Gazpacho

  • 8 thick slices of French or Italian bread, cubed
  • 2 1/2-3 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 bell peppers, red, orange or yellow
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3+ T red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1-2 c tomato juice
  • kosher salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Chop up all the vegetables into a large dice, about 1″. Place in a large bowl along with the bread, minced garlic, and tomato juice. Drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of kosher salt. Allow to sit for 2 hours mixing every half hour.

Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender with the vinegar. Blend in more tomato juice to loosen the mixture, if needed. Remove soup to a large bowl and stir in about 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil. Taste for salt and acidity and add more salt or vinegar if needed.

Chill for several hours.

When serving, drizzle a little olive oil and vinegar, and add fresh cracked black pepper to each bowl. Optional garnish: finely diced cucumber, bell pepper, and onion.

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Tomato & Lentil Salad

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 C Lentils du Puy, rinsed and picked for debris
  • 1 small onion, halved with the skin on
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 dried red chillies

 Add all to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-35 minutes until the lentils are just tender. Remove from the heat and salt the water generously and let the lentils sit in the salted water for 10 minutes more. Remove and drain, discarding aromatics. Let cool to room temperature.

 Salad

  • 1 T whole grain or coarse ground mustard
  • 2 T capers, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pounded to a paste
  • 1/3 C good extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 red onion, very small dice
  • 3 heirloom tomatoes
  • 8-10 large basil leaves

Smash the garlic cloves with a meat pounder or the side of your knife several times, sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and smash further, scraping together the paste and running your knife through it until a paste forms. Add to a small bowl along with the mustard and minced capers. Add the vinegar and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whilst whisking to form the vinegarette. Put the lentils in a large bowl and add the onion. Slice the tomatoes into 1″ cubes and add to the lentils. Chiffonade the basil leaves and them and the dressing to the salad and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper (and more vinegar and olive oil) as needed. Let sit for at least half an hour for the flavours to meld.

Zucchini Spice Bread

Adapted from this recipe on SmittenKitchen.com

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 t orange extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 t crushed anise seed
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and orange extracts and the zucchini. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, spices, soda and baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients in batches until just barely mixed in. Add in the nuts and fruit/chocolate chips.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter into them and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until golden on top and done in the centre. Cool on wire racks and turn out when cool.

*I use freshly ground whole spices whenever possible, so for this I simply approximated the amount of spices I would need and ground them all together in my spice grinder. I crushed the anise seeds with a small mortar and pestle until they were mostly all cracked open. You could also grind the anise seeds in with the other spices if you wanted, I just thought the little bits of anise flavour would be nice in this.

Mango-Pineapple Sorbet

4 ripe ataulfo mangoes*
1 large very ripe pineapple
juice of 2 large lemons
1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/4 c white sugar
1/3 C light corn syrup

Cut the cheeks off the mangoes and scrape the flesh out with a spoon and place into a bowl. Chop the pineapple into 2″ chunks and add to mango. Juice the lemons and sieve the juice to get rid of any seeds or large bits of pith. In 2-3 batches, add the fruit to a blender and add in 1/3-1/2 of the lemon juice to each batch. Purée until very smooth. Pass the purée through a fine mesh sieve to extract the mango and pineapple fibres, using a large spoon to push and stir it around to extract as much juice as possible. You should end up with less than 1/4 C of fibrous pulp and around 3-4 C of thick purée. Add in the sugar, corn syrup and salt and whisk until totally dissolved. You shouldn’t need to heat this at all to get it to dissolve.

Chill in the freezer, stirring every 30 min or so until very cold: 30-32F. Place in a ice cream maker and churn until the paddle won’t turn any more. Place in freezer and freeze for a couple hours to firm it up. It is very important that your purée be as cold as you can get it w/o it freezing before starting to churn it if you have the kind of ice cream maker that contains a frozen pack and isn’t self-freezing because your sorbet won’t freeze before the ice pack gets too warm if you don’t.

*or whatever mango you can find. I used these as they’re more flavourful, have a smaller pit (and therefore more fruit) than standard mangoes. They’re ripe when they’re dark yellow-orange and slightly wrinkled skin.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

2 red onions, sliced as thinly as possible
juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes
2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 T white sugar
white wine vinegar

Slice the onions as thinly as you can possibly manage and place into a large, non-reactive bowl. Add salt and sugar. Juice citrus over the onions and then add just enough white wine vinegar so that the onions are just barely covered with liquid. Stir well, cover, and set out at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Drain and serve, reserving the lovely pink liquid to pickle/dress more onions or any number of vegetables: jicama, carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, etc.

Serve as the topping to any sandwich, on tacos, alongside or in coleslaw, on fish, in a green salad, and so on. This is also great with any citrus: orange, tangerine, kumquat, even grapefruit.

Cider Braised Cabbage with Leeks

3 T olive oil
4 medium leeks, white and light green portions sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/2 t dried thyme
1 small red cabbage cored and finely shredded
1 1/2 C hard cider
OR 1 C chicken/vegetable stock and 1/2 C apple cider
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 T chopped fresh dill

Sauté the leeks, thyme and garlic in the olive oil, sprinkling with kosher salt to sweat, about 1-2 min. Add in the shredded cabbage and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and sauté several minutes more just until the cabbage starts to wilt and begins to brown. Add in the cider, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and you have a rather thickish sauce. You want the cabbage to be moist but not dripping in liquid, but not dry either. Remove from the heat and add in the lemon zest, juice and dill, checking for seasoning and adding more salt and pepper if needed. Great on its own or as a side dish alongside pork chops and some mashed turnips.

Orecchiette with Rapini

This dish is known in Italian as Pasta con le cime di rapa and is a very popular dish in Southern Italy (Puglia) and Sicily. That link will send you to my former room-mate’s blog, who initially introduced me to the dish, originally wrote this recipe, and whose instructions I used in this recipe, with a few changes of my own.

  • 2 bunches rapini (aka broccoli rabe). If unavailable use broccolini, or a mixture of broccoli and spinach, chard and/or turnip greens.
  • 1 lb. orecchiette, preferably artisinal
  • extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • several cloves of garlic, minced
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 – 2 C of hard cheese: parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano (preferred), finely grated. I usually do a mix of the two.
  • fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • kosher/sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 C breadcrumbs, toasted
  • zest of 1 lemon

Put a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil. Rinse the broccoli rabe and cut off the harder, thicker portions of the stem, keeping the leaves,  florets, and tender stems. Cut the greens crosswise into short ribbons an inch wide. When the water boils, empty in the box of pasta and cook until pasta is barely al dente. Half-way through the pasta’s cooking time, add in the rapini. If you like your greens softer, you can add them in earlier, even before you add in the pasta. I prefer mine still crunchy to soft.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Sauté on low in a few tablespoons of olive oil with the red pepper flakes, fresh cracked pepper, and kosher salt until the garlic’s and pepper flakes’ flavours are released. (Do not let the garlic brown or it will become bitter!)

Mix the breadcrumbs with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and toast in a small frying pan over medium heat, mixing often until evenly toasted. Once it starts to toast, it goes very quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on it!  Allow to cool slightly, season with a little kosher salt, and then mix in the lemon zest.

As soon as the pasta is done, drain and mix in the garlic, red pepper and olive oil, along with a few handfuls of cheese and the salt and pepper. Add more olive oil and cheese until the pasta is nicely coated. Serve with yet more cheese, parsley, toasted lemon breadcrumbs, and olive oil.

This dish is great with a nice white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or even a mild Chardonnay.