Best Gazpacho

Gazpacho
I know I said this was the best gazpacho recipe and I promise I still really like that one. This one is a teensy bit better and reminds me of a bowl of gazpacho from a restaurant in my hometown that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the perfect HOT summer dinner. We found this gem hidden in a Mexican cookbook that we bought years ago:
Perfect Mexican
Now the serving suggestions include:
Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 3.00.04 PMBut truthfully, we don’t bother because the model didn’t include the garnishes and it’s just as good.

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Best Gazpacho
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients

My opinion:
Some people keep this extra chilly by serving an ice cube at the bottom.
Best Gazpacho
Instead of crusty bread (because I’m still limited in my wheat and gluten intake) we served it with corn quesadillas! Delicious!
Enjoy!
Corn Quesadillas

p.s. Summer 2016 update: even our toddler loves this gazpacho, which she calls “sauca!” She’s been practicing using a spoon on her own and if we keep this a bit on the chunkier side, she’s 90 percent successful! 

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Best summer garden snack or amuse bouche

We had some leftover mozzarella from making pizza and decided to make these as an amuse bouche, since we didn’t have any bread for the original. I could have eaten only these for dinner!

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Best summer garden snack or amuse bouche
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Instructions
  1. We have found the best flavor comes from the broiler. Line your favorite baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice or wedge your tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil. If you want to add garlic, you can do that now.
  4. Slice the mozzarella. If the cheese is slightly bigger or smaller than the tomatoes, that's ok! It will melt.
  5. Add to the pan oven under the broiler. If using the broiler on high, don't walk away, the dish will burn faster than you might think it will!
  6. When the cheese starts to slightly brown and bubble remove it the oven.
  7. Drizzle with the balsamic and top with a basil leaf.
  8. Allow to cool a bit before eating.

My opinion:
So delicious. The next time it’s too hot for a whole meal and we have left over mozzarella, I’ll make this as a stand alone dish. I didn’t even miss the bread (which is how this is traditionally made)!

Nordstrom Tomato Soup

Nordstrom's Tomato Basil Soup

We don’t live anywhere near a Nordstrom’s or the next best place for tomato soup, La Madeline.  So we had to find a way to make it ourselves. Luckily, J found this recipe on Food.com. With a few tweaks, we could be back in San Antonio at La Madeline enjoying this soup by their fire.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (84 ounces total) (diced will work too if you have a hard time finding whole, just make sure they aren’t seasoned!)
1 quart chicken stock (it’s better with stock but broth will work in a pinch)
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrot and onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes, then add basil and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes (including juices!) and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

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Allow the soup to cool somewhat, then purée until smooth in a food processor (Trust me, it’s much easier than in the blender).

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We skip this step because we don’t mind a few chunks, but if a smoother texture is what’ you’re after, strain the purée before returning to the pot.

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Add cream little by little over low heat, stirring gently. Do not boil it! Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

My opinion:
This makes more than we could ever eat, but it freezes beautifully and reheats wonderfully over the stove or in the crock pot. We’ve made this four or five times and it never disappoints. With a side of grilled cheese this is the perfect comfort food.

Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil


If you can’t already tell, I love Asian cuisine. Since we’ve been eating at home more often, J has tried to recreate my favorite dishes at home. He finally got my favorite Thai dish down. I won’t say it’s as good as my favorite Thai restaurant in town, because it might be better!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil (or peanut or sesame, whatever you have on hand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Thai red chili pepper chopped (or if you can’t find fresh, rehydrate dry, or just use your favorite rooster sauce)
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces and velveted (again this is the secret!)
2 cups cooked rice cold (cooked and cold, really cold. Like from the refrigerator cold. Also, use Jasmine, You’ll thank me.)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Fish sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce (if you want to be adventurous try golden soy sauce if you can find it)
2 tablespoons shallots chopped
1/3 cup Thai holy basil (regular basil or Thai purple is also delicious)
1 tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, chopped (we’ve occasionally accidentally left this out, opps!)

Directions:
First velvet the chicken by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry garlic in oil until golden; then add chilies and chicken and stir-fry until chicken is cooked. Add rice, sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce, and stir-fry, mixing gently. When well mixed, add shallots, basil leaves and cilantro; cook another minute or so, and serve. If you desire, serve with lime wedges, chile sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce at the table.

My opinion:
Could I really say more than I said above? I. love. this. dish. LOVE.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Last week J and I challenged ourselves to not go grocery shopping and use up the items in our pantry, freezer and fridge. That experiment led to some pretty creative meals. One of the best was our homemade pasta sauce.

Ingredients:
small can pasta sauce (plain, no seasoning)
tomato paste
can whole or crushed tomatoes (you can also use fresh! 2 cups of fresh equals about 14.5 ounces chopped tomatoes. When we use fresh we don’t peel, but you may want to!)
Italian seasoning (we used oregano, basil, marjoram, sage and white pepper. You can use whatever you like!)
Burgundy wine
garlic

Directions:
Combine everything in one saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium low or low. Let simmer for about an hour. This will cook down.

My opinion:
This was wonderful! Easy and filling. We actually originally used too much Italian seasoning, but by adding the wine and a can of tomato sauce, everything blended very well. In the future, we’ll add onions and maybe some green peppers to add variety as well as some red pepper flakes.

This week’s food posts are brought to you by #cookchat. My co-moderator, Matt LaCasse and I are announcing #cookchat’s triumphant return on Thursday January 20, a noon. CST. Join us for an hour of food filled conversation.