July 24, 2007

One Good Way to Stay Cool

I know that people say each summer is hotter than the last but this time it's true! SB has been way hotter than I remember it with no cooling effects of fog for the most part. M. Pants thinks I'm crazy but that's par for the course around here.

When it gets like this, like many people, I don't want to go anywhere near a stove. I prefer great big salads or simple sandwiches. In the past, I wish that I liked gazpacho and other chilled soups but until now, I hadn't found one that I thought was substantial enough for a meal, despite my seriously reduced appetite.

We went a little crazy at the market and bought 6 ears of corn with the plan of making a Mexican-inspired corn-tomatillo soup but we must of been addled by the heat because it is way too hot for that right now. Instead, based on a little research from my monstrous list of recipes I want to try, we discovered a chilled corn soup from a back issue of Bon Appetit. With a few modifications, we had a nice cooling dinner aided by some sauvignon blanc.

Chilled Corn Soup with Serrano Chile-Cilantro Oil and Smoked Trout adapted from Bon Appetit

This soup is very well balanced (and pretty!). The sweetness of the tomato and corn is offset by the bursts of coarse sea salt sprinkled on at the last minute and the heat of the chile oil is tempered by the milk. The smokiness of the trout adds depth of flavor and nudges the soup into the light dinner category. This is meant to be a first course for four but we tuned it into dinner for two.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 serrano chiles
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
6 ears super-fresh corn, shucked
2 cups whole milk
a handful of tomatoes, diced, we used ones from our garden
3 oz smoked trout, in large flakes
coarse sea salt

In a blender or food processor, combine oil, chiles and cilantro and process until chilies and cilantro and chopped finely and suspended in the oil. Set aside for two hours to combine flavors.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Add corn and cook just until done, about 2-3 minutes. I prefer my corn just barely on this side of cooked, so you might cook a wee bit longer. Remove corn from water and shock in ice bath to prevent further cooking.

When corn is cool enough to handle, carefully remove kernels with a sharp knife. Using the flat side of the knife and working over a bowl to catch the juices, run the knife down the length of the kernel-less cob, "milking" it of its remaining juices.

Measure out 6 1/2 cups of whole kernels and combine with milk in the blender. Blend well. Strain until all liquid is removed from kernel mush. At this point, you can discard the kernel bits to have a perfectly smooth soup, but we like our food with some texture, so we stirred about half of the bits back into the soup. Cover and chill.

After two hours, strain the oil of solids and set aside.

Plating: Carefully ladle soup into bowls. We had remaining whole kernels left. so we added them to the bowls and sprinkled the tomatoes over. Arrange fish in center and drizzle oil on soup. Right before serving, sprinkle with salt. Enjoy!

Serves 4 as a first course, or 2 as a light dinner

PS Have any suggestions for places to go wine tasting in SB county for my b'day?

PPS Does anyone know how to add accent marks and tildes to text? The bad grammar is grating.

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July 20, 2007

I Geek, Therefore I Am

I was in San Jose most of this week visiting with my sister and now I'm too excited about today's (or rather, tomorrow's) new release to write anything of food interest. so here are some talking points about which I can't sit still for:

1) Snape: good or bad?
2) Who dies?
3) What do you think Rowling will do next?
4) Have you been avoiding spoilers? or seeking them out?
5) How excited are you?

July 12, 2007

Media Madness

I guess if Bourdain is man enough to admit his weakness, I will too. I have become a Top Chef/Next Food Network Star addict. Previously, I was immune to their charms because we didn't have cable but now our magical free cable is fixed and I have seen every episode of both, some more than once.

TC is by far more interesting because it's more about the food whereas NFNS focuses on how their contestants will look on TV. Honestly, I don't think any of their remaining proto-stars are going to succeed but I do believe that Amy will take it. On TC, I'm not sure who will be picked. I had high hopes for Clay, the SB chef but after proving he didn't have the chops, he got kicked off on the first episode. Very disappointing. I like Hung, just for his pure deviousness, or at least that's how he's portrayed, but after two weeks of the judges being "confused" (his words) because he didn't win, I'm not sure if he'll even make it to the final show. He doesn't take to criticism too well. Joey has to go though. He doesn't seem like he knows what he is doing and he also likes to rag on people behind their backs and get into my-knife-is-bigger-than-yours (ahem) arguments. Unprofessional and no one cares.

I've got the partner into watching too so we can discuss who we think will win and why. I'm new to this whole reality tv stuff and while part of me is disappointed that I fell for it, the other part can't wait until next week's episode. If you're watching, who do you think/want to win? Who do you wish would go away?