Friday, February 11, 2011
How could this week fly by so quickly? Yesterday, I wrote to my TV producer and said I couldn’t meet today because I was “crazy busy.” He replied, “Crazy busy, that’s good!” Sure it’s good, if there were two of me. The week got away from me and I'm kicking myself. Last Sunday I promised you a recipe for the most delicious soup and I didn't deliver.
Just last weekend, I hosted a charity cooking class for the Napa High School Choir. The money raised went towards sending the choir to perform at Carnegie Hall. My good friend and wine pal, Tim McDonald, has a son who sings in the choir. I'm happy to say our donation raised the most money! New York, get ready!
The evening started with sausage crostini which has been my go-to starter for the last year. If you don’t have the recipe, it’s in my Wine Country Cookbook or on my website. The next course was a Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Coriander Oil and Crème Fraiche. The roasted carrots and butternut squash are so sweet juxtaposed against the spiciness of the cumin, coriander and cardamon. But what pulls the flavors together is the coriander oil that you drizzle onto the top. The oil is simple to make by toasting coriander seeds, crushing them and steeping them in virgin olive oil. There's a little crunch to the seeds that play against the creamy soup. We paired the soup with a Australian Robert Oatley Gewurztraminer that received 90 points from Wine Spectator. What a combo!
So many of you asked for the recipe and I promised it 5 days ago. That gets me all the way back to my “crazy busy” week. I’m happy to share the recipe. Please tell me what you think?
The dessert was an over-the-top winner. Stay tuned... You can hold me to this promise!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Coriander Oil
1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 cups water
3 cups chicken stock
1 3-inch piece orange peel, no white pith
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60ml) orange juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
¼ cup crème fraiche
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Halve the squash from top to bottom and place it, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Place the carrots around the squash. Toss to coat with olive oil. Bake until the squash can be easily skewered, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes. With a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Scrape the pulp and reserve. Discard the skin.
Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, cumin, coriander and cardamom, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the squash, carrots, water, stock and orange peel and simmer until the squash falls apart and the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the orange peel and discard.
In batches, puree the soup in a blender on high speed, 3 minutes per batch, until very smooth. mesh strainer into a clean soup pot and add the orange juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, correct the consistency with additional water or stock.
Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or a spice grinder until it is coarsely ground. If using a coffee grinder or spice grinder, pulse a few times only. Place the coriander and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm for 1 minute and remove from the heat. In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraiche, parsley and enough water to make a thick paste. Season with salt.
Ladle the hot soup into soup bowls. Drizzle the coriander oil and crème fraiche onto the top and serve.