Cucumber Soup, Quiche Lorraine, Watermelon and Cucumber Salad, Cardamom Ice Cream, Lemonade and Chocolate Salted Caramel CakeWhen my mother mentioned a month ago that she wanted to have an "indoor" garden party for her upcoming birthday, I eagerly offered my catering services to her and planned out an audacious or rather aspirational menu including all of the delectables from the title plus watermelon sorbet and stracciatella (but no cardamom ice cream).
Martha Stuart's website decided to spontaneously become the leaning tower of pisa.
One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”
Luckily I fixed this cake, with a lot of emotional cheering on from my mom and helper cook. We finally moved onto the quiche, now with three hours until humans arrived, and I designated tasks. My mom would cook one package of bacon and my helper would crack the 12 eggs needed for my 3 quiches, while I made the crust. Crack 12 eggs into a bowl and whisk until frothy. Then add 3 cups of cream (I used 2 cups plus 1 cup of half and half, and this worked fine).
Then you must chop up three 8 oz packages of Gruyere cheese and add that to the cream and egg mixture. When the bacon is done, crumple it with your fingers and add it to the mix along with a few healthy dashes of basil and some pepper. Mix it all together a bit more and move on to the crust. I used Rose Bakery's recipe for shortcrust pastry involving 3 1/3 cups of flour and 1 cup of butter kneaded together.
Then add 1 egg yolk and use a fork to incorporate the ingredients and a bit of ice cold water until the dough is kneadable but by no means sticky. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes was up, I rolled out the dough onto floured wax paper and flipped it into the pie plate.
I poured in the batter, added a few shakes of parmesan cheese and put it in the oven for 20 min at 425 C and 35 min at 325 F. The quiche worked beautifully even though I dropped one further into the oven on the way out of the oven; which I managed to salvage with only a minor burn.
While the quiche was cooking, I made the cucumber soup and cucumber and watermelon salad to be served with the quiche. My helper peeled and chopped all the cucumbers. The soup required 5 cucumbers, about 1 cup of minced cilantro (fresh), 1 minced jalapeno, 1 1/2 cups or so of sour cream (taste as you add), 3/4 clove of garlic, the juice from 2 limes, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
Add the vegetables and seasonings (not the sour cream) to the blender gradually until it is pureed and then once it is done pour it into a bowl, add the sour cream, mix until incorporated and then chill. I used our nifty ninja blender and it made enough for 2 small bowls per guest.
I also made croutons to go along with the soup by chopping up some Italian bread into bite sized cubes, drizzling them with olive oil and a bit of oregano and putting them in the oven at 375 for about 18-20 minutes or until they were golden brown (depends entirely on your oven and their size).
My mom chopped up the watermelon (about 1/2 a melon) for the salad and my helper added 3 diced cucumbers to the mix meanwhile I squeezed two limes and sprinkled a sprig of mint onto the salad and mixed it up. I had eaten the salad previously at a southern restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Pies and Thighs.
The lime juice changes the flavor of both fruits and takes away a bit of the sweetness. It lasted for about 3 days. Finally, I made lemonade using 20 lemons and a lot of water and sugar. I like lemonade to be lemony and even though I poured some concentrated mixture into a bowl and diluted the liquid in the pitcher, it was still pretty damn tart.
Everyone seemed to love it though, leaving the Limonatas and Aranciatas untouched and it provided a wonderful companion to the chocolate caramel cake.
I won't go into the details of making cardamom ice cream since I already have, but it too was delicious. In the end, it all worked out so perfectly that I forgot how frustrating the process was and the paper lanterns we strung from our ceiling danced above our guests dining on quiche and cucumber soup all evening long.
Happy Birthday Mommy!