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Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala and Thyme ~ Robert Sendall's Orange Cointreau Gelatin Garnished with Whipped Cream

By Mary Miller, Simply Entertaining

Actually, my favorite is a recipe that I sent to Kitchen Mailbox a few months ago when a reader asked for squash recipes. I love this recipe, so I had to send it to Arlene, although I kind of sent it anonymously -- not mentioning that I was the Mary Miller who also free-lances for the paper.

The squash makes the house smell so good while it is cooking and the taste is fantastic. It is the perfect soup to serve after a day of skiing or sledding.

My other favorite recipe for the year was in Jane Citron's Jell-O story -- the orange gelatin recipe that was made for Mrs. Heinz. It was delicious and got me in a retro food phase.

I actually made a Jell-O salad for Christmas dinner. And everyone liked it.

I also made a bunch of cookies that my mom used to make in the '60s. It's easy to turn into a "food snob" and forget how good recipes from our childhood (no matter how un-cool the ingredients sound -- Minute Rice mixed with canned soup, gelatin salad with canned pears, lime Jell-O and cream cheese) can be so heart-warming and delicious.

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala and Thyme

1 butternut squash, about 3 pounds, halved lengthwise and fibers and seeds removed
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 large yellow onons, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
3 tablespoons dry Marsala or dry sherry
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh thyme leaves, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a baking pan, place the squash cut sides down. Add water to the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Bake until the squash is tender, about 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh from the skin. You will need 3 3/4 cups for this soup. Reserve any remaining squash for another use.

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat is rendered, about three minutes. Add the onions and chopped or dried thyme and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade or to a blender. In 2 or more batches, add the squash and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan. Place over medium low heat and mix in the 5 1/4 cups stock. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in the cayenne pepper and season to taste with salt and black pepper. If the soup is too thick, thin with additional stock to desired consistency. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with thyme leaves, if desired. Serve hot. Serves 8 to 10.

Thanksgiving, Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library

Robert Sendall's Orange Cointreau Gelatin
Garnished with Whipped Cream

Jell-O often evokes memories of the past. Chef/caterer Robert Sendall provided this recipe, which originated when he worked for Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Heinz II. Sendall spent three seasons with the family in Florida and was often asked to make a gelatin dessert with oranges grown on the property. He came up with this recipe. Sendall stresses the importance of using fresh oranges, and a mix of oranges, if possible. In Florida he was able to use a variety of citrus fruit. (When we made the recipe we found it necessary to add sugar to taste.) The dessert, served in a martini glass, makes a beautiful and refreshing dessert.

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups freshly squeezed and strained orange juice * see note
Sugar to taste
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 package Knox gelatin
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 to 3 teaspoons Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
Fresh raspberries, blueberries or mint leaves for garnish

Combine orange juice and rind. Add sugar to taste if needed. Remove 1/2 cup juice; add 1 tablespoon Cointreau and sprinkle over gelatin to soften. Heat remaining juice in a saucepan, add dissolved gelatin and blend well. Pour into martini glasses and chill until firm.

Whip cream with second amount of Cointreau. If desired, turn into a pastry bag and garnish gelatin. Top with a few raspberries or blueberries or a sprig of mint and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Note: The full amount of orange juice makes a softer dessert, a texture preferred by Sendall.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

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