“Gazpacho,” a soup made of raw vegetables, served obviously cold, usually with a tomato base, originated in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.
It has ancient roots and history. Theories suggest that it arrived in Spain as an Arabian soup made with soaked bread, olive oil and garlic.
The Romans would tickle the palate with the addition of vinegar, but once in Spain, and part of the Andalusian cuisine, especially Cordoba and Seville, it adapted various flavor additions, the most popular one… tomatoes.
The region rich with tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, onion and garlic is responsible for today’s Gazpacho.
What I find fascinating is that traditionally Gazpacho was made in a mortar with a pestle, a laborious method, but I will guarantee that this method will make a better soup than the one pureed in a blender.
The soup served as a simple first course or as a light meal in the middle of the day is open to “side condiments.”
Some can be boiled and chopped eggs and ham, chopped almond and orange segments, even nontraditional vegetables could grace a table as condiments.
Variation of the Gazpacho is a result of origin, family tradition and ingredients available.
Some might use watermelon in lieu of tomato. Keeping it “green” would be the use of cucumbers.
But the humble soup remains a product of what region the soup is produced in. And not to forget what century the recipe is cooked in…
Some time ago, working at “STARS” restaurant in San Francisco the following version of Gazpacho was served at a lunch complimenting a Sauvignon Blanc course.
Not just a mix of tomato and vegetables, but served along steamed Maine lobster, and a variety of other flavor components.
1 1/2 lbs cooked Maine lobster
6 large wine ripe tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon sesame oil
1/4 of a jalapeno pepper
1 Anaheim chili pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic
Toasted bread croutons
Start with removing the lobster meat from its shell, cut meat into 1/4 inch pieces, set aside.
Peel, seed and puree the tomatoes through a food mill and set aside. Add the olive oil, basil and refrigerate the soup.
Seed all the peppers individually and cut in 1/8 –inch dice.
Cut cucumber into 1/8 inch dice.
Combine them all.
Mix salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice. Whisk in the sesame oil,
Add to the pepper and cucumber mix, set aside.
Once soup, lobster and garnish are made and ready to serve, ladle an 8 oz serving into a flat soup bowl.
Divide the lobster between the serving bowls, arrange the cucumber and pepper garnish around the lobster, next place toasted bread on top of soup.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the soup, serve immediately.
And as mentioned earlier, the reason for this dish was a wine lunch where a great Sauvignon Blanc was served. If an European Sauvignon Blanc is on your wish list, then consult your local wine merchant for advice.
Tartlet of chicken, pancetta and gorgonzola
This dish is a great appetizer or for a light lunch or dinner. The pancetta, an Italian bacon cured in salt, has a salty flavor so be judicious if adding any salt. For busy home cooks, this dish is perfect. It can be assembled earlier in the day and baked before serving. Dark meat is preferred, although if you have a roasted chicken left over from the previous night’s dinner, it’s a great way to use it.
Wine pairing: This has powerful flavors, especially the gorgonzola, so a powerful, drier-style viognier from France’s Rhone valley would be a nice match.
6 to 8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch fresh chive, finely chopped
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 slices pancetta, 1/4 inch thick, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
2 leeks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup gorgonzola
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the chicken thighs. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, thyme and chives. Rub over chicken. Place chicken in 9 by 13 inch baking dish and roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside.
Increase oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry to a 12-inch circle. Butter a 10-inch springform pan, lining the pan with the dough. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on top, using pie weights or beans to hold it in place. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven; let cool.
Shred thigh meat into small pieces, removing skin and bones. Set aside. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove from pan, draining all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Melt the butter in skillet and add leeks. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Combine leeks, pancetta and chicken in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and cream. Pour over the chicken; season with nutmeg and pepper. Crumble the gorgonzola into the mixture, mixing well. Spoon into tart shell. Bake in 325-degree oven for approximately 35 minutes, until golden brown. Test for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer in center.
Remove from oven, place on rack and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.
The day before: You can make the tart the day ahead and reheat it, but it’s best served the day it’s prepared.
Tricks of the trade: For better presentation, use individual molds. It’s a little bit more work, but it’s easier to plate when serving.
1 lb ground pork or veal
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cup milk
2 strips of bacon, cut in to pieces
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Mix bacon, carrots, onions and celery and sauté gently for 10 minutes and set aside.
]Mix meat with salt and pepper and stir for about a minute, add vegetables and mix.
Add remaining ingredients and mix.
In a loaf pan or baking tray mold the meat loaf, bake the loaf about 45 min, at 300 degrees
Serve with mashed potatoes, buttered Brussels sprouts, smothered onions and pan gravy
Banana Walnut Bread with Goat Cheese Ice cream
1 1/4 cup all – purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
Butter for greasing the pan
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together, set aside.
Coat a 9- by 5- by 3- inch loaf pan with the butter.
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle, until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the egg mixture to the butter, while mixing, until incorporated. Add the bananas and sour cream. The mixture will appear as curdled, don’t worry, it’s supposed to. Remove bowl from mixer.
With a rubber spatula, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for about 50 – 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.
Cool the banana bread for about 15 minutes, turn out the loaf and let cool completely on the rack.
Goat cheese ice cream
I’m assuming that most home cooks don’t have an ice cream machine, so a fairly good bullet proof recipe is flavoring of good creamy vanilla ice cream, flavored with goat cheese and other treats.
1 qt creamy vanilla ice cream
1 cup soft goat cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped dates
Pinch of salt
In a mixer cream the goat cheese with the honey and dates, add the pinch of salt.
Then add the vanilla ice cream 1/4 cup at a time, until mixed.
Transfer ice cream into a plastic container and return to freezer.
Slice a 1- inch slice of banana bread, heat the slice in a toaster or oven for a minute, place a scoop of goat cheese ice cream on top. Serve.
For information visit www.twochefsrestaurant.com