Gazpacho inspired by Samuel L.

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Inspired by a commercial with Samuel L Jackson (the one for the iPhone 4/Siri), and the weather getting hotter and hotter here in Charleston, I decided this week was a good week to try making some gazpacho. I did a quick search for recipes online. Did you know that there are at least a gazillion gazpacho recipes online? I finally decided to ask my Mom to send me the recipe she used.

Now let me tell you something about the way my Mom cooks; firstly, my Mom is an awesome cook for many reasons but one of them being that she is flexible.

When she looks at a recipe she adjusts it to what she has in the house or what she thinks will taste better. So when she sent me the recipe she uses, she also sent me the modifications she has made. When I looked at both, I also decided to make some modifications of my own.

So here is my gazpacho recipe that has been twice adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all.

Gazpacho

Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 c vegetable juice (such as V-8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
a
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp rooster hot sauce
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • juice from 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

If making in a food processor;

Cut all vegetables into large chunks and puree to the desired texture using a food processor.

If making in a blender;

Coarsely chop all vegetables. Add veggies and a small amount of tomato juice to the blender and chop into a smoother texture. Pour into a bowl when finished blending. With so many vegetables I had to do the blending in 3-4 batches.

Pour most of the vegetable mixture into a bowl and set aside, leaving 2 cups in the food processor or blender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, and thyme to the reserved mixture and puree together until well combined. Combine the two mixtures in the bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The soup can be served by itself or with a dollop of greek yogurt and/or diced avocados. 

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Gazpacho

Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 c vegetable juice (such as V-8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
a
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp rooster hot sauce
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • juice from 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Coarsely chop all vegetables. Working in batches if needed, add veggies and a small amount of tomato juice to a blender or food processor and blend into a smoother texture. Pour all but 2 cups of the blended vegetables into a bowl when finished blending.

Add garlic, salt, pepper, hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, and thyme to the reserved mixture and puree together until well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. Combine the two mixtures in the bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The soup can be served by itself or with a dollop of greek yogurt and/or diced avocados.

Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

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I bought some plants a couple of weeks ago and in celebration of them still being alive I decided to eat them! Err, some of them. Ok, that sounds weird. Good thing I don’t have a pet pig or calf?

Anyway, 2 weeks ago I got myself a basil plant and a peppermint plant. I’m proud to report that they are both thriving. To celebrate the success of my basil plant I am making my favorite summer salad. It is a refreshing and quick salad that is great on a warm summer night. I know it’s not quite summer-time yet, but this sunny 80 degree weather here in Charleston has got me already thinking about summer. (And also how I’m going to start melting when July and August come around)

Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients

½ cup chickpeas, drained

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced length-wise

1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

1 slice of a red onion

½ cup cubed mozzarella (optional)

fresh basil leaves (as many as you like)

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp smoked paprika (regular is ok too)

2 tsp olive oil

Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and mozzarella (if using) in a bowl.

Next stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll together. Slice the basil thinly, and this will create small, thin basil strips. Add the basil to the bowl.

Finally add the spices and olive oil and toss together. Voila!

Mmm Mmm Mmm Avocado Tomato Summer Salad and Balsamic Glazed Pork. YUM!

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Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1 slice of a red onion
  • ½ cup cubed mozzarella (optional)
  • fresh basil leaves (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika (regular is ok too)
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and mozzarella (if using) in a bowl.

Next stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll together. Slice the basil thinly, and this will create small, thin basil strips. Add the basil to the bowl. Finally, add the spices and olive oil and toss together.

Satisfying the Crunch Factor

The crunch factor; a craving that can only be satisfied by consuming crunchy food items. Food items can be of either the sweet or salty persuasion. The crunch factor often occurs; while working on the computer for a prolonged amount of time, watching the tv or movies, playing video games, or around 4 pm (aka snack time).

Ah, yes, the crunch factor. I’m always looking for ways to keep it healthy and still satisfy the CF. While I’ve tried out a variety of crunchy snacks, roasted chickpeas is my new favorite way to satisfy my crunchy cravings.

Roasted chickpeas are an ideal CF snack because they are (1) easy to make, (2) store well in air tight containers, and (3) are a healthy and flavorful alternative to potato chips.*

*Ok, fine I’m not a nutritionist, but I swear these crunchy beans are better than Doritos and Cheese-its.

So here it is, roasted chickpeas two ways; spicy and sweet.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Ingredients:
2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
Optional Add-in: a dash of “Perfect Pinch” for chicken (or any other pre-mixed spice combination of your choice)

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer.

Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 40 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula. Do not shake the pan to rotate the peas when they are hot, as this might cause them to pop/explode in one’s face. You’ve been warned.

Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
Ingredients
2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Optional Add-in: a dash of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp honey

To make the sweet version of these crunchy peas follow the directions above EXCEPT only toss the dried chickpeas in olive oil, cinnamon, sugar, and any additional spices you have selected. Immediately after taking them out of the oven, pour the chickpeas into a small mixing bowl and toss them with the honey while still piping hot. Pour them back onto the baking sheet and allow them to cool and the honey to harden.

Also, since these have sugar on them they need to be monitored more closely in the oven to prevent burning. Bake for only 30-35 minutes.

 

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer. Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 40 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula.

 

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Sweet Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz cans)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • a dash of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Directions:

First drain the chickpeas in a strainer. Wash with cool water to rinse the starch off.

Next pour the beans onto a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to air dry. The key to these becoming a crunchy snack inside-out is allowing them enough time to thoroughly dry. I recommend allowing them to air dry for at least 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.

After allowing the peas to dry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and all spices.

Give it a good toss to evenly distribute.

Next, pour the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are in a single layer and pop into the oven.

These will take 30-35 minutes in the oven before reaching optimal crunchiness. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and toss with a spatula.

 

Cranberry Relish

 

 

 

Today’s recipe is a family tradition; every year at Thanksgiving we make this cranberry relish that my Dad had every Thanksgiving when he was growing up. This recipe is fresh tasting and best when made a day or two before Thanksgiving to really allow the flavors to mingle.

 

 

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Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ c toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c organic sugar

Directions:

Wash the orange and lemon and cut up into small chunks (peel and all) and remove seeds. Pat dry the crushed pineapple with paper towels to remove any excess juice.  Put cranberries, orange and lemon pieces, pineapple, and nuts (if using them) into food processor. Pulse for 10-15 seconds and stop to scrape the sides. Continue to pulse and scraping the sides until all ingredients are chopped finely. Be careful not to over-process or the texture will be too mushy, the relish should maintain a course texture.

Pour the relish into a medium sized mixing bowl and using a spoon stir in the sugar a ½ cup at a time. Since cranberries can vary in tartness, taste the relish after adding the first ½ cup of sugar to determine if the other half is needed. Continue to add sugar until desired sweetness is achieved. Chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

Oven Baked Fries Done Right

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Like many, I am a lady with cravings.  These cravings aren’t usually of the sweet kind, but mostly I long for something that has been deep fried and covered in salt.  No matter how healthy I try to eat I can never kick my cravings for fried food, specifically for French fries.  I’ve experimented with oven baked fries regularly however they rarely satisfy my cravings.  When I came across this recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated Magazine I just knew I had to give it a try.  If I could recreate the taste and texture of yummy French fries in an oven I knew I would be a happy lady.

This recipe is a bit more high maintenance than my usual (slice up a potato, toss it in some oil and spices, and bake in a hot oven until it looks done-ish or I until I can’t wait any more), but the results are worth the effort.

This recipe doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients.

I have to be honest and admit I started off on the wrong foot with this recipe.  The recipe calls for russet potatoes, however at my grocery store these don’t come loose and since I’m not trying to feed a family of 10, so I settled on your standard baking potato rather than a large bag of russets.

When you slice up your potatoes into wedges, first of all be careful with your knife.  When I was slicing my potatoes up I slipped and cut one of my fingers with my knife, which is apparently getting a little dull.  But also, you want to make sure you are slicing up the potatoes into wedges that are even in size so that they cook evenly.

One more note about when you slice the potatoes; if you feel you need to express yourself by peeling the potatoes don’t feel like you’re wrong.  Do what you think is right.  However, this recipe notes that it tested much better when the skins were left on and also I’m told the nutrients are all in the skin anyway. Yay nutrients!

After you have your potatoes sliced preheat your oven to 457 and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position in your oven.  Positioning your tray in the bottom of the oven will guarantee that your fries are browned evenly and quickly and will prevent overcooking to occur on the inside of your fry. Also note that with an oven this hot standard baking pans don’t always hold up, you’ll need to use a heavy duty pan.

Next it’s time to soak the potatoes in hot tap water for 10 minutes.

In order to get the desired texture of a delicious French fry this recipe employees a soaking and steaming method.  Soaking the potato is a technique that is frequently used in making French fries that are actually fried.

While the potatoes are soaking coat your pan with ¼ cup of oil.

After the pan is evenly coated sprinkle your spices on the pan.  The recipe calls for table salt and pepper.  I used Jane’s Crazy Salt, because I love the stuff and I also like my fries to have a bit of a bite to them so I experimented with a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Coating the pan with oil and spices assures that the potatoes are evenly covered with oil and the spices prevent the fries from sticking to the pan.

Now back to the potatoes, once they are done soaking put the wedges on a plate with paper towels and pat them dry.

Then place them in a bowl and coat them with 1 teaspoon of oil. Next assemble your army of potato wedges in a single layer on your baking sheet.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and put them in the oven for 5 minutes (this is the steaming part).

After 5 minutes remove the foil, bake for 10 minutes and rotate the pan.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the bottoms of the wedges are spotted with patches of golden brown.  Using a metal spatula flip over the wedges and put them back in the oven to cook for another 7-10 minutes.  Once they are done cooking remove them from the pan and put them on paper towels to blot excessive oil.  Season to taste and serve ‘em while they’re still hot.


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Baked French Fries

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 russet potatoes, cut into evenly-sized wedges
  • hot water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven to the lowest positions and preheat to 475 degrees. Fill a mixing bowl with hot water and soak the potato wedges for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are soaking coat your pan with ¼ cup of oil and sprinkle the salt, pepper, and paprika on the oiled pan.

Now back to the potatoes, once they are done soaking put the wedges on a plate with paper towels and pat them dry. Then, place them in a bowl and coat them with 1 teaspoon of oil. Place the potato wedges in a single layer on your baking sheet. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes remove the foil, bake for 10 minutes and rotate the pan.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the bottoms of the wedges are spotted with patches of golden brown.  Using a metal spatula flip over the wedges and put them back in the oven to cook for another 7-10 minutes.  Once they are done cooking remove them from the pan and put them on paper towels to blot excess oil.  Season to taste and serve warm.