Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chilled Carrot/Red Currant/Orange Soup...and summer salads

The carrot patch is doing very well this season because of being covered with carrot-fly-deterring horticultural fleece, my planting a Chantenay variety, and unusually plentiful rains. This type of carrot is an underground bruiser; its nearly three-inch-wide shoulders sharply tapering into a sturdy cone acts like an intrepid drill without any fear of small stones. Hence, most of the harvest consists of juicy, non-forked carrots showing no sign of carrot fly damage.

Young, four-inch-long carrots. I will leave some to develop into six-inch-long adults

Though the flavour may not be as bright as a Nantes, it is more a satisfying, earthy one.  Realising that a cold soup is way more refreshing than a hot one during the summer, I made mVelouté de Carottes with the idea of using it as an experimental base for a chilled soup.

My white ceramic knife slices much more cleanly, faster & easier than a metal one.

As the red currant harvest is abundant, I grabbed a washed bunch of strigs and after saving some for garnishing, squeezed the rest in my fists over a sieve placed in a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, I worked the pulp through the sieve. For an amazingly delicious Vitamin C powerhouse drink, squeeze several handfuls, dilute with water for desired consistency and add sugar to taste--once imbibed it will make you feel like you could climb Mont Blanc. Alone. In the dead of winter.  Without much warm clothing.  It's eye-popping, potent stuff!

Since there were some oranges around, I peeled one and cut out a few segments for decoration. I squeezed the remaining peeled orange in my hands, keeping the two fruit juices separate. Then I beat some yogurt till very fluid, adding a touch of the red currant puree to make it pink and heighten its zing.

Into 125 ml of well chilled Velouté de Carottes, I stirred three tablespoons of red currant puree and two tablespoons of orange juice. Via a spoon, I dripped the topping from up high, moving the spoon quite fast in a circular pattern. Served with a red currant strig and some orange segments, this soup has a zesty flavour and a rich, smooth texture, making it a winner.

Back at the potager, I had planted not only heat-resistant head lettuce comme habitude, but for the first time, a looseleaf variety which the French call, à couper (to cut) which means I can harvest the desired number of leaves without picking the entire head.  New leaves will replace the removed ones.

When lettuce is a pale green, the French say it is blond

Garden-fresh scallions and carrots found their way into the salad bowl along with the lettuce.

A simple vinaigrette is one part Sherry vinegar (readers may remember I am smitten with the stuff!) and three parts extra virgin olive oil.  Put a dash of Dijon mustard, some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the vinegar in a small mixing bowl.

Whisk the ingredients till smooth.

Then slowly add the oil while whisking.

A salad comprised of the freshest ingredients and lightly tossed with a piquant vinaigrette is a refreshing addition to a summer meal.

A serving of salad went well with one of my favourite supper dishes, squash-flower beignets.  The large, yellow flowers are first coated with beaten egg and dredged in a mixture of flour, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and grated Parmesan.  Then they are sauteed in ample olive oil and served piping hot.

Using the first harvest of the new potatoes I planted about eighty days ago, I boiled some along with some small carrots, peeled/sliced them, and added lettuce, scallions, tossing the lot with the vinaigrette and a generous amount of Parmesan shavings. It made a nice summer supper.

The June-bearing strawberries are finished, but there are a few ever-bearing strawberries each week. The latest batch went on the last of the red currant ice cream!

The black currants are in process of being harvested. Smelling their captivating fragrance results in my standing in a trance near a bush, unable to do anything at first except breathing in deeply their enticing, musky scent. Then the cook inside me wakes up, and says, pick them so you can make jelly or ice cream with them.  I do exactly that!

The weather forecast is for a week of sunny, dry weather.  I'll believe it when I see it!  The plentiful rains are keeping the garden looking lovely.

Pink/red roses, alyssum, lavender on the left, sage, fennel, and carrot bed on the right

The entrance to a commercial property flanking one side of the potager has two enormous spruce trees which are home to countless blackbirds whose whistling and chirping is an integral part of my garden experience.

View seen from sitting under the pergola

Front garden: lilies, yellow/pink roses, lavender, Shasta daisies, plum tree

The first peek of the garden when I open the shutters in the morning and the last hurried glance as I close them at night are the same:  a splash of lavender blue, a sprinkling of rose pink, and a mass of fleecy white.

Horticultural fleece protecting the carrot bed from carrot flies

Dayo's paw is greatly improved and he is doing well, but he still needs to spend most of his time indoors until there are no tender spots on his paw.

A cat and his bookcase

Taking a nap in the rocking chair next to my computer

Continued licking the area trying to scab over is the reason why complete healing is taking so long, but eventually it will.

À la prochaine!


Growing carrots
Making red currant ice cream