The barbecue that I started writing about in my last post had a pretty amazing first and last course, both of which you need to try.
For starters, Bryan made a cold cucumber soup flavored with basil and mint. It was tangy and refreshing and the perfect sidekick to the kebabs and vinegar potatoes. Katie and I agreed that we could eat it every day. We used low fat sour cream in this recipe, with good results. It tastes healthy and bright and would go well with any sort of Mediterranean-themed meal. It doesn’t keep for more than a day or so, although I doubt you will have any trouble finishing it quickly.
Cucumber Soup with Basil and Mint (adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2009)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 1/3 cup sliced scallion
- 1 cup water
- 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Puree sour cream, basil, mint, scallion, and water in a blender. Add cucumber. Pulse until just combined but still slightly chunky.
Stir in lemon juice and hot sauce, and season with salt. Chill soup at least 3 hours (soup is best served the same day). Top each serving with thin cucumber slices if desired.
For dessert I made the grapefruit sheet cake that I fell in love with when I first saw it in the Texas issue of Saveur. I fell in love with pretty much every recipe in that issue of Saveur. This is the ideal summer party cake- sweet, sour and fresh. As night fell and we sat outside finishing our feast it was the perfect punctuation to a summer barbecue. I am already scheming to get access to the grill again and try out some more recipes. Everything tastes better when it is being eaten under a tree and twilight sky. Summer is here friends! Get out there and cook something over a fire!
Grapefruit Sheet Cake (from Saveur, July 2009)
- 3 pink grapefruits
- 2⁄3 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more
- 3 cups cake flour, plus more
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 3⁄4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3⁄4 cup milk
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 lb. cream cheese, softened
- 2 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Zest 1 grapefruit to make 2 tsp. zest; set aside. Peel and segment grapefruits; set aside. Squeeze juice from remaining pulp, reserving 1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp.; set aside.
Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Into a large bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar with a handheld mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add 1⁄2 cup of the reserved juice, milk, and vanilla; stir. Add flour mixture; stir until combined. Line bottom of pan with half the reserved grapefruit; add batter; smooth top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40–45 minutes; let cool.
In a large bowl, beat reserved zest, remaining juice, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar 1⁄2 cup at a time; beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake; top with the remaining grapefruit segments. Chill.