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.
I am always in need of interesting vegetable recipes, fish is also ok. The salmon chowder and zucchini tomato salad sound good. I would probably omit the sherry though, not having any and not wanting to buy it especially.
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I’m happy to know I may have provided some inspiration, Lory. The salmon chowder would be fine without the sherry, I’m sure.
Happy to take that sherry off your hands!
One of my fondest memories of the Spain trip was Dad and I enjoying the sherry tasting together. We had so little in common, it was nice to know we shared that.
I’d be interested in the recipe that went wrong. I have those books in storage, and someday will pull them out again and review.
The recipe that went wrong had tomatoes, green peppers and onions blended raw. Too heavy on the onions, but ok so far. Then add yogurt. WRONG. I hope you can imagine what the result looked like without my spelling it out.
My mother always had a bottle or two of sherry for visitors, one dry, the other sweet; as a teen I was offered a glass when those visitors came, or for Christmas or New Year, but I preferred the dry as the sweet was too cloying. Occasionally it found its way into puddings but never savoury dishes.
I don’t think I’ve tried any since she died a quarter-century ago. Needless to say, because we lived in Bristol the tipple was almost invariably Bristol Milk or Bristol Cream – the port was where most of the fortified wine was historically shipped in.
Anything with rice is okay with me, but my palate can’t take avocado, nor my stomach…
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All those flavors that I’ve tried and dismissed: sherry, port, fortified wine, beer, coffee, etc. As for your preference against avocados, Chris, I can only say all the more for me.
BTW, in response to last year’s shortage, avocado growers have overproduced and there are now too many. This means nothing to you, I’m sure, but it gives me permission to eat one a day for quite some time.
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I’m sure you’re doing your patriotic duty by helping to reduce the glut almost singlehandedly!