A perfect summer lunch...

Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

I've been talking about gazpacho non-stop, it seems, this summer. I've always loved the soup, but for some reason, this year I simply cannot get enough of it. The other day I was on the beach with a couple of girlfriends and off I went on my gazpacho tangent. We'd all been to the local farms and our counter tops were brimming with bowls of fresh veggies but, what do you do when you simply have too much, or when they're just about to become overripe? I tend to make gazpacho, or ratatouille, or pasta sauce. As we packed up to leave the beach, Sara went home with the sudden urging to make gazpacho. She chose to follow the recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. The next day I was the lucky recipient of her culinary prowess. And dare I say, this very well could be the best gazpacho I have had all summer? So, even though I know I just posted a recipe here the other day, this one is simply too good not to shout it out from the rooftops and share it with the world! And while normally I am a huge fan of deviating from the original recipe to put my own twist on it, this time I am telling you not to. Don't do it! Don't mess with it. Don't mess with perfection!

Following is the Gazpacho recipe from The Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook.
Even though everything is going to go into the food processor, you will still need to chop many of the ingredients beforehand - a little extra work, but so well worth it! 
  • 4 cups cold tomato juice
  • 1 small, well minced onion
  • 2 cups freshly diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup minced green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cucumber, diced 2 scallions, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon each of dried tarragon and basil (if you have fresh, use 1 tablespoon of each) dash of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil salt & pepper to taste
  • lemon for garnish

Process all the ingredients except for the tomato juice in a food processor and be careful not to over-process. . once the ingredients have been well blended, pour in the tomato juice, mix well, and cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
I love to eat this during the week for lunch. So this is not only healthy but super economical. 
Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

I prefer gazpacho most when eaten on its own, as a meal... give me a nice crusty hunk of bread and, today, so tender, fresh mozzarella drizzled with pesto infused oil... Really doesn't get any better than this!
Here's a closeup of the infused oil... 
Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

It's so super easy to make and I keep it on-hand in the fridge and use it with everything.
I simply kept about 2 tbs of pesto that we had used for something else and added olive oil - 1/2 to 1 cup and a few pine nuts, a shake of crushed pepper and a little bit of sea salt. Let the oil marinate in the flavors for a while. When my infused oil gets low I simply add more... refill as needed. If you prefer you can marinate and then strain the oil from the pesto mixture - but we like the bits of pesto. Of course, if you end up scraping out all the pesto we'd never blame you. You'll just have to whip yourself up another batch. Infused olive oils are so tasty and very healthy!

Entertaining the Family

In the summertime we tend to head off to go visit my parents, but during the school year, with our busy lives and schedules, it's easier for my parents to come to us. They usually arrive at around 10:00, stay for a few hours and take off when the kids start driving them batty! Wish I could do the same... Oh wait, I do! I send them off to school!

Our visits usually center around food, so as soon as I got up this morning I had to prepare for lunch and dessert. I was so busy running around yesterday that I had no time for the prep work that I thought I would have.

But what a difference it makes getting the house ready for company when you have three kids in school for a whole day! I spent most of Thursday tidying and vacuuming, Windexing, etc. Alexander went off on a play date after school on Friday so I had the added bonus of another day of "freedom." This freedom allowed me to get so much accomplished, not inside the home, but outside the home. I spent my Friday running errands that are normally so challenging and stressful, but without children it's truly amazing how liberating errand running can be! I went to the bank, our local baker to pick up fresh rye, semolina, challah and sour dough breads. Then I went to get my hair cut (5 inches!), to CVS, to get the car washed, to the grocery store, to our local farm store, to pick the kids up from school and then to take them all to the school's Family Fun Night.

When people come from out of town, I like to give them a taste of the wonderful things we have in our area. Our town has so many wonderful farms and farm stores, that I like to use these ingredients as part of our meals. I decided that today we would have a large salad for lunch. I wanted something light as I was also serving dessert. I served a large salad, served on a platter, that everyone could help themselves to. The sweet tomatoes were fresh off the vine divine and the lettuces, splendid. I browned up some chicken in various spices for a little protein and made the most marvelous dressing by adding some red wine to the pan to scrape off some of the wonderful spices. I added the liquid, about 2 - 3 tablespoons to vinegar, olive oil and mustard. A perfect red wine vinaigrette. The salad was devoured as was the bread and the red wine.

We had a lovely visit and the kids got plenty of individual attention from Moo and Popsy as I cooked in the kitchen. We had to wait a little while between lunch and dessert so Alexander got to open his Birthday present from Moo and Popsy and the kids surprised Moo with flowers and cards for her. Her Birthday was last weekend. Finally, dessert was ready. The cake was cooked and had cooled enough to eat. Let the celebration continue! With bellies full, we sent Moo and Popsy home with their flowers and some of our apple picking prizes!

After my parents took off and I had cleaned up sufficiently, Daddy and I decided to relax for a bit in the family room. We decided to check out the much acclaimed and much talked about Mad Men television show. After just a few moments I was hooked! We ended up watching 3 episodes, and now, as I type this I'm watching another one! I simply cannot get enough!

I have decided that I love everything about the Sixtees. I love the dress and the lifestyle... especially the all day cocktail hours! I have decided, however, that I could not live in that era as the home decor is atrocious!

Our large salad featuring items from a local farm along with some seasoned chicken
and fresh bread made a perfect light lunch

The amazing Apple Cake we had for dessert. The recipe is on my food blog,
The Entertaining Kitchen

A picture of the apple cake, and my mom!

My Valentine Lunch

I had an old college friend over for lunch today. I am not insinuating that Emily is old... it's just that we go way, way back. And while we have seen each other here and there over the years, our lives took different paths and so our schedules were varied. I've been very good about following through with my New Year's resolution. (Partly, I am sure, because it had nothing to do with a gym!) I told myself that I would reconnect with all those people who were near and dear to me in the past. People I've let go, slip away because I was busy, or lazy or whatever. And so, largely thanks to Facebook I am back in touch with so many wonderful people. Memories that I thought had been buried have been unearthed, some good, some bad, and many, very funny ones. So I noticed that Emily was on FB and I sent her a note a few months ago. She posted a message on my wall a few days ago. And so we decided to get together and reminisce. I offered to have her over for lunch since the kids had no school today. With no running around I could enjoy some time for a play date of my very own! I made a Valentine Salad with heart of palm, artichoke hearts, fresh mozzerella that had been marinating in an olive oil based dressing, garbanzo beans and kalamata olives with a light vinaigrette. We enjoyed our salads with baguettes and a garlic, olive oil and butter spread. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of wine and a bottle of Pellegrino. For dessert (when the boys decided to make an appearance) we had strawberries, miniature heart shaped fudge brownies and cranberry almond shortbread. The wine, the food, the company made for a nearly 4 hour lunch and a perfectly wonderful afternoon. (Menu and recipes are posted over at The Entertaining Kitchen.)
Posted by Picasa