Thursday, October 29, 2009
A couple of my favorite October recipes
I love October. Well, I used to love October until it meant raking leaves and impending snow and gloom. I used to love October in California where you can be lazy all year long. Cold meant that maybe you would shut all your windows. So being the cheery sort that I am (heh heh) I decided to carry on the October tradition in a new place that really lends itself to Pumpkins and soups and fall like things. You can actually wear hand knit sweaters here folks! So here it goes.
Favorite recipe here is from Epicurious and is the best pumpkin soup that I have had to date. I have made it for the last 3 years and it never fails to make me happy. It starts off with toasting the shells of the shrimp that you are later going to cook and pour the soup over.
I used fresh pumpkin for this dish so that I could have the seeds. That brings me to my second favorite October food. I love pumpkin seeds. I can't get enough of them. I love experimenting with them and different flavors.
This year I took a Siracha butter that I had made before for something else and added Worcester sauce. I then sprinkled with garlic salt and put in the oven. YUMMM! I also have a version with just plain butter, Worcester and garlic salt (I love this one too). Last but not least I tried one that had some curry powder and sugar and butter in it. Bleckkkk! I didn't like it. I had found the recipe somewhere and I don't remember where. So 2 out of 3 wasn't bad.
Shrimp and Pumpkin Bisque
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups homemade or canned low-sodium chicken stock
Pinch saffron threads (about 24)
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion (about 8 ounces), coarsely chopped
4 fresh bay laurel leaves, torn, or 2 dried
3 3-inch springs fresh sage
2 cups pumpkin purée, fresh (see Note) or canned
1/2 cup heavy cream
About 3/4 teaspoon salt, less if using canned stock
Scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
print a shopping list for this recipe
1. Shrimp stock: Peel and devein shrimp, reserving the shells. Cover the shrimp and refrigerate. Heat the olive oil in a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the shrimp shells to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn deep orange and are just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. This step—pan roasting the shells—gives the stock much of its flavor, so take the time to do it carefully. The roasted shells should release a concentrated, toasty, shrimp aroma that will fill your kitchen. Add the wine to the pan, first turning off gas flames to prevent the alcohol from igniting, then boil it over medium heat until all the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid. Rinse out the saucepan and pour the stock back into it.
2. Soup: Whisk the pumpkin, cream, salt (omit if using canned stock), and cayenne into the shrimp stock. Bring the soup to a simmer, then cook very gently uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, taste, and season with black pepper and more salt if needed. (The soup can be made up to this point up to 1 day ahead store covered in the refrigerator. Keep the peeled shrimp in a resealable bag buried in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator.)
3. Finishing the soup: Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan placed over medium heat. When hot, add the reserved shrimp and sage and cook, tossing often, until the shrimp is just cooked through, pink, and no longer translucent, but not curled into a circle, 2 to 3 minutes. They should still have a tender snap when you bite into them. Arrange the shrimp in warmed serving bowls or a tureen. Bring the soup back to a simmer and then ladle it over the shrimp. Serve right away.
Substitute winter squash purée, such as butternut or acorn, for the pumpkin.
To make fresh pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Place it cut side down in a baking dish and pour in about 1/4 inch of hot water. Bake it in a 400°F oven until the flesh is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Turn the pumpkin halves cut side up to cool. Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and purée it in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the purée to a large sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth and let it drain for 2-3 hours until it is firm enough to hold its shape on a spoon.