Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gordon Ramsay's Chilled Melon Soup with Crab Garnish (with a Guest Appearance)

Who would have thunk it? Crab and cantaloupe together? In a soup? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's true. I would have thought of fresh chilled cantaloupe as a dessert after a nice steamed crab dinner, but not together in the same bowl. Did it work? Let's find out...

The recipe called for about 5 oz. lump crab meat. Me? I prefer to steam my own crab. There is something rewarding (for me at least) in cracking the shells and prying out those tiny morsels of sweet meat. My husband thinks it's too much work for such little return. I think the work just prolongs the wonderful experience.

So, I let that chill. By the way, I did not include the steaming and cracking and prying times in my overall calculations since it was my own decision to stray from the recipe.

Cantaloupes, plain yogurt, salt and pepper, whole grain mustard, lump crab meat, lime juice, shallot.

Almost forgot the cilantro and mayonnaise.

Cut up the melon into cubes and puree in a blender with a few ice cubes, a pinch of salt and the plain yogurt. Well, my blender apparently wasn't strong enough. I had to take it out of the blender and whiz it in my food processor instead. Just something else to wash.

Place in your freezer to chill while preparing the crab garnish.

Mince the shallot and apple. Add the mustard and mayonnaise and cilantro. Mix with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Heap a generous portion of the crab garnish in the middle of a bowl and ladle the cantaloupe soup around it. Garnish with cilantro.

So, did it work for me? No. I didn't really like the combination. But, I'm just one person. My son Alex liked it even less. He did like swirling the crab through the soup and creating very pretty designs. Jon, on the other hand, had thirds. He couldn't get enough. My husband had seconds and claimed that the combination worked incredibly well.

The time requirement? Done in under 40 minutes. It probably would have taken less time, except for having to drag out my food processor. Also, as I was cutting up the melon, the twins probably came to me about 5 times each to ask for a piece. All that stopping and starting really adds up.

But, as an added bonus, that wasn't all that I made that night.

The soup seemed like it wouldn't be substantial enough for dinner, so I also made Fried Green Tomatoes.

Large green tomatoes, onion salt (I had to use onion powder and increased amount of salt in recipe), sesame seeds, corn meal (recipe called for white corn meal, I used yellow), pepper, 1 egg, flour and milk. I also used bacon drippings for the frying, instead of vegetable oil.

The tomatoes were gorgeous. I picked them up from my local veggie stand just that morning.

Mix the dry ingredients. I ran out a little more than halfway through and had to eyeball another batch -- there was no way I was dirtying another set of measuring spoons and cups.

Combine the egg and milk. (Just like with the dry ingredients, I found that one egg wasn't enough. I ran out a little more than halfway through and had to whip up some more.)

Dip the tomato slices into the egg and milk mixture. Cover in the corn meal mixture and fry in hot oil.

Until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels and serve.

My thoughts? This was the first time I ever had fried green tomatoes and I was very surprised by how acidic they were. I thought they would be sweeter tasting. I began to wonder if I could do something. I was just "surfin' the net" and found that other people said the same thing. Some suggested that the strong "acidy bite" is more prevalent in certain types of tomatoes than in others. Others suggested adding some sugar to the cornmeal mixture. I was even wondering if putting the sugar into the milk and egg mixture would help, or if the tomato slices could be soaked in a sugar water solution prior to frying (or would that make it too mushy).

The kids didn't like the tomatoes. My husband didn't like them. I wasn't crazy about them, but I saw a lot of potential there. Interestingly, I put the leftovers in the fridge and grabbed a chilled one the next day and found that the acidity had greatly reduced.

After assembling the dinner and serving and cleaning up, I realized I had some crab garnish left over. It made for a great evening snack.

"Chilled Melon Soup with Crab Garnish ... Done."

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