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Look at that forearm! Yes, that’s me. All those trays of food at various events, bags with groceries when shopping for clients, and laundry baskets on weekends at home are to blame for.
At the recent fundraiser LA Helps LA organized by my fellow blogger and a caterer, Gisele Perez, I served my TOMATO BISQUE WITH BASIL OIL AND PARMESAN TUILE. Those little cups filled with hot soup were disappearing off my tray in the speed of light. I say it was a great success, both the soup and the event itself!
As if I wasn’t busy enough already, I decided I needed more obligations and things to do. And so I became… an examiner. For those of you who’ve just woken up from your winter hibernation, or landed from another planet, or for whatever other unfathomable reason never heard of WWW.EXAMINER.COM, here it is. Take a look, make yourself at home, suck on your your welcome candy, and try on the house slippers, as I hope you will come back often. It’s more than just a website. It’s a golden well of information of all kinds, your reference guide, “to go” web address whether you’re into cooking, gardening, scrap-booking, eating out, yoga, celebrity stalking or even if you’re on the market for a new pet. (Note to self: search the examiner.com for info on pet rescue, which has been on my mind for a while now!) In other words examiner.com is your modern day Delphi sans the trans and constant high.
I must admit, my ego was pleasantly tickled when I finally saw my own page on examiner.com this morning. Also, WHAT-HAVE-I-DONE? question dipped in fear torpedoed across my skull. How will I find the time to feed my blog AND a column on examiner.com three to four times a week each? I guess I’ll figure the dirty details out later. I like this too much.
You may consider this cheating, but to my excuse I have some writing to do, then lots of cooking, more cooking, then research and planning, and designing, and then some cooking again, and writing to do later. Hence, I’ll just give you a link to my virgin article on examiner.com with a brand new recipe for delicious summer treat of HONEY-DEW MELON SOUP WITH MASCARPONE.
The very first time I had this chilled soup, I was in heaven. However, upon the second taste it seemed a tad too creamy and rich for my liking. Hence, I tweaked the original recipe, forgone all the cream involved, and substituted it with light coconut milk and non-fat greek yogurt.
I made the amalgam for one of the monthly gatherings of my fellow Los Angeles Food Bloggers, described by Lynne on the pages of her blog (www.CookAndBeMerry.com) back in July. She’s also the author of the below photo, and trust me it does not give justice to her photographic talent you’ll see on her website.
Having said all that, I invite you to check out examiner.com. Show me the love by visiting my page as often as you want/can, by leaving comments and then sharing the link with other peeps through your Twitter/Facebook/StumbleUpon pages, or what-have-you. I will grately appreciate such affection and will reciprocate with more hopefully useful tips and yummy ideas.
And know, it’s not about the money. The examiner.com people do compensate their writers… in pennies. Really. For me it’s all about sharing the joy of finding and cooking with fresh ingredients, whether you live in Hollywood (Hi, neighbor!), or other parts of the U.S. It’s about encouraging one another in our efforts to create a better and healthier way of living for ourselves and our families. It’s about outsmarting the system and giving our hard earned dollars to the local farmers, or farmers period, rather than the mass producers of food-like products with unpronounceable ingredients. Maybe they’ll finally hear our demand, thus improve the quality of the food they put on the market, and the food recalls we hear about every week will become just sad history. Are you with me on that?
I put Jason through a flavor hurricane this week. The poor guy was my guinea pig from Monday through last night. Not that this is such an exotic job at this household, considering that my cooking style is pretty much a perpetual experiment. This week was different, however, as what I did mostly was… un-cooking and serving RAW.
If you stopped by the last few posts, you know I’m talking about GAZPACHO. What’s the big deal, you must be thinking then. The deal is that each one of my cold soups came out quite pungent and powerful. Still, I refused to mellow it down with cream or veg/chicken stock (as commonly practiced by other cooks out there). On the other hand, I welcomed that punch in my mouth, for it was not only refreshing, but also it lit a fluorescent bulb inside of my skull, and for the first time in my life I found myself in the center of the limelight. Alas no red carpet in sight.
The phenomena of the bright green glow enveloping my entire body was especially visible last night, when I finished my series of Spanish chilled soups with this MUCHO VERDE GAZPACHO. Today I kiss the ground I step on in gratitude for my apt thinking and taking a photo of all the ingredients that went into the blend. Otherwise, there would be no guarantees for me to retrace my own steps whilst being so blinded by my own halo.
Here you are, all the suspects rested supine on the bowl ready for the BIG WHIZZ:
- 2 Persian cucumbers (peeled)
- 1 Poblano Pepper, deseeded
- 1 Sweet Chili Pepper
- 1 Green Chili Pepper
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- Heart of Celery Stalk
- 2 Green Onions
- 2 Lrg Avocados (ripe)
- Bunch of fresh Hawaiian Basil
- Bunch of fresh Cilantro
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your liking)
- 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Cold Water, filtered preferably, not tap water
- Sea salt + white pepper + cayenne pepper to taste
- A few drizzles of Worcesterchire Sauce (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp of Mascarpone or cream (optional)
The last 2 component are completely optional, and avoid them especially if you want to keep your Gazpacho vegan. That’s how mine was, and also that’s why my Jason’s eyes came out from their orbits upon the first sip of the soup after it had chilled in the ice-box for half a day. Let me explain this. Jason doesn’t eat oranges, nor green apples, not to mention grapefruits unless they are certified to be infused with honey by the bees themselves. His baby tongue is too delicate for any level of tartness. Whereas I myself squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into a small glass of water, after which I gulp it down, come up for air, smack lick my lips and ask for more. Therefore, you be the judge of how much lemon juice versus olive oil versus water you choose to add into your soup. Think of the consistency and flavor. If using more water, remember to adjust the saltiness and heat of your amalgam.
It’s most likely clear that all the vegetables should be cleaned, peeled and deseeded when needed, then chopped into smaller pieces and blended together in a food processor or a blender. For that extra smooth and creamy consistency I like to press the entire batch through a fine sieve before storing in a glass, air-tight container for the chilling part of the process.
I enjoyed a glass of my Elixir of Youth with dinner last night, and then again with my wrap I devoured for lunch today. Just think about the boost of live enzymes and vitamins that enter your body in liquified form, thus making its magic that much faster. I feel illuminated. Even now, two hours after my last meal I’m still burping lightning bugs…
Life’s too short for pointless ramblings. Hence, let me get right to it.
This is my second approach to GAZPACHO. Recently, while taking my regular cyber walks among many culinary sites, I’ve stumbled upon a new and wonderfully enticing version of the Spanish Chilled Soup. In fact, within one week I saw three different interpretations of this trendy this year–it seem–flavor blend. I felt challenged and decided to tackle this one myself as well.
Even though I haven’t followed any particular recipe, and all I knew were the two basic ingredients, it’s not incredibly original. Here’s the log of my efforts, nonetheless, and for whatever it’s worth, it’s really E.Z. to make. Take it or leave it.
- 1 sm seedless watermelon
- 3 lrg heirloom tomatoes
- 1 med red bell pepper
- 1 sm red onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
Cut the watermelon in chunks and remove the rind. DIp the tomatoes in a bowl with boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and push the skin off. Peel the onion and garlic and chop both roughly. Put half of the vegetables into a food processor or a blender (Well, that really depends on the size of your equipment–you may need to do it in three batches.) with a touch of olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning, and whizz away until all is liquified.
Pour the juices through a sieve into a large glass bowl (it should be big enough to contain all the soup), and using a wooden spoon, press as much liquid out of the pulp as possible. Discard the pulp, and continue with the rest of the vegetables and fruits in the same manner. When all juices are separated, check for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and store in a refrigerator for several hours.
I was only able to give you an actual recipe for this refreshing delight, because I made it (up) yesterday. It’s still fresh in my memory, and my mouth is watering for more as I’m typing these letters.
We enjoyed our shots of GAZPACHO with puff pastry that I stuffed with a mixture of cooked potatoes, two different cheeses and caramelized onions. They baked in the oven for 15 minutes. Those hot and comforting buns turned out to be such a wonderful compliment for the chilled and spicy soup with a veil of mild sweetness on the front side of the flavor.
And you wouldn’t believe how satisfying a meal that was.
This? This is just one more reason one ought to be grateful to the Spaniards for everything they brought into our lives, thus making them so much more complete and enhanced by their beauty and art all around–Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem respectively, Francisco Goya and Pablo Picasso, Madrid and Barthelona, Flamenco, Sangria and… GAZPACHO.
It’s a chilled summer soup made with raw vegetables. In other words, it’s a salad that got whizzed in a blender or a food processor. And is as easy to make as it sounds. I won’t write down a specific recipe, as I didn’t use one when making the soup. Your best bet is to open your ice box and pull out any raw veggies you’d be happy to use in a salad:
- various peppers
- onions of any kind (shallots, sweet, red, green, chives, etc.)
- cucumbers (peeled and deseeded)
- celery stalks
- fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil)
- avocado (ripe)
- lemon or lime
- olive oli
- salt and pepper.
You have options when it comes to color and texture. If you choose a color theme, use only red produce for a bright RED GAZPACHO, or go TOTALLY GREEN and skip tomatoes altogether. Be your own soup designer. Whirl and whip it all good in your machine, taste for seasoning, finish with créme fraiche, or thin the soup out with tomato sauce and/or veg or chicken stock. Depending on your preference, you can keep it slightly chunky, or put the bloody mixture through a sieve and collect only the silky juices to enjoy later.
Store the goods in a glass and air-tight container back in the refrigerator and let the flavors merge and blend for a few hours or overnight. Pour yourself a cup, serve with a slice of freshly baked homemade bread, herbed croutons, croquettes, ham and cheese croissant, or simply on its own. And please, don’t let me limit your choices. Follow your instincts.
My own taste buds are erect and drooling at the simple thought of a taste of CHILLED & SPICY GAZPACHO waiting for me in the refrigerator. This one is slightly different, and I will tell you all about it in my next installment.