Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Dec 4, 2012

Spiced Squash Bisque

Libations used: 1/2 cup cognac
Libations left over: None, sip on some cognac after dinner...
I absolutely love making soups in the winter, and pretty much prepare one every week or two.  They're perfect for those cold days and I tend to pack my freezer with little containers of soup to get me through the busy days.  I have a Butternut Squash Soup recipe that I usually make, but there's no liquor in it, so why would I post it here?  I had saved a recipe from Tasting Table that was sent out last fall for a Spiced Hubbard Squash Bisque that has some cognac and plenty of winter spices that remind me of Christmas.  If you're looking for a healthy soup, then stop reading now.  I mean, it's bisque and be prepared to use tons of butter, milk and creme fraiche.  If you're looking for something hot, rich and comforting for the holidays, then keep reading.  I couldn't find any Hubbard squash at the market and stores, so opted for Butternut instead.  It's a little labor intensive because you have to roast the squash first and deal with a blender twice, but it's worth it if you have time on your hands to prepare a special meal for Christmas Eve or Day.

Spiced Squash Bisque - serves 8
Ingredients for the Bisque:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • One 5 lb squash, cut in half with seeds removed
  • 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup of cognac (I used Remy Martin)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
Ingredients for the Nutmeg Creme Fraiche:
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 Tbs nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper
To make the Bisque:
- Preheat oven to 375.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter until it has melted and begun to brown (about 5-7 minutes).
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place the squash halves on a sheet pan and drizzle with 2 Tbs of the olive oil.
- Season with salt and white pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 60-80 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Scoop out the flesh and discard skins, when cooled.
- Puree the squash in a blender or pass through a food mill and set aside.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil, onion, garlic and thyme, and cook until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add the cognac and cook until the liquid is reduced by half (about 6-8 minutes).
- Add the squash and mix well.
- Add the milk, brown butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and reduce the heat to low.
- Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring the bisque to a simmer.
- Carefully transfer the bisque to a blender and puree.
- Add the bisque back to the pot over low heat, and season with salt and pepper.

To make the Nutmeg Creme Fraiche:
- In a small bowl, add the creme fraiche, nutmeg, cinnamon, chives, salt and white pepper and thoroughly combine.

- Divide the bisque into bowls and garnish with a dollop of the nutmeg creme fraiche and a few chopped pieces of chives.