Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Platinum Chef is BACK

I mentioned I had taken a brief hiatus from blogging events, well I'm not the only one! One of my favorite events had also taken a break. Since it coincided with me taking the bar, I'd like to think it was put on hold for me, but in truth, I'm not the only one who was busy.

But now Platinum Chef is back, and better than ever. Okay, so maybe it hasn't changed at all, but you know that old saying "if it ain't broke....."

This round's five ingredients for the challenge are:
butternut squash

Now when I think of barley, only one thing comes to mind. Soup! I love barley in my soup and I know it has other uses, but again, "if it ain't broke...." I also love butternut squash soup, so it seemed like a given to add the barley into the soup. Except when I told my husband his response was "Barley goes in BROTH soups." I didn't realize there were soup rules or that he was the referee, but as luck would have it, I had a recipe for pumpkin and mushroom broth I was dying to try anyway. Take THAT Jon! It would be oh so easy to adapt this recipe by substituting butternut squash for the pumpkin and adding barley to the finished product. Cumin brings out the natural sweetness of squash so I thought adding it to the roasting would add to the fresh herbs that were being roasted alongside. Vanilla would complement the broth and the spice of the cumin. The only issue was the chickpeas.

I had an idea to make a sort of beernut out of the chickpeas by roasting them with some spices. In an ideal world these would have floated to the top for a lovely photo op. This is not an ideal world. Those suckers sunk to the bottom just like little anchors. Oh well, I knew they were there.

Butternut Broth with Barley

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 oz shitake mushrooms
4 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
5 Tbsp EVOO
garlic salt
cayenne pepper
12 sprigs thyme
10 sage leaves
6 garlic cloves (unpeeled!)
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp vanilla
shallots, thinly sliced
6 sprigs parsley
bay leaf
1/2 cup barley
1 can chick peas

1) Preheat oven to 375. Place butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet. Reserve a couple cubes.
2) Remove stems from 2 mushrooms, thinly slice the caps and set with reserved squash. Place stems and remaining mushrooms on baking sheet.
3) Julienne two large slices of the leek and place with sliced mushroom and squash.
4) Drizzle squash and mushrooms on baking sheet with 3 Tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and cumin. Toss to coat. Add thyme, sage, and garlic to sheet and toss to combine. Bake until squash is lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
5) Turn oven up to 450 and transfer roasted vegetable to large stockpot. Place hot baking sheet on stove burner over medium heat and add 1 cup water, scraping browned bits with wooden spoon. Add deglazed liquid to pot.
6) Add leeks, shallots, parsley, bay leaf, 12 cups of water, and vanilla. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes. Uncover, and raise heat to medium. Cook 15 minutes more. Pour through fine sieve into medium saucepan, discard solids.
7) Add reserved leek, mushroom, squash, and barley to saucepan and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until barley is cooked, about 40 minutes.
8) While soup is cooking, blot chickpeas with paper towels and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, garlic salt, and cayenne. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned.
9) Season soup with salt and pepper and top with roasted chickpeas.

4 Servings
Each serving has:

Calories 326.0
Total Fat 18.4 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 345.4 mg
Potassium 649.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 39.2 g
Protein 5.0 g


  1. I have missed Platinum Chef! Your contribution looks great.

  2. YUM! looks great!

  3. Never had butter nut before. This looks good.

  4. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Seriously.

    I would have NEVER thought of that!