The Musette: melon gazpacho

What do you do when your fridge freezes everything? “Isn’t that the fridge freezer you recently paid a small fortune to have mended?” I hear you ask? Yes, it is! We returned from vacation to discover the temperature of the freezer was -25C, and the fridge -10C. I fiddled about – a technical term – with the inner dials and managed to increase the temperature of the fridge to -8C. Hardly a result.

I rang the company that services my appliances only to be advised that my technician of choice was on vacation until 20 August, but would be able to visit on 31 August. Yikes! An awful lot of fridge/freeezers must be playing up. Are they all Gaggenau?

The company promised the technician would give me a call with some advice before the end of the month, so I sent him a video which I hope might help him diagnose the problem. So, now what to do with some partly frozen fruit and veg?

When we ate out last week, my beloved had Melon Gazpacho as a starter. So, that’s what I made. It was really refreshing, just what’s needed in the hot weather.

Ingredients (lunch for 2)

  • 1 medium sized melon
  • half hot house cucumber
  • spring onion (scallion)
  • 240ml (cup) filtered water
  • bunch coriander
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Remove rind and seeds from melon. Chop everything into bite sized chunks and add to liquidiser. Process until smoothish and taste to check seasonings.

2. Pour into bowls while still chilled and enjoy.

Now, could anything be simpler than that recipe? Anwers below please!

 

 

The Musette: white Gazpacho or Ajo Blanco

In last year’s post for traditional gazpacho, I promised you recipes for white and green ones too. Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s recipe for green Gazpacho, here’s my recipe for the white version. It’s deliciously refreshing and aside from being a great starter, it also makes a wonderful canape  – so beloved of the French. The combination of cucumber, grapes and sherry vinegar is perfectly balanced while the alliums add sharpness, but mellow if you refrigerate the gazpacho overnight and serve it the next day (which I recommend). This is another perfect summer soup. And it’s so easy to make.

Ingredients (Serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 cups cubed stale white bread from a sourdough type loaf (crust removed)
  • 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) cold filtered water
  • 1/3 cup whole, blanched almonds, toasted 
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, roasted and crushed 
  • 2  finely chopped salad onions (scallions)
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup green grapes
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
  •  chives, finely chopped, to garnish 

Method

1. Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) water on top to soften them.

2. Place the toasted almonds and roasted garlic in a blender and purée until finely ground. Add the onions, cucumber, grapes, oil, vinegar and softened bread to the blender along with the remaining water.

3. Purée until smooth. Taste and season as needed. If necessary, add more filtered water (or yoghurt, see below) to the soup to achieve desired consistency.

4. Serve chilled in bowls or glasses garnished with chives and a swirl of fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. As mentioned above, this soup benefits from a night in the fridge to allow the flavours to deepen.

2. if you prefer a smoother, silkier textured soup, just sieve it and then froth with a stick blender.

3. You can make some substitutions but remember the soup needs to remain a pale green colour!

4. Instead of thinning the soup with filtered water, you can use yoghurt. For a vegan version, use almond rather than coconut yoghurt.

 

The Musette: green Gazpacho

Last summer, when I posted my recipe for traditional Gazpacho, I promised you ones for the white and green versions too. For some reason, I never got around to doing them!

Belatedly, here’s the recipe for the green one, the white follows tomorrow. It’s another equally refreshing cold soup, ideal for warmer weather.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 500g (1lb) green tomatoes
  • 2 celery sticks (including the leaves) or small fennel bulb
  • 4 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 large cucumber approx. 350 g (12 oz), peeled
  • 1 fresh green chilli, including pith and seeds (or less if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 4 fat garlic cloves
  • 200g (7 oz) baby spinach leaves
  • 25g (5 tbsp) fresh basil leaves
  • 10g (2 tbsp) parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin peppery olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Method

1. Roughly chop the all the vegetables and herbs, place in a blender, or food processor, with the vinegar and oil, and blitz the soup until it’s smooth.

2. If necessary, add filtered water to obtain the desired consistency. Season to taste.

3. Leave overnight in fridge or for a minimum of 4 hours for the flavours to develop.

4. Check seasoning again. Serve with fresh basil leaves or a spring onion (scallion), croutons and/or a swirl of fruity virgin olive oil – enjoy.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. If you want a smoother, silkier textured soup, just sieve it and then, before serving, froth it with a stick blender.

2. You can substitute some of the ingredients as long as they’re greenish in colour. For example, you could use green grapes instead of cucumber, rocket instead of spinach, or even radish tops. As with most things, it’s a question of trial and error, and taste.

3. If you don’t like the hit of raw garlic, roast it first in its skin, though you’ll probably need to use twice as much.

4. Also, feel free to bulk the soup out with some stale sourdough or similar bread. Consequently, you may need to use more filtered water. Or use if for croutons to top the soup when it’s served.

The Musette: Gazpacho

It’s only the middle of June and already temperatures are in the late 20s early 30s centigrade! It’s been hot and humid. Could we be heading for a summer heatwave? To my mind, that can mean only one dish – a freshly made, ice-cold, refreshing gazpacho. This perfect hot-weather soup is simply a salad in liquid form, which means it’s one of the easiest dishes to make. All you need to get started is a blender or food processor and some super-tasty, juicy tomatoes.

I make a litre or two of this most weeks to enjoy immediately after I get back from my morning ride. It’s delicious, cooling, contains at least three of my five-a-day and is low in calories – what’s not to like? Of course, it’s one of those recipes where there are more versions than Andalucians. I’m just adding to those with my very own take on it.

Gazpacho

Ingredients for a low calorie and refreshing lunch (Image: Sheree)

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 1-1½kg (2-2¼ lbs) sun-ripened, juicy, fresh organic tomatoes
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method

1. Roughly chop the vegetables and whirl in a blender or food processor in batches until they’re all reduced to a fine rubble.

2. Pour into a large glass bowl, add the oil, vinegar and condiments to taste. Cover the bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave it in the fridge for at least eight hours for the flavours to develop.

3. To serve, pass the mixture through a coarse sieve or food mill. Test the seasoning, pour into a glass jug and return to the fridge to chill.

4. Serve either as I have below in a long chilled glass with a stick of celery or ladle it into bowls and garnish with whatever takes your fancy.

And no, it's not a Bloody Mary

And no, it’s not a Bloody Mary (Image: Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. The tomatoes are the star of the show. If yours aren’t quite as ripe and juicy as you’d like you might have to top up the gazpacho with some good quality bottled or fresh tomato juice.

2. I only ever use red peppers in gazpacho simply because I prefer the taste.

3. If you’d like the soup to have a thicker consistency soak a few pieces of stale bread in water, squeeze dry and add them to the blender along with the vegetables or add back some of the sieved rubble.

4. I often add fresh watermelon juice to the soup and a further teaspoon of tabasco to counter the sweetness along with a tablespoon or two of freshly squeezed lime juice. This is delicious served in a bowl over a pile of white crab meat or a few plump juicy prawns and cubed avocado.

5. To give the soup an Italian twist, add freshly torn basil leaves and pour over torn chunks of burrata (a yummy mix of fresh buffalo mozzarella and crème fraiche).

6. There are of course both white and green versions of gazpacho, but let’s leave those for another Musette.