Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Honeydew Cucumber Soup


Soup’s Chillin’!
Let's DishHoney Dew Melon And Cucumber Soup

Honey Dew Melon And Cucumber Soup (2)

I love all the little toppings that go on top of a delicious soup as a garnish.  I also like to use certain garnishes to let you know what’s in a particular soup. Today I’m making a cold  Honeydew Cucumber Soup With Fresh Mint. I am displaying a variety of garnishes just to give you some ideas of what would really be delicious and pair well with this soup. You could use all or any combination of these toppings you like.

I think cold soups are underrated and not used nearly enough. They are really refreshing, and super healthy too!  You can use this as an appetizer, served in shot glasses, or as a first course.

I’m going to be using fresh mint from my garden for this recipe today.

 

First, I want to set aside the ingredients that will give my soup lots of texture, and also can be used as toppings or garnish.   Using my food Mandolin that you see in the picture above will make the perfect tool for thinly sliced cucumbers. I have some other goodies up my sleeve too!

 

To contrast the sweetness of the soup, I’ve crisped up some Pancetta. Pancetta is Italian bacon. It’s cured but not smoked and filled with peppercorns, and sometimes pistachios, delicious!

 

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: chill for 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Equipment: Blender or food processor, food mandolin, Melon Baller
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 to 2 melons (not over ripe) yielding 8 cups of  large dice honeydew melon, 1 heaping cup of melon balls for garnish
1 English (hothouse) cucumber peeled and diced, 1/2 cup small dice, reserved for garnish, 12 very thin slices ( using food Mandolin) of cucumber reserved for garnish
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves plus 4 small sprigs for garnish
12 slices of crisped Pancetta
4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (keep refrigerated until ready to serve)
1/2 cup of pistachios
2 tablespoons of Agave nectar
1/4 cup of water
1 lime juiced
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions: First, is to get the ingredients you’ll be using for the garnish and toppings prepared. The pistachios,  small diced cucumber, melon balls, and crisped Pancetta.

Directions For Pancetta:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the pancetta slices, evenly spread out, on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool. Set on a plate lined with paper towel, set aside.

If needed, do this step in batches. In a food processor, add mint, lime juice, diced melon, diced cucumber, Agave nectar, water, cayenne pepper, Kosher salt. Pulse all the ingredients together, until a smooth consistency. Refrigerate for a few hours.

To serve,  divide equally among 4 bowls. To each of the bowls, I like to add 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt, small diced cucumber, and melon balls.  Finally, garnish with cucumber slices and a sprig of mint.  Crispy pancetta and pistachios are optional. They will give that sweet and salty flavor combination, delicious!!!

 

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A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s


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My very good friend Lynn asked me if I would have a cooking class/ luncheon at her home. Without hesitation, I said yes! Her home is located in the Historic district of Orlando. This was the perfect place for Lynn and her friends, Marian, Jean, Diane, Gloria, and Sandy to spend some quality time together. I thought it would be a great idea to put a menu together and show the girls some tips, and cooking techniques that they could take home and use when cooking for their families.

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Earlier in the week, Lynn and I met to iron out all the details. We came up with a plan and set it in motion. Gifts for the girls, a tablescape that would compliment the Italian theme, and then of course the menu. The day before the luncheon, I went shopping and found some great seasonal ingredients at the local farmers market in town. I wanted the centerpiece for the table to also echo a few of the ingredients I was using. A large rustic bowl filled with pink grapefruits, lemons, fennel fronds, and fresh bay leaves.

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board, Parmesan, Parmigiano- Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, Red Onion, and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, garnished with edible flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade croutons (menu category -breads and muffins)
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Peach And Fresh Mint Iced Tea

I set up a small cheese board filled with shards of different types of Parmesan cheeses. The saltiness of the cheeses paired really well with the cocktail I made. I chose to serve Peach Bellinis  Fresh peach puree mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, garnished with a strawberry. A traditional cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy.

I went through the steps for each coarse step by step. The ladies were taking notes which made me feel pretty special. They asked great questions and I think they went away realizing that when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be fun as well as delicious. I want to say that these were some of the sweetest ladies and I hope that we will be able to get together again in the near future. Lynn, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to help you with this amazing luncheon.

Yields: 6 servings
2 heavy bottom soup pots
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time 35-40 minutes

Recipe For Kale And White Bean Soup:
All ingredients divided evenly into two 6 quart heavy bottom pots

2 bunches of fresh kale, stems and center rib removed coarsely chopped
4-15 ounce cans of white Cannellini beans -drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery diced halved and coarsely chopped
2 large onions coarsely chopped
8 carrots peeled and 1/2 inch diced
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of grated fresh nutmeg
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
8 cups of water (amount of water may vary slightly)
2-2 inch pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
2 fresh bay leaves ( dried are fine)
2 teaspoons of fresh chopped rosemary leaves
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
E.V.O.O drizzle on top of soup
Accompaniment: homemade croutons

Note: smoked sausage is an option to add to this soup (slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick pieces)

Directions:
Turn the burners on to a moderate heat allowing the two heavy bottom pot to heat up. Remember that all the ingredients will be evenly divided into the two pots.  Once the pots have come up to temperature, adjust the temperature to medium heat. Add in the olive oil, diced onions, minced Fresno chili, celery, diced carrots, and tomato paste. Stir all the ingredients together and allow to start softening. Make sure to season as you go by adding a sprinkling of  Kosher salt, black pepper.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, and fresh chopped rosemary leaves. Continue to stir. About 3-5 minutes in, add in the unsalted chicken stock, cheese rinds. Slowly add in the half of the chopped kale leaves to  each pot. Using a spoon, start to submerge the leaves into the liquid. Next, slowly add in the water and the rest of the chopped kale. This is the point is where you’ll be able to see if you have enough liquid, ( refer to the pictures above) allowing 3 inches of space at the top of each pot.

The kale will wilt as it cooks, and most of the ingredients will also release their water. Not to worry, (cooking soup uncovered) as the soup comes up to a boil, water will also evaporate as the soup cooks. Now, add in the drained Cannellini beans. Now is the time to add the 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the fresh grated nutmeg to each pot. Stir all the ingredients together  Bring the soup up to a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the kale and carrots are tender. Once finished, cover the soup pots until ready to serve.

Serve in big soup bowls with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a drizzle of good E.V.O.O.

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Mussels With Garlic Basil Bread Crumbs


 

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This style of mussels are so delicious. Most importantly, the broth that rests in the bottom of the bowl is heavenly. For this recipe, I’m focusing on the toasted bread crumbs.

To get my recipe for this broth, go to the search button at the top right and type in “mussels”. That will take you right to my post on “Mussels, Updated”

Having the toasted flavored bread crumbs nestled inside the shells gives great texture to the mussels.The fresh herbs and garlic add extra flavor. It’s so simple to make. Let me show you.

I have six pounds of mussels that I’ve divided into two batches. For the first night of our mussel extravaganza, I made them my traditional way. The second night, I thought I’d change it up a bit. Making them with garlic basil bread crumbs. Still using my delicious broth as a base, but instead of using crusty bread along side, I would add the bread into the recipe.

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It’s important to remember to always clean you mussels in advance. Cleaning the beards, scrubbing the shells, and also making sure the mussels discard any sand they may have. To do this, fill up your sink with cold water and add a couple of tablespoons of flour. Mix the flour around with your hands, then add the mussels right in. They will filter out the sand by drinking in the flour that’s in the water.Pretty cool! I usually let them stay in the sink for about 10 minutes.This will prevent any sand from getting into your final dish. You don’t want the mussels to release any sand they may be holding and it ending up in your broth.

Have a large pot on the stove, preheated, on med-high heat. Add the cleaned mussels to the pot. Pour in a whole bottle of white wine. Place the lid on and let the mussels steam. Once all the mussels have opened, they’re done. If you see any that have not opened discard them. I like to stir the mussels once through the steaming process so they can all drink up some of the wine. This whole process happens really quickly.

Yields: 2 servings at 1-1/2 pounds per person
Prep Time for Mussels: 30-40 minutes (includes filtering the sand out in the sink)Prep Prep Time for bread crumbs: 10 minutes
Cook Time for bread crumbs: 5-7 minutes
Equipment: large stock pot
Ingredients:
recipe of the broth is at “Mussels updated”
3 pounds of cleaned mussels
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 stick of melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
2-1/2 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
5 cloves of garlic
1-1/2 tablespoons of lemon zest
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of Italian flat leaf parsley
1-1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves

Directions:
As I mentioned earlier, I’m using 3 pounds of mussels for this recipe. I start with a stick of unsalted melted butter in a large saute pan, on medium heat. I sprinkle in some Kosher salt and pepper to the melted butter. This will season the bread crumbs. To the melted butter add in Italian style bread crumbs. Using a spatula, toss the bread crumbs through so that they get covered with the butter. Folding the bread crumbs continuously, until the bread crumbs have absorbed all the butter and have toasted up nicely. This take about 5-7 minutes or so. Once they are all nice and toasted,  turn the heat off and set them to the side.

In a food processor, add in some garlic cloves that have been halved. and pulse them until a few times until they’re minced. In a large bowl add the minced garlic. To the bowl add in pine nuts and lemon zest.

Next, for the fresh herbs. I have fresh Italian flat leaf parsley and fresh basil leaves. I add those into the food processor and pulse them a few times just to the point where they are chopped but not minced. I want to see their green color come through when they are mixed with the bread crumbs.

Add the toasted bread crumbs into the bowl and mix all the ingredients together. When ready to plate, ladle the broth into the bottom of the bowl, then the cooked mussels. Finish by generously sprinkling the toasted garlic basil bread crumbs over the top.

 

 

 

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Homemade Chili


 

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There are times when I crave chili. chili that’s smokey, spicy, and with real depth of flavor. In this recipe I bring out all the stops. To add texture and sweetness, I like adding shoe peg corn. Shoe peg corn are small sweet white corn kernels, and I believe, is an ingredient that’s underutilized. I’m also a believer in adding black beans to chili. Everyone who loves chili knows, the longer it simmers the thicker and better it gets. The making of chili takes a lot of love. If you can dedicate 30 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of cooking time, I promise you will really love this chili.

Ancho chilies are just a smoked Poblano peppers that’s been dried. A mild pepper with a smokey flavor that’s perfect for chili. Let me start out by showing you how to add these peppers to your chili. I start by placing 6 dried ancho chilies to a pot along with 2-1/2 cups of water. On medium heat I bring the chilies up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. I let the chilies simmer for about 20 minutes. I turn the heat off allowing the chilies steep in their liquid  (chili stock) for another 10 minutes before going into the food processor.  While this process is taking place, use this time to prep all the veggies, measure out the spices for the chili, thawing the shoe peg corn, and finally rinsing and draining the beans for the chili.

After the peppers have been rehydrated, stems removed and seeded, I place them into a food processor along with their liquid ( start with 1/2 a cup, add more cooking liquid if needed) to be processed and then set aside. You want the processed chilies to be a thick puree.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Equipment: 6 quart Dutch oven pot
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
6 processed ancho chilies equals  1/2 cup of ancho puree
3 tablespoons of Mexican chocolate (optional)
1 small jar of processed Piquillo peppers
3 tablespoons of chili powder
3 packed tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of smokey paprika
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 minced and seeded chipotle peppers
1 minced and seeded jalapeno pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 diced red bell peppers
1 diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup of sliced green onions ( reserving the green tops for garnish)
1 large diced onion
2-28 ounce cans of whole San Marzano tomaotes
1- 10-1/2 ounce can of beef consomme
2 cups of low sodium beef broth
1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed kidney beans
1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans
1 package of thawed frozen shoe peg corn
Toppings:
cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges
guacamole
diced red onion
sliced tops of green onions
tortilla chips

Directions:
As shown above, while the dried ancho chilies are being rehydrated on the stove, you want to move on to the prep work for the chili. Start with dicing and mincing of the vegetables.

Diced green onions (reserving the green tops for garnish), a spanish onion, red and green bell peppers, minced garlic and seeded and minced a jalapeno pepper.Along side those ingredients, I’ve seeded and chopped a couple of Chipotle peppers  packed in Adobo sauce. Another ingredient is,  I’ve  taken a jar of Piquillo peppers and pureed those in a food processor. I have my black and kidney beans drained and rinsed. My shoe peg white corn has been thawed.

By the time all the veggies have been diced and minced, it’s time to seed, clean, and process the ancho chilies.  After the ancho chilies have been processed, then you want to get all your liquids together for the chili. The low sodium beef broth, beef consomme and the canned San Marzano whole tomatoes.

Next, is to get together all the spices that will be going into the chili. First, and this is totally optional, is the chocolate. I’m using what’s known as Mexican chocolate. I’ts used as a spice and gives a depth of flavor to the chili. Then there are the standard chili spices, chili powder, ground cumin, sweet and smokey paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, light brown sugar, Kosher salt,  and black pepper.

Using a large heavy Dutch oven pot to make chili.  The stove on medium heat, I start with some vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot. To bloom all the spices, I add them right in with the vegetable oil. Stirring and mixing all the spices, including the brown sugar. Once the spices release their aroma, add the lean ground sirloin to the pot. Once the meat is stirred and mixed with the spices, add in the minced Chipotle peppers, stirring that through. Continue cooking the meat for another 10 minutes allowing the meat to brown completely.

Next, add in all the diced veggies along with the minced garlic and jalapeno. To that, some tomato paste. I stir all of these ingredients together, making sure the meat and veggies are well combined.

Now for the liquids. Start with the canned whole tomatoes. Once they’re in the pot, using a wooden spoon,  start breaking them up. To the pot, add in the beef consomme and beef broth, again, giving everything a big stir to combine. Still on medium heat, let everything come up to a bubble. Turn the heat down to med low, stirring occasionally, let simmer for 50 minutes. Once the chili has been simmering for 50 minutes, add the black beans, kidney beans, and shoe peg corn and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Finally, the usual suspects, some shredded cheddar, diced red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and of course some guacamole!

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