The Market Report

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Laura Avery chats with Jason Travi, chef-owner of Fraiche restaurant in Culver City. He is just opening Riva restaurant on Wilshire Blvd in between 3rd and 4th Street in Santa Monica.  Winter squash soup is really popular this time of year at Fraiche. Travi tops his with cardamom-flavored marshmallows.

Winter Squash Soup
(adapted from a recipe by Evan Kleiman)

Roast whole squash in the oven at 375° to 400°F. With a knife, poke holes in the skin of the pumpkin/squash.  Bake until flesh is soft (when pricked with a knife, the knife should slide easily through the skin and flesh.) 

Remove pumpkin. Cut in half and scoop out seeds. Then scoop out flesh and use in below soup recipe.

½ cup butter, browned in a gently warmed pan (careful not to burn the butter)
2 onions, peeled and diced
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
dash allspice
3 lbs winter squash peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (any variety except spaghetti squash)
Mushroom broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook onions in the browned butter until they starts to collapse and become soft. Add to a large stockpot.  Pour enough broth to cover one-third of the pot's contents.  Add spices and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. 

Keep the pot covered and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When the squash softens, it will have given up some of its water and you can see how much additional liquid to add, if any. Once everything is soft, mash the mixture with a potato masher or sturdy whisk. If it is very thick, add enough additional liquid to make a pleasing texture.  Evan likes to put the soup through the coarse disk of a food mill. For a more elegant texture, puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Adjust the seasoning to your palate, and garnish the soup with cardamom marshmallows.

Cardamom Marshmallows
Recipe courtesy of Brownie Points blog

2 gelatin envelopes
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rice flour
Confectioners sugar

Line a 9" x 13" (8" x 8") pan and a loaf pan with parchment paper. Coat the paper with vegetable oil or non-stick spray.

Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixer bowl combine the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon of water with 1 teaspoon ground cardamom. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid to bloom (soften).   Add the sugar, salt, corn syrup, and remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon to a heavy saucepan.

Bring to a boil with the lid on and without stirring. When this mixture is at a boil, remove the lid and continue to cook without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage (234°-240°F).

With the mixer at medium speed, pour all of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the awaiting gelatin mixture. Be careful as the syrup is very liquid and very hot and some may splash out of the bowl. (Use a splashguard if you have one.) When all of the syrup is added, bring the mixer up to full speed.

Whip until the mixture is very fluffy and stiff, about 8-10 minutes. Pour marshmallow into the parchment-lined pans and smooth with an oiled offset spatula if necessary. Allow the mixture to sit, uncovered at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours.

Mix equal parts rice flour and confectioners sugar and sift generously over the rested marshmallow slab. Turn the slab out onto a cutting board, peel off paper and dust with more sugar/starch mixture. Slice with a pizza cutter into desired shapes. Dip all cut edges in sugar/starch mixture and shake off excess powder.

Marshmallows will keep several weeks at room temp in an air-tight container.


Squash, squash and more squash. It's the season for it. Luckily there are many varieties at the farmers markets. Look for Delicata, a variety that Jerry Rutiz grows. Because the skin is so thin he likes to slice the squash into thin slices (skin on), scrapes off the seeds, and bakes or sautees in a layer of olive oil. When browned, the squash turns crunchy sweet, almost like an onion ring.

Music break: All Good by Zeroleen