Monday, June 16, 2014

Farmers Market Bounty #1: Cucumbers

I think I will do a series of posts this summer with recipes featuring something that is plentiful at the farmers market at this specific time. Today it is cucumbers.
Now, I know many people just consider these as salad fillers but I have two recipes that I adore featuring cucumbers. The first is a chilled soup that I eat all summer long...think of it as a cucumber gazpacho. I can't eat tomato gazpacho as I have reflux (GERD) and it is way too acidic for me. But this cucumber soup is wonderful...loaded with herbs from my garden, using up a whole large cucumber from the market and balanced with some low fat buttermilk (or greek yogurt if you like). It's low calorie and low fat and tastes like a cup full of summer!
The second recipe is from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and was mentioned in the Julie & Julia book...baked cucumbers. It is fabulous; who would know that cooking cucumbers could turn them into a succulent, sublime sensation! (how's that for alliteration?). They are great served with any meat and since you are baking them, saves space on the grill for your meats.
So here you go, two outstanding uses for farm fresh cucumbers!

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Avocado Toast

Note: this recipe was from the NYTimes.
To keep it low fat, I generally do not make the avocado toast or garnish with the corn, but if you want to make it special or serve as a starter for company, I encourage you to do it as written.
Serves 4
  • 1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or use 1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt plus 1/4 cup water) I use lowfat buttermilk and only use 1 1/2 cups, plus 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 2 anchovy fillets (Recipe says this is optional, but don't be a adds a "umami" flavor that really enhances the recipe and doesn't stand out as anchovy explicitly)
  • 2 small whole scallions, trimmed
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil and cilantro)...I use fresh mint, basil, oregano, thyme, chives and parsley, basically what grows in my herb garden
  • 1/2 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste
Garnish (optional)
  • 4 slices baguette or other bread, toasted
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels sliced off
  • Fresh dill, for serving

1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed. I usually stop here.
2. Smash avocado slices on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with crumbled feta, squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the top and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with raw corn kernels and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve avocado toast on the side.

Julia Child's Cucumbers with Butter (Concombres au Beurre) 

Note: The cucumbers have to sit in a salt and vinegar combination for 30 minutes before cooking so give yourself the extra time. They can sit longer, so you can do this earlier in the day if you like.
Serves 6
  • 4-6 cucumbers (depending on size)
  • 2 Tb wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 qt non-plastic bowl
  • 12" diameter baking dish
  • 3 Tb melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil 
  • 3-4 Tb minced green onions (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  1. Peel the cucumbers then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and cut into lengthwise strips about 1/4" wide. Cut these strips into 2" pieces.
  2. In the bowl, toss the cucumbers with the vinegar, salt and sugar. Let them stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Then drain and pat dry with a towel.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Toss the cucumbers in the baking dish with the butter, herbs, onions and pepper. Set uncovered in the middle of the oven for about an hour, tossing 2 -3 times if you remember, until the cucumbers are tender but still have some texture. 
  5. Bon Appetit!

No comments:

Post a Comment