Monday, August 9, 2010

cucumber yogurt soup

cucumber yogurt soup

Today, I have soup for you. Not hot soup, mind you, because we are in the midst of summer, nobody wants to eat piping hot soup. Not me, at least. This here today is cold soup – cold cucumber yogurt soup to be exact. It’s amazingly refreshing, I promise you. I even had it for breakfast the day after I made it – over one of those days the heat index broke 100. I realize it’s less than traditional to eat soup for breakfast, but then again, I am also a fan of cold lo mein the morning after a night of Chinese food. Go figure.

The way this summer’s been going, I’m looking forward to eating a lot of this soup. Full bowls of it with crusty hunks of bread, kohlrabi salad, and buttermilk granita. Anything to keep me from turning on the stove or the oven. I do break down sometimes, in an attempt to conquer fear, or bring the summer barbecue inside my tiny apartment, but if I can get away with not raising the apartment temperature I’m all for it.

cucumber yogurt soup

Speaking of hunks (I do know a way with burying the lede, don’t I), I’ve been keeping something from you. Or rather someone. And it’s partly been because I have been so protective of it (him), and partly because I wasn’t sure how to. You see, every time I wanted to tell you about this someone, words would fail me. Like, really fail me. Every time I tried, I would stare at the computer screen, not sure where to start and how to finish. What I want to say go so far beyond language that for now, I’ll say just this: he makes my heart and my life fuller and brighter like a great big song that you want to fill a space with – a song that is deep, clear, resonant. He’s the best “plus one” a girl can hope for, and an eager and enthusiastic eater – an inspiration and a support. And it’s nice to say things like “our dinner” and “we ate” because sharing a meal with him is always a joy and I’m grateful for each little moment like this – really grateful. That’s all I’ll say for now, but expect him to be an ever-growing presence here. I’m happy. Really, truly, ridiculously pinch-myself-I’m-not-dreaming happy.

cucumber yogurt soup

But – back to this soup, which, incidentally I had all to myself. The best part about this soup, besides the fact that it’s delicious, is that you don’t need to turn on your stove, which I already said, but let me stress it again – it is marvelous to make something so quickly and so easily, especially when there’s not enough iced water in the world to cool you off. This soup comes together in mere minutes. That’s right – minutes. The weeknight meals I tell you about that take under an hour to cook while you drink wine? Well, you can definitely have a glass of wine while prepping this, but I’d be surprised if you were able to finish it by the time this soup was done. Unless, of course, you just downed it (no judgment here!) There are no hard and fast rules here – use more or less of the herbs you want, and if dill isn’t to your liking, you can always swap it out for parsley or chives. I think the mint is critical here as it gives the soup its wings, if you will.

cucumber yogurt soup

I could almost hear my oven whimpering when I walked into the kitchen, pulled out my ingredients, and five minutes later sat down to eat this soup. I felt a little badly ignoring it so, but I more than made up for it the following weekend when we had some company over. I ate this soup with my larger-than-life old Russian spoons I inherited from our family friend’s mother after she passed away. I love those gigantic spoons – they mean business. And a perfect vehicle to transport delicious soup from bowl to mouth. I only wished that I could have shared it that evening, though I’m not too worried – we’ve got more sweltering days coming our way and it’s only a matter of time before I’ll reach for this recipe again and make a double batch, to share. See, I just wrote “we” and “our” and it made me all aflutter and smiley – isn’t love grand?

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

kohlrabi salad

kohlrabi salad

This recipe makes enough salad for two people. However, if you’re smart, you will make double that amount if you are planning on having a plus one for dinner. I promise you you won’t want to share it. With anyone. No matter how much you like them. Sure, you might just have to play nice and slump some of this salad on their plates, but you’ll do it begrudgingly, and in the back or your head, you’ll kind of wish that it was just you and this salad. Alone. Together. Make just the amount below, and you’ll find yourself remembering my words here, regretting that you didn’t heed my warning. And eating should never be about regret.

kohlrabi from the market

Which is why I am so glad to say (guiltily, of course!) that this salad, made for two, was mine – all mine. Each and every crunchy sliver. My solitary dinner never tasted so good. I was thinking, all the while ferociously chewing on a second helping, my goodness, what would I have done if I had to share it? And I’m actually really good at sharing. Especially food. But this, this one is tough. As I’m writing this, I sort of wish for a plateful at my side, but truthfully, I’d be too distracted to write.

hello, gorgeous!

This is my perfect kind of salad, crunchy, spicy, and cold, made this during our July-long heatwave, when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. I wanted something that would make for a great dinner side. When I saw Luisa wax poetic about kohlrabi, a little light went off in my head. I was thinking, I’ve eaten this before – kohlrabi – in Russia. And yet I couldn’t remember what specifically it was in. Or how it was cooked. My mother was of little help. When I asked her about us eating kohlrabi in the old country, she sent me a wikipedia article on what kohlrabi was. No mom, I emailed back, what is it that you made with it? She couldn’t remember either. And so it goes, a taste and a name so familiar, but foreign too, almost as if in a dream.

kohlrabi salad

So when I was peeling and cutting my kohlrabi, I decided to try a little bit on its own. It tasted just like the center part of the cabbage, which, growing up, was one of my favorite snacks. (It’s not lost on me that my favorite childhood snacks were vegetables – which officially makes me weird.) It’s hearty, firm, crunchy, and tastes a little of moist soil. It’s great in the summer raw, and, I imagine, in the colder months – braised in stews. Cutting it into matchsticks is a little tricky, so be sure to use a sharp knife, else you might be putting your fingers in danger. Or, if your matchstick skills could be improved upon, and you’re a tad lazy, like me, use a mandolin, if you have one.

kohlrabi salad

I sort of made this salad up as I went along. I was channeling green papaya salad, which is my favorite and something I can eat every day and not grow tired of, but there isn’t a single Thai place in my neighborhood that gets it just right, so I never wind up ordering it. I thought I’d make something similar, but with the ingredients on hand. And what a delicious experiment this was! I ate each tiny morsel, each fleck of the herbs.

kohlrabi salad

While the heat wave is over, for now, it will, undoubtedly, return in full force. We’ve quite a bit of the summer still left for us. The tomato season is arriving, the stone fruit is piled high at my farmers market; both are seductively fragrant. There’s still so much produce to cook and savor. So for the days when it’s scorching out again, this will be your antidote. Turn your a/c on and make this salad, doubling the amount, as instructed. Sit on your couch with your plus one, knees touching, or at your kitchen table, and pour yourself (and them) a chilled Riesling. This is summer at its best. Come to think of it, sharing is kind of nice.

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