In September we asked some friends up to the house to help us with the site analysis for building our own pizza oven; one is an engineer, and the other a pizza oven owner. This story and some cups of cauliflower apple soup are a wonderful example of my motto: Eat well and share the love!
While the guys evaluated the pizza oven location, we noshed and enjoyed some wine……
We all love food and we have shared some fabulous meals together, including the Gypsy Kitchen Supper Club. On a whim, I asked everyone if they would be interested in starting up a gourmet dinner club. Thankfully it was a resounding YES and two spectacular dinners have been hosted already. Fine wines are poured and the fancy pants recipes are pulled out – the bar has been raised very high so I need to step up my game because David and I are hosting this weekend.
The Schenker menu is written and we tested some of the recipes beforehand. The first test was a cauliflower apple soup that will be served as a starter. The recipe is adapted from the cookbook The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski, a Denver chef who owns several restaurants. I was intrigued when I saw this recipe because, not knowing any better, I would have added potatoes with the cauliflower – which would create a heavier, denser soup. The apples lighten up the soup and it is full of rich, velvety flavors. For the soup base, thinly sliced onions are sweated, cauliflower and apples are added and the vegetables simmer in chicken broth. To finish the soup before pureeing, milk, heavy whipping cream and a few basil leaves are added (the recipe calls for straining the soup but I omitted this step because I like the texture). For an elegant touch to serve alongside the soup, an apple matchstick salad with red cabbage, shallots and basil are tossed with a green curry vinaigrette. It gives the soup some crunch and even more depth of flavor. I think it will be an impressive hit. Now I need to figure out which wines to pour.
To incorporate Hanukkah, our gourmet dinner will start with some mini latke appetizers along with the usual fixings (our 2011 dinner shown here) and glasses of Prosecco. The cauliflower apple soup will start off the dinner feast, three more courses will follow, and individual apple galettes with some Andrew Rich 2008 Gewürztraminer dessert wine will finish off the evening. As usual, I will snap some photos throughout the night and will share the fun with you later.
Cheers to a wonderful Holiday celebration. May yours be filled with many delicious treats, loved ones, good friends and happy times.
Cauliflower Apple Soup (print recipe)
Recipe: Adapted from The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes about 5 cups
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
6 oz. (about 1½ cups) cauliflower flowerets, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz. (about 1 cup) chopped apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji) – peeled and seeded, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon green curry paste (or madras curry)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup 1% milk
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon green curry paste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
1 apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji), peeled, seeded and cut into small matchstick pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
2 tablespoons finely diced red cabbage or radicchio
Soup: In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, add the butter and heat over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes; do not brown the onions.
Add the chopped cauliflower, apples and ½ teaspoon salt; stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is just heated through; do not brown. Stir in the chicken broth and curry paste and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the cream, milk and ½ teaspoon salt and let simmer on low for 15 minutes. Transfer half the soup to a blender, add two basil leaves and place a folded kitchen towel over the lid. With hand on lid so it doesn’t lift off, puree soup until smooth. Transfer soup to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup, adding the last basil leaf. If desired, strain the soup through a fine sieve for a velvety texture. If you are serving immediately, transfer all the soup back into the pot and gently reheat – add ¼ teaspoon salt if needed. Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, refrigerate and gently reheat before serving.
Vinaigrette: Add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Whisk together until combined.
Apple Salad: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and dress lightly with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss gently, being careful to not break the apple matchstick pieces.
To serve the hot soup, ladle into bowl or cup (if a starter course) and serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple salad on the side. Before eating, add some of apple salad to the soup and enjoy!
· Use caution with hot items in the blender; the heat can cause the blender lid to blow off. Be sure to place a folded kitchen towel over the lid and place your hand on top to secure it before turning motor on. Do not fill more than half full.
Sweet Boy Murphy in his element and sporting the “tough guy” look.