Cooking With Honey – Pumpkin Creme Brulee

pump creme brulee

It’s pumpkin season! It makes me happy to see them on sale everywhere.

It also inspires me to develop new honey recipes. This one is especially tasty!

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup honey

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

8 large egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 cup canned pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and honey . Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.)  Garnish with cinnamon and whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Cooking With Honey – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With Honey, Pancetta, and Fried Sage Leaves

butternut soup

There are wonderful butternut squash available in the local markets, and today, cool and sunny, is a perfect day to prepare this tasty soup!

It’s what I’m having tonight!!

Yield:  Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 (2 to 3-pound) butternut squash, halved with seeds removed

4 medium shallots, peeled and left whole

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 ounces pancetta (about 12 paper-thin slices), diced

1 cup diced leeks, white part only (about 1 large leek)

1/3 cup finely diced carrots (about 1 small carrot)

1/3 cup finely diced celery (about 1 small stalk celery)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon dry white wine, of drinkable quality

2 quarts rich chicken or vegetable stock, plus extra if needed

1 teaspoon honey, or to taste*

Splash of sour cream and/or hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup sage leaves

Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat the squash and shallots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt. Place  the squash and shallots onto the lined baking sheet and roast until the squash and shallots are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a small knife, about 40-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat; add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Remove from the heat, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside until needed.

Return the pan to the heat and add the leeks, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Cook until the wine has evaporated, then add the stock.

Scrape the squash pulp from the skin and add the pulp, the shallots (scraping up any browned bits) and honey to the pan; bring the stock to the boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and honey as desired. Keep the soup warm until service. (This is where you’d add the splash of sour cream to taste, if desired.)

For the Sage: In a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat 1-inch of oil to 365°F; fry the sage in batches, stirring to separate the leaves, until crisp, about 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season with fine sea salt while still hot.

For Serving: Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls or cups. Top each serving with some of the crispy pancetta and a few fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

*The honey doesn’t sweeten up the soup; it just enhances the caramel flavor of the roasted squash.

Vegetarian Honey Winter Vegetable Soup

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

One 35-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 quarts water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

One 2-by-2-inch piece Parmesan rind

7 ounces butternut squash, cubed

5 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, undrained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the squash and kale, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the beans, honey and red wine vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind and serve warm with shaved Parmesan.

Serve with hearty whole grain bread and a green salad.

Honey Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
4 carrots, peeled
½ pound parsnips, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
3/4 stick butter
9 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon mace
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Pitch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Cut the carrots and parsnips into small pieces, and scatter them, along with the onion, around the squash. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the squash with the honey and dot all over with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of the broth into the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake until all the vegetables are very soft, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove the foil and let the vegetables cool slightly. Scoop the squash out of the skins and place it in heavy soup pot. Add the other vegetables, juice from the pan and the remaining 6 ½ cups of broth. Season with the mace, crystallized ginger, cayenne and salt. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or by batches in a blender or food processor until it is very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add extra broth, if necessary, to thin it to the desired consistency. Heat it through. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen, but there is unlikely to be any soup leftover.

Serves 10

Honey Butternut Squash Cupcakes With White Chocolate Frosting

These cupcakes may very well be the best you will ever taste! There’s no need to tell your guests that they are made with butternut squash…

Cupcakes

1 cup of uncooked butternut squash (that’s about half of a medium-size squash), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (3oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking Soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup tightly packed, dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons half & half cream (or whole milk)

Directions

Prepare the squash: Place the butternut squash pieces into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 5-6 minutes, occasionally stopping to stir, until the squash is cooked (a fork should be able to easily go through a piece). Place the now-soft pieces of squash into a food processor or blender. Add 1 tsp. of oil. Pulse/puree until smooth. [Note: If you have a small food processor or blender, just puree half at a time.]

Measure out 3/4 cup of purée. (You may have some left-over that can be covered and refrigerated for another use.) Set aside the measured out 3/4 cup, and allow it to cool to room temp.

Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Melt the butter in a medium-size heavy bottom saucepan, over low heat until just melted. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown and develops a nutty fragrance. Keep a close eye on the butter, it can turn from brown to black in a matter of seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the butter to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine the butternut squash purée (3/4 cup), honey, brown sugar, egg, and cream. Whisk vigorously until well blended. Add all of the flour mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Try not to over mix.

Add the brown butter and gently whisk until smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top of a cupcake springs back when touched lightly.

Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces of high quality white chocolate
8 tablespoons (that’s 1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

Directions

Make a double-boiler: Place about 1/2-inch of water into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place the white chocolate into a large, heat proof bowl and place the bowl on top of the saucepan (be sure that it’s large enough to fit over the pan of simmering water without the bottom actually touching the water). Stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove the bowl off the saucepan and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand-held will work too), beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes on medium speed).

Gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed after each addition. [Note: I added the sugar in 1/2 cup increments.]

Once all the sugar has been added, beat in the milk and almond extract until well combined.

Add the cooled, melted white chocolate and beat on low until combined. If the frosting looks too thin, add about 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk.

If the white chocolate was still on the warm side when it was added to the bowl, simply refrigerate the frosting until it reaches a spreadable consistency…if you plan on piping it, this may take longer.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with walnuts, or cinnamon, or shaved chocolate.

yields 12 cupcakes

Butternut Squash Soup With Sage And Honey

Fresh sage enhances the flavor of the butternut squash. Top with creme fraiche, and serve with a warm loaf of crusty bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, 4 pounds
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 6 sage leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup creme fraiche

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Prick the squash with a fork and place it whole on a sheet pan. Roast for 45 minutes in the oven until the squash has softened. Cool the squash, then cut it in half and remove the seeds. Peel the halves and cut into 2-inch chunks. Reserve.

Peel, trim, and coarsely chop the onion. Reserve.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to brown, add the onion and saute until it is translucent and starts to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the honey to the onions and cook until it bubbles. Add the squash chunks and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover the squash by an inch. Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup until the onions and squash are very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add more liquid if necessary to keep the squash submerged.

Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender. Do not fill the blender more than two-thirds full or you risk having the contents explode. Allow the steam to escape by removing the center plug in the lid and covering the hole with a thick towel to protect your hand. Hold the lid securely down and lift the towel slightly to allow the pressurized air to escape as you blend.

Strain through a coarse strainer if you want a smoother soup or return it directly to the pan; season it with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the finished soup back to a boil.

Ladle it into bowls and serve with a spiral of creme fraiche, about 1 tablespoon per bowl.

Yield: 8 servings

Honey Pumpkin Bread

Today was such a perfect autumn day! Perfect for baking pumpkin bread. With honey! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, mix the honey, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Combine both mixtures and fold in the canned pumpkin. Once the ingredients are all incorporated pour into a non-stick 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. If your pan is not non-stick coat it with butter and flour.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. At this point a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.