CALLING ALL VEGANS
Viviane Bauquet Farre, our elegant vegetarian, who has been writing for www.showcook.com for many years, needs no introduction, however for those who have not yet experienced her especially imaginative and creative vegan cuisine Vivian is a native of a French island in the South Pacific and an avid cook enjoyed a successful career as a fashion designer, however she turned her attention full-time to her greatest passion, food – cooking, creating, teaching and sharing with an ever-growing numbers of friends and fans.
CHILLED CUCUMBER AND YELLOW PEPPER SOUP WITH GOAT MILK YOGHURT AND PAN-ROASTED SHISHITO PEPPERS
By mid-summer cucumber recipes are a hot commodity: a day doesn’t go by without my receiving a comment or an email about cukes. Everyone, it seems, is trying to find some new recipes for the bumper crop growing in their backyard.
So it stands to reason that, one of the most popular recipes on this blog is my chilled cucumber soup with yogurt and fresh mint. I thought it was time to publish another version, one that takes advantage of yet another mid-summer bumper crop: peppers!
Today’s chilled soup is made with snappy seedless cucumbers and firm, zesty, locally grown yellow peppers. The goat milk yogurt adds a lovely tang to the soup. And for a bit of fun, I like to serve the soup with seared Shishito peppers – tiny heirloom Japanese peppers – on the side.
Shishito peppers are mildly spicy and altogether succulent. Sautéed whole until they blister, sprinkled with salt and served warm, they literally melt in your mouth!
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a farmers’ market, there’s a good chance you’ll find these exotic peppers. But if you can’t, scroll down for a different version of the soup, where diced jalapeño peppers are sautéed and served on top. (Incidentally, when jalapeños are sautéed, they lose a good amount of their heat.)
It’ll be cucumber and pepper season for quite a while so there’s still plenty of time for you to enjoy cooking and eating with these lovely veggies!
active time: 25 min
For the soup:
1 lb (455gr) seedless cucumbers (or 1 1/4 lbs (567gr) regular cucumber seeded) – peeled, and cut in 2” pieces
2 medium yellow bell peppers – halved, seeded and cut in 2” pieces
1/4 medium red onion – peeled and cut in 2” pieces
1 jalapeño pepper – halved and seeded
1 garlic clove – skinned
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup, honey or organic sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 – 6 oz (170gr) goat milk yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
1/2 cup spring water
For the shishito peppers:
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz (170gr) shishito peppers – left whole
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
extra virgin olive oil
Step 1: To make the soup, place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are coarsely chopped. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then process until very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 2: Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Place the soup in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.
Step 3: For the shishito peppers – Heat a medium heavy bottom frying pan over medium-heat heat. Add the oil and the peppers. Toss well until the peppers are well coated with the oil. Sauté until the peppers blister and are golden-brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, tossing only occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
Step 4: Spoon the chilled soups into bowls, sprinkle with chives and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with the warm pan-roasted shishito peppers on the side.
Cook’s note: The soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days.
Scanpan 8″ frypan
This is the pan I used to sauté the jalapeños – a little frying pan that’s a workhorse in my kitchen! The heavy bottom and titanium surface go a long way to prevent burning.
How to dice and pan-roast the jalapeño peppers
Can’t find shishito peppers at your local farmers’ market? Try serving the soup with pan-roasted jalapeños peppers. It adds a lovely bite to this cooling soup!
Stem, seed and cut four jalapeño peppers in 1/8″ slices.
Cut the slices crosswise in 1/8″ dices.
Heat a small frying pan over medium-heat heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the jalapeños.
Stir well, until the peppers are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until golden-brown, stirring only occasionally.
Transfer to a bowl, and while the peppers are still hot, add 1/8 teaspoon sea salt and 2 tablespoons extra olive oil. The olive oil will become infused with the flavors of the pan-roasted peppers.
Stir and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve. If making ahead of time, refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the sautéed peppers in the center of each soup. Drizzle with the infused olive oil and serve!
CUCUMBER LINGUINI WITH FRESH MINT AND FRIED CAPERS
When summer is in full force, cucumbers follow suit in the most overwhelming fashion.
They are piled high on the shelves of every grocery store, where they sell for a pittance. You’ll find them in all shapes and sizes at your local farmers’ market. And, if you happen to be growing a couple of plants in your backyard, by now your harvest is so abundant that you’re giving your cukes to anyone who will take them!
So what do you do with all these cukes?
The first cucumber sandwiches are exciting and delicious for sure, as well as the summer tossed salads with lots of cucumber in it, but if that’s all you do with your cucumbers, soon enough you’ll have lost your enthusiasm for this prolific veggie.
But cucumbers happen to be very versatile. And with a little creativity, they lend themselves to many wonderful dishes… like today’s recipe.
Julienned into linguini size strips and tossed with fresh mint and a zingy vinaigrette, cucumbers here make for a very refreshing – not to mention stylish – appetizer. The fried capers that adorn this simple dish add an irresistible salty bite, a perfect contrast to the slightly sweet cukes.
active time: 15 min
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground white pepper to taste
For the cucumber linguini:
2 large seedless cucumbers (2 1/2 lbs) (1.35kg) – peeled
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12 large mint leaves – cut en chiffonade (to watch a video of the chiffonade technique, click here)
6 golden cherry tomatoes – halved
1/2 recipe Fried Capers
freshly ground white pepper
Step 1: For the vinaigrette – Place all the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
Step 2: Cut the cucumbers crosswise in 6” sections. Using a mandoline, julienne the flesh of the cucumber but not the seedy centers. (You should end up with 4 cups of julienned pieces). Place the cucumber strips in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, mix well with your hands and let stand for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Drain the cucumber in a medium sieve and press down with a wooden spoon to remove all excess juices.
Step 4: Place the cucumber in a medium bowl. Add the fresh mint and the vinaigrette. Toss until well mixed. Spoon into four appetizer bowls. Garnish each bowl with 3 cherry tomato halves and a spoonful of fried capers. Sprinkle with white pepper and serve immediately.
When cutting the cucumber in julienne strips, slice only until you reach the seedy center. Then turn the cucumber around, and continue slicing until all the flesh has been cut and only the seeds are left.
Alternatively, if you do not have a mandoline, you can slice the cucumbers by hand, using a vegetable hand-peeler. It’ll take a few more minutes, but it’ll do a good job. Your dish will look more like cucumber fettuccine though!
You can find Viviane on her distinctive food blog, foodandstyle.com She has been written about — and contributed to — several regional publications, and her recipes have been featured in forums as diverse as bonappetit.com, Vegetarian Times and saveur.com which also crowned Viviane’s site one of the “Best of the Web”.