Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The mercury is coming down a tad now, thankfully. But a few days ago, it was so hot that I realised that I didn't want to cook. That hardly ever happens! Thank goodness I had this recipe tucked away: a thick, chilled soup made with cucumbers, green grapes, yogurt, almonds and mint. Just listing the ingredients brought my temperature down a degree or two. Right? I've never been a fan of the regular kind of gazpacho, but this one really makes me sing. It's stunning.
You will have to cook just a little tiny bit, but it's totally worth it. I am quite impressed with my shortcut technique to soften garlic enough to mimic the way it gets when you roast it for 45 minutes. This way takes only 5 minutes, and is a close cousin. Try it!
If the idea of feta-topped crostini makes you run for the hills, then just omit it, and sup this chiller on its own. You could also poach some shrimp for some extra protein if you like. This is a cheap, quick, easy recipe that is filling enough for a light lunch with the family, and easy-breezy (cover girl!) elegant enough for a dinner with friends.
Sadly, its elegance was lost on a couple of celebrity tasters in my kitchen this week: yup, you guessed it. Heidi and Spencer Pratt stopped by, although I don't know how or why. Watch and see what they thought of my precious white gazpacho!
I'm putting up two versions today, in case your computer struggles with the higher-quality version.
This is the high-quality one:
And this is the regular-quality version:
White Gazpacho with Cucumbers, Grapes, Almonds, Mint
1/4 olive oil
4 cloves garlic, in their skins
Slices of baguette, as many as you like
Feta cheese, enough to top the crostini
Smoked paprika (optional; you can substitute regular paprika)
3 cups cucumber, chopped (use long, English ones or Persian ones. If you use the regular bumpy kind, peel it, and scoop out the seeds because they are quite bitter)
2 cups green seedless grapes
1/2 cup skinned almonds
2/3 cup yogurt
2 sprigs of mint
1/8 tsp ground coriander
Pinch ground cumin
4 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Alternatively, you could throw the bread in the toaster oven.
2) Heat olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. When it's shimmering, add the garlic and toss, sometimes tilting the pan so that the garlic "deep-fries" in the oil for a few second. Cook until the skins look translucent, even lightly browned. Remove garlic from the pan, and allow the oil to cool.
3) Brush one side of the bread slices with the same oil you just used to cook the garlic. Place on baking sheet, oiled side up, and bake for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Top with feta cheese. Bake another 5 minutes until cheese softens. Set aside.
4) Blend together cucumbers, grapes, yogurt, almonds, mint, spices, sherry vinegar and a couple tablespoons of the garlic oil you just made. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until it's time to serve, with crostini on the side!