Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Too Darned Hot!

This is the time of year that I tell myself, "Fall is the next season" to lend some sanity to a Summer in New England. The heat is stifling. Maybe if I had been raised in it I might have some form of acclimation. But truly, I've been a good boy and no one deserves this kind of weather. Why, when we are young do we not feel the fever of a burning July day (and night) so easily? Is it the amount of fat we've accumulated? The variety of medications our lovely doctors have prescribed to keep us going? Or, is it simply the age thing?
Whatever the reason, thoughts of braising, stews and hot soups fly right out the open window when I feel this way. Salads, fruit, cold soups, even simple bread and cheese with a cold, crisp hard cider or a cool glass of my favorite French Rosé wine from Provence all take precedence in my menu planning. The Early Girl tomatoes are showing up at the local farmer's markets, along with assorted heirlooms and they all beg "Pick me Joe! Pick me!"
This is the time of year that the tomato reigns absolutely supreme. The kings and queens of produce. No other time of year do they taste this good. No hot house or supposed "vine-ripened" imposters are even considered for the multitude of ideas that call. Tomato sandwiches on my good Irish Brown Bread spread simply with homemade mayonnaise. Nothing can beat the taste, bringing  back memories of picking them in the garden as a little boy with a salt shaker tucked into the back pocket of my blue, railroad striped overalls.
Jewels waiting for their setting
Today, some beauties gave me that "come hither" look and demanded to be made into a cold soup. Something that I make when even a Gazpacho seems too much to think about preparing. My simple Chilled Tomato Soup with some grilled corn, feta and (feeling very French lately...more like wishing I were there lately) dotted with a basil pistou. I hope you like it and dream about the south of France with me and the sound of the cicadas ringing though the breeze while the dogs nap silently in the shade of an old pine tree. Thoughts and tastes like these get me through these sultry days. An Fall IS the next season.
Photos will follow. I promise.

Chilled Tomato Soup
Grilled Corn, Feta and Basil Pistou

1 Garlic clove, medium
¼ Cup Basil leaves
Sea Salt
¼ Cup, plus 2 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 ears Corn
2 lb. Heirloom Tomatoes, perfectly ripe
3 Tbl. Lemon juice, fresh
Freshly ground black pepper
½ lb. Feta cheese, crumbled

Make the Pistou-
Place the garlic, basil, and a pinch of sea salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and mix well. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Grill the Corn-
Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. Cut off the tip of the corn’s husks (to make it easier to remove the husks once grilled). Grill the corn in the husk for 15 to 20 minutes, giving it a quarter turn every 5 minutes, keeping the grill covered (the kernels should be cooked but not charred). When it’s cool enough to handle, remove all of the husk and silk. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob. Set the kernels aside.

Make the Soup-
Core the tomatoes and cut them into chunks. Working in two batches, put half the tomatoes in a blender with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and ¼ cup of the olive oil in each batch. Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and blend on high speed until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on any solids to get all of the liquid through the mesh. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Chill until ready to serve.

Mix the corn and feta together in a bowl. Divide the soup among four chilled soup bowls. Spoon the feta/corn mixture onto each serving. Stir the pistou and then drizzle it over the soup. Serve at once.
A Fresh & Light Supper or Lunch

Sometimes I can't resist putting thick slice of toasted leftover Italian bread rubbed with a cut clove of raw garlic in the bottom of the bowl and covering it with the soup for more substance. 

1 comment:

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