I must start this post with shout out to my dad that has nothing to do with the recipe and story below. A couple of weeks ago, my awesome Papa took pity of my completely DIY portfolio page created a few months back and asked if I could please shop around for a professional hosting site and he'd help. After pouring over countless forums, domains, templates, I decided to go with Photobiz (and no they are not paying me to say how great they are). They're affordable and super pro. Once I had uploaded my pictures, the revamped portfolio was up and running almost overnight! Thanks dad!
It never fails. Every summer here, I want to be there. I know I have been in South Carolina long enough to handle the scorching summers but I really think that unless you are born and bred here like Bill, there is a "heat acceptance gene" missing in most of us. Actually, the humidity is the bigger problem. It wilts you the minute you step out the door and it looks like I do not have the "A/C acceptance" gene either.
What to do to keep fresh and refreshed? Eat a serving or two of this Plum and Watermelon Soup with a scoop of Lemon Balm Ice Cream and a couple slices of Toasted Blueberry Pound Cake. I am a soup kind of gal. Hot, cold, room temperature...I just love soups but I admit I would have never tried to make this if it had not been for Asheville, and our dinner at Zambra.
We were full to the brim and when dessert arrived we all thought "I can't anymore". Then came chef Adam's rhubarb - watermelon soup and basil ice cream. The only thing heard at the table was the rattling of our spoon against the bowls. What I could not get enough of was the side of toasted black sesame pound cake he served the soup with. What a brilliant addition! I put it all in the dessert memory bank hoping to make it for us one hot summer day.
This day came with Bill's birthday and I figured it would be a perfect ending to his "birthday dessert feast" of lemon donuts, goat cheese tarts, chocolate covered marshmallows and cupcakes. I took full advantage of all the wonderful summer produce around here and used watermelon and tart plums (to mimic the tartness of the rhubarb), lemon balm from our garden to infuse a simple vanilla bean ice cream. Bill's mom often goes blueberry picking in the wee hours of the morning and loves to give us a few buckets full. They were put to good use in a pound cake that Bill loves all year round.
When it gets passed 95F, I have no desire to turn the oven on and if I must, you can bet it better be quick and for something as good as blueberry pound cake or apricot financiers! But I could not resist the idea of thin slices of pound cake slowly toasted in the oven to be served with the soup. You don't even need to make soup to fall in love with the idea or the taste. It's just plain fun! We had leftover soup after the party and we had the remainder as cold shots one hot afternoon. Perfect!
One year ago: The Transatlantic - Chocolate and Salted Butter Caramel
Plum - Watermelon Soup With Lemon Balm Ice Cream And Toasted Blueberry Pound Cake:
For the soup:
1 cup (150gr) watermelon, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup ripe plums (160gr) (about 3-4 depending on size), cut into 1-inch pieces
zest and juice of a lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
For the ice cream:
4 egg yolks
1 cup (100gr) + 2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
1/3 cup chopped fresh lemon balm (can use lemon verbena, basil, mint, etc..)
For the cake:
1 stick (113gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (120gr) powdered sugar, unsifted
1 1/4 cup (155gr) flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk (or whole milk)
1 cup (145gr) blueberries
Prepare the soup:
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree until very smooth. Refrigerate until very cold. (how hard was that?!)
Prepare the ice cream:
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and one cup of sugar until pale and thick. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean and lemon balm to a simmer, without letting it come to a full boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise". Let cool completely and refrigerate until cold.
Once the custard is cold, strain the vanilla bean and lemon balm and process the base according to your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions.
Prepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center. Slightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray, place it on a baking sheet and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the buttermilk and mix well until combined. Turn the mixer off and fold in the blueberries by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 45 minutes (tend with foil midway if the top seems to brown faster than the cakes bake). Let cool completely and cut very thin slices of cake. Place them on a parchment paper line baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown.