Dinner with the Luters - Autumn 2021
Mick Luter is my oldest friend in the world, by which I mean longest-serving not most aged, and he lives just down the road!
So I invited him and his wife Cathy to interrupt my voyage in the culinary wilderness that is Bradford.
Having not cooked for a dinner party in some considerable time I decided on cooking mostly dishes I had prepared before,
going for a rather delicious soup that Flora had peremptorily rejected
as a prospective Christmas starter, but cooked and served in pumpkin tureens.
In honour of the season.
I thought my Coffee and Chocolate Duck Breasts would be an ideal main course - not too challenging either for myself or my guests.
I planned on the same salt-baked beetroots and the braised radishes to go with, but thought I'd keep the spinach separate
and just serve lovage-dressed samphire with warmed horseradish cream.
And why not foam the horseradish cream too?
A word to the wise - get the foamer working in a deep practice bowl before attempting to squirt it anywhere vital. Or just scoop the foam out of the practice bowl with a spoon!
Mick kindly provided me a short list of the foods he and Cathy don't like:
- raw onions
- shellfish, squid or similar critters
- rice, cous-cous (or things with that texture)
- fennel, aniseed, tarragon, or anise-like flavours
- hibiscus (!!)
- maple syrup
- currants, dried fruit (except apricots)
- blancmange, pannacotta
- globs of cream
- soup (!!)
- coffee, tea
- sauerkraut, kimchi
- broad beans
I was therefore obliged to abandon the salt-baked beetroot and decided to replace them with Super Chantenay Carrots
cubed and cooked in carrot juice.
Unfortunately he was too late with Cathy's objection to soup, since I'd already planned the starter and bought the pumpkins, (so Mick had double soup)
and he completely neglected to warn me that Cathy couldn't abide coffee.
Fortunately at dinner I had a spare un-sullied duck breast to pan-fry 🙂
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Baked in Pumpkin Tureens
A charming if cheesy way of pimping up soup. Especially if it was the kind of soup you could cover with cheese!
It's also very forgiving, since the soup is already cooked, all you need to do is make sure the pumpkin flesh is soft enough to scrape off with a spoon as you eat the contents.
Select culinary pumpkins about the size of your preferred soup bowl.
First make the soup!
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
Cut a lid off each pumpkin.
Try and keep them neat, don't mix them up, and arrange for a notch or suitable shape to guide each lid back into the right orientation when you put it back on.
Scoop out the seeds and any stringy interior with a spoon.
Fit the pumpkins into oven dish(es) which will hold them upright (and hold their contents if they burst).
Fill with the soup, put on the lids and bake in the centre of the oven for 1½ hours until the flesh is tender.
Don't put them too close to the top of the oven or the lids will burn.
To serve, sit them upright in bowls - you can use a pile of salt as a bed to seat them on.
Scatter the contents with chervil leaves and drizzle with truffle oil.
Foamed Horseradish Cream
You'll need a nitrous foamer for this.
Or you could try furiously whipping?
First make your horseradish cream. Then pass it through a sieve so it's nice and smooth.
Pour it into your foamer and charge it up.
Then place the foamer in a bowl of hot water to bring up to temperature before using.