Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fighting Fire with Fire - Chilled Red Pepper Soup

Red Pepper Soup
Hot.

It's here. After a delay of nearly two months, summer has arrived in the Northeast, and it is one hot and angry season now. There is a theory that you can trick your body into feeling cool and refreshed by sipping on chilled soup that zings with the heat of hot chile peppers. There is also another theory, that if you fall off a horse, you need to get back on to avoid the trauma that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

I am tackling the second theory first: my horse is the habañero chile. It's been two years since a sassy, fearless, and smug me slit open a clutch of cherry bombs without gloves on. I've never, despite the warnings, ever protected my hands against the volatile oils measured in various Scoville Units that spit at you while preparing any sort of hot pepper. I knew enough not to rub my eyes or mouth with my fingers, but the gods were snickering at me when the fumes rose up from under the running faucet where I was cleaning out the seed cavities. I needed a respirator. Seriously. The pain was real and merciless. Drinking anything just spread the misery. I laid on the couch for half an hour, weeping tears, not of onions, but of terror. There was nothing to do but wait it out. Do not try this at home.

I would probably still be stuck in time, nursing my self pity, had this month's No Croutons Required not put out the call for pepper recipes. I've never been one to opt for the easy way out and am always on the prowl for new culinary horizons. An Internet search quickly brought up this recipe. At first I had palpitations, especially when I read that it called for four to six of the fiendish fireballs, and even more so when I read the intro, which was a reassurance not to be alarmed by the number of chiles. So I felt the fear and did it anyway, my way, by reducing it down to just one chile.

I'm not going to lie to you. Even this level of heat has enough cumulative kick to smoke your sinuses, enough so that you will no longer feel those wretched summer temperatures suffocating you. Which just goes to prove that that other theory is correct, too. This recipe will have you blowing hot and cold.

Mean Girls
And hotter.
Chilled Red Pepper Soup - Adapted from the Gourmet recipe
(If you follow all the precautions I have provided while preparing the chile, you should have a positive - and painless - experience.)

Ingredients

4 large red bell peppers
2 pounds tomatoes (I used canned Italian peeled tomatoes for expedience)
1 very large yellow onion (about 1/2 pound), chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 small habañero chile (1-2 tablespoons when finely chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Garnishes and Stir-ins (optional, but will soothe the heat somewhat)
Chopped avocado
Sour cream
Black olives

Method

Roast bell peppers over an open flame until uniformly charred, holding and turning them with a long-handled metal fork or tongs. If roasting indoors, ensure that your kitchen is well ventilated. Place charred peppers in a paper bag and fold over to seal. Set bag aside for at least ten minutes. Remove peppers from bag to a cutting board. The peppers will be collapsed and easy to peel. Discard the stems, membranes, seeds, and skins.

Prepare the habañero chile. Wearing disposable latex gloves and distancing your face as much as possible from your work area, cut off chile stem, then cut chile in quarters, trimming away membranes and seeds. Carefully discard these, ensuring you do not touch your face (especially your lips and eyes) with your hands. Finely chop chile and transfer to a small, dedicated bowl. Set aside. Carefully peel off gloves inside out from your hands and drop them directly into the garbage bin. Wash hands thoroughly before continuing.

In a large, heavy saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, chile (wash chile bowl immediately after emptying), salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until they are transparent and golden (about 10 minutes). Stir in bell pepper pieces, tomatoes, water, and bouillon cubes. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer until peppers and onions are very tender. Turn off heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Place saucepan in refrigerator until the contents are lukewarm. Purée soup in small batches in a blender. Pour purée into large bowl and return to refrigerator to fully chill. Serve with garnishes and crackers. Serves 4. --
Chilled Red Pepper Soup

This recipe is for Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes who co-hosts No Croutons Required, the monthly vegetarian salad and soup event, with Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen. The August theme is peppers.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer Loves - Frozen Mocha Marlow (Chocolate-Coffee Marshmallow Ice Cream)

Frozen Mocha Marlow
Frozen Mocha Marlow (recipe below).

Every season has its special culinary celebrations: crisp, tart apples in autumn; bubbling, crusted pot pies in winter; and buttery leaf lettuces in spring. Summer heralds its own splendors. Here, I chronicle but a few of mine. What delectable, healthy or hedonistic, comestibles are you enjoying, wherever region you reside in, whatever season is visiting you now?

Cantaloupe
Juicy, sweet melons (Ambrosia variety).


Black of Tula - Russian Heirloom Tomato
Juicy, acidic tomatoes (Black of Tula variety).

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Frozen Mocha Marlow - From the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer

A marlow is a melted marshmallow dessert dating back to the late 1800s, and a popular early recipe for ice cream. Its texture is like a luxurious mousse with a very rich, lingering mouth feel. Best enjoyed with strong, clear, unsweetened tea, black coffee, or ice water.

Ingredients

1 ounce chocolate
1 cup very strong coffee
16 marshmallows, cut into quarters with a sharp, wet knife (I used store-bought vegan marshmallows)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream

Method

In the top vessel of a double boiler over slowly simmering water, melt the chocolate. Slowly stir in the coffee with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be streaky, not smooth. Add marshmallow quarters, stirring constantly until they are melted. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Using a whisk, beat mixture until smooth. The texture will be somewhat elastic. Allow to cool.

In a separate, large bowl, beat heavy cream until very thick, voluminous, and holds soft peaks. Beat vanilla extract vigorously into marshmallow mixture to thin the elastic texture. Pour and carefully fold into whipped cream with a large plastic spatula to ensure it is well incorporated but maintains volume. Lightly smooth surface. Seal bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer until mixture is semi frozen, at least 90 minutes*. Remove from freezer and stir mixture briefly to remove ice crystals but maintain volume. Seal bowl again and return to freezer for final curing. Marlow will be soft-serve ready when mixture yields slightly to a spoon but is essentially solid. You can also freeze overnight, removing from freezer 10 minutes prior to serving for smoother and easier scooping. Serves 4-6.--

* Freezing times vary depending on your appliance setting, as well as how crowded your freezer is.

Frozen Mocha Marlow

Vegan Marshmallows
Vegan marshmallows.

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This post was inspired by Hema of Salt to Taste, who kindly honored me with an award recently:



Thank you, dear Hema. There are far too many blogs which I love for a variety of reasons. Rather than attempt to list them all at the risk of leaving anyone out, allow me to assure you that my regard for you is more than just a summer fling.

~~~~~~~

Been There, Done That ~
Cappuccino Canapés
Halvah Ice Cream with Orange-Flower Syrup Apricots
Violet Granita

Other People's Eats~
Peanut Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream Milkshake
Chai Ice Cream
Ricotta-Vanilla Ice Cream

Saturday, August 1, 2009

ANNOUNCING MY LEGUME LOVE AFFAIR 14




My Legume Love Affair, the popular bean-centric event now in its second year, is stopping here at The Well-Seasoned Cook, where it all began. Hosting my own event is a special treat for me. The queue is long with guest hosts, and I have tried very hard to accommodate every request while making an appearance, however irregularly. I am forever thankful for the enduring creativity, support and good will this event has enjoyed throughout the months, and I have no doubt that August will spoil me with dozens of delightful dishes from around the world that tempt the tastebuds and spark new horizons in culinary adventure.

For those new to the event, your choice of recipes is very broad. As much as legumes are most commonly known as fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils and pulses, they are also the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds. Add to the list alfalfa, fenugreek, peanuts, carob, tamarind and other members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, as well as derivatives such as tofu, and you'll have a hard time focusing on just one. All courses and cuisines are welcome, as long as legumes are the dominant ingredient. (Please note: In France, vegetables of all sorts are known as légumes, and are not included in this event.)

To participate, please:

Post a new recipe or a newly posted one from your archives, linking to this announcement, with the following details to me [thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com] by August 31, although I will accept latecomers if the round-up is not yet posted:

Name:

Blog Name:

Name and URL of Your Recipe Post:

Location: Optional

Photo: 400 wide

~~~~~

Use of the logo is optional. I am happy to accept more than one recipe per cook as well as those submitted to other events. Those who do not blog are also welcome to join and will be included in the random drawing. Friends and family of hosts are not eligible to win.

Prizes:

1) The New Food Lover's Companion - My personal choice and purchase, which I will ship worldwide.

2) Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of your choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, generously provided by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a U.S. resident.)

Depending on volume of recipes, I expect to have the round-up online first week of September.

Thanks and good luck to all!