Gazpacho !!!

Ok, so I've been meaning to do some spanish cooking for a while.  I also am becoming totally obsessed with soup. It follows that I should learn to make gazpacho. As it turns out... well, it's the easiest soup ever (At least compared to Tom Yum, Lamb Pho, and other soups that I've been making).

As with any new dish I am planning and have never made before, I like to consult several different sources and figure out what the common ingredients and procedures are. Especially when a dish is a big cultural item like this, the recipes tend to vary wildly. Asking for someone's gazpacho recipe is like asking for someone's pasta sauce recipe, or chili, or something...

Anyway, I took a look at a whole slew of options, and tried to figure out what seemed like common ground, and which of the unique items in each recipe sounded good. Here's what I came up with.  I made a huge batch, too... so i'm going to say this will easily serve 8.

4 large tomatoes
2 medium cucumbers
1 medium zuccini
bread (see below)
1 large bell pepper
1 jalapeƱo
juice of 2 limes
5 cloves of garlic
1 medium red onion
fresh parsley
fresh basil
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. cumin
S & P

This is a SUPER easy recipe. Waiting hours and hours for it to chill properly is really the only hard part. Or maybe peeling the tomatoes, but I'm about to make that easy for you.

Easiest way I've found to peel tomatoes:

1) Boil enough water in a pot to cover the tomato you're going to peel.
2) Cut an X in the skin of the tomato on the opposite side of the stem
3) Briefly submerse the tomato in the boiling water
4) Immediately remove tomato and run under very cold water. the skin should pretty much just slough off.

Now that the tomatoes are peeled, the only other item you need to prep is the bread. I used about 6 inches of french bread... you could use a few slices of whatever bread is laying around, or like a kaiser roll or something. I don't see it mattering all that much.
Basically you want about a baseball sized lump of bread when it's done soaking. Take the bread, rip it up in chunks, and let it soak up some water for a few minutes, then squeeze gently to get the bulk of the water out.
(Soaking just makes it work better in the blender.)

Other than that, you pretty much just dice everything and either put half of that item in the blender and the other half aside for later. Start with the bread, the garlic, the cumin, and one of the tomatoes, then just start blending everything else in.

Two of the tomatoes, one cucumber, half the zuccini, half of the bell pepper, and half of the onion should be diced (small dicing... 1/4 to 1/2 inch), put in a bowl, covered and stored in the fridge for later.

Everything else gets chopped coarsely and thrown in a blender or food processor. You may have to do the blending in two parts if you don't have access to a crazy commercial blender like I do. (Thanks AJ!) Take the blended part, add salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate this as well...  If you have the patience, give it a good dozen or so hours to chill and for the flavors to blend.

Try to wait at least 4 hours though.

When ready to serve, chop up some more fresh basil and parsley, add the diced veggies to the blended veggies, mix well, ladle into bowls, top with the fresh herbs, and serve.  (If it's a real hot summer day, serving in chilled bowls can be a nice touch)



BBQ season in full swing

My lack of posting lately means I need to reconsider the way I handle this blog... I feel like I need to come up with something incredible to justify a full post and recipe listing, but I suppose that really isn't the case. I still am cooking several times a week, and now that summer is here, the barbecue/potluck season is really starting with a bang.

I attended/cooked at least a little for 3 different barbecues this weekend alone.

Sadly, I didn't really make anything new... I think that's one of my main holdups with this blog at the moment, is that I've been making a lot of repeat recipes lately, or being part of a lot of barbecues where I'm just bringing along a salad or making some guacamole or something little. I don't see this trend turning around all that quickly with it being so beautiful here in the summer, so I'll just have to start taking a lot more pictures of everyone else's food as well, and the BBQ goodness in general. I'll try to throw in a new recipe once in a while as well.


Anyway, don't have a ton of time, so i'll just make another quick photo update with captions for today.

Made another round of one of my favorite salads ever; I could eat greek salad every day I think.

This was part of the third of three barbecues this weekend.  What's funny is that I go to/host barbecues all the time, and I still really don't get all that much practice doing any actual grilling because I'm always inside making a salad or something... not that I wouldn't happily take the grill spot.

Here's the nice little spread we had for this quiet little pre-show BBQ

Endives have been showing up everywhere lately...  I only just discovered them this year, and now I see them everywhere, other food blogger talking about them, restaurant menu items touting them, myself obsessively buying them... cut them in half, throw on a little salt, pepper, and olive oil and toss them on the grill! I love how endives absorb surrounding flavors so easily.

Somehow that was the only picture I took of food at that barbecue...  what a shame, because there were some good eats, including a nice tri-tip, chicken, awesome bread, some of the best black beans I've ever had in my life, veggie kabobs, grilled mango... how did i not take pictures of all of that?

Like I said, I'm rarely the one that does the actual grilling.  Here are a few of pictures of some of my friends making delicious happen on some pretty impressive grills.

Ok that's it for now.  I can't promise any really elaborate recipes or anything too soon, but I will definitely be better about taking pictures when there's good food in my life.  I think for the summer, that's just how this is going to have to be for the most part.