Tag Archives: summer

Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup with Smoked Trout

6 Sep

After reading Alice’s gorgeous post last week, the soup just carried me along. It’s WAY too hot here right now to make any sort of hot soup but a chilled soup? Sign me up! Also, being the end of summer here, most of my friends with vegetable gardens have an excess of cucumbers. How timely!

This soup is cool and refreshing with a pop of crunchy salad on top and a nice smokey trout.

Chop up some onion and garlic and toss them in a skillet with a little olive oil. Add some fennel seeds if you like them. I’m not a huge fan of fennel, so I skipped this ingredient.

Saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes until the onions are soft.

While this mixture is softening, begin peeling the cucumbers.

Be sure to remove the seeds from the cukes or use English cucumbers, as they are virtually seedless. The English cucumbers can be found wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.

I used regular cucumbers, because they are in season and can be found EVERYwhere.

Combine the greek yogurt, coarsely chopped cucumbers, softened onion mixture and fresh dill in a food processor

Whiz it up until it’s smooth (check out my vintage food processor which I overfilled a bit – messy!)

Chill the soup while you make the salad. Finely slice some cucumber and radishes. Toss with the sugar, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper.

Ladle some of the soup into a bowl, top with some flaked smoked trout and the salad and serve…

With a sliced toasted bagel, while sitting outdoors and listening to the evening bird calls.

Are you hungry, Alice??

Chilled cucumber and dill soup with smoked trout

Based on this recipe
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup thick Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup dill sprigs

Pickled cucumber and radish salad:
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 dill sprigs
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

6 ounces smoked trout, flaked
2 bagels, thinly sliced and toasted

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add garlic, onion and fennel seeds (if using) and cook for three minutes or until onion softens. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor, add cucumber, yogurt and dill, process until smooth, season to taste with salt and pepper, then refrigerate.

Meanwhile for salad, combine ingredients and two teaspoons of sea salt in a bowl, toss to combine, let stand for 10 minutes, then drain.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with salad and trout and serve with bagel slices.


1 Jun

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has been salivating ever since Alice posted those gorgeous photos of Karen’s super secret panna cotta recipe. Where to go from there? How about a nice refreshing beverage? Maybe with some of the same bright citrus flavors?

I do love red wine, but when it’s hot outside like it has been here these days, red wine is a bit heavy. Here’s a beverage for the hot days – sangria. It’s a refreshing punch-type drink that includes wine, sparkling water, fruit and ice.

You can make this beverage by the pitcher for parties or just by the glass if you want something refreshing to drink with dinner.

Like most things that I make, this recipe is meant as a guideline, a mere starting point. Feel free to adjust it to your own tastes.

I use inexpensive wine for sangria.

The Two Buck Chuck  wine works perfectly fine for these purposes.

Chop up the fruit

I prefer oranges, apples and lemons or limes.You can also add cherries, grapes and strawberries. You can also adapt this recipe for white sangria and use peaches, nectarines, pears and apricots with a bottle of white wine.

Mix the wine, sugar, sparkling water and triple sec, then add the fruit.

Let the fruit soak in the wine mixture for a while, as especially the apples taste great with the lingering wine flavor.

Add ice and pour.

Garnish with additional fruit slices and serve.


1 bottle of red wine, cabernet sauvignon or merlot
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of triple sec (orange liquor)
½ cup of brandy (optional)
½ cup of orange juice (optional)
2 cups of sparkling water
½ orange, chopped
½ lemon, chopped
½ apple, chopped

Pour the wine into a large pitcher, add the sugar, triple sec and sparkling water. Add chopped fruit and ice. Serve.

Alice? Are you thirsty? Where are you taking us next??

Grilled dinner: Asparagus and Prosciutto Pizza and Romaine Salad

7 May

Tis the season to be grilling! Alice inspired me to make a dinner on the grill. The weather in Minnesota is not always beautiful, sunny and warm, so when we do have a beautiful day, we want to be outside soaking it in.

My friends Jill and John and their young daughter Grace are some of my favorite grilling buddies. Every once in a while, I head up to their house and spend time with them, visiting and cooking. They’ve been my willing subjects when I experiment with different dishes and this week was no exception. I tried this dish last summer and really loved the flavor of the grilled pizza crust.

I made some pizza dough and let it rise while I prepared the rest of the ingredients, there it is resting under the dishtowel. You can use pre-made pizza dough or even the pre-baked pizza crust, but I always prefer home made. This recipe is very easy to make, especially on a spring afternoon that feels like summer, or an actual summer afternoon when the weather is warm, because the dough will rise very nicely.

This pizza is mounded high with marinated shaved asparagus. The trick to shaving the asparagus is to use a vegetable peeler. Just start at the sprout end, using the woody stem part as a handle and peel/shave away until you have a mound of slivered asparagus. Toss it with the juice of half a lemon and some crushed garlic.

Cut some mozzarella into small cubes, and slice up some prosciutto.

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch circle and brush it very generously with olive oil.

After heating up the grill, carefully lay the greased dough circle onto the grill.

Close the lid and let it grill until it is solid and has some nice grill marks.

This should allow you to easily remove it from the grill, flip it over and add the toppings.

Put it back on the grill, close the lid and let it continue to cook until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned. Then slide it off the grill, cut it up and eat. Warning, this step might take various tools and more than two hands!!

It was a little tricky to make it look pretty, so bear with the lopsided pizza – it did, however, taste quite good.

Meanwhile, since the grill is already warm, why not grill up the salad too?

Cut a bunch of romaine lettuce in half, keeping the stem intact to hold the leaves together, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Marinate some shrimp in lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Wash a cup of grape or cherry tomatoes.

Grill the shrimp just until it is pink. If you use frozen pre-cooked shrimp like I did, then just put them on for a couple of minutes so they capture some of the grilled flavor and they are completely thawed.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down.

Flip after a few minutes. You want the lettuce to wilt a little and get some of the smoky grill flavor, but don’t leave it for too long or you will just have little crispy lettuce bits. Grill on each side for about three minutes each, then remove from grill and chop into bite sized chunks.

Toss with the grape tomatoes and shrimp, drizzle with olive oil and splash with red wine vinegar.

Grace really was excited about the tomatoes.

And she really enjoyed the pizza.

Pizza and salad from the grill. It’s just the thing for summer!

Grilled Pizza

I used SmittenKitchen.com for the recipe for the crust, which really was super easy. And then loosely based my pizza on her shaved asparagus pizza

1 recipe Really Simple Pizza Dough or your favorite pizza dough
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
4 oz finely sliced proscuitto
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Mix up the pizza dough and while it is resting and rising, shave half a pound or a small bunch of asparagus by using a vegetable peeler. Start at the top, at the sprout and peel down the stem, using the woody end as your handle. It’s OK if the pieces all come out different widths, it just makes the pizza more interesting. Toss the shaved asparagus with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Chop up the mozzarella cheese into small cubes, grate the Parmesan if needed and slice the prosciutto into thin strips.

Preheat your grill to about 500 degrees F or high heat.

When the dough is ready, roll or toss it if you are a fancy Italian pizza tosser, into a 12-14 inch round.  Brush one side very generously with olive oil. Put the pizza on the hot grill, olive oil side down. One thing I learned from my sadly deformed pizza, is that even though I like the taste of a thinner crust on my pizza, thicker crusts are much easier to work with on the grill.

Once the dough has grilled enough to have nice grill marks on the bottom and is solid enough to move, remove from the grill, generously brush the raw side with olive oil, then flip it over so the grilled side is up and the raw side is down.

Load the toppings on the pizza and finish grilling with the lid down. If you are brave, you can top the pizza while it is on the grill. If you are not brave, you can top the pizza on a separate surface and return it to the grill fully topped. All of this has to be done very carefully, as the pizza dough is still soft and breakable.

Once the cheese has melted and is browned and once you have lovely grill marks on the bottom of the pizza, you’re ready to eat!

If you need more pointers, The Kitchn has a good step by step guide to grilling pizza and Pillsbury has a nice tip on how to get the dough on the grill without deforming it by using tin foil.

Grilled Salad

2 Romaine lettuce hearts
Olive oil, a drizzle
Red wine vinegar, a drizzle
1 pound of pre-cooked shrimp
1 container of grape tomatoes
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Cut the Romaine hearts in half, keeping the stem intact. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the lemon juice and crushed garlic. Grill the shrimp briefly on a hot grill pan just to give it some smoky flavor.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down, for three minutes. Flip over and grill the other side for three minutes, then remove from the grill, chop into bite sized chunks and combine with the shrimp and tomatoes. Drizzle the whole salad with some nice olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I sure enjoyed the grilled dinner that you started, Alice. What do you have for us next?!

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