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Squash Bisque with Mascarpone and Apple-Cheese Crostini

Squash Bisque with Mascarpone and Apple-Cheese Crostini

I haven’t felt much like eating for about a month now. Not having an appetite is quite a new experience for me. For the most part, it’s been saltines, chicken soup and diet ginger ale.

When I started flipping through my copy of Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast, my appetite started to return. There were recipes for pizza with country ham and figs, shrimp with lemongrass and lots of potato recipes. When I’ve strayed from the chicken soup diet, it’s usually been towards potatoes of some kind.

Then I saw a recipe for Squash Bisque with Mascarpone and Apple-Cheese Crostini. Butternut squash soup was still soup, toast substituted nicely for saltines and apples are easy on the tummy too. I was so happy to be excited about food again! This very thick soup was great hot the first night and cold the next day for a picnic lunch at our nephew’s soccer game.
Roasting the butternut squash on cast iron baking pan
I made a few changes to the recipe, some of which make the dish more diabetic-friendly:

  • I used all butternut squash.
  • I peeled my onion before I roasted it.
  • I used 1/3 cup olive oil instead of the butter.
  • I substituted half and half for the heavy cream.
  • I used fresh-squeezed orange juice instead of store-bought (which often has added sugar).
  • I swapped a Gala apple for the Fuji.
  • I used a whole-grain baguette so my slices of bread were small.
  • I skipped the mint and used lemon thyme.
  • I reduced my serving size. 1/4 of the recipe is way too much for me to eat at a meal.
  • I used my brand-new Lodge 14-inch round baking pan instead of a skillet for roasting the vegetables. It worked beautifully! I have a new favorite roasting pan.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is the vanilla – you should not leave it out under any circumstances! It adds a type of sweetness without adding any sugar.

Make it Gluten-free: Use gluten-free bread for the crostini.

Disclaimer: I received a free 14-inch round cast iron baking pan and a copy of Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast, edited by Pam Hoenig from Lodge plus a second copy of the book and a 12-inch cast iron skillet to give away. All opinions are my own.

Squash Bisque with Mascarpone and Apple-Cheese Crostini

Reprinted with permission from Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast, edited by Pam Hoenig
Lodge Cast Iron Nation
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 medium acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, left unpeeled, cut in half
2 cinnamon sticks
5 allspice berries
2 star anise
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup orange juice
grated zest of 1 lime

1 Fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced
4 thin oval slices crusty bread
4 ounces cheese, preferably Asiago or Kashkavalo (an Israeli semihard cheese), thinly sliced
1/4 cup mascarpone, softened
leaves from 5 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°.
  2. Make the bisque: In a large bowl, toss both squashes, the onion, whole spices, salt, and pepper with the melted butter until well coated. Pour into a Lodge 15-inch cast iron skillet, arrange in a single layer, and bake until tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Discard the whole spices and let cool.
  3. While the vegetables roast, combine the cream and ginger in a small, heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the mixture, and add the vanilla bean as well. Bring to boil, then immediately remove from the heat, and let cool; remove the vanilla bean.
  4. Peel the cooled onion, and put it in a food processor, along with the squash and pan drippings. Process until smooth. Add the cream, orange juice, and lime zest; pulse until the mixture is just smooth and uniform. (Be careful not to overblend or the cream will break.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Make the crostini: Preheat the broiler. Place a thin layer of sliced apple on each piece of bread, and top with the Asiago cheese. Set on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until the cheese melts.
  6. To serve, pour the bisque into 4 Lodge 1-pint cast iron Country Kettles. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon mascarpone, swirled in the cetner of the bisque, and sprinkle with the mint and thyme. Serve with the crostini.

Note: Nutritional information was calculated by me and was not included in the book.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving (original recipe): 633 calories, 57g fat (39g sat), 206mg cholesterol, 173mg sodium, 28g carb, 3g fiber, 15g sugar, 2g protein

Makes 6 servings
Per serving (with modifications described above): 265 calories, 21g fat (8g sat), 30mg cholesterol, 121mg sodium, 17g carb, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 4g protein

Makes 4 servings
Per serving (original recipe): 198 calories, 17g fat (11g sat), 48mg cholesterol, 432mg sodium, 12g carb, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 11g protein

Today, members of Virtual Potluck are featuring recipes from Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast, edited by Pam Hoenig. We’ll EACH be giving away a copy of the book PLUS a 12-inch Lodge cast iron skillet. Also note that VPer Susan Benton of 30AEATS contributed recipes to the book!

Check out some of the other tasty recipes:

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Shrimp Salsa

Shrimp Salsa - Paleo, Gluten-free

Salsa is one of those things I usually buy in a jar. I don’t know why I don’t make my own salsa more often, it’s not like it’s difficult to do. I think it’s because fresh tomatoes in any other season but the current one are always so anemic-looking and tasteless.

But tomatoes are spectacular right now, that’s for sure. This is the best tomato season I can remember in a long time here in North Carolina. I decided to take advantage of the bounty and make my own salsa.

Salsa from a jar, in general, is a low-carbohydrate food that’s pretty healthy. However, some brands are chock-full of salt and others have added sugar. Many jarred salsas also contain “natural flavoring” whatever that is. (I’m guessing if it was something good, they would be more specific.)

The salsa recipe below gets a boost of protein from the shrimp and you can make it as low-sodium as you’d like. Plus you won’t have to worry about what that mysterious “natural flavoring” might be. The majority of the sodium in the recipe comes from the shrimp, tomato sauce and the added salt. If you are watching your sodium intake, reduce the amount of shrimp, use low-sodium tomato sauce and/or skip the added salt.

If you want to start with raw shrimp, keep it in the shell and bring a combination of water and apple cider vinegar to boil in a large pot. Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turns opaque (it won’t take longer than about 3 minutes). Transfer the shrimp to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, peel the shrimp and proceed with the recipe.

If hot and spicy isn’t your thing, substitute a banana pepper or some green bell pepper for the jalapeño.

Serve this Shrimp Salsa with celery sticks, sliced cucumbers or tortilla chips (if you can afford the carbs).

Shrimp Salsa

Adapted from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD

2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled
1 large onion, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped (I used heirlooms)
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 4 limes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce or chunky tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Chop the cooked shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Add to large nonreactive bowl along with the onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, avocado, garlic, lime juice and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover salsa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 8 servings
Per serving (salsa only, no dippers): 224 calories, 9g fat (2g sat), 162mg cholesterol, 384mg sodium, 13g carb, 5g fiber, 3g sugar, 24g protein

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Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce

Salmon in a Tomato Thyme and Ginger Sauce

I’m not a big fish-eater, but salmon is one fish I do enjoy in dishes such as Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls, Baked Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and my go-to appetizer was usually Smoked Salmon Spread until I stopped eating dairy.

While reviewing Rinku Bhattacharya’s new book Spices & Seasons, the colorful photo of Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce jumped out at me. As I read the recipe, my first reaction was “yay, this fits with the new diet I adopted after completing the 10-Day Detox!” My second reaction was “hooray, I’ll finally get to use the curry leaves I bought at Penzey’s a while back!”

This dish is quick to prepare and the flavors of both France and Southern India will wow you. I made a few minor changes to the recipe:

  • I took the skin off my salmon.
  • I substituted coconut oil for the olive oil.
  • I used dried curry leaves. (I’m assuming Rinku used fresh ones.)
  • I used fresh lemon thyme instead of regular thyme (because that’s what is growing in a pot on my deck).
  • I skipped the cilantro because the CompostMaster thinks it tastes like soap.
  • I served the salmon over greens instead of rice.

I hope you enjoy this spicy take on salmon as much as I did.

Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce

Reprinted with permission from Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya

Pondicherry (or Podduchery) is a small area in southern India. A former French colony, the town retains a very prominent French influence on the culture, traditions, and food of this region which results in a unique cuisine that combines French flavors with traditional South Indian spices. This simple, tangy fish creation, with light overtones of thyme, is based on something I chanced on several years back in a New York restaurant called Pondicherry. If you do not have thyme, you can use ajowain or carom seeds.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6

2 pounds wild-caught salmon fillets, skin on
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
8 to 10 curry leaves (optional)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 or 3 green Serrano chilies, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  1. Cut the salmon into 2-inch pieces. Rub with the turmeric and half the salt. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle add the curry leaves if using.
  3. Add the onion, ginger, and green Serrano chilies and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the thyme and cook on low heat until the tomatoes are nice and soft and pulpy.
  5. Stir in the basil and vinegar and gently add the salmon. Poach the salmon on low heat for 7 minutes. Do not overcook, it is important for the salmon to be just moist but not dried out.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.

Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 211 calories, 9g fat (1g sat), 73mg cholesterol, 824mg sodium, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 32g protein

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