Thursday, July 14, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Cold Melon-Berry Soup with Grilled Shrimp

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!


Anonymous said...

Grilled shrimp may be the best pairing idea I've seen yet for this soup. Looks delicious!

Cher said...

Love the pairing of the shrimp skewers with the melon soup. Very
(BTW - I love The Flavor Bible - I just wish I would remember to consult it more to help keep me out of trouble when I am feeling a bit "too creative")

Anonymous said...

Very creative! Love the skewers and also the background pics to the recipe. Very interesting!
Great photos!

Pachecopatty said...

Beautiful post and dinner;-) Thanks for the trip to France while sitting at my kitchen island- that was much enjoyed!
The melon berry soup is so versatile, just one of the things I love about it;-)

Christina said...

Can I come for dinner?! This looks amazing!

KarenP said...

Looks like a lovely dinner! They way your soup is presented I can start to see it as dinner instead of breakfast a bit... I enjoyed the photos of the French retreat.

luciacara said...

Wow - your photos are gorgeous! I love your menu, too. And thanks for posting the "location" shots - really interesting.

Nana said...

Hubby and I traveled thru the French Basque country
and it is beautiful. We had some delicious meals
there, and I was amazed at all the places with dried
peppers hanging outside to dry. I love all your
photos, they really capture the area. Your soup looks
wonderful as does your shrimp. Even though we
did not care for the soup, Tricia and I really enjoy
the variety of recipes we have been making, and it's
fun to compare with the other bloggers.

Adriana said...

What a beautiful, light supper! I thought about adding raspberries to mine (had some frozen raspberries that turned to puree/mush) but decided to stick to strawberries. Now I'm curious! I just downloaded the excerpt of The Flavor Bible into my Kindle. It sounds like a great book to have on hand.

mary hirsch said...

Your Post this week was fabulous, absolutely creative, unique, wonderful to read and, can you guess, I loved it.

lola said...

This is a beautiful post and I love the way you paired the soup! I couldn't figure out what to do with it but did like it. If this were a contest you'd be the winner!

Anonymous said...

Those shrimp skewers are beautiful! Raspberries are a great variation for the soup, too.

I really love how much research you put into your posts.