Things I learned this weekend:
*To surf …well almost…we will try again next weekend
*Standing under a freezing waterfall makes me feel very alive...and scream like a girl
*I like the vibe and the food at The Six
*The Switch was a much better movie than I expected
*Stanley really likes to Skype
*Not to fan yourself when you are pretending to be surprised
*My nieces are cuter every time I see them
*The only thing better than grilled cheese with warm tomato soup is grilled cheese with gazpacho (cold tomato soup).
Zach, Becky and I had a little family dinner last night and enjoyed some cold gazpacho, Spanish wine, mixed greens with balsamic apples and shallots, crusty grilled cheese with goat cheese and manchego cheese, york peppermint patties and good conversation! The gazpacho recipe is from the French Laundry Cookbook. The French Laundry is one of the nicest restaurants in California, located in the Napa Valley. They serve a nine-course menu full of quality small plates that are usually quite intriguing sounding. I have never been, but I hope to go someday. So for now, I just have to settle with recreating their recipes at home.
Gazpacho is a Spanish cold tomato soup that can be served chunky or smooth. I plan on trying it both ways, but this one was smooth. The French Laundry recipe includes a balsamic vinegar reduction on top, but I left it out of mine (I will still include it in the recipe though). My grilled cheese was simple yet very flavorful. Enjoy!
(recipe from 'The French Laundry Cookbook' - serves 6)
1 cup chopped red onions
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped English cucumber
1 cup chopped and peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups tomato juice
Sprig of thyme
Balsamic Glaze (see below)
Mix all the ingredients except the balsamic glaze together in a bowl or other container, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove the thyme and blend all the ingredients in a blender until the gazpacho is smooth. You will have about 2 quarts. For a smoother texture, strain the soup to yield about 1 quart. Refrigerate the gazpacho until ready to serve.
To complete: Ladle the cold soup into bowls and squeeze dots of balsamic glaze over the top.
NOTE: Thomas Keller of French Laundry recommends using either Welch's or Fresh Samantha's tomato juice...the quality of the tomato juice is very important to the recipe.
2 cups balsamic vinegar
Heat the vinegar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until steam rises from the liquid. Place the saucepan on a heat diffuser and let the liquid reduce very slowly (it shouldn't simmer) for 2 to 3 hours, until it has reduced and thickened to a syrupy glaze. There should be approximately 1/2 cup of glaze. Keep the glaze in a squeeze bottle at room temperature for garnishing: if the glaze is too thick, warm the bottle in hot water to loosen the glaze.
Fabulous Grilled Cheese:
French Bread (I used wheat) - you can sub any artisan bread
spreadable goat cheese
I am not including amounts for the ingredients because it will depend on the amount of sandwiches you need to make. If you cannot figure it out, you should stick to the ole white-bread-American-cheese-slices-with-butter kind of grilled cheese (nothing wrong with that).
Split the French bread loaf down the middle, and spread the goat cheese on the inside of both slices of bread.
lay out the manchego cheese slices, and close the sandwich together.
Brush the outside of the sandwich (top and bottom) with the olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
Place sandwiches on a sandwich press if you have one. If not, place in a pan over medium heat until the cheese in the middle is gooey. If the bread is toasted, but the cheese is not melting, you can finish the sandwich off by broiling it in the oven to get the cheese melted.