I've said this before about Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, but I enjoy reading Dorie's introduction to each recipe as much as preparing the recipes themselves. When she mentions an unfamiliar region in France, restaurant, chef, or ingredient, my interest is always peaked and I start Googling! Since I've never been to France, I have much to learn.
For this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Cold Melon-Berry Soup, Dorie tells us her inspiration came from a soup she enjoyed at renowned chef Alain Ducasse's former hilltop retreat, Ostapé ("in the shade of oak trees"), a 45 hectare estate located in the heart of the green Basque country, close to the village of Biddaray. The spacious guest rooms are located in the 17th-century manor house, or in five farmhouses that have been converted into traditional Basque-style villas. This looks like my kinda place!
The Navarrian restaurant serves regional cuisine using fresh, local products, including vegetables from its own garden. See the watermelon on table? Dorie says just about every restaurant has melon somewhere on the menu when they're in season.
The cold melon-berry soup is nothing more than pureed cantaloupe (or Cavaillon if you're in France), topped with melon balls and strawberries. The soup should be served in glasses, to show off its beautiful color.
I'm strawberry'ed out, so I went with raspberries. Actually, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs, highlights raspberries with cantaloupe, and doesn't even list strawberries. Ginger, lime juice and sweet white wine, basil and mint are also recommended flavor pairings.
To the pureed melon, Dorie's recipe adds grated fresh ginger, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a pinch of sea salt. To serve, top the soup with a little wine, a few melon balls and berries, and mint or basil chiffonade. I used raspberries, basil, and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
I had the chance to use my ginger grater I bought from our Little Italy Mercato. It works quite well, and you don't lose the ginger juice.
In an effort to make a light dinner out of the soup, I added grilled shrimp. These shrimp are from one of my newest cookbooks, Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue!: 309 Recipes, 60 Countries. Grilled Shrimp Sprayed with Olive Oil and Wine is from the "archly innovative grill restaurant Etxebarri in Spain's Basque Country." This also looks like my kinda place!
I nestled a melon ball in the curve of each shrimp, and threaded two shrimp per skewer. During grilling, the shrimp are lightly misted with olive oil and wine, and then finished with course sea salt.
Not too shabby, for a light, summer dinner on the patio.
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!