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Culinary SOS

Museum-Quality Fare : Coconut-Lime Soup Makes Voyage Home for Holidays

November 19, 1987|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: The Somerset Catering Service served a marvelous coconut-lime soup at the opening of the "Voyager" show at the Natural Science Museum in Los Angeles last June. I would love to have the recipe.

--LYNN

Dear Lynn: As you can see from the photograph taken in our studio, the soup would also make a stunning first course for a holiday menu.

SOMERSET COCONUT-LIME SOUP

4 stalks lemon grass

4 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk

12-ounces boneless chicken, diced

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

Generous dash ground cinnamon

1/2 bunch green onions, minced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 to 4 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced

4 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

1 tablespoon lime juice

Crush and chop lemon grass stalks and tie in cheesecloth. Combine coconut milk and lemon grass tied in cheese cloth in saucepan. Bring to slow boil and simmer 10 minutes.

Add chicken, ginger and cinnamon and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is tender.

Add green onions, cilantro and chiles and bring soup just back to boiling. Remove from heat. Discard cheesecloth bag. Add lime juice and fish sauce. Taste to adjust seasoning by adding more lime juice, cilantro or seasonings, if needed. Serve at once. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Lemon grass and fish sauce are available at most Oriental food stores. If lemon grass is not available, substitute the thinly peeled rind of 1 lemon. Discard before serving.

Dear SOS: Do you have a recipe for Persimmon Pie? --CANDI

Dear Candi: Persimmons are at peak supply right now to brighten your holiday menus.

A word of advice, however, if you are unfamiliar with persimmons. Many users often make the mistake of serving them before they are fully ripe. Hachiya persimmons should be used when very very soft to the touch for peak flavor. Unripe persimmons may be ripened overnight by wrapping in foil and freezing in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. They will be ready for eating when unwrapped and thawed at room temperature for 24 hours. Fuyu persimmons are ripe when pale orange with no green showing and still firm to the touch.

Persimmon pulp may be pureed and kept frozen until ready to use just as you would mashed pumpkin or applesauce in cakes, cookies and puddings.

PERSIMMON PIE

2 cups persimmon pulp

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

Dash salt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Mix persimmon pulp, egg and milk in bowl. In separate bowl, mix sugar, salt and cornstarch. Combine sugar mixture and persimmon mixture. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 50 to 60 minutes longer. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Dear SOS: I wish I could find a recipe for Wild Rice Casserole similar to the one I had years ago. It was a perfect buffet dish to serve with cold ham or fowl. Now, in these days of diminished interest in meat, it would make a good main course.

--RUTH

Dear Ruth: Well, how about this one? It's fairly close to the one you describe. And what a nice side dish it will make for holiday meals, too.

WILD RICE CASSEROLE

4 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 teaspoon seasoned salt, optional

4 1/2 cups chicken broth

Salt, pepper

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and cook until warmed through. Combine bacon, onions and mushrooms with rice, celery, seasoned salt and broth in 2-quart casserole. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and bake at 325 degrees 2 hours or until rice is done. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Dear SOS: I've lost my recipe for Spiced Apple Rings. Do you have one in your files?

When canned (use the pressure-cooker method) they make much appreciated hostess or Christmas gifts. Thanks for your help.

--BETTY

Dear Betty: Thank you for your good suggestion.

SPICED APPLE RINGS

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup red cinnamon candies

6 drops red food color

1 teaspoon whole cloves

8 apples

Combine water, sugar, candies and food color in wide shallow saucepan or skillet. Simmer until candies are dissolved. Add cloves. Slice apples crosswise. Place a few slices at a time in simmering syrup and cook until tender. Skim out with slotted spoon and drain on wax paper. Continue until all apple slices are cooked and drained. Makes 36 to 40 slices.

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