Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooling Off Period: Crab, Jicama, and Mango Salad with Lemon-Curry Dressing

Heck, even I think it's crazy to contemplate turning on a cooking apparatus today. The heat index value is going to be up around 103° today, the air quality is poor, and there's just no. fricking. way. I'm turning on a heat-producing device. No. No.


And I don't suggest you do, either. Thankfully, neither does The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine.
Crab, Jicama, and Mango Salad with Lemon-Curry Dressing (Classic Pairing)
Recommended Wine: Chardonnay
Alternative Wine: Viognier

This combination works because the richness of the succulent crab meat, the tropical fruit flavors of the mango, and the lightly curried citrus dressing help showcase the ripe tropical fruit and citrus flavors found in many chardonnays. The use of curry powder enlivens the dressing just enough to play into the spice character fhtat comes from the wine's barrel aging. Viognier, with its opulent texture, also marries well with this elegant appetizer.

1 pound crab meat, picked over for shells
3/4 cup diced fresh or frozen mango
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 cup peeled and diced jicama

Juice of 1 lemon (Meyer lemon, if possible)
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

12 leaves butter lettuce, rinsed and dried

Garnish: chopped chives, 6 lemon slices

In a medium nonreactive mixing bowl, combine crab meat, mango, chives, and jicama and mix well.

To make dressing, in a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Add dressing to crab mixture and combine thoroughly. Allow to sit, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours. Season to taste.

To serve, place 2 butter lettuce leaves side by side on each salad plate. Mix crab thoroughly. Spoon mixture equally onto lettuce leaves on each plate. Sprinkle with chopped chives and garnish with lemon slices.

Serves 6 as an appetizer
I had the great joy of spending yesterday evening on a boat in the South River, right where it feeds into the Chesapeake. That is to say, I was in crab country. When it looked like my carload of boat party people wouldn't arrive in time (there was a bit of a snafu that led to me, my car, and my passengers being about an hour south of where we were supposed to be...), I thought "well, at least we can get some crab." Summer and the mid-Atlantic practically scream out for the beautiful swimmer -- that's what the Latin name for blue crab means: Callinectes sapidus = beautiful swimmer...poetic, no?

Crab would normally be about $16 a pound at this time of year, Chefly Husband tells me. Instead, domestic crab is selling for about $24 a pound, thanks to the devastation in the Gulf. Depending on your budget and your food-as-politics leanings, you might want to file this recipe away until crab is more affordable, or you might want to hang the price and support domestic fisheries (perhaps I took the front matter in the Cook Book Presented by The Fishwives of Charleston Oregon a bit too much to heart).

I've been a stone's throw from the Chesapeake for two decades now (and I have the high school reunion invitation to prove it), but have to admit that, while blue crab is all well and good, it's not the real crab.

The real crab is Dungeness. No one can convince me otherwise. It's the best crab. It's the Master Crab! (Even its Latin name used to say so: Cancer magister.) Of course, I don't really ever think of using Dungeness in a recipe. There's no need. The stuff is perfection right out of the shell.

My devotion is shared by my family back in Oregon. When Dad was out to visit a while back, we went to eat at Chefly Husband's restaurant, and I had the crab cake. Now, Chefly Husband's restaurant does pretty much the best damned crab cake you'll ever have in your life. No lie. This is not spousal love talking, it's just plain fact.

Dad had a bite. Dad said, warmly, "that's the best crab cake that doesn't have Dungeness in it."

Can't really argue with that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Don't Spell It, You Eat It: Fig and Raspberry Clafouti

It's brutally hot in DC today--we hit 100°F (37.7°C, for those of you who, you know, use metric). I had two hearty pasta dishes flagged as blog fodder, but couldn't bear to even think about boiling a big pot of ... no, don't make me say it. Nothing heavy, please. Nothing steamy. Something simple...

So, you'll think I'm crazy when I say that today's recipe from The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine involves....baking. Yes. I'm saying you should turn on your oven. Even though it's brutally hot out. You can scurry out of the kitchen when it's on, and place yourself in front of a fan or an air conditioner (or both); it'll be okay.
Fig and Raspberry Clafouti
Recommended Wine: Sauternes
Alternative Wine: Port

Clafouti is not a terribly well-known dessert. Its origins are in the south central part of France where a batter cake, typically made with black cherries, is a traditional and much loved delight. This version resonates with the lush, honeyed sweetness of late summer figs and slightly tart raspberries, a truly magical combination that wraps its flavors around the honey-like quality in aged sauternes. Port is a suitable alternative that works well with the fig flavors.

2 cups quartered figs
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons port
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange figs cut side up in buttered 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish and sprinkle in raspberries. In a blender or food processor, finely grind the almonds with the flour. Add 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, milk, and port and blend well. Stop occasionally to wipe down sides as necessary. Pour the custard over the fruit, dott with butter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the custard is set. Let cool for 20 minutes. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Serves 6
I love figs, and no doubt the suitable-for-August heat has me thinking of late summer fruit instead of more seasonally appropriate choices (see: aforementioned black cherries). Usually, when I have figs, I rip off a hunk of bread, smear on some chevre, and then tear open a fig and smoooooooosh it in on top of the cheese. I eat. I repeat. Figs never seem to last long enough to end up in a cooked dish. Well, you know what I mean, figs keep, but they don't last near me. They are not safe; guard them if you want to have any share in them.

A few Sundays back, Chefly Husband and I went to some friends' house for grilled lamb and shiraz; dessert was clafouti. So I say with confidence: this is a good hot day dessert. Yes, your kitchen will heat up. Unless...

Do you have a yard of your own? With plenty of beautiful sunlight? You can give a solar oven a try. I've a friend (who I haven't seen in far too long) who has had great success with her solar cooking. Use that sun for something other than skin damage and keep your kitchen cool.

Since it's summer, I'd stick with the sauternes and leave the port for a cooler day. I also think that a nice ice wine would be good with this, like, oh... Argyle's Minus Five riesling. It's the wine so tasty, it's finally got my sister interested in tasting wine!

If you've no figs available, add more raspberries, or blackberries, or plums (pitted), or cherries (pitted or not, up to you and your estimation of your guests' ability to navigate around the pits gracefully), or... you get the idea. Clafouti is a friend of fruit; use what you can lay your hands on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Best Recipe In The Book: Coffee- and Spice-Rubbed Lamb with Coffee-Vanilla Sauce

If the title of today's post didn't scare you off, then you are my kind of people. Welcome, people, to the world of damned tasty lamb. This is the world wherein an eager lamb lover flits from table to table at the New Zealand embassy, snagging lollipop after lollipop after lollipop of lamb until she was blissfully full and her skin tasted of lamb for days. Oh, yes. It's a good world to be in. (And, yes, I really did do that. It was a Shiraz & Lamb tasting, and it was heavenly.)

One of the first recipes Chefly Husband ever made out of The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine was this initially strange sounding but utterly delicious lamb. It turned out to be phenomenal; heck, I'd say it's the best recipe in the book. Do not be scared off. Stay in lamb world.
Coffee- and Spice-Rubbed Lamb with Coffee-Vanilla Sauce
Recommended Wine: Pinot Noir
Alternative Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon

As pinot noir ages, it picks up some graceful, coffee-like notes. This dish was created to try to mirror this characteristic as well as accentuate the vanilla character that results from barrel aging. If the recipe sounds a little "over the top," don't be intimidated. It is quite flavorful and a wonderful way to heighten the character of almost any red wine, particularly those that have aged for a while.

2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon whole mixed peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 boneless, tied lamb sirloin rolls (about 2 pounds) or 8 double-thick lamb chops (about 6 pounds), trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 6-inch vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 cups lamb or chicken stock
1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish: mint springs

To make marinade, combine garlic, mint, coffee, olive oil, and wine in a small, nonreactive mixing bowl. Using a mortar and pestle (or electric coffee/spice grinder), grind peppercorns, seeds, rosemary, and salt. Add to coffee mixture and whisk thoroughly.

Place lamb in a large glass dish. Pour marinade over lamb and rub in thoroughly on all sides. Refrigerate, covered for 3 to 4 hours. Remove from marinade and wipe off most but not all of coffee mixture with paper towels.

In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, sauté olive oil, mushrooms, and shallots for 4 to 5 minutes. Add red wine, vanilla bean, and mint and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce wine by half. Stir in stock, coffee, and honey and reduce by half. Remove vanilla bean. Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce. Remove from heat, swirl in butter, and season to taste. Keep warm.

Prepare a hot grill. Cook lamb for 7 to 8 minutes per side, or until medium-rare.

To serve, place lamb rolls on plates and top with sauce. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Serves 4 as an entreé
...yes, please.

I hope I don't need to say this, but the butter is not optional. It's just not. It's one measley tablespoon, spread out over 4 servings. It's the key for finishing this sauce (or, really, almost any sauce). Use the darned butter. And whatever you do, do not substitute butter.

I could put that paragraph in a macro, I could. I will stand by that paragraph until the day I die. The day I die in buttery, lamb-filled bliss.

You may not have a store of all those lovely seeds in your cupboard. Or, you might have metal tins you got from your mom's cabinet when you went off to college. Those? Are not good anymore, folks. They're just not. Get your fingers flying over to Penzeys Spices and get yourself some spices like you've never had spices (unless, of course, you've already been to Penzeys).

See, even with dried spices, freshness is an issue. There are volatile oils in your spices (or there were, back when your mom bought that tin in 1973), and as the word volatile implies, they're not sticking around, stable as salt. They're fleeting. They're flying. They're gone. Restock your spices. You'll be glad you did.

I'd get on your case to make sure you're using a mortar and pestle for your spice grinding. It's really a spiffy fine way to go about spice bashing. So, by all means, use a mortar and pestle. Like I said, I'd get on your case...but I'd be a hypocrite. I don't own a mortar and pestle. I just don't. Somewhere in this crazy apartment of mine, I have my old coffee grinder, and I'll use that. It works.

If I'm feeling frustrated, though, I might put those seeds and spices in a zip-top bag, put the bag on the cutting board, and then bash it over and over with a heavy fry pan.

What? It's therapeutic.

As for the wine, go for the pinot. You'll be happy, you will. While you're cooking, you're going to use less than two cups of wine in the actual recipe. You've heard the old saw about never cooking with a wine you wouldn't drink; this is one of the very good reasons why. A 750-ml bottle of wine has about 3 1/4 cups in it. You have my permission to drink the rest of the wine as you prepare the dish. Open something else for the table.

That's how we do it in lamb world.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cheesy Oozy Goodness: Risotto with Roasted Shallots, Portobello Mushrooms, Radicchio, and Parmesan

Once, when I was sick and miserable and bundled up on the couch, Chefly Husband came home and looked at me with love and pity.

"Can I make you some chicken soup?" he asked, holding up a can of Campbell's.

"No," I croaked. "Can you make me porcini risotto?"

And he did.

Mushroom risotto has held a special place in my heart ever since. The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine adds roasted shallots to the mix, and suggests you open some pinot noir.
Risotto with Roasted Shallots, Portobello Mushrooms, Radicchio, and Parmesan
Recommended Wine: Pinot Noir
Alternative Wine: Chardonnay

The earthy, slightly bitter flavors of this risotto are heightened by the forward fruit and similar earthy notes of the pinot noir. Interestingly, this dish matches almost equally well with chardonnay, providing a pleasing textural connection to the wine.

8 ounces whole shallots
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (1/2 tablespoon dried)
1/2 cup white wine
4-5 cups hot chicken stock
1 3/4 cups loosely packed chopped radicchio
1 cup seeded, chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish: minced chives

Preheat oven to 350°F. Trim ends of shallots. Peel off outer brown layer and discard. Halve shallots, coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Wrap shallots loosely in foil and roast for 65 minutes. Keep wrapped in foil until ready to serve.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat remaining olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and thyme and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully add wine (it may steam up when poured into hot pan) and simmer to evaporate. Start adding stock in 1/2-cup increments and slowly stir until mostly evaporated. Cook until al dente.

Stir in radicchio and tomatoes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more to wilt radicchio slightly. Stir in Parmesan.

Serve very hot in soup bowls, garnished with shallots and minced chives.

Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as an entrée.
Risotto isn't noodles, but I'd still say to hell with trying this as an appetizer. Serve it as your entrée, folks.

Normally, I prefer virgin Chardonnay, with all the crispness that comes from aging only in steel. For this, though, I think you need to break out a buttery, oaky Chard. Something that will feel a bit creamy on the palate, like the risotto does. If all you have is unoaked, though, it'll still taste good.

Pinot noir was basically built to go with mushrooms, so you can't hardly go wrong there.

And, Parmesan. I promise, if you choose to use more than 3/4 a cup, I won't rat you out. But, use the real stuff, not something in a canister. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happily Wrong: Duck Breasts with Honey, Ginger, and Lavender

Chefly Husband once presented Mom with a duck dish. She looked...polite...and said she'd try it, but had never cared for duck. "It's so greasy." Well, Momma was wrong, and happily so. Properly prepared duck isn't greasy, and it's delicious. As we march through The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine from lighter wines to heavier, from whites to reds, we hit this recipe, straddling the gap.
Duck Breasts with Honey, Ginger, and Lavender
Recommended Wine: Viognier
Alternative Wine: Pinot Noir

Viogner is an incredibly aromatic wine. This recipe intends to capture this character with a combination of equally aromatic ingredients--snappy ginger, exotic lavender, and the sweet scents of vanilla and honey. The sauce offers lushness that works texturally with the fullness of the wine as well. The red meat and intriguing spice of the dish can also accentuate the cherry-spice character of pinot noir.

2 whole boneless duck breasts
1/8 teaspoon mixed whole peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon white-wine Worcestershire
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried lavender (see Note)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (1/4 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Garnish: tarragon sprigs

Cut whole duck breasts into two halves lengthwise and trim all excess fat from the ends and sides of the breast. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the fat side of the breasts by cutting an X in the middle of the breast.

Marinate breasts in half of the crushed pepper, Worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, lavender and shallot slices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, combine wine, stock, vanilla, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger, reserved crushed pepper, and sliced shallots removed from the top of the duck breasts, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce liquid by half. Add honey and tarragon and reduce further to sauce consistency. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Season to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In another large sauté pan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Place duck breasts in pan, skin side down, and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until lightly brown. Turn breasts and continue to cook on meat side for 2 to 4 minutes until medium rare. The juices should run pinkish. Do not overcook the duck.

Remove breasts from the pan and slice at an angle. Fan breasts on the plate and top with the sauce. Garnish with sprigs of tarragon. Serve with wild rice studded with dried cherries and minced green onions.

Note: Dried lavender is a delightfully aromatic herb that can be purchased at most health food stores. It is excellent on Grilled Lamb with Olive Sauce ..., and it keeps very well stored in an airtight jar.

Serves 2 as entrée.
Oh, yes, please. One thing The Wine Lover's Cookbook does consistently and well: sauce. Sauce. Sauce. And there's hardly ever a sauce that isn't finished with a swirl of beautiful butter.

Do not, please, substitute margarine when you are sauce-making. Your sauce will taste of corn, not of creamy goodness. If you can't have butter for whatever reason, just leave it off. Leave it off, and feel a bit sad, because you have to know you're missing out on incredibly beautiful stuff. Margarine will ruin your sauce. Don't do it. In Sauce World, you are better sad without butter than sad without butter but with margarine.

I'm not a big viognier fan. I live in DC, so I'm smack dab on top of some of the best viognier in the US--Virginia is known for it. I like it fine in blends, but as a straight varietal it leaves me a bit cold. I once went to a tasting at Horton down near Charlottesville; they had a vertical tasting--so, bottles of the same kind of wine from a span of years--of their viognier. I told the winemaker what I just told you: I don't particularly care for the stuff. He was excited, not because he thought he could change my mind or palate, but because I would be able to focus on the differences from year to year, and not get carried away with myself just because I loved the wine.

It made sense at the time. When I'm tasting shiraz, odds are I'll be carried away and stop being critical/analytical.

This is all a convoluted way to say: I'd serve this with pinot noir. I love pinot noir with duck, and I think it'd stand up nicely to the unctuous sauce and strong flavors here.

If you're intrigued by this recipe, but a bit short on time, I'd say you should go out and buy a smoked duck breast, slice it (on an angle, as above), and serve it with crackers and strongly-flavored honey. And pinot noir. It's not going to be anywhere near the same, but you're still going to be happy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Noodles!: Dragon-Fire Noodles with Shrimp

I love noodles. I love every darned thing about noodles. I love them hot. I love them cold. I love them buttered, sauced, and naked. I love them bland and comforting, and, yes, I love them spicy as all heckfire. Noodles! And, it's been a long while since my noodle love got to shine through here at Take One Cookbook. So, let's take a look at The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine and see what noodly goodness we find.
Dragon-Fire Noodles with Shrimp
Recommended Wine: Pinot Gris/Grigio
Alternative Wine: Riesling

This dish is an adaptation of a recipe from my friend Barbara Tropp, whose former China Moon restaurant and incredibly wonderful cookbooks set the standard in contemporary Chinese cooking. This fiery noodle recipe demonstrates how well a fruity wine with good acidity can counterbalance chile heat. A very light, crisp Italian pinot grigio would be the best choice here.

1/4 cup hot chile oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon Thai chile paste
2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-salt soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped pickled ginger ...
2 tablespoons juice from pickled ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Minced zest of 1 lemon
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound Chinese egg noodles
1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled and chopped ...
1 roasted yellow bell pepper, peeled and chopped
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
Garnish: white or black sesame seeds and minced green onions

In a large mixing bowl, combine oils, chile paste, soy sauce, pickled ginger and juice, lemon juice, vinegar, mint and lemon zest and whisk together. Adjust seasonings; mixture should be hot and spicy but not tongue-numbing. Add shrimp to mixture and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

In a large soup pot, bring salted water to a gentle boil. Carefully add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes, or until the noodles are al dente. Strain noodles thoroughly and return them to the pot. Add about a tablespoon of the marinade to the noodles to prevent them from sticking, and combine well. Cover.

In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add shrimp along with marinade and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until shrimp are just cooked through. Add shrimp and marinade to the noodles and heat the entire mixture.

Just prior to serving, add the roasted peppers and cilantro leaves and mix thoroughly. Garnish with the sesame seeds and green onions. Serve immediately.

This dish can be served in smaller portions in a wine-friendly Asian meal with the Asian-Style Grilled Squab with Fennel, Bok Choy, and Chanterelle Mushrooms ....

Serves 2 to 3 as an entrée or 4 to 6 as an appetizer.
Finally, a serial comma! Just the one, though.

I don't believe in noodle dishes as appetizers. I believe in noodle dishes that fill the plate and the belly. So, um, don't think about serving 6 with this, if I'm coming over.

I've recently finished reading the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik (on my Kindle, which I love, even though/because it makes getting the next book in a series (any series) so darned easy). If you're unfamiliar with them, basically, it's about a British naval officer during the Napoleanic war, and, well, there's aerial support for the navy battles...from dragons. Trust me, it actually works. The main dragon enjoys Chinese food (really, in context, it makes sense), and likes it hot and spicy; I love that this fiery dish tips its hat to dragons.

I'm not usually a big pinot gris fan. Pinot noir, sure. Pinot blanc, naturally. But pinot gris reminds me of working on a Christmas tree farm--the smell and taste of dirt. So, I'd go with a riesling, but your mileage may vary. The key descriptors are "light" and "crisp"--stay away from any oaky, buttery white.

Let's talk food safety for a bit here; unless you're going to cook the noodles with sauce and shrimp for a good long while (more than just heating through), you need to change the method. After you make your marinade, take some out and put it aside (in the fridge) before you put the shrimp in the remaining marinade. You don't want to have shrimped marinade going on your food w/o thorough cooking. It's not as bad as doing that with chicken--which you'd never do, right?--but it's still not the wisest course of action. Be safe, and plan for food safety.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Wine Lover's Cookbook, by Sid Goldstein: Chilled Summer Peach Soup

Time for another family favorite off the cookbook shelves: The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine by Sid Goldstein (Chronicle Books, 1999). What I love about this cookbook is its unabashed love of the grape. Every recipe has a recommended wine pairing, and an alternative (sometimes much more daring) pairing. If I haven't mentioned it enough lately, I love wine. Chefly Husband loves wine. Heck, our dog Puck loves wine (corks; we don't let him drink alcohol--that would be irresponsible). I think this book came into our hands from his parents; in fact, I'm pretty darned sure of it. You can still get it at Amazon, new, or from lots of sellers, used, for really reasonable prices. If you like cooking (I don't assume people coming to a cookbook site do, by the way), and you love wine (which I hope you do), this is a book you need.

It's hotter than all get out in DC today--nothing compared to what it will be like in July and August, but it's just the first of June, and I'm wilting. So, for today's recipe...something cool and refreshing.
Chilled Summer Peach Soup
Recommended Wine: Riesling
Alternative Wine: Gewürztraminer

What more could you ask from a summer soup than for it to be refreshing and require virtually not time on the stove? Despite the fact that soups in general are difficult to match with wine, this luscious peach soup is a tantalizing, appetite-stimulating summer beauty that marries perfectly with the peachy quality in many Rieslings. The flavor match is almost equally good with off-dry (slightly sweet) Gewüztraminer.

6 large, ripe peaches
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup peach nectar
1/8 cup Riesling
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon minced orange zest
1 teaspoon five-spice powder or curry powder (see Note)
Garnish: mint sprigs, plain yogurt, 24 raspberries

Place peaches in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and place in an ice-water bath. Gently pull off skin. Halve and pit peaches.

In a food processor or blender, purée peaches, honey, yogurt, nectar, wine, crystallized ginger, mint, chives, orange zest, and five-spice powder.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. Adjust sweetness level, adding a little more yogurt to make sure that the soup is not so sweet that it will overpower the wine. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with mint sprigs, a small dollop of yogurt, and 4 raspberries per bowl placed carefully on top of yogurt.

Note: Five-spice powder is a combination of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves, and Szechwan pepper and is found in the Asian grocery sections of most markets.

Serves 6 as an appetizer.
Okay, how psyched am I that I remembered the code for a ü without having to look it up? My HTML coding days may be in the past, but they linger on. My cockiness was short-lived though, as I first typed 1/2 cup Riesling. I swear, I wasn't trying to get you all soused on the soup.

The way Sid writes recipes,'s not how I write recipes. He's very, very precise. Downright meticulous. He could have said "purée the ingredients," but instead lists them all out. He doesn't even shorten things--I'd probably shorten "crystallized ginger" to "ginger" in the instructions, as there's no other ginger to be had in the recipe, but we'll stick with Sid. Yes, even with the "4 raspberries per bowl placed carefully on top of yogurt."

Yes, it's fussy.

Yes, it's not necessary.

But, oh, if you put yourself in Sid's hands, and trust in his recipes and instructions, you're going to be in for an amazing time.

Chefly Husband just came out of the den, where yet another closet has been converted to wine storage. I asked him about the provenance of the book, and he says that he stole the book from his parents. A little more prodding got the whole story: he boldly borrowed the book, and then they bought another for themselves, which pretty much meant he didn't have to give it back.

I'm very, very glad of it; this is a helluva book. We'll have fun this week.