One of my regular blog reads is ~JCB~ , a blog authored by Janet whom I have had the good fortune to meet (hi, Janet!), which features short elegant posts about art, vintage photography, English country houses, books, or whatever appeals to Janet at the moment.
In early October she mentioned a cookbook of "fabulous recipes" she'd purchased in London, A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, the chef at Petersham Nurseries. I'd never heard of Skye Gyngell or her book before but looked her up on Amazon and saw that her book was being released in the U.S. in paperback in January.
I didn't think another thing of it until earlier this month when I saw my friend Meg's post about her plans to visit Petersham Nurseries while she was in London. My chance to get the book in November! In hardback! I asked Meg if she'd pick up a copy of the book for me which she kindly agreed to do.
The book itself is beautiful; it's printed on heavy, matte-finished paper, with gorgeous photographs and has ribbons to mark pages. The recipes are arranged by season and feature the fresh produce that's grown at Petersham Nurseries.
Last night Meg came over for dinner and I made the Cauliflower and Gorgonzola Soup. It was the same soup that Janet had made. It seems to be a soup that just leaps off the page because after reading Eggbeater's post about Petersham Nurseries, I see it's the same recipe that Heidi of 101 Cookbooks featured last year.
The soup was delicious although the next time I make this soup I'll cut back on the amount of gorgonzola which seemed to me to overpower the cauliflower. In fact, because the original recipe is given in metric measurements and I've managed not to learn the first thing about the metric system, making this soup was fraught with runs to the computer to look up various conversions and I initially thought that I'd miscalculated the amount of gorgonzola and added too much. I hadn't but next time I'll add about half of the 8 ounces the recipe calls for. (It wasn't until after I made this that I realized that Janet had already posted the conversions when she posted the recipe which would have made my life a lot simpler.)
This would be a lovely Thanksgivng soup. It's elegant, and the topping of pickled pears and dried cranberries which adds a lively counterpoint to the richness of the soup, seems perfect for the Thanksgiving table.
Cauliflower Gorgonzola Soup
1 tablespoon butter
2 small onions, diced
1 medium head of cauliflower broken into florets
4 sprigs of lemon thyme (or regular thyme)
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken stock
8 ounces of gorgonzola (I'll use about half of that next time)
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1. Cook the onions in the butter over medium heat until the onions are softened and translucent.
2. Add the cauliflower, thyme, and bay leaf and continue to cook for a few minutes while the ingredients "find their feet." I'll be damned if I know what this means. I suppose it's just an instruction to allow the flavors to mingle.
3. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.
4. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme. Crumble the gorgonzola and add it to the soup. Stir in the creme fraiche.
5. Blend the soup until smooth, either with a stick blender, or by pouring the soup into the container of a regular blender. If you use a regular blender, allow the soup to first cool a little, then be sure to hold down the top of the blender using a folded dish towel while you blend.
6. Taste for seasoning. Reheat if necessary. Garnish with parsley and pickled pears, if using. Serve.
Pickled Pears (optional garnish)
1 tablespoon currants
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 comice pears, unpeeled and finely diced
1 golden delicious apple, unpeeled and finely diced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar (I think the sharper cider vinegar works better here)
2 tablespoons castor (superfine) sugar (I used regular sugar)
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper, if desired
1. Soak the currants and dried cranberries in a small amount of warm water to plump them up and soften them.
2. Saute the fruit in the butter until it is soft which will be about five minutes.
3. Add the vinegar, sugar, dried cranberries, currants, cinnamon, and thyme to the fruit and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
4. Taste for seasoning and add the optional salt and pepper if desired. (I would definitely add a fine grating of pepper. You're looking for a little sharpness.)