Last night we invited four of our neighbors over for our Sabbath evening meal. Below I share two new recipes I used that turned out really well and were not hard to make. We feasted on good food and wine and then laughed for hours playing board games. Our neighbors are delightful people, not folks we would probably get the chance to know otherwise. What we seem to have in common is an ecological commitment, a commitment to our building and neighborhood, and a desire to enjoy the company of others and have some fun. The table was prepared in the afternoon as I gathered the ingredients (all organic of course!) together for our meal:
To begin, a yummy butternut squash soup, lightly spiced. This recipe is from the Cafe Flora Cookbook, an incredible vegetarian restaurant here in Seattle. The first recipe I have tried from it, and it turned out really nicely, served with some whole grain bread. Instead of pureeing in a blender, I used a hand blender and pureed it right in the pot — so easy!
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 9 Cups
1 medium butternut squash (2 1/2-3 pounds)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 bay leaf
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Optional: Pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce
Get Ready: Peel the butternut squash and cut it in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
Saute the Onions and Garlic: Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 2 minutes more.
Add the Spices, Squash, Water: Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander, and saute for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 4 cups of water, the butternut squash and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, at a low boil until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.
Puree the Soup: Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup in batches in a blender, being careful to fill the blender jar no more than halfway.
Finish the Soup: Return the pureed soup to the pot, add the coconut milk, and bring just to a boil. Take the soup off the heat, add the lime juice, and salt to taste. Add cayenne or hot sauce if you want, and serve.
Souffle can seem intimidating to make, but it really isn't hard at all but looks so impressive when you pull it out of the oven. The biggest challenge is separating the eggs and making sure there is no trace of yolk in the whites so they beat up extra fluffy. I used to make souffle more often, but lost the recipe I liked in a move. I found this one on the Food Network and it turned out great. I actually doubled the recipe for the six of us and made two souffles (each souffle serves 3-4). I also used a combination of sharp cheddar and swiss cheeses. We served it with roast potatoes and salad.
Butter, room temperature, for greasing the souffle
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups milk, hot
4 large egg yolks (2 1/2 ounces by weight)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar
5 egg whites plus 1 tablespoon water (5 1/2 ounces by weight plus 1/2 ounce water)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Use room temperature butter to grease an 8-inch souffle mold. Add the grated Parmesan and roll around the mold to cover the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter. Allow all of the water to cook out.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, dry mustard, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Whisk this mixture into the melted butter. Cook for 2 minutes.
Whisk in the hot milk and turn the heat to high. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks to a creamy consistency. Temper the yolks into the milk mixture, constantly whisking. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Whisk until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until glossy and firm. Add 1/4 of the mixture to the base. Continue to add the whites by thirds, folding very gently.
Pour the mixture into the souffle. Fill the souffle to 1/2-inch from the top. Place on an aluminum pie pan. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
The table is a place of nourishment. Cooking is a deeply creative act, transforming ingredients into hearty dishes that satisfy both the body and soul. The table is also the space where I do a lot of my artwork, covering up the cloth with a plastic sheet. So there are many layers of food prepared and offered there.
Sabbath Blessings! May your day be filled with sacred nourishment of good food, creativity, and the company of loved ones.
-Christine Valters Paintner