbsp instant dry yeast
1.25 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil (plus more to drizzle)
3.5 cups all purpose flour (I used 000)
a generous handful of black olives, pitted + chopped
generous handful of fennel seeds
sea salt to taste

Seriously, easiest bread in the world. Easier than no knead bread… Are you ready? Put the water, yeast, salt, olive oil and flour in a mixing bowl. Mix on high for about a minute. Scrape the sticky dough into a 9″ x 13″ pre-greased pan. I also happened to drizzle a bit of olive oil on the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and let it rest for an hour. After an hour, the dough will have risen a bit. Poke holes in the dough with your fingertips. Now, you may want to brush some olive oil on the top of the bread, that’s lovely. I then sprinkled the sea salt, fennel seeds and chopped black olives over the top and popped it into a 200 degree (Celsius) oven for about 40 minutes. Take it out of the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool further on a cooling rack.

Yes, I love you too. That’s why I gave you these recipes. 🙂

look at that yummy yummy olives and salt and fennel!

So, what do you think?