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Entertainment Food & Dining

July 31

Michel Tersiguel's Virgin Tomato Soup

Tomatoes and herbs vary greatly in flavor and intensity. Consider this recipe an outline, and taste as you go.

Serves 4

1 quart peeled, diced tomatoes

1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh, soft-leaved herbs, chopped (basil, cilantro, tarragon or parsley, singly or combined)

1 cup canned tomato juice or 2 tablespoons tomato paste

juice of half a lemon, or to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup good-quality virgin olive oil, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Perrier water, champagne or Pernod (optional)

Puree the ingredients together, except the Perrier, champagne or Pernod, in a blender or food processor. Strain the mixture through a large sieve to remove some of the seeds.

If you like, just before serving, add a splash of Perrier or champagne for a little fizz, or Pernod for a hint of anise. Serve the soup cold or at room temperature. For a refreshing summer treat, freeze the soup, then blend or process it into a chilled slush before serving.

Mendo Bistro's Crab Cakes

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds Dungeness crab meat

3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, plus more for outer coating (see note)

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/2 to 3/4 cup tarragon aioli (recipe follows)

oil for sauteeing

Combine crab meat, bread crumbs, and green onions. Add 1/2 cup aioli and test mixture to see how well it holds together. If needed, add additional aioli. Do not overwork ingredients. Cakes should be loose and just barely held together.

Form into cakes about 3 inches in diameter and place one side in bread crumbs. Heat oil in medium saute pan over medium-high heat until just smoking and place cakes, bread-crumb side down, in pan.

Saute until golden, and carefully turn over. Lower heat to medium and saute until heated through. Top with additional aioli.

Note: Panko bread crumbs can be found in specialty and gourmet shops. If not available, plain bread crumbs are fine.
--Mendo Bistro chef/owner Nicholas Petti

Tarragon Aioli

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 egg yolks

3 cloves garlic

juice 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup very hot water

2 cups olive oil

1/2 bunch tarragon, finely chopped

dash Tabasco sauce

In food processor or blender, place egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and salt, and run machine. Pour in hot water and process for 15 seconds.

With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil until a mayonnaise consistency is reached. Stir in chopped tarragon. Top with dash of Tabasco.
--Mendo Bistro chef/owner Nicholas Petti

Crab-and-Corn Chowder With Ginger

From Fetzer Vineyards culinary director John Ash: "We use our California Dungeness crab, which is very rich and sweet in flavor. Any crab could be used, of course."

Serves 8

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups diced onions

1/2 cup finely diced celery or fresh fennel

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/4 teaspoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo or to taste (see note)

1 teaspoon lightly toasted coriander seed

1 cup fruity white wine, such as riesling

4 cups rich chicken or shellfish stock, previously simmered with corn cobs, if available

2 cups peeled and diced waxy potatoes

3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

10 ounces cooked crab meat

1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a soup pot, saute the ginger in olive oil briefly to soften. Add onions, celery, red pepper and chipotle and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes longer.

Add coriander seed, wine, stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are almost done.

In a blender, add 1 cup of the corn along with 1 cup of the hot soup stock and puree. Add back to soup pot along with remaining whole corn, cream and crab meat. Stir in cilantro and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Note: Chipotle chile in adobo can be found in Latin markets or the ethnic-food section of grocery stores.

Bannock Bread

Serves 2

8 ounces (1 cup) whole-wheat flour

4 ounces ( 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

1 level teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

approximately 1/2 cup buttermilk, or more

Mix first 4 ingredients. Make a well in the center and stir in enough buttermilk until mixture forms a firm dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead briefly. Spread the dough out into a greased square cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden-brown.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "A traditional Cree bannock bread is a simple type of pan-fried scone the Canadian pioneers cooked over an open fire in the woods, often sweetened with sugar and raisins and some with the addition of rolled oats. The pan-fried versions usually yield a tough, dense muffinlike bread that doesn't make terrific sandwiches.

"I think James McSherry was looking for something that would be usable as sandwich bread, so this oven-baked one is more workable. The result is still dense, but the rustic-looking loaf can be sliced and even toasted. The recipe said to cook for a longer time at a lower temperature, 350 degrees for 45 minutes, but I think it would yield a tougher loaf."

Fried Dill Pickles

Serves 4

1 (32-ounce) jar hamburger dill slices

2 cups buttermilk, divided use

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided use

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Texas Pete

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup cornmeal (we used white in testing)

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

ranch dressing

Drain hamburger dill slices and place in a bowl. Cover with about 1 cup buttermilk. Set aside. Combine eggs, 1/4 cup flour, remaining cup of buttermilk, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, seasoned salt and garlic powder in a bowl. Stir together. Whisk together cornmeal, remaining 2 cups of flour, salt and black pepper in a wide bowl or pan.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pot until it reaches 365 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer. Drain pickles. Drop pickles into buttermilk mixture, then dredge in seasoned flour (see note). Drop into hot oil. Fry until pickles are browned and floating. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with ranch dressing.

Note: We found that you can skip the batter and just dredge the buttermilk-soaked pickle slices in the seasoned flour before frying.
--Adapted from allrecipes.com.

Mojito

Serves 1

4 sprigs of fresh mint (divided use)

2 teaspoons sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

crushed ice

1 1/4 ounces rum

club soda

lime wedge for garnish

In a highball glass, combine 3 sprigs of mint with the sugar and lime juice. Muddle (or mash) the ingredients together with a pestle, muddler or the back of a spoon until they become almost a paste. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the rum and top off with club soda.

Pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker, shake well until the mint is suspended throughout the mixture and return the drink to the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.
--Joy America Cafe

Cucumber Salad (dua leo ngam giam)

Serves 4

1/4 cup rice or distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 pickling cucumbers, halved and cut into 1/8 -inch-thick slices (about 2 1/2 cups) (see note)

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 serrano or other fresh chile, sliced (optional)

6 sprigs cilantro, chopped

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir well and add the cucumbers, shallots, chile, if using, and cilantro. Set aside to stand for 15 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and serve.

Note: English cucumbers can be substituted for pickling cucumbers, and a relatively inexpensive mandoline is an ideal way to get uniform, thin slices.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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