Foodiva's Kitchen: 5-Star Makeover - Raspberry Salmorejo with Balsamic Caviar

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5-Star Makeover - Raspberry Salmorejo with Balsamic Caviar

"Between soup and love, the first is better."
~ old Spanish saying

First of all, thank you for the outpouring of compassion and well wishes from everyone following my last post. I am very grateful and overwhelmed by how kind everyone has been, however soon after that grief started to kick in and I suddenly found myself in that weird place called 'shut-down'. Luckily I recognized this and immediately made the decision to take a hiatus from this blog (and also others) for a few weeks. If I hadn’t been coming round to your lovely blogs to say ‘Hello’ or ‘Wow!’ lately, well this is the reason.

All this isn’t even newsworthy, so why am I telling you about it? It's not that I think anyone out there is pacing for my recipes or stories, in fact I’m still amazed that in between the chaos of stuff on the internet and the lushness of life, someone out there would want to pause to read my stuff. I’m just trying to say that I felt sad, burnt out and needed some time out to recover, perhaps make some space for new things, more creative and loving things. I am not that type of person who can write, create or participate in something just for the sake of it, I needed to feel that it’s really coming from the heart or I’d rather not be doing it at all.

Anyway, now that my art-making, love-initiating engine has cooled down sufficiently, I’d like to restart it with this chilled soup recipe – Raspberry Salmorejo with Balsamic Caviar. Salmorejo is a typical dish from Cordoba in the south of Spain, it's similar to a traditional tomato gazpacho but richer and has the velvety texture of vichyssoise due to the addition of bread. As you can see in the above picture, I had picked a lot of tomatoes from my parents' farm last weekend and could have gone down the traditional tomato Salmorejo way. But I wanted to kick it up a notch for this month’s 5-Star Makeover Challenge and went with raspberries instead.

Berries in cold soup make a lot of sense to me, it's light, refreshing and perfect for warm weather. I just needed to carefully balance out all the flavors because this could have very easily turned into a smoothie rather than a savory appetizer. 

I served mine up with extra raspberries and brunoise-cut (very small cubes) bell pepper, basil and onion placed at the bottom of the serving glass. It makes for a lovely and flavorful hidden surprise for anyone eating this. To complement the raspberry flavor of the soup, I also made balsamic caviar out of balsamic vinegar and agar agar. A few flower-shaped croutons and a cucumber ribbon completed the dish. It was fun and very simple to make, and a great initiation into chilled soups for me - yes, it's my first time eating it too! 

Thanks to Lazaro and Natasha again for hosting this monthly event. I'm really glad I decided to participate and am looking forward to the round-up of all the chilled soups this Friday over here.

Raspberry Salmorejo with Balsamic Caviar
Makes: 4 servings

Raspberry Salmorejo 
100g stale white bread (1/2 baguette)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
400 g (14oz) frozen raspberries
1/5 garlic clove, peeled
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 ml mineral water
1/2 tsp salt

1. Break the bread into small pieces and mix with the olive oil, vinegar and water in a bowl, Set aside while you make the soup.
2. Process raspberries with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine sieve.
3. Put strained mixture back in the processor (rinse it beforehand), add the soaked bread and salt and blitz it into a smooth puree. Keep in the fridge until serving. It needs to be really cold before serving so allow for a few hours in the fridge before serving.

Brunoise of Raspberry, Bell Pepper and Basil
1/2 handful of basil leaves
75 ml (2.5 oz) extra virgin olive oil
25 g raspberries, sliced into 4
15 g peeled red bell pepper, cut in cubes
5 g of finely chopped onions

1. Process the basil with the olive oil until smooth.
2. Mix the basil oil with the rest of the ingredients and reserve.

4 cucumber ribbons (cut them thin lengthwise with vegetable peeler or mandolin)
4 tablespoons balsamic agar caviar (see below)

Balsamic Agar Caviar
1 cup light, vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon agar agar powder

Extra equipment: Needle-less syringe or small plastic pipette

1. Pour oil into a tall, vertical container such as a glass. Place the oil in the freezer for at least 30 mins. You need the oil to be very, very cold because you'll need to inject the agar agar into the oil later on.
2. For the agar solution, stir the agar powder into the balsamic vinegar in a small heatproof pan. Warm this up on the stove or microwave until it just starts boiling. Take it off the heat, let it cool for a minute and start to fill the syringe or pipette with the liquid.
3. Inject agar solution drop by drop into the oil, just underneath the surface. You can adjust the size of the spheres by the amount of liquid you inject. Let the droplet float down to the bottom of the glass. 
(Note:  The cold environment surrounding the agar droplet would cause the agar to solidify immediately. To get very round spheres, the glass needs to be tall enough for the droplet to form into a perfect ball as it falls slowly to the bottom. Note: If you're making a lot of spheres, the temperature of the oil may rise, so return it to the freezer to make it cold again).
4. Pour the oil through a strainer to retrieve agar spheres. You can re-use the oil. Rinse the spheres under running water to get rid of the oil and keep in the fridge if not using immediately. 

Assemble and Serve
1. In the bottom of a glass, place a base of the raspberry brunoise making sure you do not touch the sides of the glass.
2. Taking the same care, cover with raspberry salmorejo.
3. Finish with a ribbon of cucumber, a spoon of balsamic caviar, croutons and a pinch of salt flakes.
4. Serve immediately before it gets warm.


Shannon said...

this sounds absolutely wonderful! balsamic caviar is genius here :)

Cher Rockwell said...

Beautiful soup, Maya.
I hope your world is a little more on keel these days.

Maya Mohd said...

Shannon, thank you! I love playing around with agar agar, they're so easy to form shapes with, and can be infused with any flavor :)

Maya Mohd said...

Cher, yes things are getting better. Especially when I know that friends like you will always be here whenever I go online! Thank you, beautiful <3

Trix said...

I was wondering if you were going to participate this month. I hoped so, but I figured you were on shut down and so I didn't want to bug you - I remember that phase very well and honestly it was too exhausting to deal with well wishes sometimes. I am glad you felt up to this - it's really beautiful, and definitely looks as if it came from your heart. I hope you continue to heal. Hugs and good thoughts to you xoxoxo

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Just a stunning creation Maya. Love everything about the soup and amazing pics.

I missed your last post so I am sending you my condolences a bit late. I am so sorry for your loss.

Joan Nova said...

I must get some agar agar and experiment. I feel like a dinosaur that I haven't done it yet.

This soup is beautifully presented. I love all the little touches, including the vegetables at the bottom of the glass.

Faith said...

I love how you balanced your soup. I bet that little hint of garlic is the perfect addition. You did a really gorgeous job on presentation too!

Anonymous said...

Thrilled to learn about Salmorejo, what a gorgeous creation! I love the addition of balsamic caviar!

I'm so sorry about your grandmother :(

Ei said...

You make such pretty food. I like to just sit and look at it. Sometimes I lick the screen, but it's never very satisfying. Okay, I don't lick the screen, but I do imagine myself eating your food.

Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra said...

OMG that is so cool. The caviar is just amazing.

Marina@Picnic at Marina said...

what an interesting technique, I shell try it. Thanks for the tutorial. :) This soup is both beautiful and delicious!

Licia said...

Anche questa ricetta merita la LOde!

angela@spinachtiger said...

Very genius with balsamic caviar. I'm sure this was delicious and I love that cucumber garnish. I feel like you too. I have to be inspired to keep going. Doing a blog is a lot of creative energy, but it looks like you got it back for this soup.

lostpastremembered said...

Those Spanish have a way with bread, don't they? I first found that out when I did an amazing rouille from an old recipe. Used it in my white gazpacho and it gave it such an amazing texture.

Your soup is really lovely with raspberries and those balsamic bits are a brilliant idea. Can't wait to try this recipe.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Maya, I am glad to see you are posting again and I sincerely hope that you are feeling better from now on!

I am impressed with the way this cold soup looks and sounds like - have never heard of balsamic caviar before - now I am even more impressed! You always come up with such interesting and different ideas, I cannot help but be in awe!

If you can stand another hug from afar: here it goes!

Take good care of yourself!

Spicie Foodie said...

Hi Maya,

I'm glad you took the time away to grieve and recharge. I couldn't agree with you more, if it doesn't come from the heart I also rather not do it. But you my friend put so much heart and passion into all of your posts. We are lucky that you share them with us.

The Salmorejo looks incredible! It's so hot right now and this would be a perfect treat.

Take care sweetie:) xoxo

Vicki Bensinger said...

Maya this is a very creative post. I love the balsamic caviar. I've never made these before but need to try. It reminds me of something out of Modernist Cuisine.

Glad to hear you're ready to join the blogging world again!

Beth Michelle said...

Loving everything about this recipe. It is so unique and beautiful. The balsamic caviar is brilliant.

Victoria said...

Maya, so sorry to hear about your grandmother. It definitely is more important to focus on your family at a time like this. In the meantime, I'm happy to see this incredible post from you. I expected nothing less than the stunning dish I see before me!

Lori Lynn said...

So sorry about the loss of your precious grandmother.
Your soup is a beauty. The color, the molecular caviar (yay!), and the elegant cucumber garnish really make for a stunning presentation. A lovely addition to the Makeover. Hope you are doing OK.

Lazaro Cooks said...

The caviar is a lovely touch. Marvelous soup. Flawless execution. Two thumbs way up!

Jenny VintageSugarcube) said...

I look forward to seeing this recipe in a cookbook of yours someday. It's a stunner! I am so sorry again for your loss. She is truly with you in spirit. :)

Magic of Spice said...

This is just beautiful Maya! I love the complexity of flavors and the texture sounds amazing!

Tanantha said...

Hi Maya, it's good to take a break to energize yourself. I do it every now and then. Taking a break from blogging isn't too bad after all :)

I love the elements in your soup. The soup itself sounds very interesting. The balsamic caviars, flower-cut bread, and beautiful curled cucumber are great additions!

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ said...

Great mix of basilica with raspberries. So lovely and a great touch. The cucumber just sets it off. Great work. Looking forward to seeing what you'll come up with this month.

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