Cool Weather, Warm Flavors

Bobby Flay celebrates the tastes of the Southwest he popularized in his Mesa Grill restaurants in his new cookbook, "Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook" (Clarkson Potter, October 16, 2007).

Among the perfect-for-a-brisk-fall-evening flavors he's sharing with The Early Show today: pumpkin soup, grilled lamb porterhouse and caramel apple shortcake. Tune in tomorrow and Thursday for even more Mesa Grill goodies.

Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon Crème and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
(Serves 6-8)

Says Flay: "It's almost impossible not to have this soup on Mesa's menu in the late fall, both because I love it and the customers wouldn't let me leave it off. It does have all of those classic spices that you pair with pumpkin -- cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg -- but the addition of chipotles adds some nice heat and makes it anything but standard."

Pumpkin Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stocks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
5 cups cold water (or if you don't want a vegetarian stock you can substitute 4 cups enriched chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth)
3 cups pumpkin puree (not flavored pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chipotle puree
3/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Mexican cinnamon (canella) or if you would like to make pomegranate crema, substitute 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses for the cinnamon.

1. Heat the butter in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bay and peppercorns and cook until soft. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minute. Strain the stock into a bowl and discard the cooked vegetables. Place the pumpkin puree in a large saucepan, whisk in 2 cups of the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the spices, honey and chipotle. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Add more stock, if the soup is too thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of the crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix together the remaining crème fraiche and cinnamon (or pomegranate molasses) until combined. Ladle the soup into four bowls; drizzle with the cinnamon crème fraiche and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin strings by rinsing them in a bowl of water. Dry the seeds between paper towels.

2. Toss the seeds with the oil and season with salt to taste. Spread the seeds evenly on a baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they are lightly golden brown and crisp. Let cool. You can also top with blue & white fried tortilla chips.

Grilled Lamb Porterhouse with Fig-Cascabel Sauce & Red-Chile Fig Marmalade
(Serves 4)

Says Flay: "Lamb porterhouse chops are much more interesting than a standard rack of lamb (though of course you could substitute that should you not be able to find these). It's the same cut as that of a T-bone steak, so you get both the tender filet and flavorful strip in each serving. I think the earthy flavor of the cascabel chiles compliments both the figs and the lamb wonderfully."

Fig cascabel sauce
8 dried figs
1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 cup port wine
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 cascabel chiles, toasted, stems removed and crushed
4 cups homemade chicken stock

1. Place figs in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit until softened, approximately 30 minutes. Place the softened figs in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid and process until smooth.

2. While the figs are rehydrating, combine the vinegars and port wine in a medium nonreactive saucepan and reduce by half over high heat. Add the sugar and fig puree and reduce by half again, stirring occasionally.

3. Combine the chicken stock and crushed chiles in a medium saucepan and reduce by half over high heat. Add the reduced vinegar/fig mixture to the chicken stock mixture and reduce by half again, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture into a clean medium saucepan and reduce to a sauce consistency.

Fig marmalade
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely diced
1 pound dried figs, stems removed and diced
1/2 cup ruby Port
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup cascabel or ancho chile puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the figs, port, orange juice, chile puree and sugar and cook until the figs are softened and the mixture is thick, 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, let cool to room temperature and stir in the cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

Grilled Lamb Porterhouse
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
8 lamb porterhouse chops, 4-5 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves.

1.Heat grill to high or grill pan over high heat. Brush chops on both sides with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the chops on the grill/pan and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, 3-4 minutes. Turn over the chops and continue grilling to medium doneness, about 2-3 minutes longer.
3. Ladle some of the sauce into the center of each dinner plate. Place 2 chops per serving in the center of the sauce and drizzle the edges of the meat with some more of the sauce. Top each chops with a tablespoon of the fig relish and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with Mesa Grill Spinach & Roasted Garlic Tamale with Thyme Butter. (recipes below)

(Serves 8 to 10)

Says Flay: "This tamale makes a wonderful side dish for just about anything!"

24 dried corn husks
4 cups fresh corn kernels
1 small red onion, choppped
1 head roasted garlic, peeled
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 Tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Thyme Butter

1. Two hours before you form the tamales, clean the husks under running water. Soak them in warm water for about 2 hours, or until softened.

2. Puree the corn, roasted garlic, and 1 1/2 cups of water in food processor or blender. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the butter. Add the cornmeal and honey, season with salt and pepper, and mix until there are no visible lumps; the mixture will be loose.

3. Remove the corn husks from the water and set aside the best 20 husks. Pat dry. Tear the remaining 4 husks into 1-inch wide strips to be used for tying. Lay 2 husks flat on a work surface with the tapered ends facing left and right and the broad centers overlapping each other by about three inches. Place about 1/3 cup of the masa mixture in the center. Bring the long sides up over the masa, slightly overlapping and pat down to close. Tie each end of the the bundle with a strip of corn husk, pushing the filling toward the middle as you tie. Trim the ends to about 1/2 inch beyond the tie. The tamales can be assembled up to four hours ahead and refrigerated.

4. Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer. Arrange the tamales in a single layer on a steamer rack, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and steam for 45 to 75 minutes, until firm to the touch.

5. To serve, arrange 1 tamale on each of 8 serving plates. Using a paring knife, cut a slit lengthwise in the top of each tamale and push both ends of the tamale toward the middle to expose the masa. Top each serving with a heaping tablespoon of thyme butter. DO NOT EAT THE HUSKS.

Thyme Butter (makes about 3/4 cup)

12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the butter, thyme, and honey in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Scrape onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a log, and wrap well. Refrigerate until solid -- at least 2 hours -- and up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before using to soften slightly.

Roasting garlic
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Separate the cloves of a head of garlic, but do not peel. Drizzle the cloves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic securely in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until very soft. Squeeze the pulp from the skins, discarding the skins. Roasted garlic will keep covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Mesa Grill Spinach
(Serves 4)

12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh flat-leaf spinach, left slightly damp from washing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Caramel Apple Shortcake with Apple Cider Reduction
(Serves 6)

Says Flay: "Perhaps best known with a strawberry filling, we make shortcakes year-round at Mesa Grill by utilizing in-season fruits. Autumn's apples are caramelized to an almost candied sweetness and paired with flaky biscuit-like shortbread and refreshing sour cream whipped cream."

Apple Cider Reduction

1 quart apple cider
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons apple brandy (such as Apple Jack)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over high heat until reduced to a thick syrup, stirring occasionally.

Sour Whipped Cream

3/4 cup very cold heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
Whip heavy cream until slightly thickened. Add the sour cream and continue to whip until soft peaks form.

Caramelized Apples

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple brandy (such as Apple Jack)

1. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the vanilla bean and apple slices and cook until the apples begin to brown. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook until caramelize and the apples are soft, stirring frequently. If the mixture begins to look dry, add a little water.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the apple brandy, carefully return to the heat and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and a large bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until it turns a light yellow and the butter is still visible but in much smaller pieces. Gently stir in 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, keep stirring in more buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. All of the buttermilk may not be used.

4. Pat dough out on a floured surface to 1 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out 2-inch rounds with a metal cutter or the top of a glass; dip cutter or glass into flour before cutting each time.

5. Place biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops of each biscuit with the milk or cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

6. Bake the biscuits until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and let cool.

7. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the apple cider reduction onto each plate. Split the shortcakes in half and place the bottoms on the plate. Spoon several heaping tablespoons of the caramelized apples on the shortcake bottoms then top with a dollop of the whipped cream and another drizzle of the apple cider reduction. Place the tops on top.