Monday, August 19, 2013

Gazpacho - Spanish answer to Russian Okroshka / Газпачо − испанский ответ окрошке.

Впервые я попробовала томатный суп в Турции, где многие рестораны и близкие к сердцу выходцев из Советского Союза all inclusive отели предлагают немного острый и наваристый томатный суп−пюре. Традиционно этот суп подается горячим с добавлением небольшого количества красной либо оранжевой чечевицы что придает делает его особенно наваристым. Насколько бы я не любила турецкий вариант томатного супа, сама идея горячего супа в июльскую жару Вашингтона не привлекала. Но все мне хотелось холодного супа, который не  только охлаждает в летнее пекло, но и имеет богатый вкус полон специями. 
Газпачо был идеальным решением проблемы. Особенно данный рецепт более популярный в Испанской Андалузии использует такие же специи что и его турецкого кузена. На фотографиях, этот суп подан

Рецепт рассчитан на 4 человека.
1.5 кг. спелых помидоров
1 небольшой огурец (около 250 гр. )
1 небольшой красный лук (около 200 гр.)
1 небольшой красный болгарский перец (около 200 гр.)
2 головки чеснока
½ чайная ложка черного переца
1 ½ чайные ложки соли
2 кусочка белого (французского или итальянского, например, багет или чабата) хлеба (около 60 гр.)
1 стакан молодого оливкового масла (250 гр.)
2 столовые ложки уксуса шерри
2 столовые ложки мелко нарезанного молодого зеленого лука или зелени чеснока
В большой чашке перемешайте овощи порезанные на небольшие кусочки около ½ сантиметра, мелко порубленный чеснок, соль, и перец. Позвольте овощам отпустить сок в течение следующих 30 минут пока вы смотрите очередной эпизод любимого шоу.
30 минут спустя, переложите овощи на противень оставляя как можно больше сока в чашке. Поставьте противень в морозильник на 30 минут и положите кусочки хлеба с чашку с овощным соком.
 Через пол часа, переложите замороженные овощи в чашку, используя ручной блендер размельчите все овощи постепенно добавляя масло и уксус. Процедите суп через сито используя обратную сторону ложки для того что бы изъять наибольшее количество сока из овощей. Добавьте соль и перец по−вкусу.
Подавайте к столу с мелко нарезанным зеленным луком и оливковым маслом.
Whether in Kazakhstan or in DC, summers are quite brutal. When the temperature lingers in the 90s all day and night, cold soups are fantastic meals. Back home, the only cold soup I ate growing up was a kefir or yogurt based soup mixes with seasonal vegetables such as cucumbers, green onions, and bell peppers. In contract to the creamy okroshka, I find gazpacho more refreshing and flavorful. There are tons of different variations for this Spanish soup, but this Andalusian version is so far my favorite.
Recipe for 4 main courses
3 pounds (about 4 large) very ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/2 pound (about 1 small) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/3 pound (about 1 small) small red onion, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/3 pound (about 1 medium) green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 ounces (about 2 slices) white sandwich, French, or Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into rough 1-inch pieces (see note)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons finely minced chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper, garlic, and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Let vegetables sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain juices into a large bowl and add the bread. Transfer the drained vegetables to a baking sheet and place in freezer until vegetables are frozen, about 30 minute.
Remove vegetables from freezer until mostly thawed, about 30 minutes. Transfer vegetables and all their juices from the pan to bowl with soaked bread.
Using a hand blender, puree vegetables drizzling olive oil and sherry vinegar. Strain soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl pressing all of the juices out. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve, drizzling each bowl with olive oil and chives.
This can be serves with pan seared scallops as shown in the picture for a nice temperature and flavor contrast.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer lunch - my version of ratatouille

In New York we are quickly approaching that glorious part of summer when everything is local and everything is wonderful! Farmers' market stands are filling up with field tomatoes, and let's admit it, they just taste so much better than their hot-house cousins. There are now all manner of summer squash, all kinds of eggplant, peppers of all sizes and ranges from green to red, and incredibly fragrant basil. I stopped by the market on a recent rainy Thursday morning and came home laden with goodies. When Michael ask how I thought we'd possible eat all of this food, I had just one answer - ratatouille!

Ratatouille is one of my favorite foods and it is a delicious way to showcase all that summer produce. I don't like frying the vegetables or fussing around with complicated layering, but still crave that deep integrated flavor of vegetables that have been cooking together for a while. In this version that is my favorite so far I combined roasting the vegetables with cooking them in a sauce in the stovetop, making this relatively quick and not messy. I also added a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the end, which is not traditional but really helps the dish shine. I find ratatouille tastes best at room temperature and keep well for a few days worth of lunch. Today I ate it with good local mozzarella and a whole-wheat focaccia the recipe for which I'll post in a few days.


1 lb eggplant, halved and cut across into 1/2 inch wide pieces - I like to use smaller varieties or baby eggplants that are not bitter
1 lb zucchini, halved and cut across into 1/2 inch wide pieces
1/2 lb sweet peppers, halved, seeds removed and sliced across into 1/4 inch wide pieces
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly across
1/2 lb tomatoes, such as Roma, cored and chopped
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly across
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Herbs - 4 thyme sprigs, 2 oregano sprigs, a bit of rosemary, leaves taken off stems and chopped - feel free to pick and choose here
1 cup basil sliced thinly
1/2 olive oil, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 450F, arrange racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven,  and have two larger rimmed baking sheets ready and oil lightly. Put eggplant in 1 layer on 1 half of the first sheet and the peppers on the other half, toss vegetables with a bit more oil and sprinkle with salt. Slide the sheet into the oven and let it get a head start on the other vegetables. Meanwhile, arrange the zucchini and fennel on the other sheet, oil a bit more and sprinkle with salt. Roast the vegetables until they start to brown but are not too soft. You will continue cooking them together on the stove top.

While the vegetables are roasting, get out a large deep pan and warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in it. Cook the onion over medium heat until it starts to brown, add garlic and the herbs except for basil and let cook for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes and some salt, stir, and let cook over low-medium heat uncovered until tomatoes start break down.

By now, the vegetables should be nearly done. Take out the eggplant and pepper tray and scrape the vegetables into the pan with tomato/onion mixture. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Take out the second tray and scrape zucchini and fennel into the pot. Cover and let cook for another 5 minutes. Over medium heat, add more salt if needed and up to 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. Stir a couple of times and let cook for a few minutes longer until the juices with vinegar thicken. Turn off the heat, stir in sliced basil and let cool for a bit until ready to serve. This can serve up to 6 people as a side dish or 1 me for a couple of days.