Suzi’s Blog

TBT Recipe: Corn and Crab Bisque

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I first posted this recipe in 2013. It's the perfect summer soup idea: corn, of course, and crab. On a hot night, this soup and a salad are a meal unto themselves. The bisque is not simple and requires a little time and lots of ingredients. It's worth every herb and every minutes.

Domaine Chandon is a Napa Valley winery now owned by a French company. The setting is both beautiful and upscale. The winery features a Michelin-starred restaurant, étoile, that naturally features seasonal, regional food. The Domaine Chandon Cookbook offers 75 of the premium recipes from this restaurant with its particularly  sparkling view.

Of all those recipes, this one is my favorite. Corn and crab seem to be one of those natural food marriages that can always be loved and almost certainly never surpassed. I know it’s summer, and it’s hot, so the idea of a warm soup may seem peculiar. But on the warmest of nights, everyone will sigh in delight at this bisque where both corn and crab flavor offer their distinct notes.

If you make this dish, consider doing it a day ahead if you want the crab flavor to evolve even more. I used canned crab from my good, local market. It seemed to need that extra day for its full flavor to emerge.

Since this recipe comes from a sparkling wine producer, the obvious pairing here is a glass a sparkling wine. And then? Perhaps a lamb chop and potato gratin. This bisque is strikingly elegant and deserves matching dishes of exceptional quality. And where would you find a good gratin recipe? Why Domaine Chandon has a three-cheese potato gratin, soon to be tested by Suzi and blogged by me.

 

Corn and Crab Bisque

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup fresh chervil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2tablespoons
  • 1 leak, white part only, cut into rounds ¼ inch thick, rinsed and drained thoroughly
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Salt
  • 4 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
  • 1 pound fresh Dungeness or other lump crabmeat, picker over for shell fragments and cartilage
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

 

Preparation:

In a small sauté pan or frying pan over medium-low heat, combine the1/2 cup chervil leaves with the 1/2 cup olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil is hot and small bubbles around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  Strain the chervil-infused oil through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve. Discard the chervil.

In a soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, about minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the stock, clam juice, wine, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir to mix well. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the kernels from the ears of the corn. Add the corn kernels to the soup and simmer until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crab and cook for 2 minutes to heat through. Stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the bisque into warmed bowls. Swirl 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chervil oil into each serving and garnish with the 2 tablespoons of chervil leaves. Serve hot.

Source: Domaine Chandon Cookbook

Photo Credit: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro lens, F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO 160.

 

 

Suzi’s Cucumber with Smoke Fish

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In these final dog days of summer, the heat is still on. It’s funny how some nights we can down a big meal, that barbequed steak, and on other nights we crave something refreshing, light and bright.

On those nights, it’s time for cucumbers. Suzi will slice one up then top it with smoked fish dusted with paprika. How do you prep the fish? Some sour cream, crème fraiche, and horseradish, mixed in the proportions you like. Perhaps, a touch of mustard or a dribble of hot sauce. Maybe some finely diced onion or pickles.

There’s no “right” way to prepare this dish. You’ll surely never make it the same way twice. And each time will be the best.

Cookbook Review: Authentic Polish Cooking

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Most people would pause if asked to find Poland on a map. Eventually, you can work it out. East of Germany, west of Russia. There it is.

"Is now" that is. Over the centuries Poland has grown and shrunk, moved westward and even disappeared for a 120 years. At one point in history, Poland stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas and was the most important country in Europe.

Now, in the resurgence after the fall of Communism, Poland is an economic powerhouse. And, as always, a harbor for intellectual spirits especially artists, writers, and mathematicians.

Maybe it’s the water. Or maybe it’s the food. The food. There is a dichotomy to the food, some of it peasant simple and some just outrageously contemporarily wonderful. And even the “peasant” dishes reflect the very deep and very special nature of Polish cuisine: a richly studded table of fruits, grains and meats with recipe inspiration from the West [France and Italy] and the East [Russia, Ukraine, the spices of the Silk Road]

Consider some of the recipes on display in Authentic Polish Cooking by native Marianna Dworak.

Soups include simple vegetable, of course. Any farming nation in Eastern Europe has vegetable soup. But it’s the Poles who have Pickle Soup made with pickle juice. There a very royal purple soup, Chilled Beet, made with buttermilk. And if sweetness appeals to you, there is Fruit Soup with Apples, Plums, Broth and Egg Yolks.

Beets are an integral ingredient in Polish cuisine. The Poles just know how to brighten up that flavor, as in Beets with Horseradish, Wine Vinegar and Parsley. The combinations offered here includes ones you surely have not experienced, like the salad of Turkey with Peaches and Radishes. And I mentioned that contemporary Polish cuisine has a sophisticated side, so we have Veal Pate with Veal Shoulder, Veal Liver, and Bacon.

The meat dishes in the cookbook run the gamut. There are, of course, those very essential meat pierogies. Besides the beets, cabbage is a staple crop and converted into some excellent offerings like Beef and Cabbage Stuffed Croquettes. There is the very basic Goulash but also Duck Stuffed with Apple, Raisins and Walnuts. And fish, the fish too come with adornments to make them richer, creamier. There’s Herring in Sour Cream and Trout in an Egg Sauce with Parsley.

Vegetable dishes include dumplings of all types: Potato, Flour, and Cheese. Pierogies appear again, now made with cheese or fruit, instead of the standard meat.

Desserts are often constructed. A basic cake or dough with filling that provides the sweet richness we expect. You’ll find Cream Cake [simple dough, rich cream-egg filling], and then a Walnut Cake with Chocolate Cream. Nuts seem to have prominence across the dessert spectrum. You’ll discover a Walnut Log [roulade with walnut filling] and a Three-Layer Walnut-Almond-Chocolate Cake.

These Polish recipes have a distinctive nature. Some ingredients you may not employ too often: those beets or the cabbage. A heavy use of nuts. A passion for sour cream and buttermilk. These are different flavor pathways to a part of Europe you may never have visited, that you may never visit. But now, you can enjoy the food. One beet at a time.