Tonight my dinner was inspired by produce I purchased from Sam of Maysie's Farm Produce - meet Sam Cantrell. Sam runs Maysie's Conservancy and is dedicated to educating farmers on the use of organic farming principles.
This week Sam brought one of my favorite autumn treats to the market - chestnuts. Chestnuts are very starchy - a lot like a potato.
To prepare chestnuts you need to roast them. First cut a X into the skin to allow the steam to escape during roasting - forget to do this and you will have exploding chestnuts all over your oven.
Roast the chestnuts in a 425 degree oven for 20 - 30 minutes - - - they should look like this photo when roasted properly - the X will start to curl backwards. Now let the chestnuts cool down a bit - just until you can handle them without burning your fingers - then peel off the outer shells.
A bowl of perfectly roasted and peeled chestnuts - - - now you could stop here and have a feast on this lovely bowl of starchy, slightly sweet, earthy chestnuts - YUM. But today these beauties are destined for one of my favorite soups - Chestnut Soup.
Here's the recipe:
Chestnut Soup - from epicurious.com
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 whole cloves
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14- to 15-ounce) jar peeled cooked whole chestnuts, crumbled (3 cups)
1/4 cup Sercial Madeira
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then stir in celery, carrot, and onion. Cover surface of vegetables with a buttered round of wax paper or parchment (buttered side down) and cover pan with lid, then sweat vegetables 15 minutes (to soften).
Wrap parsley, cloves, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bouquet garni.
Discard buttered paper from vegetables, then add broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add chestnuts and Madeira and simmer, covered, 3 minutes.
Purée soup in small batches (4 or 5) in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in cream, pepper, and salt to taste and reheat soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Makes 8 cups. I served my soup with toasted Wild Flour baguette slices - so satisfying.As a side salad to my soup I started with some roasted delicata squash (Blueberry Hill and Taproot had beautiful delicata squash this week) - no need to peel delicata - simply slice in half and remove the seeds and membranes with a spoon, then slice as desired. Place the sliced delicata on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
For the base of my side salad I shredded this beautiful radicchio from Sam - it has a mild bitter taste that pairs well with the sweetness of the delicata squash.
The real highlight of my salad is from Sugartown Smoked Specialities - Smoked Scallops. All you need to do with the scallops is warm them to room temperature and serve - they are sweet, briny and smokey - a perfect triple play.
Here's my salad of shredded radicchio, roasted delicata squash and smoked scallops - dressed with a warm shallot vinaigrette - divine!
Dessert - simple - gorgeous Spiced Pumpkins from John & Kira - chocolate pumpkins filled with Pumpkin Pie Spice Caramel, accompanied with a cup of espresso made with Golden Valley's French Roast. That was my dinner - what did you have???