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Blueberry Soup

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During the warm summer months, I love gazpacho.  I love soups year round, and cold soup in the summer makes perfect sense.  I especially love fruit gazpachos, because I feel like the flavors can be so wonderful and unexpected.  I’ve been waiting all winter for the arrival of delicious, local, organic fresh fruits and vegetables and I’ve been so happy the past few weeks to be finally able to include berries in everything I make.

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Another great thing about the arrival of summer is that I can FINALLY experiment with some of the recipes in all of the recipe books I’ve accumulated over the winter.  This recipe is another one from the owner of Crook’s Corner, a delicious restaurant in Chapel Hill.  Bill Smith’s Seasoned in the South is a great book with stories, recipes, and a lot of advice.  I really appreciate that in a recipe book- anecdotes, suggestions, and good food.  That’s probably why I love food blogs so much- I love the big pictures and the step-by-step instructions.

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This soup is flavored mostly by the blueberries and red wine, but there are also the subtle flavors of peppercorn and bay leaves.  The soup is meant to be served chilled, so there’s a fair amount of preparation involved.  Last weekend we had Dan’s sister Megan, her husband John, and their daughter Meredith over for dinner, so I served this along with homemade pesto pizza and an arugula salad (not to mention the honeysuckle sorbet).  I really enjoyed the soup, and from what I can tell everyone else did too.  It’s not sweet, which I liked.  The blueberries flavor is strongly complimented by the wine, and the overall effect is unexpected and delicious.

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Blueberry Soup
Source: Seasoned in the South by Bill Smith

2 pints fresh blueberries

3 cups red wine

2 tbsp whole peppercorns

Cheesecloth

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup heavy cream

The first thing that you’re going to do is blanch the berries in red wine.  With the berries you want to have the bay leaves and the peppercorn in the pot.  The peppercorn should either be wrapped in cheese cloth, or if you don’t have cheesecloth, in a tea strainer or something similar.  Bring the berries and wine to an almost boil, and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool completely.

Remove the peppercorn and bay leaves, and pour the wine and berries into a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in heavy cream and chill.

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Honeysuckle Sorbet

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I am a really excellent swimmer.  I’m far more coordinated and comfortable in the water than I am on land, and therefore the majority of my extracurricular activities since childhood have taken place in water.  I was captain of my swim team, a swim instructor and lifeguard, and I’m passionate about diving.  Swimming remains the only form of exercise I enjoy, and when I have the choice between swimming laps and running, I will always choose swimming laps.  I’m the girl who spent her childhood pretending she was a mermaid, a whale, or a dolphin.  All of my thesis work in college centered around how peaceful and free I feel under water.

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For all of my coordination and grace in zero gravity, I am a mess of elbows and knees on land.  Measuring in at almost six feet tall, I’m mostly limbs and I have very little control over what those limbs end up hitting.  More often than not Dan catches an elbow in the face at night, and I’m constantly finding bruises on my body.  Over the years, my family went through a few stages in reaction to my lack of coordination.  First, they pushed me to try organized sports (involving balls flying at my face- can you imagine the flailing?!?).  Later, when they saw that I was a failure at any activity that required much hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, they switched to sympathy.  That sympathy was short lived, and now they’ve settled into the habit of mocking me (the most memorable experience being when I fell down the hardwood stairs (socks) while trying to leave for swim team early one morning and heard only laughter- nobody bothered to ask if I was okay).

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Throughout the years, I was signed up for group lessons and pushed to join teams.  One summer in middle school, my grandmother, Grammy, gave me tennis lessons as a present.  My grandmother regularly plays tennis, and her hope was that I would gain enough skill to be able to play with her.  It all went okay when someone was gently lobbing balls at me, but as soon as my instructor pulled out the ball machine, my tennis career was over.  The balls just FLEW at my face with a speed that was intimidating and very, very painful.  It was not long before I was lurking in corners trying to be invisible.  All was not lost that summer, however, because it was in those corners that I discovered honeysuckle.

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The woods behind the tennis courts in our neighborhood were edged in honeysuckle.  For those that aren’t familiar, honeysuckle is a bush that grows all over the northern hemisphere and exists in 180 varieties.  In the southeast, white honeysuckle is most common, and that’s what I’ve grown to love.  The some honeysuckle plants produces berries and flowers.  The berries are often poisonous, but the flowers hold a sweet nectar that is delicious.  When I was growing up we would pluck the flowers off the plant, remove the stamen, and suck the nectar out.  The smell of honeysuckle still signals the start of summer for me, and it’s worth the bug bites and the time spent to get those few drops of sweet nectar.

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The  process of making honeysuckle sorbet includes just as many bug bites and plenty of time, but it is a worthwhile process.  The sorbet is sweet and rich with a strong, light honeysuckle flavor.  The recipe is from one of my favorite southern cookbook- Seasoned in the South by Crook’s Corner owner Bill Smith.  The most difficult part of this recipe is collecting four cups of honeysuckle flowers.  The flowers are soaked over night so that their essence (and flavor) can be transferred to the water.  The rest of the recipe is a basic sorbet- simple syrup, a little spice, and an ice cream maker.  I tramped around in the woods for about two hours collecting four cups of honeysuckle, but as soon as I put a spoonful of sorbet in my mouth I stopped complaining.

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Honey Suckle Sorbet
Source: Seasoned in the South by Bill Smith

4 cups honeysuckle flowers

5 1/2 cups cool water

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

Soak your honeysuckle flowers in the 4 1/2 cups of water over night.

In the morning, make your simple syrup by bringing the sugar and remaining water to a light boil.  Allow to cool completely.

Strain the honeysuckle water so that there are no flowers left.  You probably won’t be able to get all of the pollen out, and that’s okay- pollen (especially local pollen) is good for you anyway.

Combine honeysuckle water, syrup, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn until frozen.  Freeze at least a few additional hours.

Serve.

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Grilled Dolphin Fish with Roasted Poblano Sauce

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One of my favorite restaurants in the south is Hyman’s Seafood in Charleston, South Carolina.  I love the town of Charleston, and don’t have the opportunity to go as often as I’d like.  My favorite thing to order at Hyman’s is the fried dolphin fish (mahi mahi) with hush puppies and collard greens.  With a sweet tea to wash it all down, it’s a quintessential southern meal.

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Since a trip to Charleson isn’t in the cards anytime soon, this weekend Dan and I made our own version of this delicious meal.  We made grilled dolphin with a poblano sauce, hush puppies, and spinach with garlic and olive oil.  Dolphin fish is one of my favorite fish, and I love fish with the fresh spicy flavors of jalapeño, cilantro, and poblano.  Dan mastered the poblano sauce, and it was so good that I even ended up dipping my hush puppies in it!

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*Lately we’ve been having some trouble with the built in RSS reader, so this past week we made the move over to Google’s Feedburner.  It seems to have fixed all of the problems, and it also lets us do a better job of tracking what’s what.  Because I’m stalking you.  Anyhoo, even if you don’t like the idea of being stalked by one North Carolinian, you should update your RSS (if you read b&s via RSS) to this.  It’ll make reading better and I promise I won’t try and come to your house.

Grilled Dolphin with Roasted Poblano Sauce

2 dolphin filets

1 lemon

2 garlic cloves

1 poblano pepper

1 1/2 jalapeño peppers

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Salt & pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

Begin by making your sauce.  In a pan deep enough to hold the oil.  Place the poblanos and the whole jalapeño in the pan and drizzle them with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Roast at 400 for 30 minutes.

When they’re roasted, you’ll need to pull the skin off of the poblano.  This is really easy, just let them cool down a bit first.  You’re pulling the filmy outer layer off the poblano- that’s the skin.  Chop the poblanos, the roasted jalapeño, and the fresh jalapeño, and put them in a food processor.  Add the garlic, red wine vinegar, cilantro, and salt & pepper.  Blend until smooth.

Heat up a grill or a grill pan.  Be sure to spray your pan/grill with some oil as fish can be flaky and hard to deal with.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the filets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill for 10-12 minutes on each side over medium heat.

Drizzle with the poblano sauce and serve.

Serves 2.

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