Suzi's Blog

Basic Gazpacho Recipe

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I remember my first gazpacho recipe. It was a long time ago and I found myself, for the usual reasons, suddenly living alone with no one else around to cook for me. I had gone about a week at this new branch of life and it was rapidly dawning on me that I would not last a month on a diet of chicken wings and chocolate chip cookies.

By chance, there was a PBS station on and someone there had a big basket of veggies and a blender. I could almost taste the soup being made that day. And, ever since, gazpacho has been a staple on my table.

It’s a summer dish, that’s true, but it now happens to be summer. And there happen to be tomatoes at every farm stand — the much preferred location to acquire tomatoes. So, here is a basic recipe that you can begin your own gazpacho journey with.

Suzen and I will often supplement our gazpacho with additional ingredients: small cooked chunks of potato, corn kernels either roasted or just fresh off the cob. We almost always include herbs from our garden, snipping off a leaf or two here and there. If the chives needed some pruning, into the blender they go.

Gazpacho will never taste the same twice. It can’t. Even if you follow the same recipe to the letter, those core ingredient tomatoes are going to change depending on the weather, the farm they came from, or how long since they were harvested.

Enjoy the variety. This basic recipe should give you a running start for the whole summer.

What about the stale bread, that ingredient of classic peasant gazpacho? That was an extender used a long time ago and you’ll find recipes that call for it. Sometimes we do, but here we don’t. Adding the bread will shift the color from red to orange if you fully process the gazpacho. And it will thicken the soup. If you are a bread addict, of course you have the option of croutons or small toast pieces to garnish the soup, along with sour cream, herbs, diced onions, …

No two gazpachos are ever the same.

Basic Gazpacho

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

• 6 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

• 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded, then cut into chunks

• 1 garlic clove, smashed

• 1 cup of tomato juice [your choice: plain or spicy]

• ⅓ cup good quality olive oil

• 3 tablespoons vinegar [your choice: balsamic, raspberry, sherry, …]

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Herbs, such as cilantro, for garnish

Preparation:

In a blender, add the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and tomato juice. Process briefly just to combine. You want it chunky, not smooth. Add the olive oil and vinegar. Pulse just to combine. Taste test and add salt, pepper and perhaps more vinegar. This is just a gross adjustment for taste. You’ll repeat this step again. So, if you are salt conscious, just wait.

Refrigerate until very well chilled: really cold and not just cool. Then taste test again and, if necessary, adjust the salt and pepper or even the vinegar.

Sources: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO-1000

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Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon Crumbles from Mariam Rubin

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How are those tomato plants in your garden? Ready to harvest yet?

Don’t fret. There are these things called greenhouses, and the “hydro” something way of growing, and those states far, far to the south of New York. From those sources, via trucks burning carbon, you can have summer-prime tomatoes on your table. This weekend. Tonight.

[Ignore the carbon guilt. They have already been picked and shipped. It would be a crime to waste them.]

This salad can be a serious starting course. It can be the main course. Our tomatoes here were nearly as big as pork chops. We did not cut them quite that thick, but these were truly meaty giants that gave chewy satisfaction with the firmness of their resistance to each bite.

The combination of tomato, blue cheese and bacon is one that is common. I never tire of it, though, perhaps because I limit myself to just one or two dabbles each month. But then last night when I had this, I wondered why I don’t eat it every single day.

You can enhance flavor, and add that variety to prevent any boredom, by using one of the many gourmet salts available. A deep smoky salt, for example, is going to resonate with that blue cheese. A heavy hand with pepper will intensify the flavors and promote additional tingle your tongue.

Temperature is important here, too. The bacon crumbles should be room temperature so the flavor is not subdued, but everything else should be refrigerator cold. There is a surprise awaiting you as the cold from the tomatoes and dressing competes with the inherent “cheese heat” that blue provides.

Do look for firm, meaty tomatoes. They are out there, ready, waiting, and simply delectable.

In the picture, the biscuit is chili and cheese. Recipe to come soon!

Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon Crumbles

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓-½ cup crumbled Clemson Blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives or scallion greens
  • 1 bunch arugula or watercress, rinsed and spun dry
  • 5-6 large heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purple, Delicious, Striped German, Brandywine(2 ½ pounds), cored and cut crosswise into ½-inch thick slices
  • 4 thick bacon slices, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, olive oil, vinegar, pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl with a whisk or fork.

Stir in blue cheese and chives or scallions.

Divide the arugula or watercress between 4 plates. Stack the tomatoes slices on the greens, leaning a little, and sprinkle lightly with a little more salt and pepper. Spoon the dressing on top and crumble the bacon over the tomatoes. Serve.

 

Source: Tomatoes by Miriam Rubin

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/40th second at ISO-640