Winter is passing by slowly and spring gets in its place. This is a very interesting time of the year, not only because of the awakening of the nature, but also from a culinary point of view. At this time of year, both winter-stored and fresh spring versions of the same ingredients can be found at local markets. While the winter vegetables usually require a lot more cooking time, spring vegetables tend to get soft within minutes. In this dish I combined the last purple carrots from winter with the first orange ones of spring.
While peeling and cleaning a pumpkin or butternut squash, the skin and the seeds usually get discarded. From one point of view this is somehow understandable, because neither the hard skin, nor the stringy seeds have a pleasant texture. On the other side, they are edible and contain a lot of flavor, so it would be favorable to use the “waste” somehow. I had the idea to add the discarded pumpkin seeds and skin parts to a vegetable stock. The resulting orange colored stock can be added to a butternut squash soup, used for cooking pumpkin cubes or cylinders, which might also be blended into a fine puree – or for making this ultimate butternut squash risotto.
Apricots belong to a special group of fruits. While most fruits loose more or less flavor when cooked, for apricots actually some gentle heat really enhances and helps to develop their flavor. Therefore it is always wise to bake or cook apricots before any further use. Or – if there is no time – just simply toss with some brandy or schnaps and flambe. For baked apricots you can either leave the skin on (and remove easily after baking) to get a more vibrant sour and tart note. Otherwise briefly blanch the apricots in hot water and peel them. For this current recipe I removed the skin because I didn’t want to have too much tartness in the end result. I baked the apricots at low temperature on a herb bed which enriched its flavor and took it in a savory direction. The original idea for the herb baked apricots itself is based on a recipe from German 3-star chef Juan Amador‘s cookbook. I’ve already prepared it several times and always tweak on the combination of herbs and the preparation. E.g. removing the skin before baking is clearly a better choice. The apricots pair really well with liver or mushrooms. In this recipe I incorporated them in a terrine, which can be used in multiple ways.