Here, in middle Tennessee, the earth is bright green, the air is fragrant with magnolias, and the temperature is in the 90s. And so, Summer is in full bloom. The sunshine this time of year, too, seems to be fuller. It changes ever so slightly from the lilting, angled light of Spring, to the dauntless pure rays of Summer. I wanted to find a color palette that captured that special sunshine. To do so, I turned to the fruits of the tropics.
A fruit salad with mango, mandarins, coconut and pomegranate seeds was the perfect inspiration. Topped with a bit of honeyed ginger, it has just the right balance of simmer and sparkle.
The resulting palette is bright and lush, but not overbearing. Just breezy enough for lazy Summer days. Enjoy!
Winter has quite the arsenal – snow, ice, sleet, biting wind, single-digit temperatures. It’s bitter, gray and oppressive. Its force can’t be mellowed by mere shovels and salt. If its waging a war, it certainly feels like we’re losing.
But its not raging; it’s simply being winter. And its nature can be just as lovely as it is fierce. It has quite a quiet beauty; it’s crisp and serene.
But what I love best about winter is that it forces us, through its snow and ice, to slow down, and to center our lives around the home. We fortify and warm each other with our company and the meals we share. So as winter prepares to leave us this year, I wanted to share with you my sure-fire way to beat winter’s chill: roasted apple and parsnip soup.
The original recipe comes from Chef John. We modified some of the seasoning a bit to bring a little more heat to the table. The result is creamy and soothing, but with a kick. It’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket and then getting a little static electricity jolt. Just the sort of spark you need to snap you out of the dreary winter blues!
Roasted Apple and Parsnip Soup with Cayenne
- 2 lbs parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
- 2 green apples, peeled, cut in thick slices
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 2 T olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1 russet potato, peeled, cut in 8 pieces
- 6 cups chicken broth (can combine with some water if you want)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 t. cayenne
- garnish with rosemary crackers, walnuts or croutons, and more cayenne, if desired
- Cut up parsnips. Discard any parsnip centers that seem too tough.
- Peel apples, then cut into slices.
- Place parsnips and apples on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes until edges are caramelized.
- Then place parsnips and apples into a steam pot on high with the sliced potato and chicken broth. After the pot comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Next, use a stick blender to process apples and vegetables until smooth (or you can process in a regular blender).
- Taste the soup for texture. If it is too fibery, you can strain it here. After that, add the cream and cayenne.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with desired add-ins.
I’ve written before here how I’m constantly inspired by the color around me, especially food and plants. As Spring approaches, that may seem obvious! But for me, inspiration is not limited to Spring colors. Every season has its own unique palette to explore.
Lately, I’ve been quite taken with wintry beets. One root, both earthy and nearly neon, it is grounded and bold at the same time. Its color is unparalleled – a shining red bastion of the edible plant world. Is there another vegetable so forward with bold saturation?
I had some fun arranging these sassy beets into a pattern with persimmons, blueberries and pomegranates. The tableau lends itself to a warm, analogous selection of colors, with just a hint of daring. That’s thanks to the persimmons. Their light, orange airiness keep the palette from getting too dramatic. The result: a transitional, bolstering color palette, perfect for the cusp of a change in seasons.