squash

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits

I have a confession to make…

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m a biscuit snob.

There.
I said it.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Over the past few years there has been a sudden explosion of “Southern” “Soul Food” restaurants in my little corner of North Brooklyn.

It would appear that fried chicken is the new cupcake. No, that’s not right. Gourmet doughnuts are the new cupcake.
Fried chicken is the new… burger?

Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t complainin’. I can’t fry chicken to save my life, and I LOVE fried chicken.
Every time I’ve tried to make it at home it’s come out under or over cooked, usually pretty greasy, and never as crispy as I’d like. There are very few recipes I’ve never been able to master, but I’d like to think I know when enough’s enough. At this point I’ve accepted defeat and decided it’s better to just leave the fried chicken to the professionals.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

The problem though, is that for all of the fried chicken professionals we have running around, I haven’t yet found a place where their biscuits don’t feel like an afterthought. It’s as if they know they have to serve biscuits because, like, they’re a chicken joint, but they don’t actually care about making sure they’re just as good as the chicken.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Instead of light, tender, flaky, delicate, pillowy, buttery little clouds of biscuits, most of the these so called chicken joints serve dense, tough little hockey pucks. Most of the time they serve them with a big ramekin full of honey butter, hoping you’ll slather so much on that you won’t notice there’s anything wrong. It makes me sad, and it doesn’t need to be this way.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know a lot of people are afraid of making biscuits at home. I know it’s easy to screw them up if you don’t know to use a delicate hand. I know a lot of people think of biscuits the way I think of fried chicken. I’m reminded of the words of wise old G. Dubya, “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”

Here’s the thing though. Biscuits are not that hard to get right. I promise you that they’re easier than frying chicken. Whether you’re at home on a Sunday morning, or slinging chicken in a busy hipster soul food restaurant, if you want a tender delicate biscuit the only trick is to treat them tenderly and delicately. It’s really that simple.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

It doesn’t matter how you get the butter into the flour, as long as it doesn’t melt in the process. You always want to keep that butter cold. I used to think a pastry blender was the only method gentle enough for a tender biscuit, but I’ve tried pulsing the butter in with a food processor, cutting it in with two knives, even mashing it in with a fork, and they all worked just fine.

I think the thing that really makes the biggest difference is how you mix the liquid into the flour. You want to gently stir and fold the liquid and dry ingredients together to moisten as much of the flour as possible without over mixing it. If a bit of the flour doesn’t want to mix in, don’t sweat it. To make sure you have super flaky layers you’ll want to fold the dough over on itself a few times, so you can mix that little bit of extra flour back in then.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

To add some extra flavor and interest, I took my old standard biscuit recipe and substituted some pureed roasted butternut squash for a bit of the buttermilk. This is a perfect recipe if you already plan to serve butternut squash at your Thanksgiving dinner. If you don’t, and you don’t want to take the time to roast the squash just for the biscuits, you can use canned squash if you can find it, or canned pumpkin if you can’t.

I also wanted to add the flavor of fresh sage to compliment the squash, but I didn’t really want to have large visible chunks of sage in the dough. I decided that the best way to evenly distribute the sage, and it’s fragrant earthy flavor, all throughout the biscuits would be to pulse the sage together with some brown sugar in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor though, just try to chop the sage as finely as you can.

The combination of fresh sage and roasted squash really adds wonderful earthy sweetness and depth that, to me at least, just screams fancy pants Thanksgiving dinner. Homemade biscuits are always a welcome addition to any meal, but this recipe is so quintessentially Autumnal that you’re guests are sure to be ooohing and aaahing over them all through dinner.

flaky butternut squash & sage biscuits | Brooklyn Homemaker

Flaky Butternut Squash & Sage Biscuits

  • Servings: 12-16 biscuits
  • Print
Roasted squash:
1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

Biscuits:
12 to 15 sage leaves
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup butternut squash puree (or pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream or melted butter

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Rub the cut side of the squash flesh with oil and place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast squash for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. Cool completely, remove the skin, and mash the flesh with a fork, or puree in a food mill or food processor.

Turn oven up to 450.

Combine the sage leaves and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and run until the sage is very finely chopped (you can also just chop the sage very very finely with a knife). Add flour, baking powder, salt, cram of tartar, ground pepper, and cinnamon and pulse to combine. Cut the cold butter into 1 inch chunks, add to flour, and pulse into small pea sized pieces (if you don’t have a food processor use a pastry blender). Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). Mix squash puree and buttermilk together, make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in buttermilk all at once. Gently stir and fold together with a fork until just moistened, and bring together in a ball with your hands. Do not try to mix the liquid into the flour in the food processor or your biscuits will be tough and dense.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently push dough out into a flat disk using your hands (or a rolling pin). Dust lightly with flour, fold in half, and gently roll or press back out. Repeat 5 or 6 times to create layers in your biscuits that will separate when baked. Roll or pat dough out to about 3/4 inch thick and cut into circles using a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter. Remaining dough can be recombined once, but no more or it will get tough. Recombined biscuits will not be as pretty or as flaky as the first batch, but they’re still worth it. Transfer biscuits to parchment lined baking sheets and brush tops with cream or melted butter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

coconut curry squash soup

Have you been outside lately? No? Good. Don’t do it.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not sure where you live, but if you live in the Northeast like me, specifically in New York City, then you know that this winter has officially been the worst. I’m no stranger to cold weather, I lived in the Adirondack mountains for several years, but New York City isn’t used to this amount of snow, especially not when it sticks around and piles up instead of melting after a day or two. The infrastructure of this great city is not designed to deal with this kind of build up and, much like the city’s inhabitants, there’s nowhere for it to go but up. The narrow strip of sidewalk between the road and the walkway carved out of the snow is the only place to put it, and in some places its reaching several feet high at this point.

To make matters worse, the weather has been pivoting back and forth between two stages lately. One day you’ll have complete white out snow coming at you from angles you didn’t know existed. Then the next day will be just warm enough for the piles of snow to start to melt, while simultaneously blocking all the storm drains, creating giant slush ponds at every cross walk in the five boroughs. Then we go back to white out conditions, the slush ponds freeze over, and we start the process all over again. When you consider that this is a city where most people who live here depend on public transportation and their own feet to get around, I’m sure you can imagine how all this snow and slush is starting to wear at people.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days ago it was looking pretty outside so I tried to wear a pair of less-than-waterproof leather boots to work. Call it hubris. Call it naiveté. Call it idiocy. Whatever you call it, I was out the door less than three minutes before my left foot was completely soaked. By the time I made it to work both my feet were soaked through and remained so for the entire day. If you’ve never tried to wear leather boots and thick wet socks while working on your feet for an eight-hour shift, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re considering it, trust me, it’s not what you might think. It’s not nearly as thrilling or dangerous as, say, spelunking, nor is it as relaxing as sitting in the sand and dipping your toes in the ocean.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

As you can imagine, these past few weeks have left me wanting warm, hearty, filling meals when I get home and wring out my socks.  That’s what led me to this soup. I love a creamy traditional squash soup in cold weather, but the way things have been going I wanted to brighten that concept up with some summery, fresh flavors and a bit of citrus and spice. I thought that something about this combination of flavors might help me forget about the frozen hellscape outside, and boy was I right. There’s something so hearty, homey and comforting about a thick, creamy winter squash soup. Rather than flavoring it with traditional autumn or winter flavors though, the tropical flavors of coconut and lime take this to a totally different place. Since these traditionally Asian flavors are usually associated with thin brothy soups, I was a bit worried that the two concepts might clash, but they actually work really really well together. When you take your first spoonful, if you close your eyes and taste the chili, coconut and lime, you can almost imagine you’re somewhere warm and tropical. So, I cranked the heat in my apartment, put on some flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, and did my best not to dive into the bowl face first.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Because I have to be difficult, I couldn’t just find a recipe online and leave it at that, I had to make some changes to make it my own. The original recipe called for butternut squash, but I thought it would be fun to try a mix of different squashes for a depth of flavor. Along with butternut, I also used a pretty green kabocha squash. The flavors work really nicely together, but even with small squashes, twice the squash meant twice the soup. The recipe below feeds eight people so, unless you’re feeding a crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half and choose one type of squash or the other. Both would be great on their own, so I’ll let you be the one to decide. The good news is that this soup freezes really well so, if you’re indecisive and want to make the full recipe, you can freeze your leftovers and pull a portion or two out on especially cold and crappy days.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another small change I decided to make was to use strips of ginger instead of grating it. Not only does this mean you save yourself the steps of peeling and grating the ginger, but it also means the finished soup has a slightly subtler ginger flavor. I love ginger but it can sometimes be a bit intense, so this way the strips steep in the soup as it cooks, and you pluck out them before you puree everything. I’d recommend that you count how many strips go into the pot so that you know how many need to come out at the end. If one or two elude you though, and make their way into the blender, it’s not really anything to worry about.

You will want to have a strong blender or immersion blender to make sure you get your finished soup completely pureed. For this soup you want the squash to add a creaminess, but don’t really want to have any chunks left since they’ll be kind of mushy. Since the finished soup is so silky, smooth, and almost drinkable, I think a garnish of fresh cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts or cashews adds a bit of texture and interest. Garnish or not, this soup is seriously delicious.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Oh hey friends! One last thing! If you’re as big a fan of Brooklyn Homemaker as I am, please vote for me for “Best Daily Read” cooking blog on theKitchn’s “The Homies”.  If I’m still in the top five at the end of the week, I’ll make it into the finals next week! So so exciting! Even if I don’t win, the exposure brings in lots of new readers, which is essential to the health of any good blog.
You’ll need to sign up for an account, but it only takes a second, and it means a lot to me. If you havent’ already, please show your support and vote for me here. And, seriously, THANK YOU!!! I never imagined I’d be doing so well so quickly when I started this blog last year. To be nominated, and to be doing so well, is such a  honor.
Okay, without further ado, the recipe…

Thai Coconut Curry Squash Soup

adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil in a pinch)
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 four or five-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced length-wise
4 tbsp red curry paste
6 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough cubes
1 small kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough cubes
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
juice of 3 limes, about 1/2 cup
1 tsp sriracha (less if you’re scared, more if you’re feeling spicy)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
chopped cilantro, if desired
chopped roasted peanuts or cashews, if desired

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat, add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, (counted) ginger slices and curry paste, stir until it is incorporated, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and add the cubed squash. Cover pot and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the squash is soft, about 30 minutes.

Once the squash is fork tender, turn off the heat, cool slightly, and very carefully pour the entire mixture into a blender, in batches. Blend until the soup is smooth and pureed. You could also do this with an immersion blender but be careful not to miss any squash. Pour the soup back into the pot and turn the heat to medium low. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, and sriracha. Stir well and cover, and cook for 10 minutes until it’s completely warm. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. If you’re feeling fancy, Garnish of chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts.