Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chilin' Out

Now that we're in the heart of summer, I feel like there is no better time than now to offer up one of my favorite cold entrees: gazpacho!

To be honest (and a little bit egotistical) I was never really a fan of gazpacho until I started making my own. Most restaurants serve a generic variety, banking on the freshness of the season to outweigh creativity. I'm all for allowing the ingredients to shine, but why not use a little poetic license while you're at it?

I've already made two unique versions myself, like the Yellow Watermelon Gazpacho and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, both of which had beautiful preparations of tuna. I obviously feel that seafood is the best protein for it, so why stop now?

I was originally going to have a dish with a minute amount of the pricey Dungeness crab, but after talking to my fishmonger I found out that a lot of restaurants are cutting their Dungeness dishes with Pacific Rock Crab, a close cousin, so I thought that it was best to offer a lesser known crab for less money.

This year's gazpacho is made with fresh tomatillos, a relative to tomatoes but more closely related to the gooseberry. I slowly cooked onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil with a touch of ground cumin, which I cooled completely before pureeing with the husked, raw tomatillos and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a few sprigs of basil.

I tossed the crabmeat in the usual accoutrements of brunoise (tiny dice) seedless cucumbers, red and orange bell peppers, red gooseberries, red onions that I soaked in ice water to mellow their bite and a touch of deseeded jalapenos for a little tingle on the tongue.

I needed a buffer between the acidic tomatillos and the sweetness of the crabmeat and the vegetable/gooseberry salad and I felt that there was no better addition than several slices of ripe, creamy avocado for you to stir in at will.

For my final sangria offering this year I went with a variation of what originally inspired this string of wine punch drink specials, as well as a tribute to one of our new popular menu items.

Since it's introduction on the menu a few months ago my Taleggio cheese sandwich with a Mirin poached pear (and optional bacon) has really taken off, so I drew from that for this one.

I started this month of sangrias with an apple sangria topped with brandy and hard apple cider which reminded me about a delicious pear brandy from Clear Creek Distillery that is full of pear flavor that I felt could hold up to an infusion of fresh ginger for several weeks along with a gallon of white wine with the same blissful fate.

I diced my coveted pears and allowed them to soak in the ginger-pear brandy and a little simple syrup to create a refreshing white sangria that you won't find anywhere!!

With Love,


P.S. - For those of you who are interested; How do I celibrate my birthday?? With a pig roast, of course!! Check out my birthday party pics here.