Thursday, June 30, 2011


Turkish Cucumber Salad!  Or soup!
     Turkish cucumber mint salad is a refreshing summer appetizer.  Turkish cacik is similar to Grecian tzatziki.  Cacik is usually thinner and "soupier" than tzatziki.  Tsatziki is meant to be a sauce that clings.
     Cacik can be served thin like a soup.  Cacik can be served as a salad or as a dip for bread.  This recipe is very simple to make.  Cacik can have a chopped cucumber texture or it can be made like a refined smooth puree.
     For this recipe, the seeds are left in the cucumber.  The watery seed section adds to the refreshing qualities of cacik.  A food processor can be used to puree the cucumber and mint, if a smooth texture is preferred.
     Place 2 cups of finely chopped peeled cucumber in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add enough goat milk yogurt to thoroughly coat and cover the chopped cucumber.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped mint.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Add enough water thin the yogurt to a milk consistency.
     Place the cacik into a shallow serving dish.
     Garnish the rim of the dish with mixed baby lettuce leaves.
     Set the cacik dish on a serving platter.
     Heat a pita bread in an oven.
     Cut the pita bread into small triangles.
     Place the pita bread triangles next to the dish of cacik on the platter.
     Cacik has one of the best "I gotta have more of this!" kind of warm weather refreshing flavors!  Yum!  ...  Shawna    

Friday, June 24, 2011

Minestra di indivia e basilico con Midolline Pasta

Minestra di Indivia e Basilico al Pasta Midolline!  Italian Endive, Basil and Melon Seed Pasta Soup!
     Endive has a mild bitter flavor that mellows when it is cooked.  The combination of fresh basil and lemon adds a very unique flavor to the broth.  Midolline is melon seed shaped pasta.  Midolline is perfect for soups.  This is a great tasting Venetian style vegetarian soup that is perfect for summer!
     Minestra of Endive and Basil with Midolline Pasta:
     This recipe makes 1 large serving of soup!  Many Italian soups are a la minute (cooked to order).  This soup should be made shortly before serving and it should not kept kept warm in a soup warmer. 
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.  
     Saute the garlic, till it becomes a golden color.  
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced carrot.  
     Add 2 tablespoons chopped portobello mushroom.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.  
     Saute till the onions turn clear in color.  
     Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped endive lettuce.  
     Saute till the endive starts to wilt.  
     Add 8 whole fresh large basil leaves.  
     Saute till the basil leaves wilt.  
     Add 2 3/4 cups of light vegetable broth.  
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  
     Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the soup to a boil.  
     Add 1/4 cup of midolline pasta.  
     Stir the soup occasionally as the pasta cooks.  
     Boil till the pasta becomes cooked al dente.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.   
     Remove the bay leaf.  
     Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.  
     Float a thin slice of lemon on the surface of the soup.  
     Place a basil sprig against the rim of the soup bowl as a garnish.  
     The midolline pasta does look like mellon seeds in this soup.  The small amount of onion and carrot helps to "sweeten" the broth.  No celery is needed for the soffritto vegetable mixture in this soup.  The broth has such a refreshing light flavor!  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna         

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Roasted Corn and Chile Morita Cheddar Soup

A tasty southwestern soup!
     California style Cal Mex and Texas style Tex Mex cuisine both were originally modified Mexican cuisine.  Little has changed in those two cuisines.  Southwestern cuisine is a little bit different.  Southwestern cuisine is both traditional and creative.  New Mexico is where modern southwestern cooking first became very popular.  Southwestern cuisine features Native American and Mexican ingredients.  Southwestern cuisine features native southwestern desert vegetables that many people are not familiars with.  Southwestern cuisine also makes use of some ingredients that were introduced to the American southwest by europeans.  Many presentations of southwestern cuisine infuse Native American art.  Creative southwestern fine desert cuisine is what the original New Mexico southwestern cuisine was all about.  Southwestern cuisine is unique.
     Today's soup recipe has a well balanced flavor.  Only enough cheddar cheese is added to create a delicate flavor.  Roasted corn adds a nice lightly roasted sweet corn flavor.
     Chile morita is a smoked dried red jalapeno chile pepper that is similar to a chipotle.  Chipotle is also a smoked dried jalapeno.  Morita peppers and chipotle peppers are both jalapeno peppers, but the flavors are quite different.  Chile morita is a highly prized variety of red jalapeno that is native to Chihuahua Mexico.  The flavor of chile morita is much more complex and robust than a chipotle pepper.  Morita peppers are on the spicy hot side.  Only a small amount of chile morita is needed per serving of this soup.
     Many chefs say that all dried peppers have to be dry roasted in a pan for any western cuisine.  This simply is not true.  Some recipes benefit from roasted chile flavors, while other do not.  Some dried chiles do not take well to dry roasting.  If the dried chiles are in top condition and are aromatic, dry roasting will ruin the crisp flavors.
     Most of my southwestern recipes do not require roasting dried chiles, because I purchase good aromatic dried chiles.  I prefer the true chile flavor, rather than masking the dried chile flavor with a borderline burnt flavor.
     Dry roasting chiles can add a slight burnt chile flavor that is not a plus.  Some chefs describe this as mellowing the chile flavor, but it truly only masks the flavor.  If chile peppers were meant to be mellow, then they would all taste like green bell pepper.  The best way to tone down a hot chile pepper is to add less of it or blend it with milder varieties of chile pepper that have complimentary flavor profiles.  
     Roasted Corn and Chile Morita Cheddar Soup:
     This recipe makes one large serving!
     Select 1 dried chile morita pepper that is the size of a tablespoon
     Remove the stem and seeds.
     Soak the chile in a little bit of water, till the chile becomes softened.
     Cut a 4 inch long section of shucked sweet corn.
     Grill the corn ear section in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat or over a char grill.
     Grill the corn, till the tips of the kernels turn a caramelized brown color.
     Cut the roasted kernels off of the corn cob.
     Set the roasted kernels aside.  
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon each of these brunoise cut (1/8"x1/8"x1/8") vegetables:
     - carrot
     - peeled celery        
     Saute till the mirepoix vegetables become tender.
     Add just enough flour, while stirring, to soak up the butter in the pan.
     Stir the roux, till it becomes combined and till it becomes a golden color.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock while stirring.
     Chop the reserved softened chile morita and add it to the soup.
     Add the roasted corn kernels.
     Stir the soup as it heats and thickens.
     Add 1 1/3 cups of milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Stir the soup, till the milk combines with the thickened broth.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of paprika.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer for about ten minutes, till the flavors meld and the corn becomes tender.
     Add 1/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the cheese melts and becomes part of the soup.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Simmer and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Sprinkle some very thin bias sliced green onion tops over the soup.
     This soup should be a medium thin sauce consistency and it should not be too thick.  The rich smokey flavor of chile morita is very nice with the sweet roasted corn and cheddar flavors.  This roasted corn and chile morita cheddar soup is a nice southwestern style cream soup!  Yum!  ...  Shawna