License to Chill

by Mark R. Vogel

            In the James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” 007 is romancing the ill-fated Jill Masterson, (the woman Goldfinger kills by painting gold), when he notices the champagne has lost its chill.  On his way to the fridge to fetch another bottle she queries as to why he is bothering.  James Bond retorts:  “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon 1953 above a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.”  Actually most oenophiles would recommend a temp in the 40’s but who’s quibbling?

            It’s summer time and that means it’s time to start chilling more than the champagne.  Below are two recipes for summer drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, a cold, savory asparagus soup and a coconut-tapioca dessert soup.  So whip up some cool concoctions, invite some friends over, and chill out.

 

WATERMELON COOLER

 

1 ½ -2 lbs. (not counting the rind) seedless watermelon cut into large chunks.

1 pint spring water

½ cup sugar

 

            Simply whiz all the ingredients in a blender and then pour it through a sieve.  This is an awesomely tasty and refreshing summer drink.

 

SANGRIA

 

1 orange

1 lime

2 plums

1 bottle of a light and fruity red such as Beaujolais or Bardolino.

¼ cup sugar

6 oz seltzer

Ice as needed

 

            Slice the fruit and then mash it on the bottom of a pitcher.  Add the wine and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Add the seltzer and ice cubes.  Use white wine if you prefer but again, something light and fruity.

 

CHILLED ASPARAGUS SOUP

 

1 large onion, sliced thin

Olive oil, as needed

1 teaspoon chicken base

1 quart water

1 ½  pounds of asparagus, sliced thin 

12 oz. spinach, blanched

Salt and pepper to taste

 

            Sweat the onion in the olive oil until soft.  Sweating is not sautéing.  You are not trying to brown the onion, only soften it.  Thus, use lower heat and add a little salt to help draw out the fluid.  When the onion is soft, add the chicken base and cook for a minute or two.  Add the water and asparagus and boil for five minutes.  Using a hand blender, or a regular blender in batches, thoroughly puree the soup.  Then blend the spinach into the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want a very smooth soup, you can then work it through a fine mesh chinois or sieve.   Finally, chill the soup before serving.

            Chicken base is basically dehydrated, powdered chicken stock.  If you can’t find it in the supermarket, grind chicken bouillon cubes.  For the asparagus, cut about two inches off the stem end.  You don’t need to peel it.  To blanch spinach, simply drop it in boiling salted water for one minute and then immediately submerge it in ice water to stop the cooking and retain the color.  The spinach will provide the soup with a vibrant green hue. 

 

CHILLED COCONUT-TAPIOCA SOUP

 

            Although a “soup,” this dish is really a dessert.  It’s cold and creamy and makes a perfect ending to a summer barbeque.

 

2 oz small pearl tapioca

1 pint water

1 cup milk

3 oz. sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

6 oz. heavy cream

           

            Tapioca can scorch very easily.  Use your highest quality, heaviest clad saucepan.  First bring the tapioca and water to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes.  Add the milk sugar, and orange zest and simmer for 15 minutes.  Watch the heat and stir frequently while scraping the bottom.  Add the coconut milk and cream and slowly return it to a boil stirring along the way.  As soon as it hits a boil pour it into a stainless steel bowl that you’ve chilled in the freezer or fridge.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the wrap to actually touch the soup so a film doesn’t form.  Place it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.        

 

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