Monthly Archives: July 2015

Summer Soup Spin

I never thought that I needed a freestanding blender. For that matter, I never understood why anyone who owns a food processor would need to clog their cabinets or clutter their countertop with an extra appliance. Then I made New York Times columnist Melissa Clark’s basil, buttermilk, corn blender soup for company last week and began to understand.

A processor is designed to chop, slice, shred and grate, and can only accept small amounts of liquid before it leaks. After having that annoying experience, I bought an immersion blender, which allows me to puree soup right in the pot. But it wasn’t quite up to the job of pulverizing the more than three cups of raw corn kernels called for by Clark’s recipe.

As Clark recommends in her excellent video demo, I persisted until no flecks of basil remained and the soup turned a lovely light green. But since my stick blender has limited power, I was left with too much corn sludge. Judging from the video, it appeared to be a lot more than remained in Clark’s strainer.

I served the soup in shot glasses as an hors d’oeuvre, and while it was nice, it struck me as slightly bitter. I think it would have been sweeter if I’d been able to incorporate more corn into the mix. What’s more, what was intended as the easiest warm weather recipe, turned out to be too much work without the power of a real blender, so maybe there’s one in my future.

If you’ve got a blender, you might want to try the recipe. Here’s a link:

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016659-chilled-corn-soup-with-basil

I’ll be taking a summer break. See you on August 18. THH

Make-Ahead Summer Meals

In winter you can reduce the anxiety of cooking for company by preparing braises or stews in advance and just rewarming them. But what can you do to get a head start on dinner in summer when you’re most likely grilling?

Marinate or season meat or chicken a day before, so you don’t have to desert your guests to prep the protein. Or pre-skewer grill-ready, quick-cooking kabobs made with fish, poultry and/or meat.

Take advantage of the grill’s heat to make the whole meal. Oil and season potato chunks and sauté them in a pan on the side.

Toss on a foil “hobo pack” of chopped veggies, seasoned with herbs and drizzled with balsamic or stock. It should be ready in about 20 minutes, depending on the temperature. For example, the other night I combined half-moon slices of summer squash, chopped red onion and thick-sliced mushrooms with a sprinkle of dried oregano and a splash of aged balsamic.

Finally, of course, you can grill fruit to serve for dessert, either as is, dabbled with honey or as an ice cream topping.

Next post: Tuesday, July 21. THH

Instantly Fresh Herbs

I was skeptical when Litehouse Foods sent me a release touting their line of freeze-dried herbs. Were they really fresher tasting and more versatile than the other dried herbs on my shelf with the same nutritional value as fresh herbs?

So I called Litehouse to learn more, and they provided a point-by-point comparison and sent three jars of their products for me to sample: Basil, dill and garlic. It didn’t take long for me to become a believer.

I don’t even stock ordinary dried basil, since I consider it vile, nothing like the real stuff. But the Litehouse basil was so much like fresh that it even worked in an uncooked dish. And the garlic saved the day when I was bringing homemade guacamole to a party and forgot to buy fresh. I haven’t given the dill much of a workout, since my husband is not a fan, but I did taste a pinch or two and was favorably impressed.

After rehydrating the herbs by adding just a drop or two of water, you use them in the same proportions that you would fresh. One more advantage: Their texture is restored along with their flavor and volume, so they can be used to season broiled or grilled foods without turning into twigs.

For more information and shopping locations, go to http://www.litehousefoods.com/