I’m back! I finally stopped being lazy and decided to start blogging again. It took a really tasty summer soup to motivate me. This soup is inspired by a wonderful gazpacho I had last week at my favorite food trailer ever, Counter Culture. I tasted the gazpacho and immediately knew I had to try to replicate it at home. I asked Sue, the mastermind behind Counter Culture’s deliciousness, what the ingredients were, and I wrote down a list. I think I included everything but the papaya juice, and replaced the mint in the original soup with cilantro. My gazpacho turned out very refreshing and tasty, so I thought it was time to share a culinary success on my blog. This fruit gazpacho turned out much better than most of my attempts to make a savory, tomato-based version. Here goes….It’s yummy!
3 mangoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups chopped cantaloupe (I used most of this melon, with about 1 cup to spare)
Juice of one large lime
Juice of one medium orange
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder (I found this in the bulk spices section of the grocery store)
1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp sea salt
2 -3 cups water
Prepare fruit. Put about half the fruit in a food processor or blender, along with the orange and lime juice, the cilantro, chipotle powder, and salt. Put remaining fruit chunks in your serving bowl. Puree the fruit with the indicated ingredients, and add to the serving bowl. Add water until you have your desired consistency. Chill for several hours before serving unless your fruit was already cold (mine was at room temperature).
Makes about 4 or 5 bowls of gazpacho.
This spread is a lot like hummus because it has chickpeas, but is richer with the addition of cashews. Like many homemade non-dairy “cheezes” this one has nutritional yeast to give it a cheesier flavor. You can use this spread for a million different things, but I used it in a quesadilla with sauteed cremini mushrooms and red onion. Yum!
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup cashews, whole or pieces
3 T nutritional yeast (available in the bulk section of natural foods stores and well-stocked grocery stores)
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped (you can remove the seeds to reduce the heat, but I left them in)
2 handfuls fresh cilantro
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Juice of one large lime or 2 key limes
1-2 T water
Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the sides with a spatula, and process again to ensure all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
I really like Mark Bittman’s approach to cooking–simple and not worried about perfection. If you’re looking for a good all-purpose cookbook, Bittman has two that I really enjoy–How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Each has hundreds of recipes for all types of dishes and occasions. If you’ve never checked it out, Bittman’s Bitten blog on the NY Times website is a good read: http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/?ref=dining
One of the keys to learning to cook and then actually doing it on a regular basis is not being afraid to fail. Inevitably you will screw up, but that’s ok, because you can cook again tomorrow. This is what Mark Bittman says on the matter:
Question: “What would you say is the most important skill to develop in the kitchen?
Answer: “The ability to go in there and start. I am the least impressive cook you will ever see. I am completely without knife skills, I screw things up all the time. When I’m in the kitchen I’m not obsessively trying to create the perfect dish; I’m trying to put dinner on the table. Comparing yourself to the people who cook on television is like comparing yourself to Andre Agassi. If you can drive you can cook.”
Yes! My philosophy exactly. People I talk to about cooking get really hung up on being exact in measuring ingredients and fear that straying at all from a recipe will result in disaster. Not so….I do it all the time. And most of the time, I end up with a great meal.