When I moved to D.C. back in January, everyone kept telling me that I brought Chicago with me. Sometimes I believe them–especially on days when it looks like this: I thought by moving here, I would escape snow in March–but I guess like the best laid plans, this one was also destined to fail.
When I heard a storm was coming through, I did what any self-respecting D.C. resident would do–I rushed to the grocery store. I bought ingredients for two recipes I’ve been meaning to try for a while, but kept putting off: apple sage Gruyere muffins and butternut squash soup.
The recipes come from one of my favorite blogs, “Cannelle et Vanille.” Food writer and stylist Aran Goyoaga is originally from Basque Country, and her recipes reflect her childhood in rural Spain. Many of them are also gluten-free–including the one for apple sage Gruyere muffins. I usually shy away from gluten-free recipes; partly because I don’t want to spend extra money buying all the special ingredients, and also because I have a strong affinity for flour.
So in this case, I decided to make a compromise: I bought brown rice flour and potato starch, but I decided to add all-purpose flour in place of millet. I also left out tapioca starch and xanathan gum, and double the potato starch instead.
I was a little nervous about how the finished product would turn out–making substitutions in baking is a risky business. But in the end, the muffins were delicious: The cakes were moist and fluffy, the outsides were golden brown, and you could taste the slightest hint of Gruyere and sage. The sweet bits of gala apple complemented the savory cheese and herbs.
To go with the apples, I made butternut squash leek soup. Usually when I make soup, it’s the kind that involves adding water or broth–so it’s much lighter in consistency. This soup was thick and creamy, but it didn’t have any cream. The combination of potatoes, butternut squash, leeks and vegetable stock created a soup with a velvety consistency–almost like mashed potatoes with extra butter and milk. As I was eating a bowl for lunch today, I thought of the word “velouté.” It’s the French word for soup that’s thickened with butter and flour, and I used to buy boxes of it when I lived abroad.
These are the perfect dishes to eat during a snowstorm that comes out of nowhere, or on a day when you need a comforting dish. My only warning is that the muffins go fast–so if you’re sharing them with someone, be sure to reserve a few for yourself.
Apple, Gruyere and Sage Muffins (adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbs potato starch
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried sage
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 apples, peeled and small diced
In a large bowl, whisk together the first 11 ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and olive oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined. Fold in the diced apples.
Scoop batter into molds. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Leek, Butternut Squash and Potato Soup
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup (1/2 leek), diced
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 tsp salt
3 cups vegetable stock
In a medium pot, saute the leeks and garlic in the olive oil for about 2 minutes. Do not let them brown. Add the squash and potatoes and saute them for another minute. Add the vegetable stock and salt. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook them covered for about 20 minutes.
Puree the soup in a blender (or with a hand blender) and taste it. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with cracked black pepper.