GAZPACHO – Chilled Soup For A Hot Day!

gazpacho textSummer’s here and sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking….but I want a homemade meal. Gazpacho is the answer! It takes only a few minutes to prepare, NO COOKING, extremely low in calories, and it uses ingredients that are fresh from the garden (or farmer’s market).

This soup is best served icy cold, so I like to make it the day before.

I’ve included a recipe for garlic croutons for you adventurous souls up for a wee bit of cooking, but you can always purchase them, if you like.

GAZPACHO – makes about 6 cups

  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1½ large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion (such as Maui, Vidalia, or shallots), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2½ cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce (use more or less depending on taste)

Into a large glass or ceramic bowl combine the vinegar, salt, and black pepper.

Slice tomatoes in half around the equator. Remove pulp and seeds by poking them out with your finger. Chop pulp and flesh into bite-sized pieces. Place all of the tomatoes into the bowl (including seeds).

Cut off and discard stem, seeds, and filaments of red pepper. Chop pepper into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl.

Cut cucumber in half. Remove skin from one half. Slice both pieces lengthwise in half. Scoop out and discard seeds by scraping them with a spoon. Cut cucumber into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl.

Add pressed garlic and diced onion into the bowl. Stir all together and let set 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato juice and Tabasco. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

GARLIC CROUTONS – makes 3 cups

  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups 1/2″ bread cubes (cut from Italian or French loaf, or purchased)

In a small bowl combine olive oil, garlic, and salt. Let set 20 minutes. Strain into mixing bowl, discarding garlic.

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Add in the bread cubes and stir to coat cubes. Pour onto a jellyroll pan, spreading them out. Bake until lightly browned – about 15 minutes, stirring now and then.

Advertisements

SPICY CORN FRITTERS – Crispy Pancakes With A Sweet & Sour Kick!

corn fritter textCorn on the cob is great, but sometimes one wants to enjoy fresh corn without having to floss our teeth before smiling afterwards.

SPICY CORN FRITTERS to the rescue! Yes, they’re a little more work than dropping an ear of corn in boiling water, but once you try one…or more of these crispy pancakes, you’ll agree that they’re worth the effort.

SPICY CORN FRITTERS – makes about 11, depending on how big you make them

  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup + 1½ tsp sugar, divided
  • 1 red jalapeño chili, minced (or serrano, if you like to kick it up a notch)
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 T cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 8 oz (2 ears, about 1½ cups) – fresh, frozen, or canned
  • vegetable oil for frying

Make the sweet & sour sauce by combining vinegar, 3/4 cup sugar, chili, and 1/2 tsp salt in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, uncovered. Continue at a hard boil until sauce is reduced to 2/3 cup total. You don’t have to stir, but keep an eye on it so you don’t reduce it too much. This takes about 5 minutes, depending on how high your burner is. Cover and set aside until ready for use.

If you’re using fresh corn, like I do in the summer, remove raw kernels. This is quite easy – rest one point of the shucked ear at a diagonal, holding it away from you, and run a sharp knife from midway downwards. corn de-kernalFlip the cob and repeat. Boil kernels in a little unsalted water for about 2 minutes, until done (adding salt at the beginning of cooking can lead to tough corn). Drain.

If you’re using frozen corn, thaw.

If you’re using canned corn, drain.

Into a blender (preferably the small pitcher that comes with some blenders), place the cilantro, garlic, black pepper, and water. Blend until pureed.

In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, rice flour, 1½ tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and baking powder. Stir corn and cilantro mixture into flour.

Heat 2 T vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet (yes, you have to oil nonstick pans) over medium/high heat. When hot, pour in 1/3 cup amounts, spreading out batter to about 4″. Cook until well browned on bottom. Flip and cook other side.

Serve immediately, spooning on Sweet & Sour Sauce.

 

ZUCCHINI TRAPANESE: Spiralize The Gluten And Calories Away!

zucchini trapanese textSpring beckons backyard gardeners to the nursery in hopes of a bountiful crop. Summer brings the realization that, once again, we have an abundance of fresh vegetables that will rot if we don’t use them soon.

Zucchini, in particular, seems to be a particular problem since it keeps growing…and growing. Just how many loaves of zucchini bread can one eat?!

Enter the spiralizer. With a few twists of the hand-crank, that zucchini (or apple, sweet potato, carrot, etc) is transformed into spaghetti-like strips. You just boil them briefly, top with a pesto or marinara sauce, and – voila! – a low calorie ‘pasta dish’.  I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was. zucchini spiralizerThere are many brands of spiralizers – I bought the Paderno and am extremely happy with it.

I chose a trapanese pesto to top my zucchini noodles in keeping with the fast, easy, and low calorie theme. It also had the added benefit of using up another summer crop – cherry tomatoes.

Note: Though we’re treating the zucchini like a pasta, it behaves like a vegetable in terms of size. While pasta plumps when boiled; zucchini shrinks (just like spinach or mushrooms). So plan on at least 1 lb of zucchini per person. Don’t be fooled by how massive it appears raw.

ZUCCHINI TRAPANESE

Trapanese Pesto – about 3-4 servings

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2½ cups sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T deli-sliced jalapeño peppers (I use ‘tamed’ spice level – but if you want more kick, go to ‘hot’)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (use a good quality)
  • 1/2 cup (+ extra for sprinkling) Parmesan cheese, grated

Into a blender or food processor, place the almonds, tomatoes, basil, salt, red pepper flakes, jalapeños, and Parmesan. Pulse until blended – about 10 times. Add in the olive oil and blend about 5 seconds.

Zucchini

  • 1 lb zucchini per person

Spiralize zucchini according to directions. Bring a couple of inches of salted water to a boil – you don’t need as much as you would for pasta. Add in zucchini and let boil about 1 minute, 15 seconds. Pour into colander and serve immediately. Top with trapanese pesto. Sprinkle on Parmesan.

 

 

BIBIMBAP – A One Bowl Meal…With A Kick!

bibimbap textBibimbap is a mouth watering Korean veggie/rice dish topped with a fried egg. (The egg is optional.) It even tastes good the next day…and the next – this recipe makes a lot!

As with many Asian recipes, the prep takes the longest. Even though there’s time while cooking the individual veggies, I strongly suggest you concentrate on stirring rather than chopping since the stove is on a high heat.

BIBIMBAP – makes about 8-9 cups

  • 2 cups raw Chinese rice, unrinsed
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup go-chu-jang (it’s a bottled sauce in the Asian section – picture below)
  • 4 T sesame oil
  • 2 T + 2 tsp sugar, divided
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 15 oz carrots, shredded
  • 16 oz shiitake mushrooms, discard stems, coarsely chopped
  • 20 oz spinach, coarsely chopped
  • eggs – as many as you want

In a saucepan, combine rice, 2¼ cups water, and salt. Bring to boil, reduce to keep a simmer, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn off heat but leave pot on burner, covered.

While rice is cooking, use the time to prepare the sauces and veggies:

In a bowl put the go-chu-jang, sesame oil, 6 T water, and 2 tsp sugar. bibimbap11Whisk to combine and set aside. bibimbap7In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine 1 cup water, soy sauce, garlic, 2 T sugar, and scallions. (The measuring cup makes it easier to see how much you need.) bibimbap13Shred the carrots – use a food processor, if you have one. Otherwise, use a box grater. Place in a bowl.

Thoroughly wash mushrooms. Cut out and discard stems. (This can be done easily with kitchen shears!) bibimbap8Coarsely chop and place in a bowl.

Thoroughly wash spinach and coarsely chop. Place in another bowl. bibimbap9Time to get cooking!!!

Heat 2 tsp oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add in the carrots and 1/3 of garlic water. Stir until water has evaporated.bibimbap10 Transfer carrots back into bowl.

Heat 2 tsp oil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat. Add mushrooms and 1/3 of garlic water. Cook until liquid has mostly evaporated. bibimbap3Pour back into bowl.

Heat the final 2 tsp oil in the Dutch oven over high heat. Add in the spinach and remainder of the garlic water. bibimbap4Cook until wilted. I’ve found the water doesn’t evaporate completely, so just go by the look of the spinach. (It’s amazing how that giant amount of spinach wilts down to nothing!)bibimbap5Pour back into bowl.

Into the empty Dutch oven place the rice. bibimbap6Add the carrots, mushrooms, and spinach. bibimbap1Pour in the go-chu-jang sauce and mix. bibimbap2If you want to top with fried eggs, cook them in skillet either sunnyside-up or over-easy. Add these to individual bowls.