Tag Archives: dill

Cold Cucumber Soup

Cold Cucumber Soup

This homemade cold cucumber soup is out of this world! It has texture and flavors that won’t stop! Not one of the flavors in this soup over powers another, it’s the perfect balance. You actually find yourself trying to distinguish between them only because you are aware of all the fresh vegetables and herbs that went into this amazing cold soup.

Being a born and raised East Coaster I have to say I have never been a big “cold soup” kind of person. With our unbearably cold winters we have here I really appreciate a very hot bowl of soup to warm the bones. So when ever I’m making this cold cucumber soup I’m slightly biased going in, not willing to give merit where it is due, until I take my first spoonful and it all changes!

My cold cucumber soup completely stands on it’s own and is very satisfying not to mention the medicinal qualities that cucumbers offer. Cucumber’s can reduce puffiness, help to eliminate toxins in your body and we all know that slice’s of cucumber over your eyes can help to reduce dark circles! Some of the vitamin’s cucumber’s offer are A, C and folic acid and minerals of potassium and magnesium.  All and all this homemade cold cucumber soup is a win win situation.

This homemade cold cucumber soup would be great for lunch with a side sandwich or grill up some shrimp like I did in the show. One of my favorite accents to this soup are seared scallops cut in half and placed right in the center on the soup. You can check out in my “Seared Scallop Show” to see exactly how to make the scallops.

King crab meat is also a lovely topping to this cold cucumber soup and was a big hit when I presented this soup this way to the tasting judges at my second MasterChef open casting call in NYC this past March (2016)! All of the MasterChef casting call judges didn’t have any critique for my soup during the tasting phase…they just said “they really, really loved it!” When I made my cucumber soup for the MasterChef casting call I added fresh fennel to the recipe to change it up and give it that je ne sais qua…that extra special something!

This cold cucumber soup is an amazing way to start your dinner party or even have for a luncheon. If you are thinking of other course’s to add to your soup you should check out my stuffed mushrooms, yogurt chicken kabobs, bolognese sauce with homemade pasta and end with my perfect chocolate cake that will rock your world! Enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 European cucumbers peeled and cubed – 4 1/2 cups – you do not need to remove seeds with the European cucumbers
  • If you are using regular cucumbers, peel and slice down the middle and remove the seeds scooping them out with a small spoon and cut into chunks
  • 3 ex-lg green onions or 5 small sliced in 1″ pieces from green tips to whitish green stems
  • 1/4 cup of diced cherry tomatoes OR diced heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ an avocado cut in chunks
  • 1 jalapeño chopped (take out seeds)
  • 1 lg garlic clove put through garlic press
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp Greek Yogurt – whole milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt – to taste  – (NOTE: I said 1 tsp in the show but I meant to say 1/2 tsp!)
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper

         -FOR COLD CUCUMBER & FENNEL SOUP …ADD:

  • 1 cup cut up fresh FENNEL  …for a change up try this with the FENNEL – YUM!
  • chopped fresh chives for garnish
  • seared scallops , cooked Lobster, Shrimp, or Crab to top the soup in the center

Directions:

    1. Add all the ingredients in the list above to your blender except olive oil
    2. Begin to puree while slowly pouring in olive oil through the opening at the top
    3. Continue to puree for 20-30 seconds
    4. Be patient, all the vegetables in the cucumber soup will begin to slowly puree
    5. Stop and scrape down any herbs or vegetables stuck on the side’s and pulse for 10 more seconds
    6. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour
    7. Serve with a sprinkle of dill, finely chopped tomato, cucumber and avocado
    8. Top the center of the soup with seared scallops – room temperature cooked lobster, king crab meat, or shrimp AND then a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Yogurt Chicken Kabobs, Tzatziki & Toum at Maria’s

Yogurt Chicken Kabobs, Tzatziki & Toum At Maria’s

Wow, this gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kabob recipe is the most scrumptious marinade I have ever had on chicken. It will be my new favorite marinade for summer grilling! There is really nothing to putting together this marinade and the results are outstanding. The grilling goes really quickly here too because you cube up the chicken into small pieces so it only takes about 7-8 minutes for each side on high heat.  I know I will be baking my chicken with this marinade over the winter months. Maria got this yogurt-marinated chicken kabob recipe from epicurious.com and of course making a couple of adjustments as I go through my own test kitchen adding in the fresh ground coriander and the “smoked” Spanish paprika giving it that hint of something extra that I was looking for.

The combination of these three gourmet recipes together are packed full of flavor! My favorite is actually having  this dynamic combo on some warmed or toasted naan adding in a chewy soft texture to this heavenly dish. Using the toum, the garlic Lebanese sauce as a baster for the breads and vegetables when you are grilling in a no brainer.

This homemade gourmet sauce called toum is such an unusual sauce because it’s hard to initially imagine how such a thick and creamy texture can come about from peeled garlic cloves and vegetable oil! You must be patient with this recipe as the slow drizzling of the vegetable oil is crucial in the emulsification of this garlic-oil combo but the efforts are well worth it. Watching the show to see how I get the sauce thick and foamy I hope will help clarify the “how to’s” of it. This toum sauce will last up to 2-3 weeks in your frig and who’s better than you with this little hidden gem just waiting to put a flavor punch of silky garlic on your sauteed veggies, garlic breads, meats, fish, chicken… the options are really endless.

Maria’s homemade tzatziki sauce is a recipe I’m sure you will love and want to add to your go to recipes for summer. The way she has you drain the whole fat Greek Yogurt makes this sauce even creamier and gives your mouth a smooth silky texture yet refreshing at the same time with the grated cucumber, and vinegars and fresh lemon juice. This sauce can easily be used as an amazing dip with pita chips. It’s similar to my cucumber & Vadalia onion salad but definitely different. So nice to have a couple different styles to choose from.

This Mediterranean night of exotic spices and flavorful recipes will not be easily forgotten. You just may start to crave these homemade dishes sooner than you think. I hope you enjoy the show and the gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kaobs, tzatziki and toum recipes.

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INGREDIENTS for Yogurt Chicken Kabobs:

  • 1 tsp ground red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (Spanish) smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (Hungarian) sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fine ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 2 whole lemons thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek Yogurt
  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs
  • 1 package extra-long wooden skewers (Can find these right at Stop & Shop)
  • 1 package cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 or Vadalia sweet onion sliced into 1″ pieces

Mediterranean Yogurt Chicken Kabobs DIRECTIONS:

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 1/2 hour
  2. Add paprika spices and ground red pepper to a small bowl with 1-2 tbsp warm water (to soften) 5 minutes
  3. Take next 9 ingredients in above list and add to large mixing bowl
  4. Add in spices when they have softened
  5. Mix everything with a spatula then add in chicken pieces and toss to coat
  6. Cover with saran and pop into the frig for 24 hours
  7. Take out and skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken onto each skewer
  8. OPTIONAL: Skewer cherry tomatoes and onion alternating pieces
  9. You can also alternate chicken, tomato, onion, chicken and repeat
  10. Grill on high for 7-8 minutes on each side (even with veggies in the mix)
  11. Serve grilled chicken and tomato/onion on naan or pita bread with tzatziki, and hummus or rice ….YUM!

INGREDIENTS for Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 1 16 oz. container of whole fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 garlic clove put thru garlic press
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil in sauce and some to drizzle on top at the end

DIRECTIONS for Tzatziki:

  1. Slice cucumber in half-length wise, then in half crosswise
  2. Scoop out middle seeds and discard
  3. Grate cucumber halves into a large bowl
  4. Put cucumber gratings into a Ziploc baggie and add 1/2 tsp salt, let sit for 1 hour or over night
  5. Unseal a small corner of the Ziploc & drain water from baggie squeezing the grated cucumber
  6. Add grated cucumber to a medium bowl, and pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess water
  7. Add fresh dill, garlic, s&p, cumin, lemon juice and Greek yogurt to grated cucumber, mix til creamy texture
  8. Drizzle 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil on top and voilà you have tzatziki

INGREDIENTS for TOUM – Lebanese Garlic Sauce:

  • 1 cup peeled white garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS for Toum: Approx Time 12 minutes

  1. Add 1 cup peeled garlic and salt to food processor and pulse 3 times
  2. Scrape down sides
  3. Begin the garlic-vegetable oil emulsion by SLOWLY beginning to drizzle in the oil – This will take about 12 minutes to slowly drizzle in all of the oil
  4. When you have reached adding in 1/2 cup of oil you will need to stop and scrap sides one last time then start up processor again and resume adding in oil, at about 1 cup of oil mark begin to add 2 tsp of lemon juice – KEEP food processor going the WHOLE TIME
  5. Go back and forth from oil to lemon juice until it’s finished (I begin to add 3 tbsp of lemon juice at a time after about 1 1/2 cup of oil mark)
  6. You should see the volume doubling then quadrupling
  7. At this point the toum will be thick and foamy
  8. Since the food processor has been running for a while now you will need to let it COOL and put into a container but DO NOT seal at this point because any condensation will ruin the texture of the toum and all your hard work
  9. Just loosely cover with a paper towel til COMPLETELY COOLED
  10. At this point you can seal with a top
  11. It will last in the frig for a couple of weeks
  12. Serve with the yogurt marinated chicken kabobs, sauté vegetables, brush on grill items, naan, pita bread, ciabatta for garlic bread … the options are endless ENJOY 🙂