Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crema de Flores de Calabaza (Golden Squash Blossom Crema)

Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts this year, Number One's brother and sister-in-law suggested that we cook fabulous meals for each other and our families during their visit this weekend. This is an excellent idea! Each couple will get a night off to relax and drink a little more wine, and we will all be able to socialize and enjoy splendid meals together.

For our traditional Mexican feast, I turned to Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, where I found all three recipes. This soup is the first course of my dinner menu. I will be serving the soup with Costillas de Puerco con Verdolagas (Tomatillo-Braised Pork Country Ribs) and Pay de Nuez y Chocolate, estilo Frontera Grill (Frontera Grill's Chocolate Pecan Pie).

This soup has several variations, just in case your store if fresh out of Golden Squash Blossoms. Take a guess and you'll be correct: our grocery doesn't carry these. I will list the Golden Squash Blossom Crema as a variation, the main recipe will be the one I chose: "Squash Blossom" Soup with Yellow Squash and Spinach. I doubled the recipe, and it's actually quite easy once you finish dicing everything.

I had planned to make the soup in advance, at least a day, but a trip to the ER with H-Bomb, who was so dizzy he fell down walking to the bathroom, prevented that. Now that H-Bomb has antibiotics, I made the soup this morning. Still in advance, but that means instead of just finishing things off, I have to prepare three entire dishes today. So guess what I'm doing. So much for planning ahead. But YOU could, and I recommend it!

***Last minute menu change: After what happened yesterday (ER) and today (go here), no time or energy to make the pie. Instead, we thought we would have Mexican Chocolate Brownies. Our favorite brownie mix, with a couple teaspoons of cinnamon to spice thing up. Perfect. And quick! However, we ran out of time to even make brownies. We had store-bought truffles with more wine for dessert. Yum.***

Crema de Calabaza con Espinacas
Squash Soup with Spinach

Makes about 7 cups, enough for 6 generous servings

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
3 cups good chicken broth
1 small boiling potato (like the red-skin ones), peeled and roughly chopped (I used red potatoes)
2 medium yellow squash cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 fresh poblano chiles (I was forced to substitute: for a double batch, I used three large anaheims)
1 cup milk
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large ear of corn, husked, kernels cut from the cob (I substituted about 1 cup of frozen corn per ear)
1 cup thinly sliced spinach
1/2 cup thick cream, whipping cream or creme fraiche
Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons, depending on the saltiness of the broth
A little chopped epazote or parsley, for garnish

1. The broth. In a medium-size (4-quart) soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Scoop out half of the onion and set aside. Add the broth and potato, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

2. The squash. Add half the diced squash to the broth and simmer at least 6 minutes. In a food processor or in batches in a loosely covered blender, puree the mixture; return to the pot.

3. The chiles. Roast the chiles directly over the gas flame, on a medium-hot gas grill or 4 inches below a very hot broiler. (I just rested them on my gas stove burner, turned them with tong and/or fingers for about 6 minutes each). Turn occasionally until blistered and blackened on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes for the flame or grill, about 10 minutes for the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand about 5 minutes. Peel off the charred skin, cut out the seed pod, then quickly rinse to remove straggling bits of skin and seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch dice.

4. Finishing the soup. Add the chiles to the soup along with the milk and reserved onion; bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn and the remaining squash. Simmer a few minutes longer, remove from the heat, stir in the cream, taste and season with salt. Serve in warm bowls garnished with epazote or parsley.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The soup can be prepared a day or so ahead through step 3; refrigerate all the parts covered. Complete the soup just before you plan to serve it.


Golden Squash Blossom Crema--Replace the yellow squash with 25 large (3- to 4-inch) squash blossoms (male blossoms with no squash attached). To clean: Break off the stems, then the little green sepals that come out from the base of the blossoms (they originally covered the buds). Use your fingers to break loose the long pistils in the center of each flower and discard. With a very sharp knife, cut the blossoms crosswise into 1/4-inch strips, including the bulbous base. Add half to the soup in each of the two places the squash is called for. In step 2, simmer for 3 minutes after adding blossoms, then puree. In step 4, add remaining squash blossoms after simmering zucchini and corn. Simmer a couple minutes after adding squash blossoms (the strips of blossom will soften into deep-golden "streamers"), then remove from heat and complete step 4.

Exotic Soup of Blossoms and Wild Mushrooms--Prepare the soup as described with squash blossoms, replacing the milk with an equal amount of broth. Add 2 cups sliced, not-too-strong wild mushrooms (Rick prefers fresh chanterelle, hedgehogs or cauliflower) to the pot along with the chiles. Omit the zucchini and corn; serve the soup as is, or add a little thinly sliced spinach along with the second batch of blossoms.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin