Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
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United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Put Those Tomatoes to Work

The minute Summer hits, I usually get the urge to make some gazpacho. So cool and flavorful, it's the perfect soup for the warm months. So last night I dove in. I have tried a number of gazpacho recipes but I always end up coming back to an incredibly easy and basic one. It's from the Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen cookbook by Kevin and Nancy Mills. I got this cookbook as a wedding present from my sister-in-law and her husband 5 years ago. (Completely unrelated sidenote: My sister-in-law is my husband's sister. Is her husband my brother-in-law? I always refer to him as such, but some people seem confused by that. What's the standard here? Anyway...) At the time, we were living in the Back Bay section of Boston. Great part of town, but small apartments with even smaller kitchens. We just had a galley kitchen back then and very little in the way of cooking equipment. This cookbook is perfect for people in that situation---new grads, singles, new couples in small spaces, anyone just getting their feet wet with cooking, etc. The recipes are easy, they don't require a lot of space or cookware, and most importantly they taste good.

I use a bit less onion than the authors suggest and a lot more hot sauce. Here's how I whipped up my batch, based on the original recipe found in Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen."

5-6 large tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 small onion (or even 3/4 onion if you're like me)
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
24 splashes hot pepper sauce
2-3 dashes black pepper (to your taste)

Remove the tomato skins by dropping the tomatoes into a large pot of boiling water. Let them soak for about 30 seconds or until the skins start to pucker. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and core them. Remove their skin. The skin should peel away very easily using just your hands or a small knife. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and set aside.

Slice cucumber in half and remove the seeds. Chop up your onion.

You can use either a blender or a food processor for the final step. I used my blender. Since I was doing this at night after the Lima Bean went to bed, I actually carried the blender into a bathroom far away from her room so that my blending wouldn't risk waking her. Those of you with kids know...you don't dare risk waking a sleeping baby. So yes, I blended the soup in my bathroom. I know, I know...I'm like one step above Kramer in that Seinfeld episode where he makes salad in his shower. But trust me, this was a very clean and quick process. I held the blender the whole time and it never touched anything bathroom related; I just needed the electric outlet in there.

Back to business: Put all ingredients into the blender or food processor and blend at high speed for about 20 seconds or until the mixture is just slightly crunchy. If the mixture is having any trouble blending, add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Also, if your blender or food processor is too small to hold it all at once, just divide the ingredients up into 2 batches.

Pour the mixture into a large bowl, cover and refrigerate at least a couple hours before serving. I like to let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours to let the flavors merge a bit more before serving. Makes 4 generous portions.

So that's the story of my first gazpacho of the season. Lima and I shared a bowl of it today for lunch. It was her first gazpacho ever and she seemed to like it. But then again, what's not to like?