Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gazpacho Garnish - Kicking It Up a Notch!

 photo GarnishSoup3.jpg Earlier this week I promised you a way to kick up the garnish on this gazpacho. This presentation technique takes a delicious, casual summer soup and turns into something elegant and worthy of company.

It's really quite simple and the only tool you need is a ring mold. If you don't have any and you're interested in working on presentation, I strongly recommend getting a set like this. You will find a hundred and one uses for it.

Here are some suggested ingredients for the vegetable salad that make up the bulk of the garnish, but you should use whichever vegetables you have on hand or whatever looks good at the market that week.

1 small cucumber, cut into a small dice
1 yellow summer squash, cut into a small dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
Salt and pepper
1 avocado

Make the vegetable salad by combining the cucumber, squash, bell pepper and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the avocado in half and peel. Place the avocado cut side down on a cutting board and slice very thinly.


Spray the ring mold lightly with cooking spray so the avocado won't stick to the mold once you're ready to remove it. Place the thin slices of avocado in overlapping layers around the ring mold as pictured above.


Gently spoon the vegetable salad into the avocado ring. If desired sprinkle a bit more cilantro and salt over the top of the salad.


Remove the ring and make sure the salad is holding its shape.


Pour in your finished gazpacho and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer's Liquid Gold - Gazpacho


Gazpacho is and always has been one my favorite dishes of summer. When I was growing up, my mom and I would buy cans upon cans of Pepperidge Farm's gazpacho, chop up a bevy of fresh vegetables and keep a big jug of the fresh summer soup in the fridge. Every time I opened the door to our refrigerator, I was tempted with its promise of cool refreshing flavor and crunchy vegetables.

Today I make my own gazpacho base and am always interested in new ideas for getting the gazpacho started. While flipping through Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis, I came upon a genius idea I wish I had come up with first. Tanis grates fresh tomatoes on a box grater and strains the seeds out of the tomato puree for pure, unadulterated fresh tomato gazpacho starter. What you do after that is really up to you. I used a microplane to grate garlic and onion into the base and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Chop up whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand and call it a day.

I garnished this bowl with chopped jalapeno and olive oil. Check back on Thursday for directions on how to take the garnish up a notch with a vegetable salad encased in a ring of avocado.


Method adapted from David Tanis
Serves 6

4 lbs fresh tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 of a small onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
1/2 of a jalapeno for garnish

Rinse tomatoes and cut in half horizontally. Grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater until you are left with just the skin of the tomato. Toss the skin. Strain the tomato pulp through a coarse-mesh strainer to catch the seeds and any large pieces of pulp. Peel the garlic cloves and grate on a microplane directly into the tomato starter. Do the same with the onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among six bowls and garnish with chopped jalapeno and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pizza Toscana


Throwing out food is a pet peeve of mine. It's a waste of money, a waste of resources, and frankly it makes me feel guilty. I am thrilled when I find a recipe that takes food destined for the garbage bin and turns it into something fantastic. Pizza Toscana does just that with the sides of bread that get sent home with takeout food. Leftover, even slightly stale bread gets transformed into ooey gooey cheesy deliciousness. It's not quite pizza, not quite casserole, but perfectly in the middle and perfectly delicious.

This is all about using up what you have on hand so this is a guide, not a recipe.

Pizza Toscana
Adapted from Cristina's Tuscan Table

A few glugs of good olive oil
Leftover bread
A few tablespoons of milk
1 cup of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella
2 sausage links, casing removed and cooked
2 T fresh oregano leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450

Take a casserole dish just large enough to fit your leftover bread. Oil the bottom and place the leftover bread in the casserole in a single layer. Drizzle the milk over the bread. Add the tomato sauce, sausage, oregano and garlic. Tear up the mozzarella and spread over the other ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with another drizzle of olive oil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey.