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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cool, Refreshing Gazpacho




The summertime seems to get hotter each year, with no solace in sight.  It is likely the reason I crave such a lighter menu at this time of year.  Gazpacho is the perfect remedy for the Summer palate.  The hot California weather (105° and hotter this month!) mimics the warm weather of the Mediterranean, where this dish originated.  In Andalusia, and pertaining to this dish, more specifically Málaga and Seville, the people craved a dish that would refresh them and offer a reprieve from the unbearable heat.  Gazpacho, which is a soup that is served cold, was the perfect solution.  Most modern gazpachos are made with tomatoes and vegetables.  The Andalusia region was abundant with olive trees and vineyards, and thus my recipe is likely closer to the original, which was only bread, water, olive oil, and vinegar.


My recipe is an adaptation from William-Sonoma's Savoring Spain and Portugal.



The Original:











1 cup blanched almonds
4 small slices day-old coarse country bread, crusts removed, soaked in water to cover, and squeezed
    dry
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, plus salt to taste
6 tablespoons (3fl oz/90 ml) olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) ice water, or as needed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
36 seedless grapes, peeled and cut in half




In a food processor or blender, combine the almonds, soaked bread, garlic, and the 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until the almonds are very finely ground.  With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil, the vinegar, and 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) of the ice water and process until you have a creamy white liquid.  Transfer to a bowl. 


Stir in as much of the remaining 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) ice water as needed to a achieve the soup consistency you prefer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. 


Just before serving, stir in the grapes.  Ladle into chilled bowls and serve.


Serves 4






My Version:




1 cup blanched almonds
4 Sourdough (important, do not substitute; use sourdough) English muffins, halved, toasted, soaked
   in water to cover, and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3fl oz/90 ml) olive oil
3 tablespoons Italian herb infused white wine vinegar
3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) ice water, or as needed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Rinsed small and sweet seedless grapes off of the vine, as desired
Grape Leaf to garnish, rinsed
Parmesan Garlic bread as an accompaniment




In a food processor or blender, grind the almonds until they are a fine powder.  I found that using my coffee bean grinder works perfectly fine as a substitute.


Combine the powdered almonds, soaked bread, garlic, and the 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until the ingredients start to meld.  With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil, the vinegar, and 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) of the ice water and process until you have a creamy white liquid.  Be sure to stop the motor periodically and with a rubber spatula, push the thicker ingredients down towards the blade to ensure the mixture is completely blended.  Once the mixture is completely blended, transfer to a bowl. 


Stir in as much of the remaining 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) ice water as needed to a achieve the soup consistency you prefer.  Season with pepper.  It was not necessary to use 'salt to taste' in my recipe because I used the herb-infused white wine vinegar; it is already very flavorful.


Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.  I added a grape leaf and a sparse amount of grapes (so that they were not heavy enough to sink the leaf) as a garnish for a pretty presentation.



Ladle into chilled bowls and serve.  Just before serving at the table, stir in the grapes into the individual bowls. The grapes I used are fresh off my vines, and they are sweet.  They are also very small and have softer skins, so there was no need to either a) peel them, or b) cut them in half.





The result was a delicious soup which was so filling and refreshing!  I served it with rustic pieces of parmesan garlic bread.  So good!  Serves 6 approximately 1-cup servings




Delicious!!



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