8.02.2006

Two darn hot suppers

Humidex be damned, I'm in the mood to cook. Here's what R* and I had for dinner so far this week. Both the gazpacho and the scrambled egg salad took less than 15 minutes to make. They weren't hard to shop for and I barely had to touch the stove.

Last night, we made gazpacho, working roughly from Craig Claiborne's simple recipe from 1968 which Amanda Hesser reprinted in The New York Times a few weeks ago. I mention these Time's food writers past and present by name because I read Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte over the weekend and I just started Claiborne's memoir yesterday afternoon.

I left the office last night, determined to making the gazpacho just as Craig intended. I printed out the recipe and headed out to the grocery store.

Thought they aren't the recipe, the fruit stand on 34th street had some great looking avocados so I picked one up. I thought avocado be a great garnish for the gazpacho.

When I got home I realized the green pepper I had carefully selected at Gristides (NYC chain grocery store produce is gross, but works in a pinch) got lost somewhere between my after work shopping trip and my kitchen. My green pepper must be wandering the 6 train somewhere, but in a forgotten crisper drawer I found a yellow pepper from the farmer's market that was willing to substitute. I roughly chopped the pepper and threw it into the food processor with the cucumbers and tomatoes in the food processor.

I used champagne vinegar instead of the wine vinegar the recipe suggests, since champagne vinegar seems more mild and would allow the flavors and acid notes of the perfect fresh tomatoes to come through. I sometimes get confused or just annoyed when TV chefs remind you to use a "good vinegar" instead of just "vinegar." They don't take the effort to explain the difference.

The recipe said to use the blender, but after my blender disaster, I decided I'd stick to the trusty Cusinart food processor.

The recipe called for a couple of pieces of fresh bread. I forgot to buy bread, but I had some breadcrumbs I made a few weeks before. I used them. This is a recent cooking revelation of mine: home made fresh breadcrumbs taste so much better than the store bought ones in the can -- try it. All you do is grind the bread up in the food processor, dry them out on the counter or in the oven and you're done.

After spinning it all together in the blender or in my case the food processor, the recipe suggests putting the whole slushy mess through a strainer. I think this would refine the soup and pull out the tomato skins and bigger pieces of cucumber pulp.

I had intended to follow this step, strain out all that pulp, but R* and I were already eating our gazpacho-slush straight out of the food processor. There was something comforting about eating this soup as is.

"A country-style soup," I said. "Rustic."

"Like baby food," R* said, "but it tastes really good."

I ladled the soup into our bowls, adding a bit more water, while R* cut the avocado into a beautiful fan. With some cheese and crackers and a bubbly rose, this was a great dinner.


Monday night, I was feeling less inspired (hence the bad photo). Still, we ended up with a good quick hot weather supper. I call it Scrambled Egg Supper, but maybe there's some fancier references to this somewhere? Though I don't love the stuff, I tossed some mesclun mix from Gourmet Garage with some Dijon dressing and a local tomato. I made a ring of salad around the outside of our dinner plates.

Meantime, I whisked 4 eggs with salt, pepper and cream (left over from my ice cream making adventures). I poured the eggs into a non-stick pan on medium high heat. As soon as the eggs hit the pan, I lowered the heat and once they were half cooked, I turned the heat off. Don't over cook your scrambled eggs, people


I put the scrambled eggs in the center of a plate, surrounded by the salad. For a great finish, I crumbled some Grana Padano cheese on top of the whole thing. I never tried Grana Padano before, but it was featured at Gourmet Garage as a mild alternative to Parmigiano-Reggiano and I remembered all the ads for Grana Padano on Lidia's PBS show, so I tried it. The dry crumbly texture of the cheese goes very well with gently scrambled eggs and with some rose wine.

How about you? Are your kitchens closed until we at least get down to 90 degrees? Would you ever serve eggs for a summer supper?

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