Summer, Spain and Soup

After a less than perfect spring, the garden is finally yielding an appreciable number of tomatoes. They’re all cherry-sized… the squirrels had their way with all of the full-sized ones, as well as the eggplant, the peppers, etc.


Last night, in a Spanish mood, we made some tapas (a couple of which we’ve posted before), and a riff on this Thomas Keller dish. We used sustainable lingcod from Hooked, substituted manila clams for the mussels, and threw some lovely Baja shrimp in with the lingcod, poaching both of those in olive oil.


Today, we whipped up this Chilled Corn Soup with Basil.


A mandoline makes short work of stripping corn from the cob.


Good, full-fat buttermilk is worth searching out. It’s so much better than the thin, supermarket kind.


Leeks and garlic added depth (though I should have sweated the leeks…)


A drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of home-grown piment d’Espelette finished the dish.

Blowing off a Little Hot Air, or, My Best Soufflé yet

truffledsouffle 6My favourite thing to make in the kitchen is a soufflé, not just because they are delicious, but because they’re a nice yet not too daunting challenge.  For those of you who haven’t made them before, don’t be frightened. They always turn out in some fashion. They will fall when you are serving them, but this does not affect the flavour. What makes them fun is that a little extra care your soufflé more beautiful and fun to eat.

I used this recipe for a Gruyere and Parmesan Soufflé and followed it fairly carefully, adding some shaved mushroom for flavour. Okay I lied. I used this recipe, but saved too few yolks, so I just added a bit more cheese.

Here are a couple of things I have learned: beat the whites until they are just forming peaks. The best soufflés are beaten by hand with a whisk, or by using a mixer on low-speed. This creates lots of small bubbles that blow the hot air out of the mixture gently.

My soufflé was still a bit giggly when it looked done, so I turned of the oven and let it sit for five minutes.

Bon appétit!

/gɑːθspɑːtʃoʊ/ –Raspberry Gazpacho

Historically gazpacho was a cold peasant soup from Spain, made from leftover bread, garlic and olive oil. Today, it’s almost synonymous with tomatoes and peppers, but gazpacho predates the arrival of these items from the New World. I’m thinking that leftovers figured prominently.


Earlier this summer an old friend (Hi, Liz!) mentioned a cherry gazpacho that she was served in Spain, which literally keep me up that night drooling with envy. This got me thinking (read hinting) that we should open up to other gazpachos.

Bluebarry found a recipe for gazpacho made from one of the few foods I like more than warm spices: raspberries, which  I’ve never enjoyed in a savoury dish before yesterday.


Obsessively difficult? No, but then again, I was napping in the yard and Bluebarry was cooking, but he seemed happy enough, and the results were spectacular.

Here is an adaptation of the recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home. We changed it enough to make it legal to post online, but the book is worth a look through.

Raspberry Gazpacho:

Combine in a blender, and puree until smooth, the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups raspberries, rinsed (optional)
  • ½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup piquillo peppers (canned)
  • ½ cup sweet white onion
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • handful ground almonds/ slice of bread with crust removed (optional)
  • Dash piment d’espelette or Tabasco sauce

Blend these in a Vitamix (preferred) or a blender, and strain through a tamis or chinois if you have one.

Chill and garnish with finely chiffonaded basil or mint, diced watermelon or cucumber, and raspberry syrup. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.


Raspberry Syrup

  • A pint of raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar

Toss the raspberries with the sugar and put them in a plastic bag, or a sealed jar.


If you have a sous vide machine: Cook sous vide for 1 hour at 65C.

If you don’t have a sous vide machine: boil a pot of water, remove it from the heat, and add a few ice cubes until the water doesn’t threaten to burn you, but is unbearably warm for a bath. Add the bag/ jar of raspberries, cover the pot, and let rest for one hour.

Let cool. Drain the syrup from the berries, without pressing on them.

Tour d’Apple

Yes, we’ve been bad, absentee bloggers, and we owe you Mexican food and photos, and we’ll get to that. But first! A dessert from Thomas Keller’s “pro” volume: Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide. For anyone without a chamber vacuum, this book is a beast to deal with. But it is possible to muddle through some of the recipes with a Foodsaver-style vac. Dégustation des Pommes – “Tasting of Apples” – is one of those. It’s composed of six sub-recipes: candied apple spheres, apple genoise, milk jam, ginger custard, green apple sorbet, and apple chips.

The milk jam has four ingredients: sugar, milk, liquid glucose, and vanilla bean.

apple 014

Cook the sugar, milk and vanilla (scraped into the milk) for a couple of hours over low heat until it looks butter-scotchy, stir in the glucose, chill it, and you’re done. I messed up by putting the glucose in at the beginning, but it wasn’t a disaster.

The apple genoise is more of a production. The first step is to toss fuji apple wedges with sugar and a pinch of citric acid. These are then vac-packed and cooked sous-vide.

apple 015

The idea here is to avoid diluting the apple flavour and aroma (which would happen with poaching), and to cook them at the optimal temperature to coax them to tenderness while keeping their character intact. Here they are in the Vita-Mix after being sous-vided for 35 minutes at 185’C:

apple 016

And here they are in the stand mixer with the rest of the genoise ingredients: eggs, sugar, cake flour, and apple oil:apple 018After that, the genoise is spread out into a 1/4 sheet pan, baked in a convection oven, cooled, frozen, and cut into rounds. Mine didn’t turn out very well. The top was crusty and threatening to brown before the inside was really set. I blame the lack of a real 1/4 sheet pan… I only had a baking dish, whose high sides may have interfered with airflow.  Note the dense, apple-saucy interior:

apple 019

Onward and upward. The candied apple spheres were fun. Using a parisienne scoop (a #22 rather than the specified #18… oh my!), I made about four dozen spheres of Golden Delicious apple. Because we don’t have a chamber vacuum – you are welcome to buy us one – and liquids don’t do well in domestic vac sealers, I used the Foodsaver’s marinating jar to force the wine-sugar-water syrup into the apple balls:

apple 020I then packed them in a Mason jar brim-full with syrup, and put them into the Sous-Vide Supreme for a few hours at 167’C before chilling them.

The custard was also done sous-vide. I’d never done this before, and now I’m not sure I’ll make custard any other way. The water oven lets you cook the custard base at a single, constant, precise and optimal temperature. In this case, the base was infused with fresh and powdered ginger, strained, and bagged. Lacking a chamber vacuum, I used the displacement method – yay, Archimedes – which involves dunking the open bag into water up to the lip of the bag, until the water pressure forces almost all of the air out. Truthfully, this ended up being the most frustrating part of the recipe. Even though it looked like there was a negligible amount of air in the bag, it refused to stay submerged. Getting it to do so, while splashing around in 185’C water, was no fun. Anyway – here’s the bag of finished custard:

apple 021

This was mixed with gelatine and whipped cream before being left to set in the fridge… which it didn’t. I used silver-strength gelatine rather than gold-strength, but I’m not sure it would’ve set in any event. Since I had time, I threw it into the freezer, where it turned into excellent ginger ice cream.

Okay, we’re in the home stretch. Green apple sorbet was also fun to make. Keller’s sorbet base uses a stabilizer – haters will hate, but it prevents large ice crystals from forming, and this means smooooooth sorbet, so, meh. The recipe called for apple juice made from unpeeled Granny Smith apples (with precisely 16 baby spinach leaves and a pinch of citric acid, to provide and stabilize colour). Lacking a juicer, I turned to the Vita-Mix plus a Superbag(!) – a tough, synthetic bag with 100-micron pores. Basically, a big, reusable, über coffee-filter. This was a very successful substitution:

apple 022

The juice and the base spent some time in the ice cream maker, then joined the ginger ice cream in the freezer.

Last component: apple chips. Easy. Get your mandoline, make paper-thin slices of Granny Smith apples, punch out 2-inch circles:

apple 023

and poach them in sub-simmering sugar syrup for 90 minutes:apple 024

then place them on a teflon sheet (seriously, folks – go get one – these are awesome) in a 200’F oven for 2 hours.

Aaaaannd we’re done. Here’s the assembly:

The verdict on the dish? Too sweet. Waaaay, way too sweet. The genoise was punitively sweet. I’d say this was my fault, but I’m afraid it’s becoming a pattern with recipes we’ve made from Keller’s pastry chef. We’ve made madeleines and the madeleine cake from the Bouchon Bakery book, and they were also far too sweet. The other components of the dish were much more successful, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts. Keller’s cooking is notable for its attention to balance of flavour; that wasn’t the case here. Still, I learned a lot, and I’ll gladly make the custard (aka ice cream) and the sorbet again.