For a winter night’s meal the gold hue of roasted acorn squash soup makes for a glowing, smooth, simple beginning. A subtle seasoning of mace, cinnamon, and sugar enhances the squash’s natural sweetness; purèeing the vegetable with cream enriches and blends the flavors. As an entrèe, the scallop sautè with winter vegetables provides an exotic contrast to the homeyness of the soup. The sweet, creamy sea scallops make reference to the first course, while the vegetables give vivid color and texture to the dish. Garlic, fresh ginger, and sesame oil add to the complex and fragrant play of winter flavors.
Chocolate is the perfect final touch to this light meal. Subtly accented with hazelnut, the mousse adds fullness and richness in just the right measure. Texas’ own Fall Creek Vineyards’ Chenin Blanc, with its fruity, soft varietal flavor — much less dry than a Chardonnay — complements this menu excellently. Together the earthy, nutty, and rich aromas emanating from the kitchen are an irresistible enticement to the pleasures of quick cuisine.
Plan of Attack: The minute you walk into the kitchen, turn the oven to 450 degrees and prepare the squash. Then prepare the onion-and-garlic mixture for the soup. Next, make the mousse, turn the oven down to 400, and put the mousse in to bake. Finish the soup, and keep it warm. Set the table, wash and slice the vegetables, and clean and slice the scallops. Heat the wok, heat the oil, and finish the main dish.