The heat has become almost unbearable. The humidity on most days is pushing 100% along with the 100 degrees F. temperatures. We affectionately refer to the heat here in the panhandle of Florida as “swamp heat”. Unlike the southern part of the state which lay claim to a tropical climate, us hooligans in the north beg for a breeze and surrender to the hot stagnant air. Of course jealousy ensues from the south in the winter time as we experience a change of seasons which gives way to cool air and frosty mornings.
This month’s cooking class theme was STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN. I focused on sharing with my class at Browns Kitchen a few simple to prepare cold dishes when brought together make a fantastic summer meal. The menu was centered around this delightful and refreshing summer gazpacho soup.
Gazpacho is a Spanish soup enjoyed in the country’s southern Andalusia region and neighboring Portugal which both experience very hot summers. This blend of raw vegetables including, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and fresh garlic with tomato juice as the base come together creating a incredibly fresh and flavorful cold soup.
This summer soup is best prepared ahead of time to allow the flavors to full develop.
Recipe from Ina Garten
1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
24 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving.
The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.