I used to have a vague prejudice against cold soups. I’d tasted several gazpachos that were more like V8 or bland salsa than a meal, so I wrote off the whole category of non-hot soups – until a fantastic chilled beet soup changed my mind completely. Now I’m all about these cool customers. Especially right now, when the produce is at its peak, and I will do anything to avoid turning on the stove.
I love a gazpacho that is well-balanced and refreshing: a little sweet, a little acidic, not too heavy on any one flavor. This recipe uses equal parts tomatoes and peaches (or any other stone fruit you have on hand; it’s also delightful with nectarines and apricots).
It’s the perfect heat-wave dinner. Add a crisp glass of white wine, and your “I hate everyone and everything” attitude will slowly start to fade.
It’s not a bad idea to double the recipe. For your future self.
- 2 lbs. tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 2 lbs. peaches (or a mix of stone fruit), pitted and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 pieces crusty bread
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon and a splash of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil or mint, thinly chopped (optional)
- Set aside 2 tomatoes and 2 peaches and roughly dice. Mix together and refrigerate.
- Blend all the other ingredients, except water, in a blender or food processor.
- Add ½ to 1 cup water to achieve the consistency you like. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
- Put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Pour the soup into the strainer a bit at a time, using a spatula to press down to push the liquid through. Discard the remaining solids.
- Chill and serve with the reserved diced tomatoes and peaches. Sprinkle with fresh basil or mint (optional).
I used gazpacho recipes from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook as inspiration.
I don’t always come up with the best ideas from scratch, but sometimes I’m pretty good with making stuff out of what we already have in the house. This cocktail came around because that was the situation last weekend.
It’s summertime, so watermelons are everywhere, including in our CSA basket. Don’t get me wrong, I love watermelon, but as a drink, I find it needs something more. Enter ginger syrup.
Living here in Barcelona, we have not been able to find ginger ale, so we’ve taken to making it ourselves, which first requires making a ginger syrup. Thus, we had some sitting in the refrigerator. It adds a nice spiciness to pair with the subtle sweetness of the watermelon. Add a little rum, a squeeze of lime and voilà! a tasty, summery and refreshing beverage.
And because it’s summertime, this is a great batch drink to make for a party. Mix everything ahead of time, put in a glass bottle, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to start the party. Work your ratios off of the size of watermelon you have, and enjoy!
Friday Happy Hour: Ginger Watermelon Cooler
- 150-160 ml (5 - 5.5 oz) watermelon purée
- 50-60 ml (1.5- 2 oz) ginger syrup*
- 45 ml (1.5 oz) dark rum
- Squeeze of lime
- Lime wheel for garnish
- Cut your watermelon (seedless is easier) into cubes, discard the rind.
- In a blender, food processor or using a hand blender, blend watermelon cubes into a smooth liquid.
- Run liquid through a sieve or strainer and discard the pulp.
- Combine the watermelon purée, ginger syrup, squeeze of lime and rum into a shaker full of ice.
- Shake until cold.
- Serve over ice in a highball glass.
- Garnish with lime wheel.
- Kick your feet back and chill.
To make ginger syrup:
Take 200 grams (7oz) of fresh peeled ginger and cut into slices.
Simmer in 240 ml (2 cups) of water for 40 minutes.
Turn heat off, let rest for another 20 minutes.
Strain ginger water through a fine strainer or coffee filter.
Return back to heat. Dissolve 180 ml (3/4 cup) of sugar into ginger water.
Remove from heat. Keep in sealed container in the refrigerator.
If you don’t know David Lebovitz, now is the time to check him out. He’s a Chez Panisse alumni and his accolades are numerous and impressive (for example: Named Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle).
He’s written a number of cookbooks, and though his credentials are intimidating, his recipes and style of cooking are not. In his words:
“I use basic, honest ingredients; fresh fruit, good quality chocolate, real vanilla, and pure butter. I don’t believe that baking (or cooking) should be out of reach to people and strive to share recipes that are do-able for a majority of cooks and home bakers.”
In 2006 he packed up and moved to Paris, where he’s been doing his thing and writing yet another cookbook called My Paris Kitchen. As fellow Americans abroad, his observations on life and food are not only insightful, but often witty and hilarious.
Anyway, his blog is also really impressive, and though being a pastry chef, he clearly loves cocktails too, and I was pumped to find this recipe for a Chin Up.
We’re building a distillery here in Barcelona and have been playing with barrel aging our gins, so when I read this recipe, I simply had to try it 🙂
Friday Happy Hour: Chin Up Cocktail via David Lebovitz
- 2 slices of cucumber
- Tiny pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 60 ml (2 oz) Corpen Barrel Aged gin
- 15 ml (1/2 oz) Cynar
- 15 ml (1/2 oz) dry white vermouth (we used Murcarols)
- Muddle one slice of cucumber with the salt in a mixing glass.
- Add the gin, Cynar and vermouth, and fill the mixing glass full of ice. Stir until cold.
- Strain into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass and float a VERY thin slice of cucumber slice on top (too thick and it will sink).
- Drink and enjoy!
Meet my summer love: the paraguayo.
We met two years ago, and my love borders on the obsessive. It’s apparently called a “doughnut peach” or a “Saturn peach” in English (or a “squashed peach” as I affectionately called it until I learned its real name).
I feel compelled to buy a bag at least once a week during the summer because I know come fall, I will go through withdrawal when they disappear from the markets.
But this year I’m planning to enjoy a little bit of summer in the middle of December. I made a small batch of simple paraguayo preserves and canned them for a rainy day.
Recipes I used for inspiration:
A few notes:
- I used paraguayos because they’re my current fave. But regular peaches would follow this same approach.
- Brian and I have experimented with different kinds of homemade preserves over the last few years, including cherry and fig, but we usually add a lot less sugar than is called for in traditional jams. Sugar helps jams gel and act as a preservative, but the 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit is too sweet for my taste. We haven’t had any issues with our jams going bad before we open them (but we generally eat them within a few months anyway).
- This summer we’ve been adding pectin to our jam to give it a bit more gel without adding a ton more sugar; it’s still on the softer, preserve-like side, but I like that consistency. We couldn’t find any packaged pectin at our neighborhood grocery store, so Brian made some with this recipe; basically by boiling down tart green apples, water and lemon juice, then straining out the solids. We canned a few jars of it and froze an ice cube tray of it as well to use later.
- This is a loose recipe because our process is pretty low-key and unscientific; cook, taste, add a bit of pectin and sugar, see how it coats a spoon, adjust.
- To can the preserves using heat-processing: Ladle preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space at the top. Poke a chopstick around between the food and the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Screw on a hot, sterilized lid until you get medium resistance. Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a pot full of hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar-lifting tongs and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. You’ll hear the jars pop as they seal; the next day, check the jars (a sealed lid will be concave and won’t move when you press down.)
- If you don’t have canning equipment, you could make a smaller batch of this recipe and eat it within a few days (or freeze half).
- 2 kg (about 4.5 lbs.) very ripe fruit (yields about 7 cups of chopped fruit)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup homemade liquid pectin or 1 package commercial pectin
- ¾ cup sugar
- Water (optional)
- Use your fingers (and a sharp paring knife to help, if needed) to peel fruit.
- Remove cores and roughly chop, cutting off any bruised pieces. Set fruit aside, coating with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
- Put fruit, pectin and sugar in a large pot (adding a little water if the mixture looks too dry), breaking the pieces of fruit up with a potato masher.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Cook down until it reaches the consistency you like (anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour – because I keep the heat on the conservative side and use very little sugar, I end up with a longer cook time, closer to 1.5 to 2 hours).
- Add more pectin and sugar if necessary.