This month begins a new year of The Cookbook Guru, an online cookbook club, where food bloggers from around the world share their cooking experiences from the same cookbook. Last year by participating I discovered new recipes, learnt new techniques and challenged myself with recipes that I had previously found too intimidating to attempt. This year I’m hoping that I find my experiences with The Cookbook Guru equally as rewarding and as exciting as we take on a new list of books from suggestings made by our group last year.
For 2015 we are now cooking from the chosen book over a two month period to give everyone a chance to explore the books in a little more detail or perhaps just to allow enough time for everyone to find and pick a recipe. If this sounds like something that you’d be interested in being a part of make sure you jump over to The Cookbook Guru for the new year’s book list and also to see how it all works. Join in for one or all books, or just follow along to see what we create. The more people we have as part of the book club the more value we get out of the experience and our current members are passionate foodies and regular commenters that love to talk about each of our experiences with the books we have been cooking from.
I thought I’d get January kick started by beginning to explore the book nice and early. January/February is Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. A plethora of recipes to suit Meat Free Monday or perhaps to broaden the cooking experience of vegetarians/vegans or just passionate vegetable lovers.
Being that the year has begun here in Brisbane nice and steamy I’m hesitating to be heating up the kitchen so the idea of a gazpacho (cold soup) sounded right up my ally. Late last year I had made Grigson’s cream of tomato soup and found whilst cold that it had the most fabulous of flavours so I was quite excited about making this more traditional Spanish recipe.
My overall impression was slightly disappointing to be honest. The recipe and process itself was easy to follow, however I found myself adapting it straight away and would make more changes for next time. Yes, I will make it again as I think the concept is awesome, but requiring a little refinement for my tastes. We found the flavour quite acidic, but I am aware that the quality of the red wine vinegar will have a big impact. Also I used none of the water in the recipe even though I was using a drier style Roma tomato.
What would I do differently next time? To start with I’d roast my capsicum to give a smokier richer flavour. I’d also make sure that I was using a superior standard of red wine vinegar or perhaps try substituting it with some verjuice for a milder taste. I’d hold back on using all the breadcrumbs just to see how my consistancy is going first, so as to keep the mix soupy, but still substantial.
We served our cold soup with some parmesan cheese, melon and prosciutto and a fresh rose on a warm summers evening and I almost felt as though I could transport myself to the Mediterranean via our little feast.
Jane Grigson’s Gazpacho
- 800g really ripe tomatoes
- 1 red capsicum (deseeded and peeled, but preferably roasted and cleaned)
- 1 standard cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
- 250g wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 5 tbl sp good quality red wine vinegar
- 5 tbl sp good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 3 clove garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbl sp tomato paste
- 2 tsp salt
- brown sugar (optional)
- cracked black pepper (optional)
- A nice peppery extra virgin olive oil
- 2 x chopped boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup cubed cucumber
- 1 cup toasted croutons
- 1/2 finely sliced spring onions
Place the tomatoes, peeled capsicum, cucumber, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth. This may be best done in two lots to minimise mess, then combine well in a bowl. season well with salt, sugar and cracked black pepper. Place into the fridge for minimum 30 minutes before serving with croutons, egg, cucumber cubes and spring onions sprinkled on top of the soup. Best eaten with some crispy bread and a wedge of tasty cheese and a big glass of rustic foodie red wine.
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