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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.

WATERMELON GAZPACHO:

– 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.

Bon Appetit!

WE MADE IT! It’s January 2010. Dear New Decade, here we are!

Mama, thank you for those beautifully embroidered pillow cases with our monograms. May the world learn about your talents.

Now back to the kitchen.

Have I ever mentioned my fascination with Jamie Oliver, the British chef and an author of gazillion cooking books? He’s a man of many assets. However, it’s not the superb chopping skills, or the teeth loosely arranged in the mouth of that alleged heartthrob (He has a speech impediment, but who cares when he lisps with a British accent?) that got my interest. I’ve yearned for Jamie Oliver to be my homie ever since I learned of his organic vegetable gardens that he plants around his house in rural England. He has a love affair with rustic cooking, just the way our great-grandmothers used to do. In his kitchen he wants organic produce, healthy fish, beef from grass-fed cows, and cage free chickens. In other words, he does it Agi Style and chooses the best for himself and his family. Jamie also tries to convey to the masses the importance of going back to our roots through his various TV shows and books he’s published.

I own a couple of those. I’ve also been known to stalk the above-mentioned CHEF online (Youtube, Apple podcast, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook…) to suck out more tips and culinary techniques HE NEEDS ME TO KNOW.

I want to start this BRAND NEW BABY YEAR 2010 with a recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver that I spotted on his TV show called “Jamie at Home”. He made those crispy and sticky CHICKEN THIGHS WITH POTATOES AND TOMATOES* I later recreated on my own stove. Not only is it an ideal comfort food (just wait till your teeth sink into the tender and juicy thighs), but also it’s packed with fireworks of flavors (the sweet and tart tomatoes with basil). It is a painting bursting with colors on a plate. It is an invitation sent to SPRING to hurry over. It is also silly cheap, aha!

Today, you be inspired. Get yourself those few elements and bring out the inner artist:

–       6 chicken thighs (boned, skin on, ideally free range and organic)

–       1-1.5 lbs potato medley

–       1 pound heirloom cherry tomatoes (medley of colors)

–       red wine vinegar, a splash or two

–       fresh basil, a bunch

–       sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

–       good olive oil

Clean the potatoes and cook them whole in a pot filled with boiling water seasoned with salt.

Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil all over the chicken, then bang-bang with salt and pepper, and cut each thigh into 3 strips. Toss them onto a sizzling hot sauté pan and stir-fry on high heat for about 5 minutes on each side until almost cooked. Make sure the pan is not overcrowded and each of the guys has enough room to kick around. If need be, cook the meat in two batches.

Wash the tomatoes and toss into a bowl. Boil some water and pour it over the tomatoes, then drain after about 2 minutes. This little trick will allow you to easily remove the skins and expose the sweet flesh of the fruit. Prick each tomato open with a sharp knife, gently season with salt and pepper and mix with fresh basil leaves torn into chunky scraps. Lots and lots of them!

Drain the potatoes and cut them roughly into halves and thirds. Toss them into a large baking dish along with the chicken thighs and tomatoes. Spread them flat-ish if possible.

In a separate cup or a small bowl whisk together about 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil with a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and a tad more of the salt and pepper bang-bang. Taste and add more olive oil and/or a touch of honey if the dressing is too tart. Pour over the meat and veggie mixture, stir around, and get the energy flowing and the small talk going. Into the oven they go. Bake in a preheated oven (400°F) for about 40 minutes, or until golden!

Taste…. AW-MAH-GAWD! That is so GOOOD! Pair your beautiful entrè with a simple green salad, dressed with a basic lemon vinaigrette, pop open a bottle of wine, sit at the table facing someone you give a damn about, and eat straight from the dish. And, oh, it’s hot, remember? So watch out. You’ll fight for the last bite, it’s a given.

* Possible Side Effects: overwhelming happiness, subconsciously letting the inner monkey off the leash, jeans button popping, uncontrollable LOL and consequently sprinting water/wine through the nostrils, food coma, money savings, orgasmic satisfaction.

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