Watermelon Gazpacho

Gazpacho2017 has been a big year so far, for me at least. I have moved job twice, house twice, and country once. I am now back in the canal-strewn city that gave this blog its name a long time ago. Very little has changed since I left in 2011, as befits a city where you can live in a house that was built in the 1590s, but returning to a student city as a proper adult makes you see it in a whole new light. So, in honour of the theme of the same but different, an updated recipe from the early days of the blog.  I have been making gazpacho for years, and didn’t think it needed improving until I tried a watermelon version at Guts & Glory in Amsterdam. The watermelon balances out the heaviness of the garlic and oil, and brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes. It’s simple and quick to make, but chilling it properly is the key to bringing all the flavours together.

Serves four as a starter portion

Ingredients

  • 500g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 red peppers (preferably the sweet, pointed kind), roughly chopped
  • 350g watermelon, peeled and cubed
  • 1 fat garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, white or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + a little extra for drizzling before serving
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted pumpkin seeds

Method

  • Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor or with a stick blender until  you have a thick, smooth soup.
  • Chill overnight, or for at least two hours.
  • Season well before serving, according to your preference.
  • Serve topped with some toasted pumpkin seeds, and a swirl of olive oil.
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Thai Sweet Potato Soup and A Competition Winner

Thai Soup

First things first: the competition. I used a random number generator to pick a winner and the lucky recipient of a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty More’ is Saol San Gluten. Congratulations!

This soup is one of the healthier recipes to be found on this blog. In fairness, after bacon jam almost anything would look healthy. ‘Eating clean’ seems to be the trend of the moment (so much so that someone emailing me about a flatshare listed it as a hobby), but it means  different things to different people. For some it’s being vegan, for others it involves making conventional food with non-conventional ingredients, like sugar-free, egg-free, butter-free brownies and for some people it seems to involve putting chia seeds in everything you eat. 

I’m definitely more a fan of the Julia Child philosophy that you should only eat diet food while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. But sometimes, you need to eat a meal that feels a bit wholesome. I’ve been travelling a lot lately, eating all the best food London has to offer, and every fried thing Holland has to offer, and eventually something has to give. This is a nourishing, comforting soup from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook that is perfect for autumn. I have a tempestuous relationship with sweet potato. Sometimes I crave it, sometimes I find it sickeningly cloying. This soup strikes a good balance. The lime juice counters the sweetness and the fish sauce gives it an umami hit. It’s gluten and dairy free, but obviously not vegetarian. It’s quick to make and it freezes well.

This makes about 4 lunch/starter portions

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 700g weight)
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, outer leaves peeled and inner core finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped (you can also just use some chili sauce as a substitute, it’s getting blended in anyways)
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 750ml stock
  • 100ml light coconut milk
  • Fish sauce (nam pla)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Chili flakes
  • Neutral oil

Method

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes.
  • Toss with some oil and roast in an oven at 200C until soft and starting to brown a little, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, fry the ginger,garlic and lemongrass in some oil for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the leek and cook for 7-10 minutes until soft.
  • Add the roasted sweet potato, coconut milk and stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Blend, and add the fish sauce, lime juice and chili flakes to taste (be careful with the fish sauce and add it little by little, it can get very overwhelming very quickly).
  • Season if required.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon and Chives

This recipe is adapted from Claus Meyer’s Almanak‘ an incredibly beautiful and varied Danish cookbook that makes me wish I actually could understand Danish. Claus Meyer is one of the founders of the New Nordic Cuisine concept who, along with Rene Redzepi, set up Noma. Meyer is a household name in Denmark, and his cookbooks have been on the shelves of every Danish house I have visited.  His Ted talk on indigenous food cultures is well worth a watch.

This recipe is pure New Nordic Cuisine. It is seasonal and relies on almost all local ingredients (although the original called for chorizo, we went for bacon instead since we already had it in the fridge). The marinaded raw artichoke and vinegar add a really nice edge and contrast to the silky soup. We only had a dark stock to hand, but if you can make this with a light chicken stock, it will turn out a beautiful ethereal creamy white. Serves 6 as a starter.

Ingredients

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 50g bacon
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 50ml cream
  • 25g butter
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Method

  • Chop the onion and one garlic clove.
  • Peel the artichokes and set two aside for the marinated raw artichoke.
  • Roughly chop the remainin artichoke.
  • Saute the onion in the butter over a medium low heat until softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and thyme  and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the artichoke and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the stock and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the artichokes are soft.
  • Meanwhile to make the marinated raw artichoke, chop the artichokes into small cubes.
  • Cut the garlic into  identifiable slices and add to the oil and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Chop in half the chives and add the artichoke, leaving to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  • Finely chop the bacon and fry until crispy, 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the thyme and blend the soup until smooth.
  • Return to the pot, stir in the cream and reheat gently before serving.
  • Remove the garlic from the marinaded artichoke.
  • Season the soup with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little bit of vinegar to taste.
  • Serve topped with bacon, remaining chopped chives and marinated artichoke.

White Bean and Almond Soup with Chorizo

As Summer seems to be rapidly bypassing Autumn into winter, soup is the order of the day. Chorizo features a lot in my recipes, as it is a very easy way to give a great boost of flavour to various recipes, and a little goes a long way. Serves 4 as a starter.

Ingredients

  • 1x 400g tin of white beans
  • 100g blanched almonds, chopped
  • 75g chorizo,chopped
  • 4 large onions,chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic,finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 litre chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Method

  • Saute the onions on a medium heat until soft, approximately 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the chorizo and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the almonds, beans, paprika and stock.
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the the liquid has reduced and flavours are blended.
  • Blend with a hand held liquidiser or blender.
  • Swirl in balsamic vinegar in each before serving.

Gazpacho with Goats Cheese

This my recipe for the traditional Spanish chilled tomato soup. It’s very refreshing for Summer, and pretty healthy to boot.It makes 4 starter portions or 2 lunch portions.

Ingredients

  • 1kg cherry or vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small red peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 75g soft, mild goats cheese, rind removed+ extra to top
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 handful of cubes of stale bread
  • salt and pepper
  • Croutons

 

Method

  • Put all the ingredients except the croutons in a liquidiser, or blend with a hand held mixer.
  • Push through a sieve to remove seeds and remaining skin.
  • Chill for 2-3 hours, taste and season.
  • Serve topped with the extra crumbled goats cheese and croutons.