Like Harry Potter’s phoenix, good things can rise up again.
When a person insists on changing recipes, stuff can go hay-wire. Take this pineapple gazpacho, for example.
Company was seated. Candles were lit. I was putting the finishing touches on little cucumber boats I had carved to decorate my soup bowls.
I was about to ladle out my chilled pineapple gazpacho, when I stole a taste.
ARGGGG. Sooo bitter!
How did I ever get myself into this not-so-fine state of affairs?
The recipe from Richard for pineapple gazpacho looked fabulous. But me being Vinny, I was unhappy over its call for bread, especially WHITE bread. Also the bread was supposed to be soaked in heavy cream! I tell you. How could that happen in Vinny’s kitchen?
So I got out a few slices of the whole-grain bread we always have on hand and soaked it in skim milk whisked with a little coconut oil. My regular readers know how good coconut oil is for a body. But sadly, I’d forgotten that its short-chain saturated fat molecules don’t stay liquid for long in cold milk! Zapping the oil in the micro for a few seconds solved that problem. But I worried about whether it would stay liquified after the soup was made. After all, this soup is supposed to be served chilled.
As it turned out, the pureed soup tasted great and the coconut oil stayed mixed. All was well. But I felt flustered. I read the recipe again. Gadzooks. I had forgotten one of the key ingredients… a small cucumber. It wasn’t gazpacho without cucumber!
I plucked a cucumber from the fridge and pureed it on the spot, seeds, skin and all, passed the puree through my strainer, and added the strained flesh to my soup bowl. Green skin and seeds in the strainer went straight to the compost.
Tasting the final product, I expected to be hit with true deliciousness. But no! A bitter cucumber taste permeated my mouth. Yuck. How could I fix this disaster?
I tried adding salt. No good. Another little dash of sugar. Uh-uh. Panic!
Then it hit me. I remembered reading how one chef never serves soup without a splash of booze. From the front of our liquor cabinet, a brand-new bottle of Grand Marnier was calling my name. A tablespoonful of this aromatic orange nectar in each bowl was all it took. YUM!
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Grand Marnier has been winning awards for over 150 years for the Marnier-Lapostolle family in France. Its flavor comes from an orange famous for its scent. On the family’s plantation in the Caribbean, these Bigaradia oranges are hand-picked while their peels are still green. They dry naturally under the sun for several weeks. Slow distillation extracts an orange essence of the finest quality. When this extract is mixed with the best of French cognacs, the result is, well, Grand Marnier!
What better way to rescue a fine soup ruined by an unpleasant cucumber skin!
Granted, there is alcohol involved. So, you won’t be adding any to the kiddies’ bowls. But for nonpregnant, nondriving adults, adding a dash of Grand Marnier raises your bowl of pineapple soup from great to sublime. And especially so if you take the time to peel your cucumber :).
The singer Madonna contributed to making Grand Marnier fashionable at parties in New York and London. And now, you can try it at home.
So by all means, experiment. But be prepared to fix unexpected problems as you go along.
Here’s Richard’s recipe, modified to correct the mistakes I made first time round. Formidable!
Pineapple gazpacho, partnered with Grand Marnier
For the Pineapple soup
- 3 slices whole-grain bread with the crusts
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized very ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 small English cucumber, peeled and seeded (or your soup will be a bitter pill to swallow)
- 1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil whisked with 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the pickled carrots (optional)
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- pinch salt
- Julienne the carrots using a carrot peeler to make wide thin slices and a paring knife to cut these into thin sticks.
- Add the honey, salt, vinegar and water to a small container.
- Whisk to incorporate and add julienned carrots.
- Cover, put in refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours.
To make the soup
- Cube bread, place in a bowl and pour buttermilk whisked with 2 tablespoons olive oil over bread.
- Toss to mix milk, oil, and bread together and set aside until needed.
- Add chopped pineapple to a food processor (or Vitamix blender, if you have one). Puree.
- Add the following ingredients to the pineapple and puree after each addition:
- hot sauce
- lime-flavored olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- cucumber, peeled and deseeded
- Place a cucumber boat filled with the pickled carrot in the middle of a bowl.
- Ladle the soup around the cucumber boat till it floats.*
- Finish with a drizzle of Grand Marnier (about 1 tablespoon per bowl).
*You don’t have to make the boats. I just felt like being whimsical, as I was inviting a sailer to dinner. Decorate the soup with the pickled carrots or with chopped red pepper, cucumber and basil, or even with a drizzle of oil, if you like.
So ends the story of how you can bring nearly any recipe back from the brink of disaster with a few sloshes of booze. Don’t tell the kids.
Pineapple kings them all – Review the health benefits of pineapple. Recipe: Pineapple salsa plus other ideas for using this fruit in meals.