My girlfriends came up from San Diego a few weeks ago and I promised them a delicious dinner. Since I had all day Friday off to plan, I decided to make things that were seasonal and I had never personally made before. Our dinner consisted of grilled lamb "lollipops" (recipe came from a coworker who made this at a work BBQ a few weeks prior), summer squash soup with cumin brown butter (from 101cookbooks), artichokes, and a mixed greens salad with farmers market tomatoes and home grown cucumbers from my garden. We had a day of wine tasting planned, so none of these recipes are super complex...just takes a little prior planning. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
1 "frenched" cut rack of lamb
Clean lamb and trim any excess fat. Mix all ingredients and marinate overnight in a shallow glass pan. If you can start marinating in the morning, this should prob suffice, it just needs a long soak in the vino.
Buttermilk Squash Soup (care of 101cookbooks)
1 t cumin seeds
1/4 c butter
3 T butter
2 med yellow onions, chopped
2 med garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 lbs yellow summer squash
4 c vegetable stock
1 c buttermilk
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
In your smallest frying pan, over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Just a minute or two. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the seeds into a fine powder. (If you don't have this, you can leave them whole...it still tastes good). Set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and cook until it's brown. Remove from heat, stir the cumin into the butter along with a couple pinches of salt, then set aside in a warm place. You want the butter to stay liquid until you're ready to use it.
To make the soup, heat the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and a bit of salt. Saute for a few minutes, or until the onions start to get translucent. Stir in the potatoes and squash and cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until the squash starts to soften up. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the stock (most of it) - the stock should just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, roughly another 25 minutes. Remove the soup from heat, puree completely with a hand blender, then stir in the buttermilk. If you need to thin the soup out with a bit more stock, you can do so. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve each bowl topped with plenty of the cumin butter, and a sprinkling of chives.
Since the initial making of this soup, I couldn't get enough of it and made another batch. It hold up really nicely in the fridge, which makes it a great thing to prepare ahead of time if needed.