Chef Eric Ripert recently launched a “Dinner Social” project on his blog, Avec Eric, to encourage fans to cook with friends and family. You have to love a chef who is willing to share recipes and techniques to encourage you to enjoy their food at home. As the theme for the first challenge was “Market Table,” I naturally was intrigued. When April, of The Food Scribe, suggested a collaborative effort with fellow DC food bloggers, I was definitely on board. Together with April, Tiffany of The Garden Apartment and Alison of The Humble Gourmand, we spent Sunday afternoon cooking and enjoying good wine and conversation. We bought as many of our ingredients as possible at our local farmers markets, with my squash from the Del Ray market, Tiffany’s root vegetables from the Dupont Circle market, and April’s pears from the Takoma Park market. With cameras in hand, we took over April’s lovely kitchen and set to work.
My assignment was the Pumpkin Soup with Herbed Creme Fraiche & Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. Chef Ripert suggested serving it in a large roasted pumpkin, but I discovered that it’s hard to find full-size pumpkins after Halloween. The pumpkin for the soup was actually Japanese Kabocha squash, with a rich, orange pulp. My only complaint was that the Kabocha was very hard to peel; next time I would probably roast it a little to make it easier. I hollowed out and roasted lovely orange and green Celebration squash to use as individual serving bowls. (Roasted at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.)
The local ingredients in my soup came from Potomac Vegetable Farms, Va. (thyme), Three Way Farm, Va. (squash, onion and elephant garlic), and Trickling Springs Creamery, Pa. (heavy cream). The rest were organic products from Alexandria’s My Organic Market.
Each course incorporated seasonal ingredients with unexpected flavor combinations. I never would have thought to add brussel sprouts to a roasted root vegetable platter, for example, but the bright green added a lovely visual component as well as a crisp bite among softer turnips, beets and carrots. While it would have been a lot of work for one cook, Ripert provided a several day preparation guide that would have lessened the work load the day of the dinner party. With multiple chefs, it came together easily. All together it was a fabulous meal, made better with great company and good wine! This was the perfect way to spend a chilly November afternoon. Thank you, Chef Ripert, for the inspiration!
(Pictured, clockwise from left, Tiffany, April, yours truly, Alison.)
Be sure to surf around to see Tiffany’s roasted lamb and root vegetable, Alison‘s endives with prosciutto, blue cheese and pomegranate seeds – and perfect wine picks, and April‘s carmelized onion and olive croustade and roasted pears with chocolate bourbon sauce and homemade chestnut ice cream. And you can drool over all our pictures over on Flickr.