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Chilled Cucumber Soup

Here’s another one of those no-cook recipes when the summer heat has you fleeing your stove. It also is timely for those of you gardeners who have more an abundance of cucumbers. I’m not growing any in my small plot, but my niece Keri gave me a couple from her garden, and I think I put them to good use in this recipe, from Melissa Clark of The New York Times.

You’ll note there are anchovies in the recipe and they are listed as optional. But DON’T leave them out, even if you hate anchovies (are you listening, Marie?) You absolutely cannot taste them in this recipe, but I guarantee you, the soup won’t be as flavorful without them. Cucumbers are so mild that this soup needs the jalapeño, the herbs, the garlic, the vinegar and yes, the anchovies, to give it the umph it needs, lest it turn out as a bland bowl of puréed cucumbers. Trust me on this one, please. And don’t leave out the corn garnish. The extra texture and taste really lends it a nice finishing touch.

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Chilled Cucumber Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I USED 1½ cups plain yogurt plus ¼ cup water)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 2 small whole scallions, trimmed
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
  • ½ cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil and cilantro - I USED DILL AND PARSLEY)
  • ½ teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels sliced off
  • Fresh dill, for serving
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt.
  2. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed.
  3. Let the soup sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours to blend all the flavors.
  4. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with raw corn kernels and a drizzle of olive oil.
 

Flounder With Roasted Grapes

Flounder with Roasted Grapes

 Roasted grapes, what took me so long to discover your delights? Fellow bloggers like Stacey, Marie and Domenica have been praising your virtues for a while, and I even posted a recipe years ago from Lidia featuring sausages in the skillet with grapes. Well, maybe I was lagging when it came to roasting grapes myself, but since trying them this past weekend, I’ve finally come on board.

The natural sweetness of grapes becomes even more intense after a roasting at high temperature in the oven, and adds a jammy, fruity taste to anything you pair it with.
In this case, it was flounder – apropos for a Lenten Friday night’s dinner. It’s also good for calorie counters too, and there are plenty of us out there. And it’s delicious enough to serve to company.
 I had a small piece of fennel in the fridge needing to be used, so I roasted some matchsticks of fennel too, drizzling them with a little olive oil, but leaving the grapes naked. I experimented with them, roasting some in clusters (yes), as individual grapes (yes), and cut in half (no, they burned).
The dish comes together in less than 15 minutes, assuming you’ve roasted the grapes ahead of time.
If you’re like me, you’ll be wondering what took you so long to try this easy and delicious way of using grapes. But now that I’ve tried them, I”ll be roasting grapes and eating them in dishes at meals any time of day.
To wit: My new favorite breakfast: lemon-flavored Greek yogurt with roasted grapes and hazelnuts.

 

Flounder with Roasted Grapes
printable recipe here

two pieces of flounder, about 1 lb. total
2 Tablespoons olive oil
flour, for dusting
salt, pepper
1/2 cup Prosecco, or dry white wine
1 Tablespoon butter
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon thyme leaves
a few clusters of seedless grapes

Roast the grapes in a parchment-lined (or Silpat-lined) cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I don’t add any oil or salt to the pan. Just grapes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Dry the pieces of flounder with a paper towel and dredge with flour on each side. Pat the pieces to remove excess flour. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the olive oil into a skillet and place over high heat. Gently place the pieces of flounder into the hot oil a few minutes until golden on one side. Flip over gently and let it cook on the second side for a couple of minutes on high heat, just enough to brown slightly. Then pour off any excess oil, and pour in the Prosecco or white wine. It should bubble all around the fish and reduce somewhat. Lower the heat, then add the butter and thyme leaves. Pour the lemon juice over the fish, then add the grapes and swish the pan a little to warm the grapes, taking care not to break up the fish pieces. (I also had roasted some fennel pieces with the grapes and added those at this point too). Serve immediately.