This was an unusual month, since the two soup recipes required me to buy something for which I will have no other use: dry sherry (see my intro to my May Soup and Salad post). Long ago, traveling in Spain, I visited Jerez, in Andalusia, Spain, where I had my first sips of the drink that made the town. The colors ranged from amber to a brown so dark it was almost purple. With each sip, I knew I was never going to be a fan. Too complex, perhaps? or just too strong? As we left Jerez, I took comfort in the thought that I’d never be asked to taste sherry again.
And then Brother Victor-Antoine offers two soup recipes that call for a dash of that dreaded tipple. I made the soups (read below for the details), and poured myself a tiny amount of the sherry to see if my tastes have changed. That first day, it tasted interesting, but I didn’t top up my .5 oz/10 ml. Tried it again the next day, but knocked the glass over before I could have even one sip.
I took that as a message from Bacchus to stick with wine.
I’ve put the bottle of sherry up in my cupboard, where it will wait until someone who appreciates it can take it off my hands. Feel free to call dibs.
Many of d’Avila’s July soups are served cold, and I also could have made soup with Jerusalem artichokes, or celeriac, but I looked for recipes whose ingredients I knew I could find. The first soup I made was too terrible to write about, so I moved on to d’Avila’s Avocado Soup. Blend an avocado with some milk, onions, and lemon juice. Heat chicken broth and then stir in a splash of sherry and some cream. Blend everything together and chill several hours. Cilantro garnish. It’s a lovely green color, but the flavor is merely ok. The sherry flavor is strong — be warned — nearly overpowering the avocados. I doubt I’ll make this again; I’d rather have my avocados on toast than in a soup.
I noticed that the Cold Salmon Chowder also called for sherry, so I thought I’d give it a try. Poach the salmon (I used butter and a splash of Sauvignon), simmer onions, celery and red pepper in milk, stir in the flaked salmon along with cream, sherry and salt/pepper. Then chill overnight. This was actually quite good, the sherry balancing well with the salmon. It was thick enough to be a chowder, and pleasantly cold on a brutally hot day. This recipe may be worth revisiting in winter, when it can be served hot. I might find some use for that bottle of sherry after all.
The main ingredient of St. Benedict Salad is rice, which makes a nice change. And because the dressing calls for curry powder, I took the liberty of making a rice pilaf: sauté garlic and ginger in oil, add the rice and sauté for a couple more minutes, then add the water and cook to al dente. When the rice is cool, add chopped cucumbers, raisins, kalamata olives, capers, minced shallots, mint, and lemon juice. The dressing is mayo with minced garlic and curry powder. I added the hard-boiled egg to complete the meal. The combos of sweet and salty, curry and mint, crunchy and chewy make this recipe sound busy, but it isn’t (although I think you could omit the mint and no one would notice). By the way, St. Benedict established the Benedictine rule in the 6th century CE and is the patron saint of Europe.
Zucchini Salad, Basque Style returns to the more traditional, vegetable-based salads. Very Italian, and easy to whip up. Chop some zucchini and cook briefly (d’Avila suggests boiling for 2-3 minutes, but I roasted mine), add chopped tomatoes, red onion, and yellow pepper. Oil and vinegar dressing. Garnish with Italian parsley. Simple, and a great side salad or appetizer. Not sure where the “Basque Style” comes in. The cooked zucchini? Yellow pepper? Whatever the case, I know I’ll make this again, because I can never get enough tomatoes. And bonus: two days later, when the tomatoes had broken down a bit more and the salad was somewhat watery, I added cooked couscous and stretched the recipe to two more meals.
That’s it for July. I hope you’re all keeping cool. And, as usual, if any recipe piques your interest, just let me know and I’ll send you the details.