Saturday, July 23, 2011


When Al Roker said today would reach 101º F., I heard a little voice whisper gazpacho in my ear. Maybe I should have been worried and made an appointment with my friendly neighborhood mental health professional, but it was such a good idea (now if the little voice starts whispering haggis, I'll call someone). Anyway, score one for the voice...this is seriously refreshing and scrumptious.

Another way I like to cool off is watching this video of meteorologist, Jim Kosek, predicting snow back in February.

Yield: about 6 1/2 cups

2 lb. tomatoes (plus 1 diced tomato for garnish)
2 red bell peppers
2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and chopped (plus 1 diced cucumber for garnish)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 round loaf crusty bread (about 9 inches in diameter)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1.      Preheat oven to 350° F. and line a baking pan with foil.
2.      Arrange tomatoes and bell peppers in baking pan and roast in upper third of oven 30 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a large glass or ceramic bowl. Turn peppers over and continue to roast until lightly charred, about 25 minutes more. Transfer peppers, including any juices in pan, to another large glass or ceramic bowl and let stand, covered, until peppers are cool enough to handle.
3.      Holding tomatoes over bowl to catch juices, peel and cut into pieces. Holding peppers over their bowl to catch juices, peel peppers and discard stems and seeds. Tear peppers into pieces and add to tomatoes. Pour pepper juice through a fine sieve into tomato mixture.  Stir in cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and oil.
4.      Cut 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices from the large, cut side of the loaf and trim off the crusts. Cut slices into 1-inch pieces and in a small bowl soak in water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain bread, without squeezing out excess liquid, and stir into tomato mixture with tarragon, salt and pepper. Chill mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
5.      Puree the mixture in a blender (in batches if necessary), until as smooth as possible; return to bowl. Chill, covered, for 2 more hours.
6.      Force gazpacho through a food mill (or very fine sieve) into another large bowl and season, if desired, with additional vinegar, salt and pepper.
7.      Garnish with chopped tomato and chopped cucumber; sprinkle with minced tarragon.

barely adapted from Lawrence Saez (originally from his grandmother from Cordoba, Spain)
tomatoes and red peppers before roasting
roasted tomatoes
(you can see the skin is already peeling off on its own)
roasted peppers
roasted tomatoes & peppers, skins 
peeled, seeds removed & cut into pieces
(actually, I just ripped them with my hands as I peeled)
kirbys (you can substitute a seedless English cucumber)
chopped cucumber
cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and oil added
I used sourdough, it was the only good crusty bread I could find.
bread cubes in water
adding the bread cubes, tarragon, salt & pepper
everything stirred
in the blender (I blended in 2 batches)
back in the bowl

I admit it, I didn't strain the soup. I just didn't have the time.
Besides, after I tasted it, I decided I liked the thick texture anyway.
Sooo good.

You may recall on Thursday's post I was wondering if it was hot enough outside to actually cook an egg using only the heat from the sun. Yesterday I gave it a try--here are the underwhelming results:

First I left my cast iron skillet and thermometer outside
for about an hour (you can see it's about 103º F.)
Next I cracked an egg into the hot pan
and waited (and waited and waited).
About an hour later and only the very thinnest edge
had started to turn white (clearly not enough
to say the egg had cooked). So the, it is
not hot enough to cook an egg outside. Now we know.

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