Birth of the “Whatcha Got” meal

August 28, 2006 on 8:54 pm | By | In Recipes, Whatcha Got | Comments Off on Birth of the “Whatcha Got” meal

I’ve been suffering from blog envy. As I read through some of the other food blogs out there, I just can’t help feeling that they’re so much more remarkable, more witty than mine. Granted, I’ve just started and I realize it takes time to get one’s groove on. But it seems that all the other bloggers have a ton of time to create fabulous new recipes, try out fabulous new restaurants, travel to fabulous foodie locales and lead a much more fabulous life than mine. sigh

Okay, time to snap out of it…

People had warned me that if I followed my heart and turned my passion into work that it would become just that: work. Fortunately my career still thrills and energizes me, but I do find I have less time to spend in my own kitchen experimenting. It’s partly due to the fact that after cooking all day in my clients’ spacious and organized kitchens, my own cramped and counterless spot pales in comparison. I’m just not that efficient at home! And let’s face it: after I’ve been standing on my feet all day whipping up a bunch of meals, I want something simple. No fancy sauces, no 2+ hour braises, nothing with a laundry list of ingredients. Simple.

One of the perks of being a personal chef is that your refrigerator teems with myriad food odds and ends that you couldn’t use for your clients’ dinners. While often these odds and ends languish in the depths of the fridge until they resemble science projects, I strive to use up as many ingredients as possible in what I’ve dubbed the “Whatcha Got” meal. At any one time you’ll most likely find in our fridge a half dozen chicken tenders, half a tub of ricotta cheese, 2-3 slices of prosciutto, a 1/4 bag of corn tortillas, half a pint of buttermilk and all sorts of zested citrus fruit. Inevitably many of these will find their way onto a pizza crust or in some sort of pasta dish (I give myself extra points if I don’t have to make a trip to the store to round out the meal), but other days I feel inspired. Today, was one of them.

Whole Foods had a tremendous display of melons today, so I thought I’d try something I’ve never made before: melon soup. I picked out a succulent-looking Galia melon, which resembles a cantaloupe on the outside and a honeydew on the inside (the taste is a cross between the two). I wanted something a bit on the savory side (I wasn’t looking for a dessert soup), so I perused some of my favorite online recipe resources. I found one that looked promising on the U.S. Personal Chef Association’s member recipe exchange, as I had most of the ingredients (or at least serviceable substitutes). Now that I think about it my recipe vastly differs from the original, but at least it provided the inspiration. The soup, chilled for several hours and topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, was the perfect complement to a spicy shrimp and prosciutto whole grain pizza (for which I used up the 3 slices of prosciutto from last week, the half can of Muir Glen pizza sauce from today and the frozen whole wheat pizza crust from a couple of weeks ago).Melon Soup

Chilled Melon Soup with Attitude
Serves 6-8

1 medium melon (cantaloupe, honeydew or Galia; I purchased mine); peeled and cubed
2 kiwifruits (leftover from last week’s luau barbecue gig), peeled and diced
1 REALLY small apple (picked from our neighbor’s tree), peeled, cored and diced
3/4 red chile (left over from today’s cookdate), minced (or more or less to taste)
Juice of 1 orange (left over from today)
1/2 cup vegetable stock (pantry)
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (pantry)
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Creme fraiche (given to me by my client who’s now on a diet), as garnish (optional)

Blend up all ingredients except salt until smooth. Taste and adjust accordingly with salt. Chill for 3-4 hours and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

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