Roasted Squash Soup with Sage, Chile Ancho and Creme Fraiche

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Kabocha is a Japanese squash, sweeter than a Butternut, with a chestnut-like texture. Widely available at Farmers’ Markets and even supermarkets. The deer got my kabochas this year, so this one was from the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market, as were the leeks.

1 Kabocha squash, 2-3 pounds
2 leeks, white part only, 1 inch pieces
4 T butter
4 cups stock
2-3 t ancho chili powder
1/2 cup creme fraiche
12 small sage leaves

Halve the squash and remove the seeds and strings. Place cut side down on a foil-covered baking sheet in a 400 degree oven and roast for about 45 minutes until soft. Scrape out flesh.

In a stockpot, saute leeks in 2 T butter to coat, add stock, squash and ancho powder, bring to low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree and return to stockpot. Adjust seasoning.

Melt remaining butter in small saucepan over medium heat until foam is gone, add sage leaves and briefly saute, turning once, until they start to crisp. Turn off heat, remove sage leaves to paper towels to drain.

Serve the soup in warm bowls, adding a dollop of creme fraiche in the center of each bowl, drizzling with browned butter and sprinkling with sage leaves.

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Death Trumpet Pizza with Black Truffles

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Black Trumpet mushrooms (craterellus cornucopioidesare) also called “trompette de la mort” and they’re a late Fall and early Winter staple here in the Pacific Northwest. Often called the poor man’s truffle, they are among the most delicious of the wild mushrooms, but I find that their flavor is greatly enhanced by combining them with actual fresh Black Truffles.

I buy both from Jeremy Faber at Foraged and Found at the University District or Ballard Farmers’ Markets. Jeremy is the subject of a large part of Langdon Cook’s new book, The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America.

I saw death trumpets at Poulsbo’s Central Market last week, but they were pretty pricey at $30 a pound.

For last night’s pizza I used a quarter pound of death trumpets and  a half ounce of truffle, sliced paper-thin on my Italian truffle slicer, shown below. That’s a lot of flavor for less than $10.

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Open 12/1: Gorgeous Gardens at Ft. Ward

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I’ll be holding open 10132 NE Kitsap Street in the Fort Ward area of Bainbridge Island this Sunday, 12/1/2013 from 1:00 to 3:00.  As soon as you step into these nationally recognized horticultural gardens on 2.95 acres surrounding the dramatic single story Mediterranean-inspired home, you’ll feel like you are in another world. Buyer will have first chance at attached 2.49 acre lot for $245k. Generous, open spaces, with 3,669/sf, 4 bed/3.5 bath plus large office, give everyone a space to retreat. Newly remodeled master bath and new heat pump. A horticultural treasure listed with the Smithsonian Museum, the garden has been featured in numerous books and magazines and on the Bainbridge in Bloom garden tour.

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Local Cranberries!

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Hollie and I went into the Ballard Farmers’ Market (http://ballardfarmersmarket.wordpress.com/) yesterday and she got this great shot of a tub of cranberries from Bloom Creek Farm in Olympia. I usually go in to Seattle on Sundays to get some of the things I can’t get here on Bainbridge Island like these cranberries and the wild mushrooms for tonight’s pizza and my Black Truffle Death Trumpet Chestnut Stuffing for the turkey.

A visit to the Ballard Market starts for us at Fresh Flours (http://www.freshfloursseattle.com/) for one of their fabulous Almond Croissants and some Stumptown Roasters coffee. We only get one croissant so we can end up at our favorite Mexican breakfast joint, the whimsical Senor Moose (http://senormoose.com/) for some Huevos Divorciados, two eggs on two corn tortillas, one with red salsa, one with green, “divorced” by black beans and topped with avocado and crema.

Here are some other shots Hollie took yesterday:

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Cider-Braised Delicata Squash

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Delicata is the most approachable of the Winter Squashes: easy to hold, easy to cut, easy to clean. The thin skin is ivory-white with green or brown striations, and delicious. The soft flesh cooks quickly, isn’t too sweet and is reminiscent of sweet potatoes.

Here, the squash is sauteed in butter and Winter herbs, then braised in apple cider brightened with Sherry Vinegar (Vinagre de Jerez). This is terrific with pork chops or roast chicken, and it will have a place on my Thanksgiving table.

1 large (about 9″) Delicata squash or two smaller ones
1 T butter
6″ branch of rosemary, roughly chopped
18 medium fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup water
1 t sherry vinegar
1/2 t salt
Pepper

Cut off the ends of the squash, cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into 1/2 slices.

Melt butter in large skillet over low heat, add herbs and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the squash and stir to coat. Arrange into single layer

Add cider, water, vinegar and salt. Cook uncovered over medium heat at a low boil until squash is tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 20 -30 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Risotto con Radicchio Trevisano

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When the weather gets cold, the radicchio turns red. Radicchio is Italian for a large group of chicories, both red and green, most of which are named after towns in the Veneto region of northern Italy. They can have an almost fleshy consistency, and are fairly bitter. In this country, the most common is the ball-shaped Rossa da Verona, and is usually seen raw in salads or as a trendy garnish, but in Italy, the most commonly eaten variety is the elongated Tresviso, and it is always cooked.

Both of these are forced-growth, meaning that after the first heading is removed, the root and all are moved to a dark shed to be forced, just like Belgian endive. There are also field-grown varieties which are the ones I grow, usually Chioggia and Castelfranco. Seeds for almost twenty varieties, including all these mentioned here, can be found at Seeds of Italy (http://www.growitalian.com/search.php?search_query=radicchio&x=0&y=0).

Several farmers at the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market grow Treviso, and you can often find it at The Town & Country Market on Bainbridge or at Whole Foods in Seattle. But the little round red one will work just fine for this risotto.

2 T olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 head radicchio, 1/4 inch slices
1 cup risotto rice (Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli)

1/2 cup red wine
4 cups broth, low boil
1/3 cup parmesan
1 T butter

Heat olive oil over medium – medium high heat in a saucepan.

Add shallot, stir/cook until softened, add radicchio, stir to coat.

Add rice, stir to coat and let it “toast” for 2 minutes. Add red wine, stir to evaporate the alcohol.

Add one ladle of broth, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until almost dry, then add another ladle. Continue adding full ladles when dry for about 20 minutes, then start using half ladles until rice grains are swollen but still al dente. Remove from heat.

Add butter and cheese, mix and serve.

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Open House 11/24: Torvanger Waterfront

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10706 Torvanger NE, Bainbridge Island

Update: This home sold for $1,095,000 (94% of list price) after 51 days on market.

I was going to have an Open House this fabulous waterfront home open Sunday, 11/24/2013 but it already sold. It’s brand-new, never been lived in, and was designed as a “downsizing” home, perhaps for empty nesters who prefer quality to quantity. 2360 square feet with two master suites and a third bedroom plus an additional 500 finished square feet above the garage, all on a shy half acre of waterfront. Views of the shipping lanes, Seattle, and the Cascades from Mt. Baker to Mt. Rainier.

My favorite detail is the “pocket door without a pocket” between the mud room and the kitchen. An updated, upscale version of a barn door, over on the left:

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For full information, click HERE