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Don't Get Hot; Picnics Are Cool

May 23, 1996|PHIL ANDRES

I'm a pretty levelheaded guy. I tend to keep my cool. But I have been in places where people are quick to anger. They get hot and they usually are told the same thing: Take it outside.

Now I'm not trying to pick a fight or anything, but that advice is starting to sound pretty good. The days are getting longer. The mercury's climbing. It's picnic time.

So why don't you step outside and try this menu. It's a Southwestern-style meal that winds up with a twist of lemon. The food is light and cool and packed with flavor.

But don't take my word for it. Read on. Not that I'm trying to boss you around; you can do as you like.

The meal is actually designed to help you keep your cool. Everything is served cold and can be easily packed up for a nice evening out. It starts off with a black bean puree flavored with roasted garlic and corn. It goes great with freshly fried corn tortilla chips, but sliced bread or store-bought chips will do just fine.

The meal continues with a cold tomatillo and green chile soup and a raw gazpacho salad. It concludes in the classical tradition with a lemon mousse. The tartness and mild heat of the soup is chilled down so that it nicely complements the crisp freshness of the salad. And the mousse is sweet and light, so you barely have to save room for it. In fact, the whole meal is fairly light, so you won't get bent out of shape there either.

My only word of warning comes in the way of a beverage recommendation. Beer would go very well with this warm-weather meal. But don't get carried away. Keep your shirt on, go easy . . . or you know where you can take it.


Roasted Garlic, Corn and Black Bean Dip with Fresh Tortilla Chips

Tomatillo-and-Green Chile Soup

Gazpacho Salad

Lemon Mousse

Beverage suggestion:

Beer or Sauvignon Blanc



Olive oil


Black pepper

White wine vinegar


Hot pepper sauce






1 ear corn

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 package corn tortillas, blue or white

2 pounds tomatillos

4 Anaheim chiles

1 quart chicken stock

1 bunch cilantro

3 red bell peppers

4 green bell peppers

2 red onions

2 English cucumbers

8 Roma tomatoes

1 lime

3 lemons

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin


Night before: Prepare soup, dip and lemon mousse.

1 hour before: Prep vegetables for salad and fry tortilla strips for garnish and for dip, if desired.

15 minutes before: Prepare salad dressing and toss with salad.


10 cloves garlic

3/4 cup oil

1 ear corn

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

Cook garlic with oil in glass or Pyrex bowl at 350 degrees until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove garlic and reserve oil for Gazpacho Salad dressing.

Cut corn kernels from cob and toast in dry skillet over medium heat until they have a smoky tinge.

Drain beans, reserving liquid, and process with garlic cloves in food processor to smooth paste, adding bean liquid as necessary for consistency. Fold roasted corn into mixture.

Makes 1 pint.

Each tablespoon contains about:

15 calories; 53 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 0 fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.04 gram fiber.


1 pint peanut oil

1 dozen corn tortillas

Heat peanut oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Cut tortillas into eighths and fry in small batches until golden brown. Remove chips from oil with tongs and drain on paper towels.

Makes 96 chips.

Each dozen chips contains about:

112 calories; 56 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.96 gram fiber.


2 pounds tomatillos, husked

4 fresh Anaheim chiles

Olive oil

1 quart chicken stock

1 bunch cilantro, chopped


Ground black pepper

Lightly coat tomatillos and chiles with oil and roast on baking sheet in 375-degree oven until thoroughly softened and just starting to change color, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and remove stems, seeds and membrane from chiles.

Simmer roasted chiles and tomatillos, chicken stock and cilantro in stock pot, covered, 1 hour. Puree soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill soup in bath of ice water until it reaches 70 degrees, then refrigerate until cold.

Makes about 2 quarts, about 10 servings.

Each serving contains about:

96 calories; 363 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.01 gram fiber.


Prepare the fried tortilla strip garnish in the same manner as the fresh tortilla strips. But instead of cutting the tortilla into eighths, cut it into thin strips before frying.

3 red bell peppers

4 green bell peppers

2 English cucumbers

2 red onions

8 Roma tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, cut in thin strips

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Hot pepper sauce


Ground black pepper

3/4 cup roasted garlic oil (reserved from Black Bean Dip or bottled)

Freshly fried corn tortilla strips or store-bought tortilla chips

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