Cool and Creamy Cucumber Soup

Cucumber Soup

This is one of those lovely French dishes that just makes summer. It’s a light, creamy and cool cucumber soup that turns an ordinary meal into something wonderful. That’s the best description I can give it.

The main thing I really like about this dish is that it really focuses on the cucumbers. And with just a small amount of mint (which is essential) and a little onion, there really isn’t much else in there. I generally use two cucumbers, nice medium size ones, and save only a few slices for garnishing it at the end. The rest goes in the soup and I’m actually thinking of trying to add even a bit more cucumbers. We’ll see. 

This is probably not a full meal. It really doesn’t have that kind of heft to it, but it is perfect for starting almost anything else you might have — a salad, some chicken, maybe even some beef. It adds to just about anything. When you can get them, use fresh cucumbers. They make enough of a difference you’ll want them. But the truth is, just about any good cukes will do just fine if that’s all you have.

Enjoy!!

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Avocado Pickles, Nice and Easy to Make

Avocado Pickles

Avocado Pickles isn’t something I’d have thought of by myself, but listen up guys, these are interesting and a great treat. And they’re great for a little summer appetizer.

First, though, the only reason I came across the idea at all came from my daughter, who among other things likes to keep me posted on the food stuff she comes across as she finds them. This one came from a website, and that in turn came from another cookbook, which I adapted a bit. I haven’t looked at the original, so I can’t say how much this is different from the original, but it’s actually very simple to make and there are plenty of things you can do with this recipe, if you have a mind to try it.

The recipe starts with a brine made up of vinegar, sugar, salt, some mustard seeds and some pepper. I had some Anaheim chili’s in the fridge, so I used them to give the pickles just a little spice. You can probably use whatever you happen to have, and you’ll find it makes a slight difference in the finished product. The avocado’s are sliced and then the brine is added to the top in a quart jar. Use some not quite ripe avocados, the brine will soften them a fair amount.

The avocado pickles are something that’s a little spicy and delicious. It will keep in the fridge for about a month or so.

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Belgium Toast Cannibal

Belgium Toast Cannibal

Yup. Seriously. Belgium Toast Cannibal is what this is really called. I learned this from a new friend, when we got to talking (somehow) about steak tartare and how those in Belgium do it —  mainly for those tend to turn up their noses at raw beef. I love the idea of Toast Cannibal. It really kind of puts this where it should be, but with a bit of humor and without the “tartare” hanging around to scare people off.

The meat filling has a basic combination of beef (use a really good lean steak tenderloin) with some shallot, mayonnaise, egg and capers. Add a little Worcestershire and a bit of red pepper sauce for just a small amount of bite and serve it on a good sourdough bread. Add a few cornichons and you’ve got a great appetizer.

This is really good if you’ve got very few other items in the appetizer department. It’s kind of filling and very delicious.

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Cinco de Mayo — Steak with Mexican Flavors

steak mexicana

Steak with Mexicana flavors, is not one of those things I traditionally think about when doing Cinco de Mayo, but there’s no reason for that. It’s a quite a delicious treat, relatively easy to make, and makes a small four-person treat as part of a bigger meal or a great two-person dish. 

The real trick here is to roast the chiles poblano, which takes a few minutes, but makes an ordinary dish into something a bit special. The trick here is to blacken the skin so it can be removed quickly, then seed the peppers and chop them up into small pieces. The blackened skin is don by roasting the peppers over an open gas burner (or electric) or, if you would rather, cut them in half and place them on a broiler pan. Honestly, it really is that easy.

The steak is even easier. I tend to like ribeye, but you can also use tip steaks, sirloin – basically anything that’s lean and serves well as a medium rare steak. The end-result is dynamite.

The original for this recipe came from Bobby Flay’s Authentic Mexican cookbook, altered to fit my taste.

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Swedish Meatballs, Perfect for Christmas

swedish meatballs

Meatballs are one of those things I really love (as you can see by the many posts I’ve pout here) and these Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites. They’ve got an interesting texture, unlike meatballs of any other kind I’ve had. The sauce, however, is the winner here. There are a couple of ways you can make it, assuming you have some really good mushroom soup handy, but you can also make it with just good old mushroom soup from the can. 

If you have good creamy mushroom sauce, skip the milk in the recipe below and just add some sour cream to give it that nice body. If you have mushroom soup, add the milk and you’re fine. You can also add pre-cooked shredded mushrooms to the mix, if you like.

I’m guessing the soft texture that comes with the meatballs is from 3/4 cup of milk that’s added to the meatball mix, because there doesn’t seem to be anything else different. In fact, as far as I know, I don’t remember seeing milk in any other meatball mix, come to think of it. Whatever the cause, the meatballs come out fresh and will definitely win your heart. Promise.

The Swedish meatballs are great for Christmas and also can make a delicious appetizer, if you wish.

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More Asian Meatball Recipes

more Asian meatball

I know. This is really a strange time to be bringing up a new Asian meatball recipe. But the truth is, I just really wanted to have them and in the end, it’s not really Thanksgiving yet, so why not?

I doubt very much you would likely find these meatballs anywhere in Asia, but they have all the amazing flavors you might expect from an Asian cuisine. Yes, they do use turkey as the meat (yeah, there is Thanksgiving of sorts here), but with water chestnuts, spring onions, cilantro, garlic, ginger and a lime-juice marinade that brings it all up to where it should be.

And, like most meatballs, these can be served as a nice dinner, but also as an appetizer and even as a small lunch plate, if that’s your choice. The flavors are definitely Asian in nature, reminding me a lot of Vietnamese or maybe Singaporean kind of fare. They could be served over rice noodles or even with zucchini noodles, perhaps with a little peanut butter sauce.

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Cheesy Broccoli Soup

cheesy broccoli soup

I told you we’d be having a lot of soup, the past few weeks and yes, we’re still at it. This time around it’s a very cheesy broccoli soup, and this is one of my all time favorites.  It’s got plenty of broccoli and cheese, of course, but it also, strangely, doesn’t need much of the way in seasoning. It’s one of those soups that just, plain, stands for itself.

They key, of course, is the cheese. I like using Gouda and sharp cheddar, which gives a nice lovely flavor without overwhelming the broccoli, but you can indeed use all cheddar or just about anything that seems to fit your mood on a given day. And apart from the little bit of bay leaves (and the celery and carrots), there is no other seasoning required for this soup. That’s because good fresh broccoli provides really all the flavor you could ask for. 

Honestly, guys, THIS is the soup you’ve been waiting for.

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