When I first stepped into a commercial kitchen I was blasted with the sights and sounds of what I had always dreamed about. What I always wanted to be right in the middle of…
Green…”Your a little green”, said the sous, trying not to sound too much like a novice I shrugged my shoulders, and ignored the statement. He told me that green meant fresh and that I was still very new. Why yes, yes I was and I still am. Every time I enter a new kitchen I do feel green, and I find that feeling appealing! It’s a as though I am taking a cooking 101 class all over again, a refresher course on what to do, say, and what to ask in these different environments.
I am also very new to the act of creating a soup for a restaurant…from start to finish. I mean how much, how will it taste, what will the restrictions be, will there even be any restrictions??? Little did I know that I would be asked back to Zuni Cafe to cover some line shift and even more surprisingly, asked to make some soups for service. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to see my creations on the menu. My sense of self was quickly restored, and with some guidance froms my Chef De Cuisine any worries or restrictions that I had were thrown out the window. START TO FINISH.
Potato and Celery with a Basil Pistou, Black Lentil with Roasted Pasilla Pepper Oregano and Orange Oil, English Pea Soup with Minted Yogurt, Artichoke Soup with a Fromage Blanc Crouton and Green Peppercorns, Roasted Poblano and Spinach Soup with Lime Crema.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite soups from that week.
Roasted Poblano and Spinach Soup w/Lime Crema1 Quart Chicken Stock. 1 Pint Water. 2 C. Yellow Onions (diced or sliced) 2 Large Poblanos 1 lb. Spinach 1 Stick Butter Olive Oil Coriander Green Peppercorn (white peppercorns can be a nice substitute) Creme Fraiche 1 Lime (1/2 its juice and zest) Salt Oil and Salt Poblano. Set in broiler or on on direct heat to blister (If your lucky to have a wood burning oven, this is the ideal environment for doing so). When they are ready take them out of the oven, cover them and let sit. In a heavy soup or cast iron enameled pot add butter and onions and 1 T. of Salt. Melt the onions on medium heat stirring and watching heat to ensure that your onions do not brown or get any color. The onions should cook for 10-15 minutes on low-medium heat. Make a bouquet garnie consisting of lightly crushed coriander, and lightly crushed green peppercorns. Add this to the onions, also add the pint of water and chicken stock Let simmer. After 15-20 minutes add spinach. Add Spinach. Using a blender or a hand blender. Pulse till desired consistency. Season to taste. For Lime Crema: Add 1 Tablespoon of lime juice, Salt to taste, whisk in Olive oil. Drizzle over soup and serve.
Included in this post is a recipe for a lime-aid. The heated summers in Southern California in conjunction with strict parents lead me to experiment and spend lots of time in the kitchen of our home. So you know the saying, when life gives you…I made lemonade, and various juice drinks using what was lying around the house. I often made granitas during those very hot Southern California summers. Here is a more adult rendition using Piloncio, a Mexican unrefined sugar that you can get at your local specialty market. I was inspired to make this while working at Nopalito. Enjoy.
Piloncio Lime-Aid1/2 lb. Piloncio Sugar 2 1/2 Cups Lime Juice 3 C. Filtered Water 1 Lime to garnish – cut into whole rounds. Combine water and sugar in a pot, bring to simmer making sure sugar is dissolved. Juice enough fresh limes to make 2 1/2 cups. Grab your favorite tumbler, fill with ice of your choice (I really like crushed ice). Place one or two lime garnishes. Fill 1/2 of the way with lime juice and the other 1/2 with the simple syrup concoction. Stir and maybe let sit for a moment to meld together and SIP SIP SIP AWAY on a hot hot hot summers day. Because this is fairly concentrated I suggest maybe adding even spritzer water to your drink or a shake to dissolve. *Crushed mint or Basil would also be delicious in this refreshing beverage. *Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Gin or Bourbon would also be a great addition. *Alternative sweeteners could be brown sugar, turbonado, Agave, and or Honey.