Fall is the perfect time for comfort foods

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, football, the colors, my birthday and most of all, all the wonderful comfort foods. This past weekend, Susan and I hosted the Eastern Iowa Wine Club at our home. It was an enjoyable evening with good friends, food, and really good wine. It was also an opportunity for me to cook some of these comfort foods that I really enjoy. The night’s menu consisted of a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup, Wine Braised Short Ribs, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The hit of the night was the soup.

I am of the opinion that people need to eat more squash. It is versatile, delicious and so very good for you. There isn’t too much you can’t do with squash. Here is a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup creation I came up with for the night. Please bear in mind that I was cooking for 16 people. If you half this recipe you should be good with plenty left over. It is every bit as good warmed up.

Ingredients

Approximately 8 pounds of roasted butternut squash
Three carrots
Three stalks celery
Two small to medium sized onions
Several cloves of garlic
8 cups chicken broth
Olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
Two canned Chipotle peppers.

Directions

Roasting the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice squash length wise in half and scoop out seeds. Rub olive oil over cut side of squash and place face up on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg. Roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Making the soup
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and sauté until soften, about 10 minutes. Scoop flesh from roasted butternut squash into pot. Add chicken broth and diced Chipotle peppers along with some adobe sauce from peppers. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Working in small batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Stir in cream and serve.

Here is what I did for the Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs. I served them over a Rosemary Thyme Whipped Potato. Again, the following recipe was for 16 people. You will want to cut this recipe down.

Ingredients

Approximately 16 pounds of beef short ribs
6 carrots thickly sliced
6celery stalks thickly sliced
2 medium sized onion coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil
2 750ml bottle of decent hearty red wine
Rosemary
Thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Season ribs with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a large dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. Remove ribs and clean out pot. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened; about 4 minutes. Add the Rosemary and Thyme and pour in the bottle of wine. Brink to boil. Add ribs back and cover pot with lid. Place into oven. Let braise for 3 hours.

Serve with potatoes, rice, noodles or some other starch.

I know, I know, most people turn their nose at Brussels sprouts. That is more than likely because all they have ever eaten are bitter, boiled sprouts. Roast these puppies until they begin to caramelize and you have a totally different and delectable treat. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

Brussels spouts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano (aged at least 18 months)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the stem end off of each sprout and remove the outer leaves. Add enough olive oil to evenly coat the sprouts. Season sprouts with Kosher salt and pepper. Then drizzle Balsamic vinegar over sprouts. Roast sprouts for about 40 minutes stirring about every 10 minutes until they are evenly brown. Shred Parmigiano Reggiano over sprouts and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and serve.