I say I eat everything; anything. And that is a lie. I don’t. I will not eat bean sprouts – too worm-like, plus when they heat up from, say, a pad thai, I swear they come alive and swarm around all squishy. I will frown upon any baked goods with almond extract; and I can sniff out even a drop of it. It is so fake and synthetic-smelling. I will not cook anything with Portobello mushrooms. Don’t get confused here, I know my mushrooms- I am not talking crimini (still delicate and pleasing to the palate) or button (just plain as apple sauce). No, I am talking about the mutant, spongelike, unpleasingly-tasting Portobello mushroom that are somehow confused for a vegetarian substitute for meat in a BURGER. Hello???
Not to out Mr. Pastamaker, but when we met the guy was not a fan of celery root, hated olives, limited his ‘fancy’ cheese-intake to Manchengo, and hadn’t thought in a million years that he’d eat organs! Now, you should see him snarf on Blue de Basque, sweetbreads, and pork belly (sigh, isn’t he Jewish??). And celery root mashers are now certainly a favorite.
My mom hates gazpacho. That – I don’t get. My main theory is that she was too old to catch the cold soup fad. Well, it has been a fad for me but the Spanish have been eating Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco for quite a few centuries. For my mother, soup is warm. That makes gazpacho not soup. And she doesn’t care for whatever else gazpacho might be categorized as.
My hope is that you love gazpacho. I adore it. And I am willing to profess my love for Jose Andres any old time. He is outstanding and his gazpacho recipe, with some personal small modifications, is a perfect quick summer dish.
Gazpacho, a Jose Andres-inspired recipe
Ingredients: 2 lbs ripe tomatoes (about 10 plum tomatoes); 1/2 lbs English cucumber (about 1 cucumber); 3 ounces green bell pepper (half a pepper); 1 garlic clove, peeled; 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar; 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil; salt to taste.
For garnish- cucumber, cut into medium dice; 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced thin; 1/2 red bell pepper, cut in small dice. You can clearly vary the garnishes in infinite ways. Be creative- you are just adding a little texture.
On Peeling Tomatoes
The tomatoes need to be peeled, for this dish and for others. You want to cut into the skin oh so gently so you don’t get into the flesh. A sharp knife makes all the difference. I used to just make a little cross at the bottom of the tomato. That works, but what works best is going all the way around and removing the core.
Boil enough water in a pot to hold the tomatoes comfortably. Reduce the heat and dunk your tomatoes in for a minute or so depending on ripeness. Remove them and set aside for a couple of minutes- no points for scortching your fingers.
When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. See? Magic!
Cut the peeled tomatoes into large chunks – quarters, eights, even halves will do. Peel and cut up the cucumber into 1/2 inch chunks- no need to make this pretty. Clean up the bell pepper of core and seeds and cut it up in 1/2-1 inch chunks.
Grab your trusty blender (mine has been through the war of making baby food without a food processor for a good year) and place in it everything- yep, all of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings- vinegar, olive oil, salt.
Cool in the fridge for at least half an hour. Plate it with your chosen garnishes and drizzle just a few drops of olive oil around it and perhaps a sprinkle of salt.
Photography by Jennifer Olson.