Barge Meanderer cruising on the Canal de Briare
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cuisine Aboard Barges: Chef Hazel Shares A Recipe For A Great Winter Warmer

Hazel Young, owner and chef of the barge, Aboard the barge Fandango: ingredients for French winter squash soup.Fandango, and author of the cookbook, "A Week On The Water", has suggested that we share a recipe of hers with our friends. Hazel writes,

"As I love 'terroir' regional cuisine and have a barge recipe book with dishes that are easy for passengers to recreate, I had the idea to send you a couple of snaps of what I'm making in my galley at this time of year, I also make this for the passengers in the Autumn and early Spring when one can buy French winter squash."

"You can not go out to a gourmet restaurant in Burgundy at this time of year without being served as the first dish, or 'amuse bouche', a variation of creamed French winter squash soup. Depending on how fancy the restaurant, the smaller the glass or bowl is!"

Aboard the barge Fandango: preparations for creating French winter squash soup Ingredients:
2 lbs Potimaron Squash, or Butternut Squash
2 Leeks
7 Cups Water
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tbls Vegetable Stock Paste
Several Cloves of Garlic (to taste)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2 Tbls Creme Fraiche
Olive Oil

My version of cooking this seasonal delicacy is a little more time consuming but really delicious as it brings out the full potential of sweetness in the vegetables. Perhaps in the U.S. you may find butternut squash more easily than this sweet 'chestnut' flavoured 'potimarron' squash. It looks like a small pumpkin and is common in France, although it is twice the price of ordinary pumpkin.

Slice the squash, and remove seeds (use a whole one if not exceeding 2lbs ) cut off the tough outer skin, which can be dangerous if using a sharp knife, or roast with the skin on and it will easily peel when cooked, my preferred method.

Put chunks in a roasting dish wtih several cloves of garlic, according to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a medium heated oven for an hour until caramelized.

In a cast iron or soup pot, pour in one quarter of a cup of olive oil and over a very low heat, roast two well washed and thinly sliced leeks until caramelized , this will take at least 15 to twenty minutes but can be done while the squash is roasting.

Add the caramelized squash and garlic to the leeks, pour in 8 cups of water, add a tablespoon of dried vegetable stock, salt and pepper to season, a bay leaf and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes.

Remove bay leaf, use electric hand held mixer if you have one, blend until smooth. Add three tablespoons of cream before serving or heat the cream separately and use as a decoration when the soup is served in bowls. If the soup has become too thick for your liking you can add milk or water, and of course adjust the salt and pepper."

We here at Special Places Travel thought it would be a great way to warm up after an east coast snow storm, so we gave Hazel's recipe a try. A very delicious, velvety smooth soup, with an earthy sweetness. The only thing missing was the the view of the Canal du Midi off the deck of the Fandango.

Thanks, Hazel!

Bowl of butternut squash soup, created from Hazel Young's recipe!

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