Wednesday, June 25, 2008

chilled corn and cucumber soup

fresh corn and cucumber soup

One of the best things about summer is that it’s full of produce so good, it’s almost a shame to cook it. Every time I buy berries or fruit I wince at the thought of transforming them into something other than their natural state. Sure, I love pies and crumbles and jams as much as the next fruit junkie, but in this season, fresh and raw are sometimes best. Of course, it doesn’t stop me from baking and cooking fruit, I just always have second thoughts about it. And yes, pies and crumbles just don’t taste the same when the fruit is not in season or is frozen. I did however, manage to pull together a fresh corn soup that keeps the freshness of corn intact, while allowing you to do something different with it.

fresh corn and cucumber soup

This soup is many things: fresh, raw, refreshing in the muggy heat of summer, vegetarian and vegan friendly, and best of all – a cinch to make in the kitchen. You could make this late at night after getting home from a grueling day at work and it will take you no more than 15 minutes! In the time it might take you to order a pizza, you could make this soup. Without even approaching your stove and making your already-hot apartment or house even hotter. Are you intrigued?

Other than the slight messiness of cutting the kernels off the cob, this is fun and easy. Yes, you need a blender or a food processor for this, perhaps the soup’s only drawback. But all in all, this is a pretty energy-efficient soup if you think about it. With all the talk as of late of reducing your carbon footprint and with energy costs sky-high, you help the environment by not using the stove and thereby leave a few extra dollars in your pocket to treat yourself to a summer margarita – which, if the soup fails to take the edge off after the long day at work, the margarita surely will.

fresh corn and cucumber soup

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Friday, June 20, 2008

braised baby turnips

braised baby turnips

I think baby-anything is cuter than its adult version. Puppies, kittens, baby seals, baby pandas, regular people babies. Baby vegetables, especially turnips, are cuter than their adult counterparts too – just look at these baby turnips – aren’t they just adorable?

Just look at them – aren’t they adorable? So little and white and perfectly-rounded – bursting with spring freshness! As soon as I saw them at the market, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them and it wasn’t anything complicated. Why mess with perfection?

baby turnips

So what I did was a simple braise – in olive oil and lemon juice with a few garlic cloves thrown in for flavor. Some herbes de Provence a little salt and white pepper – and that’s it. And then I had the turnips with a little white wine, closing my eyes in bliss. They didn’t taste of the earth like mature turnips do, but of the sun and rain, filled with juice, bursting with a sweet flavor – unhardened by the seasons and the temperature. Babies they were – so unpolluted and pure – and so darn cute on my plate, I almost paused to eat them. Almost, of course. And then a few minutes later, they were gone, with a lemony taste lingering in my mouth for a few more moments.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

bourbon-spiked banana bread

bourbon-laced banana bread

My love-affair with the South is multi-fold and I can wax poetic for hours putting most normal folks to sleep, but if I had to pick my three favorite things, it would be what I refer to as the Three B’s: bluegrass, barbecue and bourbon. And if ever I could combine all three, it would be pure heaven. It’s very hard to me to resist bourbon in food as well. The famous tipsy-cakes is probably what started the love-affair and the Jack Daniel’s ice cream at this place didn’t help the matters. I’ve sampled quite a few bourbons in the past, and have finally found my favorite, but I’m always on the lookout for new, small-batch-made bourbon.

bourbon-laced banana bread

I’m not sure where the idea of putting bourbon into banana bread came from, but I’m glad I did it – the bread gave off a deep caramel aroma and it accentuated the sweetness of the banana. In my now-predicable move, I substituted cranberries for walnuts as I greatly prefer more tart to my quick-breads and because I have my cranberry supply to go through.

I suggest pouring out a slightly more generous portion of bourbon than the recipe calls for – it’s quite possible, if not probable, that you might want to have a taste prior to adding the bourbon to the batter, you know, to make sure it hasn’t gone bad or anything. Quality control is so important nowadays.

UPDATE: Kris in the comment section, very accurately pointed out to me that JD is not bourbon but is sour mash whiskey – a very good point indeed. For those of you looking for a quick primer on the difference, I found one here!

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Monday, June 9, 2008

green garlic and spinach soup

green garlic spinach soup

Oh hi, it’s me, it’s seems that I’ve yet again fallen into crazy days at work, days that are interminable. My last push towards getting better from the endless cold involved getting a second course of antibiotics and last week was all but a blur, with 15 hour work days and general chaos notwithstanding. The antibiotics are also making me very tired as a result, but one of the side-effects is that of having trouble sleeping. Lovely, lovely stuff, I tell ya.

green garlic close-up

However, I have to, however briefly, tell you about this soup I made a few weeks back that was just beyond heaven. I was quite inspired by Molly’s dreamy write-up on it and ever since I read her post on this soup, it’s been on the foreground of my mind.

waiting for the smell to become sweeter and more mellow

And so when I spied the green garlic at our Saturday local greenmarket, I was quite overcome with joy because this soup was now well within my reach! My enthusiasm scared KS a bit because once I set my mind on something food-related, I am very ebullient about it. He is more of a subdued force and acts as a very good foil to my otherwise irrational exuberance. But I think this time my glee was well-founded – we loved the soup so much, we finished all, but a single bowl of it in one hungry sitting.

spinach

I added some seductively fragrant extra-virgin olive oil to our bowls as we try to go as much dairy-free as possible. I highly recommend a dollop of the finest olive oil you have in the house to enhance it.

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