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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!

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We had a little falling out with the sun here in Los Angeles for the last few weeks. Or so it seemed. In my three-and-a-half years in LA I haven’t experienced that much rain. Plus it was my first winter in California that I needed to cover my chest with more than a bikini top, and wear shoes covering my toenails. Yup, it was pretty nippy here, and not in a good way. I brought it all on myself, I realize, with my bitching about the long and hot summer we had last year. Imagine, I had the nerve! I should really shut up in that instant before one of you on the East Coast, or up North, stretches your vindictive hand across the entire United States and slap me on my face.

Luckily, the sun came back, shiny and perky as if nothing ever happened, teasing and schmoozing to get out and bask in its rays. Hence, I invited my fellow blogger and a kindred spirit, Alisa, to come over for lunch along with her 2-year old and their pup. That dog, by the way, is the most non-mean and non-vicious Chihuahua I’ve ever come across in my life. On the contrary, the little Bean is just as sweet as my Caramelized Pears with Whip Cream.

We sat ourselves outside in the midst of the quasi-jungle in our backyard, munched away some Quinoa Salad and another one with Greens, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Pine Nuts, and sipped my ICE TEA.

I poured boiling hot water over a bag of Sweet & Spicy Herbal Tea accompanied by one bag of Organic Chamomile Herbal Tea, let them seep together for 10-15 minutes, and then transferred that herbal essence into a jar filled with ice cubes and juice of half of a lemon. That was it. I dressed it up with a few lemon slices and we were ready to chill.

Here’s a twist I applied to the second batch after Alisa left – I added a pinch of cayenne pepper. If you’re familiar with the Master Cleanse, you’ll understand. If not, I’m afraid you’ll think I’m nutso.

Trust me, that little heat will do wonders to your body. Not only does cayenne help remove fat cells from your digestive track (that you can later use as a part of your fertilizer… if you want, but no pressure), but also combined with fresh lemon juice the concoction acts as a brush to your system – it helps clean it from the toxins we accumulate every day. To top it all, the heat helps break a sweat, which is your body’s natural cooling mechanism. It’s not serendipity that people who live in tropical climates tend to eat hot and spicy food.

Think about it. Summer is around the corner.

Summer is officially over. Gone. Dead. Caput. Finito. It’s true all around the Northern Hemisphere EXCEPT from Los-fooking-Angeles. I am so over the heat wave it’s not even funny. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in forever it seems (at least five days) and yet, I can still literally feel the grey cells in my brain frying to death, one by one, forming a globe of sunny-side-ups. Conclusion – high temperatures make me stupid. In the body of evidence I wish to include:

Exhibit #1: I chased Cosmo on all fours with his tennis ball in my mouth. (By Cosmo I mean our almost 4-year old pup.)

Exhibit #2: I listened to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros so loud that I pissed off Einstein and he dropped his own biography off of the shelf right on my head, “Watchmen” dove next, and Bukowski straight up threw at me his “Tales of Ordinary Madness”. Ouch!

Exhibit #3: I jumped in my underwear around the bedroom kangaroo-style convinced I was dancing, causing Cosmo to howl out loud an aria from “Madame Butterfly” – the only way he knew to get my attention while in the state of this…non-ordinary madness.

Exhibit #4: I made Fettucini with Scrambled Eggs for dinner, which my boyfriend, whose level of tolerance and love for me is bewildering, actually enjoyed! Wait, this is not proof against my mental proficiency. I guess the part of my brain responsible for cooking remained intact.

Baruch Hashem! Yes, thanks to all gods for not taking away the one dubious skill I’ve been mastering in this chapter of my life, especially now that I think my sweat-laden efforts are about to come to fruition. I’ll explain.

When I entered my thirties, like many, I also realized it was time to stop the silly games of uncontrolled youth, recover my self-respect and find a purpose and place within society. (I know you’re secretly judging me now. If you think that I did … well… you’re wrong!) I decided that I needed to find some good man and have the poor fuck make an honest woman out of me. And then I met Jason…

JASON IN NATURE

This man exceeded ANY expectations I may have had for a Future Father Of My Children. We are so disgustingly happy I will spare you the details, because they get graphic and may cause you nausea, headache, and shingles. However, my original objective (from when – remember? – I had first gone on the man hunt to merely swap my last name for a one easier to pronounce and seal it with a semi-precious metal band on my finger) inevitably changed. Because I care about the guy SO MUCH, not only did I want HIM, but I also needed to sway the “in-laws” and prove I was THE ONE for their beloved firstborn.

The perfect opportunity arose when Jason’s parents agreed to come and visit with us for a week. Yes, we’ve met before, and – as one would expect gauging from how they raised their offspring – they are a perfectly delightful and lovable couple. They are so adorable, in fact, every time I see them I want to squeeze their cheeks and hug the living god out of them. But that’s just me.  You never know with the in-laws!

Since I didn’t have a royal family to back me up, nor did I live in an African tribe where my father could just offer me to any willing male along with a cow, a mule, and three silver coins, I had to rely on my own resources. I cleaned the house, dusted my “cute” Polish accent, sprayed myself heavily with virgin-like innocence and charm, and planned with Jason a fun week for his folks.

We didn’t waste any time and drove them straight from the airport to the wine country for wine tasting. We let them get happy in Solvang, after which we all HIT THE PARTY SCENE in LA.. Considering their average alcohol consumption is nearly zero I must admit – Jason’s parents were great sports!

J'S FOLKS

After all that play, it was time for my last bullet – an olde trick my witch mother (good witch) taught me years ago in Poland. I was going to woo them through their stomachs with my secret ingredient – LOVAGE, an herb for centuries used in love spells and love tonics. I invited a few friends over under a pretext of a party, and prepared a feast. On the menu were:

ORZO SALAD

1.    Orzo Pasta with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

2.    Whole-wheat Fettucini with Short Ribs and Chocolate

3.    Penne with Butternut Squash and Mascarpone Sauce

4.    Baked Brie with Honey and Roasted Walnuts

5.    Homemade Pita Chips with Hummus and Edamame Dip

6.    Almond Meal Cake with Balsamic Reduction (see the recipe here)

HONEY

At least three of the above listed items had flakes of dried lovage in it. And the herb did its magic! Just days after they left, Jason’s parents emailed me for the recipe for the pita chips and a soup I made for them earlier. Not only did they already make both, but they are entering a Soup Contest this Sunday with my soup. Did they get hooked or what?

Since it was such a hit during the impromptu party today I’ll share with you a recipe for the Edamame Dip that you could also serve with homemade Pita Chips.

EDAMAME DIP + CHIPS

Nothing easier than the latter. Preheat an oven to 350˚. Remove pita bread from a bag, and cut all pieces into eights. Spread the wedges on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over with any kind of coarse sea salt, dry herb (Lovage, Herbs de Provence, Oregano – your choice), and/or ground parmesan cheese, or sesame seeds. Load the sheet pan into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the chips are crisp, but not burnt to DEATH!

As for the Edamame Dip, you’ll need:

–       1 package of frozen edamame (14 oz –ish)

–       1 small container of non-fat greek style yogurt

–       1-2 tbsp of good olive oil

–       1-2 cloves of garlic

–       lemon juice of 1 lemon

–       1/2 cup of fresh cilantro or dill, chopped

–       sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste

–       If wooing is an objective add 1/4 tsp of dry lovage (optional)

What do you do now? Empty the packaged edamame into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Next, throw your chilled beans into a food processor, add the yogurt, roughly chopped garlic, lemon juice, herbage, salt and pepper, and close the lid. Pulse until all components are semi-combined. Then turn the machine back on again, and as its blade is spinning and massacring the ingredients inside, pour the oil in and let it all become one coherent light green mass of a dip. Take a taste, and if the flavor feels balanced set in a refrigerator in a closed container to cool. Serve as suggested above. Feed it to someone special and just watch what happens!

I expect a report back on Monday.

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