Filtering by Tag: summer

Recipe: The Last of the Gazpachos

Life in San Francisco sure does screw up one's sense of the seasons - so much so that I hosted a Supper Club celebrating the beginning of summer...

...a week after Labor Day.

It's consistently sunny and warm these days (as compared to August, when I had the foggiest and coldest birthday party of my life). In fact, the only way you can really tell what season it is around here is by what's ripe at the farmer's market. Luckily, while fall's deep gems are creeping their way into the rotation, there's still plenty of summer goodies to cook up for a dinner with friends. That's just what I did last week, when I started my dinner with friends with this vegan and nearly-raw soup. While it's quite a long process to put it together, the end result is quite transcendent - it tastes like everything bright and good about summer in San Francisco. 

NOTE: This recipe will put some serious miles on your blender. Don't worry too much about a thorough cleaning after each go - I just rinsed it out (it's all being mixed together eventually anyway!)

Golden Gazpacho w. Sriracha Granita & Basil Oil

adapted from Serious Eats by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

For soup:

  • 4 pounds very ripe yellow tomatoes, cored (I used a mix of super flavorful baby tomatoes and larger heirlooms)
  • One medium cucumber, peeled & seeded
  • 1/2 pound (about 1 medium) red onion, peeled
  • 1/2 pound (about 2 medium) yellow or orange bell peppers, cores removed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 ounces (about 3 slices) white sandwich, French, or Italian bread, crusts removed and set aside (no sourdough or otherwise strongly-flavored bread, but GF should work)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (white or red wine vinegar will work too)

For granita:

  • One container (about 10oz) red cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (to taste)
  • 1 Tb tomato paste (if you don't have any, ketchup is acceptable - this is for color)

For basil oil:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1 cup mild olive oil or grapeseed oil

Roughly chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and pepper into one-inch chunks. Combine with garlic and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, start on the granita:

Blend one container of red cherry tomatoes in the blender until reasonably liquidated.

In a pan, combine water, sugar, sriracha, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour in the tomatoes. Stir to combine and transfer to a wide bowl or baking dish (a cake pan would work well). 

Put granita into the freezer. 

Back to the soup:

Drain accumulated veggie juices into a large bowl and add the bread. Transfer the drained vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until vegetables are frozen, about 40 min.

When the soup veggies are frozen, remove them from the freezer. While you're in there, give the granita a brisk stir with a fork. You'll want to do this every 45 minutes or so from here on out so it doesn't become one big ice block. Allow the veggies to sit at room temperature until mostly thawed, about 30 minutes (another good time to stir the granita!). Transfer vegetables and all their juices from the pan to bowl with soaked bread.

Working in batches as necessary, blend vegetables, juice, and bread at high speed, slowly drizzling olive oil and sherry vinegar into blender as it blends. Strain soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Gazpacho can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

By now, the soup is done and your granita is workin' on becoming icy (keep stirring it every so often!). The only part left is the most delicious - basil oil! Using your blender once again, blend the basil & oil until it's pesto-ey. Pour into a small saucepan and let it infuse over very low heat for 30-40 minutes. Using a very fine mesh filter, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter, strain basil out and reserve oil.

If you'd like croutons, crumble the bread crust you reserved earlier and fry over medium heat in basil oil until golden.

To serve, use a fork to loosen flakes of the granita and top each bowl with a spoonful. Add a few elegant squirts of the oil and a pinch of the croutons. Enjoy right away, before the ice melts and summer is over!

<3 Sophie




Recipe: Fig Flatbread

If you're worrying about  or how you can appease your dinner party guests while you run around like a headless chicken in the kitchen trying to make sure your pork cutlets are pounded and your cocktails are mixed, figs are the answer.

They're gorgeous without trying, the perfect size for snacking, and harmonize easily with both savory and sweet flavors. The names alone are alluring - Green Kadota, Black Mission, Calimyrna - I mean, come on - they're the sexiest fruit out there! They're at the peak of their season here in California, but the season is short. Go forth and gather all the figs you can NOW, hear me?

Besides buying every type I can find, cutting them open to show their jeweled insides, and pairing them with salty meats and cheeses, I love to use figs on flatbread. I buy pre-made levain for its thin, light, crunchy ease, but you could also make a homemade focaccia or pizza dough if you're feeling industrious or want something more substantial for a main dish.


Fig Flatbread with Chevre & Reduced Balsamic

Preheat your oven to 375°. On two cookie sheets, lay out 4 sheets of levain flatbread. Sprinkle generously with olive oil and sea salt and use a pastry brush or your fingers to spread the oil to all the corners. If you have some on hand, a generous dusting of za'atar is also a nice touch here. 

Pop the flatbreads in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until they start to crisp. Don't let them get too brown because they'll be going back into the oven.

While the flatbreads are pre-baking, slice 1 pound of figs into half inch slices. When the flatbreads emerge from the oven, arrange the sliced figs on top and crumble about 6 ounces chevre cheese over the figs. Other cheeses would be great here as well - shredded parmesan, manchego, and feta especially. Use what you have on hand, and don't pay too much attention to measurements.

Return the figged-out flatbreads to the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the figs have softened and the levain is lightly browned on the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice into bite-sized pieces an scatter with finely sliced basil and a few squirts of balsamic vinegar reduction (found at most grocery stores or easily made by boiling balsamic until it's 1/4 of its original volume). 

Allow someone else to open the wine, and enjoy the ease of your guests stuffing their faces until you're ready for the rest of dinner to emerge!

Recipe: Melon Tower Salad (for hot days)

This post originally appeared a few days ago as a guest blog on Kellan's Kitchen. It's the first in a three-part series on savory fruit dishes. Kellan is an amazing private chef in the Bay Area and Tahoe - check out his site!

I'm currently sitting in my parents' kitchen on a cool 95° day in Chico. All I can think about it how nice this salad would taste right now (if I only had the ingredients!) and how guilty I'd feel if I didn't share it with you before summer in San Francisco really gets kicking. 

Melon Towers

Serves 8

Confession time: I’m a single lady with a bad fruit shopping habit. This time of year is especially tough - the glut of rosy stone fruit, taut melons, and perfect shiny berries at my local farmer’s market always makes me feel guilty if I don’t take home some of every kind.

As much as I’d like to eat pies and crisps all day and as likely as I am to gorge on watermelon straight over the sink, I needed to find a different route to using summer fruit, lest it be relegated to the compost bin. Savory dishes provide the perfect answer to this very good problem to have - a touch of sweetness can often temper a great savory dish, and a touch of sour or savory can bring out flavors you didn't realize a fruit had. 

Melon and feta salads are nothing new, but this recipe elevates them to new heights (pun intended). It’s simple and works very well for a summer dinner party, especially since you’ll need several melons to get the best rainbow effect and eating several melons on your own is tough. If you just have one melon or are looking to keep things simple, feel free to make a deconstructed version with cubed or balled melon.

  • 3 chilled melons of varying types & colors, including at least one watermelon (seedless preferable)
  • 3 limes
  • one small bunch of mint, stems removed
  • one small red onion or large shallot
  • 1 cup crumbled feta (French is nice)
  • high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • finishing salt such as Maldon

Slice the muskmelons (those with a cavity in the middle) in half width-wise and scoop out any seeds. Slice all melons into 1-inch round slices and set aside.

For each salad, stack one slice of each type of melon on your cutting board. Try to find rounds that match up size-wise, and put the watermelon on top so the hole will be covered. With a sharp knife, cut down the sides of the stack to remove the rind. Squeeze a lime over the stack (I make sure to get in between the layers, too) and transfer the stack to a plate.

With a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the onion into fine slivers and set aside. Cut your mint into ribbons. If your knife is not sharp and is bruising the mint, try tearing it instead.

Top each melon stack with a small amount of finishing salt, a few onion slices, a sprinkle of mint, and some feta crumbles. A drizzle of oil on the plate adds a beautiful finishing touch. Serve chilled with a glass of fruit-forward rosé.