So the other week when I introduced you to Debra from SmithBites, I didn’t know at the time that she was going to become the very first Food Memory contributor with multiple entries in the project. Here’s how it happened. I badgered her until she agreed to let me use The Professor’s Black Beans and Rice in the hopes that I would move on to harassing someone else. And I did. And then I made an abrupt U turn and headed back to her inbox.
Because when I read her post about Butternut Pear Curry Bisque, it was as though the Universe had taken all the good things about Food Memories and tied them up with a pretty bow. Greedy like I am, I had to have it. Ever gracious, Debra said yes.
I would like to thank her for not changing her email address or running away screaming every time she sees my name in her inbox. I’d also like to thank her for capturing the very essence of why I believe Food Memories are important and sharing a big bowl of it with us.
Butternut Pear Curry Bisque & Food Memories
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I’m here to tell you that a recipe or a meal is also worth a thousand words. For some, that dish might be a special birthday cake, cinnamon rolls or bread; to others it might be a meatloaf, pot roast or onions and garlic sauteing in a skillet. A particular scene in Ratatouille captures this point so well – the hardened, stoic, food critic Anton Ego, takes a bite of Remy’s simple Ratatouille and the audience is immediately transported back to Ego’s childhood home where the boy Anton is served ratatouille while being comforted by his mother.
And for me, this bisque is one of those dishes. I know it’s officially fall when The Professor breaks out the dutch oven, grabs a butternut squash from our garden and picks an armful of pears from our tree. The first time he made this bisque, I was in Washington staying with my parents – my dad had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of months prior and I was helping them pack for a move. I remember The Professor calling very early in the morning to tell me he had found a delicious recipe for a bisque that had pears and butternut squash in it . . . I also remember thinking that the recipe didn’t sound very appealing. Notice I said I thought – I didn’t say I voiced my opinion – which is shocking I know, but he was cooking for me again, so don’t rock the boat, right? (Plus, he was making his case for vegetarianism.) But I also remember coming home to this fabulous fall bisque – and The Professor has made it every single year since 2000.
In writing this post, we discovered something new about our relationship – he’s all about the tried and true familiar recipes while I’m all about flipping through my mountain of food magazines and/or cookbooks discovering unique and exciting ones. He’s always the one to make Black Beans and Rice, grilled cheese sammies with tomato soup, scrambled eggs, grilled pizza, the Thanksgiving smoked turkey breast and this butternut pear curry bisque; he follows the recipe to. a. tee; always measuring exact amounts, never eyeballing an ingredient – meticulous and precise. I, on the other hand, am racing through the directions, capturing the essence of a recipe and then I’m off doing my own ‘loose’ interpretation; and I have only a handful of recipes I’ve made more than once.
We’re all connected through food in one way or another; and while it would appear that The Professor and I would clash in the kitchen, we actually compliment one another. There are times when I’m in charge and he’s the sous chef; then he’s in charge and I’m the support. That is the dance. That is the magic. And that is how all of us create our own individual memories and stories.
What favorite food takes you back to a particular memory?
BUTTERNUT PEAR CURRY BISQUE
Cooking Light Magazine, October 2000
BAH Note: I made a few modifications to the recipe that Debra was kind enough to supply. Since this is Debra’s memory, I’m showing the recipe she used. But lean in and I’ll tell you what I did different. First, I used all of pulp I got from a 3 pound squash. I didn’t measure out exactly how many cups this was but I was happy with the results. Next, you’ll want to remember to roast your squash cut side down. I didn’t and had to double the oven time for my butternut. Also, I changed up the amount of liquids. I used a 12 ounce can of pear nectar, one can of vegetable broth, and 2 cups water. Lastly, I didn’t have another pear to use for garnish so I improvised by crisping up some prosciutto and sprinkled it on the top like confetti.
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 3/4 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups chopped peeled Bartlett pear (about 1 pound)
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 1 cup pear nectar
- 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans vegetable broth
- 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 small Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 375°.
Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Peel squash; mash pulp. Set aside 3 1/2 cups pulp, reserving remaining squash for another use.
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped pear and onion; sauté 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add squash pulp, water, and next 5 ingredients (water through pepper). Bring to a boil; partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Place one-third of squash mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour puréed mixture into a large bowl; repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Return squash mixture to pan; stir in half-and-half. Cook over low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with pear slices.