The kitchen smells better when there are fresh baked goods coming out of the oven and then cooling wherever we have space. Cookies, pies, breads, they all spark the olfactory nerve, which in turn triggers the saliva glands, and often times memories are triggered. Not even real memories, just ideal memories that I wish I had actually experienced. The scent, actually the idea of a particular scent, is the inspiration for our most recent soup. The smell of gingerbread baking, dark and spicy, warm, soft, the idea of a warm hug for your palate epitomizes what I was looking for. Of course in order to capture this memory I needed a bit of help. I asked Aki if she could make me a gingerbread. I did not tell her my final plans as I needed an impartial approach to gingerbread. I wanted her to share her vision and idea of gingerbread.
With that as the platform I could then build the rest of the soup.
140g country ham trimmings
1 t cayenne
1t smoked paprika
1t caraway seeds
1t powdered ginger
5 juniper berries
Saute the county ham in the butter until it is evenly browned. Add the onion, banana, ginger and the spices. Sweat these ingredients until they are soft. De-glaze the pan with the coffee, then add the molasses and the gingerbread. Finally add the water and salt and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for thirty minutes. Puree the entire base in a blender until smooth and then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill the mixture down.
This is the bisque base. We have not yet moved beyond that. We have talked about incorporating langoustines or bay scallops, or even seared foie gras, although its final use or uses have not yet been decided. The bisque would be equally delicious folded into lentils to make them creamy and decadent or served with crispy skate or sweetbreads, or as a medium to poach lobster or squab.
For now I am happy simply eating spoonfuls of the bisque and smelling the aroma of fresh baked gingerbread as it simmers on the stove.