Part I: Ideation – Where the heck does it all come from?

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When time comes to serve the food to the crowd of hungry people, it always seems my food is far more complex than I ever expected. As you can see from the name, I had lots of flavors and stuff happening. With it being cold out, my brain gets stuck on roasted vegetables. root vegetables, winter squash, high heat, caramelization and deliciousness. Between last Food Obstructions and this one, I tried that amazing simple recipe that is butternut squash soup. I would have just as happily made butternut squash soup for FOII, but, uh, one of the winners last time had a thai butternut squash soup. So, yeah, I dunno, I knew if I was going to come in with soup, it had to be different…

Ok, so no thai curry, not really feeling indian curry, what’s another tasty spicy region of the world? Well, of course there is the Middle East. and then, voila, merguez! Delicious Moroccan lamb sausage! So, yeah, at first, I was thinking of rendering merguez down in small bits to create sort of bacon bit style merguez bits, and adding a fresh little raw topping too, to add to the crunch and help with the richness of the soup. But, my brain can’t keep simple enough alone. Soup and a little topping seemed ho-hum still. Brain started tinkering with a crouton, crostini, cigar, something… Something to expand upon the merguez part. Except, well, one of the obstructions this round is no butter. My brain kept focusing on phyllo, but without butter, phyllo is useless. Tinker, tinker, tinker, ooh, what about pie dough? But, that requires lard and rolling and, ugh, No. Oooh, the glory of dumpling wrappers. Maybe butternut squash soup with a merguez dumpling?

Once I finally started playing with the squash, and seeing how rich a simple squash puree is, I thought that if I do a flat, triangular merguez potsticker, it would be a great serving plate for the puree and, again, a fresh topping.

The same time I’m trying to come up with an idea, the obstructions keep my brain bouncing around. the obstructions were:
 1.Must contain an ingredient beginning with the letter “K”
2. Must not contain butter
3. Must contain an ingredient grown or produced in Brooklyn
4. Must contain rosemary
5. Must contain an ingredient with seeds

The “K” ingredient was going to be kohlrabi – because I had it from my CSA sitting in my fridge. An ingredient I’ve never eaten before but knew it could be roasted and thrown in the soup or eaten fresh. Obviously, the butter played a big part in the carbohydrate choice. The Brooklyn produced food was a bit more difficult for my wallet, but that’s the merguez – made at Brooklyn Fare. Delicioso! The rosemary was just a flavor I wasn’t going to play up madly, but would include. And the seeds, well duh, squash. That’s one thing I enjoy about Food Obstructions – the guidelines are little walls for the atoms of my brain to bounce around in!

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