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August is the summer month when the streets seem empty, everyone takes their annual family vacation and life in general slows down a bit before the fall mayhem ensues. Everyone is barely trying to be in the kitchen. However, there is plenty more cooking to do, even if I’ve given my oven it’s annual reprieve as well.
So let’s get up on some quick and easy no-cook (maybe a little bit of stove-top cooking) items that I am loving. First, the abundance of seasonal fruits sends me beyond, including watermelon, stone fruits and tropical. They are all ripe (pun intended) with ideas.
A chilled soup is always a winner in August, for or with lunch or as an appetizer for dinner. Using two of summer’s infamous fruits make this soup even more special. Watermelon and tomato sound like they shouldn’t go together, but trust me, they do. The savory acidic meatiness of good ripe tomatoes compliments and balances the juicy bright sweetness of a perfect watermelon.
The recipe for this soup can be as simple or complex as you desire. I recently blended equal parts pureed watermelon and tomatoes, seasoned only with kosher salt (to taste, just enough to bring the flavors out), juice of a lemon and finely chopped mint. I served it in glasses with a dollop of creme fraiche on top. It was a refreshing soup shooter at a slightly stifling loft party.
To make the recipe a little more complex and “put some meat on the bone” of this light soup, try adding nuts, cheese and olives to the mix.
WATERMELON AND TOMATO SOUP
2 cups cubed watermelon (about a 2 1/2-pound piece)
2 tomatoes (about 1/2 pound), quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted almonds, ground
1/2 shallot, quartered
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon black olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint
Blend watermelon, tomatoes, almonds, shallot, lemon juice, vinegar and oil in a food processor until smooth. Divide soup among four bowls and top with feta, olives, mint and a finishing swirl of good olive oil. You can also add chilled poached shrimp, chicken or chunks of ripe avocado for even more gusto.
For dessert, try bruleed peaches with lemon mascarpone cream! In a bowl mix, one cup mascarpone cheese, one-fourth cup heavy cream, one-fourth cup of powdered sugar and the zest of one lemon. Reserve.
Halve and pit four ripe peaches (SCHOP! Tip: Use a melon baller to get the pit out and create a good cavern for your filling) and line them in a buttered small casserole dish. Brush with melted butter and dust with demarara or white sugar. Stick them into a hot broiler and watch just until the sugar browns.
Top bruleed peaches with a hefty dollop of lemon mascarpone cream and a sprig of mint. Insert your favorite butter cookie crumbled on top or wedged into the cream for added texture. It’s an easy summer sweet for you and your guests!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.