SOUP AND BEYOND

(April 12) Imagine the flavor combination of blueberries and mangos in soup.

Marcus Samuelsson, executive chef and co-owner of Aquavit, New York, says his blueberry-mango soup is fitting not only served cold or hot, but also as a dessert sauce drizzled over ice cream, sorbet, fresh fruit or panna cotta.

In a saucepan, he combines blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and ground cardamom and cooks them until the sugar dissolves. After the mixture cools slightly, he purées it and mixes it in a bowl with mango purée and Muscatel, ice wine or honey wine. He strains the mixture through a fine sieve and cools it.

THE FIFTH SENSE

Every guest who eats at Noe restaurant and bar at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel orders mimosa salad as an appetizer. It’s what executive chef Robert Gadsby does best.

The salad is popular for the combination of all flavors in one dish, he says. It features eggs, roasted bell peppers, green onions, green papaya and a meat such as bacon, chicken or tuna. It also contains cilantro and crispy noodles. He serves it with mango frappe with almond or peppermint clout. Gadsby’s secret sesame-honey dressing holds it all together and adds another flavor dimension. “Once you’ve had the salad, you find your fifth sense that only your palate knows,” he says. The salad has won numerous awards.

COOK THOSE BABIES

It’s time. Baby artichokes are in peak season now through May. All you have to do is trim, pull off the leaves, and the tasty little things are completely edible and take less time to prepare than the big guys.

Before you start playing with them, remember to have a bowl of cold water with three tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar as a bath to prevent discoloring. After you cut off the base where the stem comes out and pull off the leaves until you reach the tender leaves, cut off the green top one-third of the leaves. Then you’re ready to work with them whole, halved or quartered, according to grower-shipper Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif. Imagine the seasonal lift baby artichokes can give your appetizers, salads and entrees.

Here are a few cooking pointers Ocean Mist offers to get you started:

  • Boil the whole, trimmed baby artichokes for 10-15 minutes.


  • Steam them for 10-15 minutes.


  • Microwave them on high in a covered bowl for six minutes.


  • To grill them, first boil, steam or microwave them for about two minutes less than instructed above. Then dip or brush them with olive oil and grill, turning once, until browned and just tender, three to five minutes.


  • To roast them, first boil, steam or microwave them for about 2 minutes less than instructed above. Brush them with olive oil and bake in at 425 degrees until browned and just tender, about 5 minutes.


  • To deep-fry them, boil, steam or microwave them as above and dip in prepared batter of beer, cornmeal or tempura and fry in deep hot oil (375 degrees) until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.