Suzi's Blog

Chilled Cucumber-Melon Soup with Radish-Mint Salsa

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In your first taste you will know that this soup is something special, something deliciously special. This soup has a dreamy quality: some body, yet still thin, the subtle flavor of cucumber but layered with melon, and an underlying tang that you may recognize as yogurt + crème fraiche. Or you may just sit there with your mouth pleasantly filled.

The soup seems pillowy soft. The contrasting salsa has crunch and heat. This is a ying-yang dish par excellence.

The first thing you think about when you taste this soup is how quickly you can secure a second helping. You won’t be thinking about the rest of the meal. About that protein scent in the kitchen: chicken, or steak, or … No, you’ll be focused on enjoying a flavor combination — cucumber and melon — that you may not have experienced. And I suspect the ratios of ingredients here, with the inclusion of yogurt and crème fraiche, is something you’ve never enjoyed before.

As grand as the soup is, I’m intrigued at how you might tinker with this recipe. No great changes, but adding some scallions or diced onion, a dash of vinegar, some fresh herbs,… All these changes will have impact, for this soup is first and foremost delicate. So, if you opt to personalize, do so with a light hand. I suggest you start with this basic recipe, because it’s truly perfect. I’m just suggesting that, as any foodie would do, you might be inspired to make a better perfect.

 

Chilled Cucumber-Melon Soup with Radish-Mint Salsa

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients:

For the Soup:
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt [not Greek yogurt]
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 medium seedless hothouse cucumber
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon
For the Radish-Mint Salsa:
  • 8 radishes, julienned
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Garnishes:
  • Sprinkling of snipped fresh chives
  • A small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche

Preparation:

For the soup, in a blender, puree 3/4 cup each plain yogurt and crème fraîche, 1 medium-size seedless hothouse cucumber, in chunks, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press. Pour into a bowl.

Add 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon to blender; puree. Add to cucumber mixture and stir to combine; chill.

For the salsa, julienne 8 radishes; combine in a bowl with 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with radish salsa, a sprinkling of snipped fresh chives, and a small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche.

Source: Frank Melodia

Photo Information [top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/25th second at ISO-3200

 

 

Spiced Lamb Meatballs With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

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For Valentine’s Day, Suzen offered a class, what else, for couples. Couples who came in droves, cooked with laughter, and consumed with pleasure. The seven course meal featured a different sparkling wine with each course.

Suzen was curious about which of the seven dishes would please the crowd the most. Oh, it did not take long. In the kitchen, when the cooking was underway and long before nibbles touched palettes, the winner was evident: these lamb meatballs with yogurt sauce.

Men jostled to be part of the cooking team. Bodies stood around the oven, sniffing the aroma and waiting for the balls to escape from the heat. And when the meatballs and platter were put out for buffet, there was a deluge of hands reach down and over and around. Everyone wanted a meatball.

Now, everyone got one or two or three. But these were the first items gone. If we had made double, these would have been the first things gone.

Consider yourself warned. When you make these, they will disappear. Everyone will relish them. Everyone will want more.

We saw several recipes for meatballs, including one in the Williams Sonoma series Appetizers. We adapted that recipe and allowed our team to have full spice creativity. The results are amazing.

Spiced Lamb Meatballs With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Yield: about 40 enough for around 6 [maybe]

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • Water
  • 1 pound ground lamb, preferably grass fed
  • 3 green onions white and green parts minced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

Preparation:

Prepare the sauce: In a small serving bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside at room temperature until serving.

Prepare the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

Remove the crusts of the sliced bread and grind in a food processor. Sprinkle the crumbs with 2 tablespoons of water and toss to moisten evenly.

In another bowl, add the lamb, green onions, most of the parsley (save a small amount to garnish the sauce), the egg, cumin, paprikas, pepper, allspice, the moistened bread crumbs and salt and mix together gently with your hands. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the mixture; shape into a ball between your palms, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to shape the remaining mixture. You should have about 40 meatballs total.

Bake the meatballs until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Alternately, you can brown the meatballs in 2 Tbsp. of oil in a sauté pan and finish cooking on a sheet pan in the oven. [This gives a better taste, trust me!]

Transfer the meatballs to a warmed platter and place the sauce alongside for dipping. Garnish with the reserved minced parsley. Serve right away with cocktail picks for spearing.

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Lens, F/3.5, 1/30 second, ISO-320