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.
June 30th, 2009 at 3:49 pm
I LOVE that Tablecloth. So bright and colorful.
I am also in love with the TX issue (although I may be a little biased :-P).
June 30th, 2009 at 4:50 pm
grapefruit sheet cake, shut up! i want some!!! I’m totally gonna make that!
June 30th, 2009 at 4:51 pm
and ditto on that tablecloth. gorge! and that first pic with the bulb lights.. so cool!
June 30th, 2009 at 5:56 pm
Mmm, I could drink that soup!
June 30th, 2009 at 8:19 pm
Now that cake looks scrumptious! My jaw started tingling after spotting those grapefruit segments.
July 1st, 2009 at 7:35 am
grapefruit sheet cake, i’ve never hear of that one… kudo’s to saveur and you made it look so good!
July 1st, 2009 at 10:18 am
How many servings does that cucumber soup make? I am going to a potluck tomorrow and I think I’ll bring that. Thanks!
July 1st, 2009 at 10:24 am
It made about 6 small servings. I would probably double it for the potluck. The recipe would double nicely. Have fun!
July 1st, 2009 at 1:10 pm
The grapefruit sheet cakes looks interesting and delicious. The cucumber soup also looks nice and refreshing!
Kim Lennert says:
July 1st, 2009 at 4:24 pm
Love your blog. Love your photography. Thanks for the inspiration!
July 3rd, 2009 at 8:59 am
The cucumber soup was fantastic! No doubt I will make it again! Thanks for the recipe!
July 3rd, 2009 at 3:13 pm
This all sounds so wonderful. I have a question… okay, so you section all 3 grapefruit, where do you get “remaining pulp”? Will this be obvious when I make the cake? Sorry, I am feeling really dense.
Love everything about your blog.
July 3rd, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Thanks, Susan! You are not being dense. In this case, you are not segmenting the grapefruit by simply separating the segments, you are actually cutting the segments out between the membranes that separate them. You end up with a bunch of pulp and membrane left over and that is what you are juicing. Watch this: http://tinyurl.com/m9lb3s
July 4th, 2009 at 10:06 am
I made the grapefruit cake the other day. I thought the flavor was delicious, but was your cake on the dry side? I expected a really fluffy, moist cake with all the grapefruit juice in there, but it came out very dense… I think it’s one of those cakes that gets better as it sits with the icing, but I just wondered if you had the same experience? thanks!
July 5th, 2009 at 5:03 am
Thanks! It is so helpful to see what I am supposed to do. Now to find the grapefruit in my small town.
July 10th, 2009 at 8:46 am
I made both of these the other day and they were great! Thanks :)
July 10th, 2009 at 1:33 pm
Great! I am glad you liked them, Stephanie.
May 3rd, 2011 at 9:06 pm
I love everything about this post and ohhhh my gosh the cake looks AMAZING! i will absolutely be trying it.. though the question is, you think it can be veganized? I guess we’ll see!
Absolutely beautiful blog, by the way.
January 25th, 2013 at 12:33 am
Summer in Australia now.So cucumber soup will go well with it.very interesting concept though. I find similarity with tzatziki dip in more more liquidy form.