24 July 2009

Jack Vance

The New York Times Magazine has published a lovely piece on Jack Vance, who is publishing a short autobiography this summer, at 92. If you don't know Vance, you ought to give him a try.

23 July 2009

Gazpacho Andaluz

Its being summer, here's a modification of a traditional Andalusian recipe found in Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. (The original has no pear or olive oil; I find both add something). It's fresh and simple, without unnecessary heavy ingredients found in some other gazpachos like breadcrumbs, mayonnaise or eggs.

Gazpacho Andaluz

1½ lbs very ripe fresh tomatoes (Don't use supermarket tomatoes; if you don't have garden tomatoes, use canned, at least they're ripe)
1 medium green pepper (or equivalent of sweet hungarian peppers, or mix of both)
1 medium sweet onion (e.g. Maui or Vidalia)
1 cucumber
4 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp (+) fresh shredded tarragon (or use whatever you have; such as basil or even mint)
1 small can pear halves in juice, with juice (not syrup) (or use fresh, peeled pear, cut in pieces; add a little sugar)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 cup tomato juice, or ice water (use juice if tomatoes less ripe or flavorful; I usually use juice).
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt

Diced cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and croutons for garnish (optional)

Cook the bell pepper, garlic and onion (separately) very briefly, whole, in microwave, if desired. (Makes them sweeter). Cool them in cold water. Peel cucumber and chop coarsely. Rinse tomatoes, and chop coarsely. Peel and coarsely chop onions. Seed and coarsely chop the pepper. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in blender, in batches, blending thoroughly. Force mixture through through sieve into large bowl or pitcher. (I use a flat bottomed plastic strainer, and force the mixture through it with a silicon spatula). Add salt to taste, and chill the entire mixture for at least two hours, preferably longer; use a little ice in place of ice water if it needs to chill quickly. Salt to taste. You can also add other seasoning if desired.

Gazpacho improves if left overnight before serving, and keeps several days in the refrigerator.

Serve with garnish, if desired. Serves 6.

I've found this recipe can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled with no ill effect.