Suzi's Blog

Brian’s Green Gazpacho

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It’s the peak of summer. From now until well into fall, it is High Tomato Season and I’ll have a bowl or two of red gazpacho every week. I never tire of gazpacho.

That’s not quite true. Sometimes, sometimes, I just long for another color and a change in flavor. A real change in flavor. I’ll get to white gazpacho soon. Today, we go green. Deep green.

The flavor here is intense with a definite sour bite. Some traditional ingredients are not present here. For example, vinegar. I use the tomatillos instead to introduce sour notes.

The heat content in this soup, and it does have heat, comes from multiple sources: the scallions, the jalapenos, the poblanos, and those tomatillos. My suggested two jalapenos particularly generate fire in the mouth. You might want to go with only one and you can certainly adjust the number of poblanos, too.

The tomatillos present a challenge. Fresh out of the blender, with just a slight chill, this soup is smooth and, of course, quite liquid. But, tomatillos are rich in pectin. That pectin and the bread will result in the soup becoming more like a porridge after a night in the refrigerator. You have options:

  • Eat the thick version with relish
  • Dilute with water, 2 parts soup to 1 part water, and stir
  • For ½ cup of soup, add one teaspoon of red wine vinegar and stir; you get liquefaction and can adjust the relative amount, and flavors, at will

One option I considered, but did not add, was an avocado. It would affect flavor, only a tad given all the heat, and certainly the texture. I found this soup to be perfectly interesting. Adding an avocado or two would have doubled the cost of this soup. At a time when we all look twice at our food costs, my version below is lovely to eat and light on your budget.


Brian’s Green Gazpacho

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1-3 tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 2 poblanos
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed, then diced
  • 10 ounces of seedless grapes, with all stems removed, plus a handful of grapes reserved and halved
  • 1 bunch of scallions, ends removed, white and green parts medium diced
  • 4 ounces of French/Italian bread ripped into large pieces
  • 1-2 jalapenos, halved, seeded and chopped
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnishes of your choice: those halved grapes, diced tomatoes, onions, sour cream, …

Preparation:

Turn the oven on to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil and put the tomatillos on the foil and into the oven. Preheating is not needed. After about 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the tomatillo, they will begin to soften and blacken. Test for softness and remove them. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, roast the 2 poblanos over flame until blackened. Put the chilies in a paper bag, wait

Put all the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, in a blender and process until smooth. You may need to stop the blender two or three times and push the contents around. Put the processed soup in a metal bowl. You can taste test now, for salt and pepper, but it is better to wait until the soup has chilled. The tomatillos add exceptional zip so you may find that adding salt is entirely unnecessary — one of the side benefits of tomatillos.

Chill thoroughly. Adjust the salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish, if you wish, with diced tomatoes, onions, sour cream, …

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/25th second at ISO‑3200

 

Southwestern Pepper Medley

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“How about this?” I handed Suzen the first recipe I had found thanks to Google.

“No,” she said in a flash. Had she read the recipe? No. Did I mind? No. It was the first one. She always rejects the first one.

“Okay, how about this?” She got the second.

She paused, actually scanning. “No.”

“Well, I think you might like this one,” I said, handing her the third. I always give her the good one third. Works flawlessly.

“No.”

“What?”

“No. Get out.”

“What do you mean out?”

“Brian, cooking is a lot like baseball. Three strikes and you are out. Out of the kitchen.”

I left. Humbled. Depressed. I get sent on missions to find recipes for Suzen and I often succeed. Often but not always. I need recipes. I am not a chef and I have never been culinary school. I may improvise in the kitchen, but I need that template, that recipe in front of me, to make sure I have all the ingredients and all the proportions. I simply cannot do it out of my head.

Suzen can. Her cooking school, Cooking by the Book, has had enough students to fill Giants Stadium. Twice. And she tested the 3000+ recipes in that last edition of The Joy of Cooking. All those recipes. And, the thousands more that were tried out but did not make the cut for the book. In all that cooking, she’s become a kitchen ballerina.

The day’s mission for me had been what to do with an abundance of peppers, and onions, and tomatillos. It was the end of the week, classes at CBTB were done, and we had leftovers and a challenge.

Suzen had some vision and she translated leftovers into that vision with immense success. This Southwestern Pepper Medley has a lively tang — from onion, garlic and surely those tomatillos — that makes this a substantial side dish. Pair it with any protein and you’ll be successful.

Or, puree this into a sauce and use to top off a burger than has already been adorned with blue cheese. I guarantee your eyes will pop with the sharp, bright tang of this mixture.

I’m sharpening my google skills. Can I learn how to read her mind? Figure out what she really wants? We’ve only been married for 28 years. I’m just getting started. And Google? They have those glasses and the driverless cars and all sorts of advanced gizmos. Surely, Google can …

No. Strike four. I’m really out.

 

Southwestern Pepper Medley

 

Yield: serves 8+ as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound poblano peppers, roasted, seeded and sliced
  • 1 pound green bell peppers, roasted, seeded and sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, roasted, seeded and sliced
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, washed and quartered
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, roasted
  • Lime juice to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro gar garnish

Preparation:

Place a small amount of oil in a cast iron pan large enough to hold all the veggies in a shallow layer.

Heat the oil on medium until hot. Add the spices and cook until they become aromatic. Add all the vegetables and sauté until soft. Season with lime juice and salt and pepper to your taste.

Lower the heat to simmer. Add the cilantro and cheese, mix rapidly to achieve a creamy texture.

Sources: Suzen O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/20th second at ISO-640