Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Literary cooking: Calamansi muffins, butternut squash soup, and November cakes

So, lots of cooking this weekend! I made lots of stuff, actually, starting with calamansi muffins. You will recall these muffins from Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano, right? I made twice the recipe (because I had slightly over half a cup of calamansi juice) and baked half as an 8 x 8 cake and half as muffins, and from now on I may just bake this recipe as a cake, because I can’t always get the muffins to release from the muffin tin, but with a cake, no problem.

Then I made Martha Wells’ butternut squash soup, which she posted about on Facebook. It was very tasty and I may very well make it again — this fall, even. It’s the curry paste that makes this soup for me.

Since the recipe is given in a casual paragraph style on Facebook, let me give it here in a more formal way:

Martha Wells’ Butternut Squash Soup

Four strips bacon (or more, because hey, bacon)
1 large leek, cleaned and chopped
2 tsp red curry paste (or more, if, like me, you like spicy)
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
4-5 C. chicken broth
1/2 C sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt, which is what I always have on hand)
1 tsp cider vinegar, if desired, to brighten the flavor (I didn’t add this)

Cook the bacon until quite crisp and remove from the pot. Saute the leek for five minutes. Add the curry paste and saute, stirring, for one minute. Add the squash and chicken broth. Cook until the squash is very tender, about twenty or twenty-five minutes. Remove from the heat and puree. If you have an immersion blender, use that. If you don’t, this would be a great time to try one out, so why not buy yourself an early Christmas present and get one before you make this soup? Anyway, add the sour cream or Greek yogurt and blend to combine. Taste and add the vinegar if desired. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle each serving with some crisp bacon, and serve to general acclaim.

Okay, after the soup, I made Maggie Stiefvater’s November Cakes, which are actually, as you may remember, basically sticky buns with a butterscotch sauce poured over them. I’ve wanted to make them for ages, and hey, it is now November! Well, okay, almost November, and that’s close enough.

I did simplify my life by making the dough in the bread machine — which may be why I wound up adding a lot more flour; it seemed like a very, very wet dough to me. Has anybody else made these and did you follow her exact recipe and did the “Cakes” come out well?

For me, this was a nice, sweet, sticky bun type of dessert (and, this morning, breakfast). I added a little extra calamansi juice to the sauce and skipped the icing. Mmm.

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