Special Dish for the Week: Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom

Possibly two years since I last make this deliciously refreshing summer treat during my Book Writing Tour 2013, I prepare it again for this week’s Special Dish for the Week to enjoy with my host and fellow guests on Pender Island:

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom

During my recent visit on Pender Island, I decide to surprise my friends with this refreshingly sweet and spicy mid-afternoon cocktail. It is indeed a thrill for everyone on a hot sunny day on the patio.

Rather than serving it in a bowl as a soup, I use large wine glasses to layer cubed watermelon and diced avocado onto the bottom, filling the glass with the spiced watermelon and tomato purée, and top it off with some freshly chopped cilantro. We enjoy these cocktails with a teaspoon in hand, while sharing ideas and secret ingredients for making this nutritious snack such a hit. The blooms from a nearby bushy tree adorn the table for an added touch.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom Ingredients

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lemongrass and Cardamom Ingredients

The ingredients of this gazpacho include:

  • 1 small watermelon, puréed using my handheld smoothie blender
  • 2 medium tomatoes, likewise puréed into the watermelon

Mixed into the purée are:

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped using my small electric chopper
  • 1 in. ginger, chopped with the garlic
  • 1 large shallot, chopped with the garlic and ginger
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • red Thai chili pepper, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemongrass extract, prepared in advance
  • cardamom seeds from several pods
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seed powder
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
  • 1/4 small watermelon, cubed for garnish
  • 1 avocado (1/4 per glass), diced for garnish

Served chilled, after allowing the flavours to infuse, it is most refreshing on a warm summer day. I have still to figure out what liquor would make this soup into a spiked summer cocktail best…

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book from a good friend.

Special Dish for the Week: Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

I am loving my bone broth soups—and I am loving being able to share my bone broth soups with a few friends who can use this kind of TLC while they heal their injured bodies and wounded souls—and I smile this morning while cycling over to one friend, packing a jar of one of my bone broth soups, as I pass a car labelled with a Meals on Wheels sticker, thinking, “Me too!”, and then, “I need a sticker like that for my bike*!” (to join the one that declares “One Less Car”), having prepared another bone broth soup for this Special Dish for the Week:

* Apparently, Meals on Bikes is what I can aspire to!

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

I first make this soup last summer, when the downtown farmers market kept me well supplied with beets while I was concocting my daily doses of fermented beet juice. The summer before, I learn to also prepare and eat the greens from the beets. Having once tried them, I now love them in stir fries and soups.

Then I discover, when looking into not only nutritious foods again but also healthy food combinations, that beet greens are recommended to be eaten with chickpeas! According to various sources, the vitamin B6 in chickpeas increases absorption of magnesium in beet greens. So, I combine these two healthy ingredients, creating a “super bone broth soup”.

I sautée the base ingredients first:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2-1 in. ginger, grated
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper
Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup Ingredients

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup Ingredients

I then add:

  • beet stems*, coarsely chopped
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • wakame flakes
  • 1 cup red lentils, pre-soaked
  • 8-10 cups bone broth, or water, or half and half

* from ~4-9 beets

Once cooked (about 30 minutes), I purée these using my handheld smoothie blender.

I then add:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • beet greens* (leaves), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

To further thicken the soup, when the beet greens are wilted and chickpeas warmed through, I purée about a cup of the soup and return to the pot, mixing it in.

I serve the soup with a drizzle of coconut milk and cilantro leaves for garnish, and enjoy it with a glass of Côtes du Rhône Villages red French wine.

Special Dish for the Week: Sentimental Osso Buco

The culinary weeks that turn into months of various bone broth soups continue chez Maggie—increasingly interspersed with green salads made with fresh produce from the downtown farmers market that has recently recommenced for the season—and this week include a very Special Dish for the Week as I think of my good friend in Brussels, whose dish this was a favourite when she introduced me to it while we studied together at UBC many moons ago:

Sentimental Osso Buco

Sentimental Osso Buco

Sentimental Osso Buco

This is the first time that I attempt this dish on my own, supported by the memories of my good friend from Brussels making it on occasion as a favoured of hers and by the slow cooker borrowed from my friendly neighbour next door.

The veal shank is an impulse buy at the first downtown farmers market of the season, now that I am trying some organic red meats again to help raise my chronically low iron levels, on the advice from my various medical and naturopathic doctors.

With the slow cooker in hand, the dish is relatively simple to make.

Osso Buco Ingredients

Osso Buco Ingredients

The ingredients include:

  • veal shank (containing the signature bone with a hole filled with marrow), lightly dusted with salt, pepper and flour, and seared in olive oil
  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions
  • onions, coarsely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • carrots, diced
  • small shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • cilantro, chopped and for garnish
Osso Buco Ready for Slow Cooking

Osso Buco Ready for Slow Cooking

Placing first the seasoned and seared veal shank at the bottom of the slow cooker, I layer on the veggies and spices, drowning them in tomatoes and red wine, to braise for several hours. The French have a much nicer and gentler sounding word—braiser (which translates to “braise” in English)—for the cooking process than the more humorously impassioned Polish—dusic (which translates literally to “choke” in English). The result of the slow cooking process is the same: most tender meat fibres that fall apart from merely being looked at.

Osso Buco Braised

Osso Buco Braised

The dish takes its time to mingle its flavours and soften its contents. I then let it rest over night to further deepen its taste.

The following day, I serve the reheated osso buco with a few steamed new potatoes, likewise acquired at the downtown farmers market.

The dish is accompanied by a French rosé wine as I share it with a friend at lunchtime.

Sentimental Osso Buco Dish

Sentimental Osso Buco Dish

All in all, the one veal shank gives six portions of osso buco, enjoyed over the course of the week, intensifying in its flavouring and memories of sharing the dish in the past with my good friend from Brussels. Santé ma chère amie, santé !!

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/osso-buco.aspx.