Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gazpacho

I feel a little bit like I'm cheating, because this recipe does not contain anything I pulled out of my freezer except for the ice cubes. Nevertheless, I'm going to share it with you because it involves my beautiful garden, a handful of memories and just plain, good eating.

Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish soup, eaten cold. On a hot summery day, this is an absolute winner and it's fun to serve. You can let your guests (or yourself) dress up the soup as you wish: the usual toppings include diced cucumber, tomato, chopped boiled egg, green peppers and croutons. Keep a bottle of good olive oil on the side for that finishing drizzle.

This soup is as varied as each person makes it a little bit differently, but the base is always the same: tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onion, day old bread, olive oil, water and salt. The first three ingredients can be found in abundance during this time of the year, so enjoy this great soup while you can!

Gazpacho
Six to eight medium size ripe tomatoes
2 medium sized cucumbers
1 green pepper
1 small red onion
4 garlic cloves
6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 slices of day old bread, crust removed
4 cups of water
1 large piece of watermelon, deseeded
Salt
Pepper

Peel (optional) the tomatoes by quickly dunking them in hot water, then in an ice bath. Cut into large chunks. Peel the cucumber and chop 2/3rds in pieces, dice the rest. Add the large pieces to the tomatoes. Cut 2/3rds of the green pepper (cut and deseeded) into chunks, dice the rest, and add the chunks to the tomatoes. Now peel the onion and do the same, keeping 1/3 behind. Add three cloves of garlic. Soak the bread in the vinegar for a little while, then squeeze out the liquid and add the bread to the mix. Blend into a thick sauce. Add the olive oil, stir in two cups of water and taste. You are looking for a fresh, tomato/garlicky/cucumber flavor. Add some salt, add the rest of the vinegar and stir in a pinch of pepper. Taste again. If you like garlic, you may want to add the fourth clove. Finally blend in the watermelon, stir and chill. If you like your soup thick and chunky, don't add any more water. (I like mine soup-ier so I add the full four cups)

Serve in either a plate or in small soup cups or glasses, with a spoon. Set out small dishes with croutons, the diced cucumber, green pepper and onion so people can add them to the soup, or mix all three and serve the soup with a scoop of fresh veggies on top. It's all good. Have a squeeze bottle handy with good olive oil for that finishing touch drizzle!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tilapia, corn and chard

Yup, more chard. This is how it goes when I grow a garden: at the first sight of my vegetable of choice, let's say chard, I get all excited and I practically *stare* the greens out of the soil. When it's ready to pick, I'm gung-ho about all these recipes that I've collected over the winter. So it's chard omelet, chard quesadilla, chard sautéed with garlic, chard sautéed without garlic, chard soup......you name it. Until I am so sick and tired of chard (or green beans, or zucchini, or beets or whichever vegetable is thriving) that I am glad to know the season's over and I vow to never, ever eat chard again.

And then winter comes along and I sit, all cozied up on the couch with fifty different seed catalogs. And I see a picture of some new variety of chard (or green beans, or zucchini, or beets) and I get all excited and can't wait to order the seeds, get them started and *stare* the greens out of the soil. And then the whole circle repeats itself. Isn't it wonderful to have a garden!?

Tonight I wanted to have some veggies because it's been breadbreadbread all week long. I love bread but there comes a point.....alas, see above. A girl's gotta eat some greens too, so today I picked some chard, an ear of corn and pulled a serving of tilapia out of the freezer. Summer food is easy, quick and if grown at home so tasty..................

Tilapia
1 serving of tilapia per person
Butter
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of flour per serving

Salt and pepper the fish, then coat in flour. Brown the butter in a skillet and quickly sear the fish on both sides. Lower the heat, cover and let sit for several minutes until the fish is done.

Corn with citrus chili butter
1 ear of corn per person
Water 
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 lime
1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon of chili powder

Clean the ears and place in a pot with water. Bring to a boil. The moment the water boils, the ears are done. Remove them from the water and set aside. Zest the lemon and the lime and mix in the butter, juice the lemon and add. Stir and taste. If you want more zing, add a bit more juice. Fold in the chili powder, taste again and adjust if needed. Serve a dollop of butter on each ear.

Chard with garlic
5 chard leaves per person
1 garlic clove
Splash of good quality olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Rinse the leaves and cut in 1 inch strips. Save the bottom end of the stems for the chickens or compost. Mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in the skillet, add the chard and sauté for a minute or two until the greens go limp. Add the garlic and toss, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Salt and pepper to taste.



Serve everything on a plate, and sit out in the garden!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Summer goodness - chard,squash and tomatoes

The better the ingredients, the less you have to work on making them taste good. Picked fresh from the garden today, I ate sautéed chard, sautéed summer squash with onions and green beans, a quick tomato salad and some salmon from the grill, topped with a caramelized slice of pineapple.

Thank God for foodie friends - yesterday, while puttering around the house painting, cleaning and writing (since I'm riddled with something akin to ADD, these activities happen in five minutes spurts) I realized I had not eaten a "proper" meal in several days. Busy baking for BBD #32, I made too many rolls and, cheap as I am, I refused to throw any of them away. So my breakfast, lunch and dinner pretty much consisted of rolls: with cheese, with hagelslag, with fried egg.....but I'm not complaining! As the eternal bread junkie that I am, I could eat bread every day, but having taught nutrition classes for several years, I also know that bread alone does not a meal make.

So I called my dear friend Luke, my fellow food friend from West Virginia, and asked for ideas. I had some salmon in the freezer that needed to be eaten and Luke came up with this brilliant idea: salmon and pineapple. Hmmm...............didn't sound too appetizing to me, but I know better than to question his suggestions so I pulled open a can of pineapple slices, put the salmon in a foil jacket with some herbs, pineapple on top and on the grill they went.

My garden, albeit reluctantly (this has been my worst growing year yet!), let me have some chard, zucchini, green beans and tomatoes so I was able to use those as a veg. No starch this time, but two slices of homebaked bread on the side. Told ya, this girl can't eat without bread!

There is really no wrong way of doing this: slice your veg, throw a little bit of olive oil or butter in a pan, add onions, caramelize on medium heat and throw in the vegetables. When the vegetables are translucent and a little bit soft to the touch, they're done unless you want them well done. During the last couple of minutes, chop up a garlic clove or two and add them to the vegetables. Nothing worse than burnt garlic so I usually save them for last.

The salmon was wrapped in foil and grilled on a medium heat barbeque grill. Leave on for about fifteen minutes, open the package to see if the fish is done (it will flake easily and be tender to the touch). If so, leave the package open so some of the juices can evaporate. If the fish is not done, close the package back up and cook for another ten minutes.