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  • August 20, 2012

For those of you in the Northeastern U.S., it might have been more useful to post this recipe when the weather was in the upper 90s. But you can enjoy this even if the temperature this week drops to the 80s, especially since most of these ingredients are still plentiful in farmer’s markets or backyard gardens.

I’m not typically a big fan of gazpacho, but when my friend Cathy served this to me earlier this summer, it struck just the right balance of cooling vegetables and spicy tabasco. Plus it’s so loaded with healthy ingredients, you may not even feel a twinge of guilt about that second scoop of ice cream later on. She got the recipe from and it includes an unusual ingredient for gazpacho – at least I’ve never seen it in a gazpacho recipe before —  a hard-boiled egg. Don’t omit it, because even if you can’t taste it, it does help thicken the soup and lends a bit more complexity to the flavor. I did leave out the beef broth though, and didn’t miss it one bit, and used V-8 juice instead of tomato juice, on Cathy’s recommendation. Good call Cathy.
The recipe makes a LOT of soup, so serve it to a crowd or be content to eat it daily for a week or more. I took some of it with me on a mini-beach getaway with a few friends recently (otherwise known as the Peace Sisters), and it was the perfect lunchtime meal, accompanied by some of my savory biscotti.
After our daily morning yoga workout by the bay, and our lunch of gazpacho, I had no qualms about that having that ice cream cone dipped in liquid chocolate.

Mom’s Gazpacho

printable recipe here


  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or yellow pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups beef broth (optional – I omitted this -)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • Pepper, coarsely ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 46-ounce can tomato juice (I used V-8 juice)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Tabasco, to taste
  • Garnish (optional): chopped parsley, minced red onion, chopped olives (I used sliced avocado)
Place egg in small pot of cold water, bring to boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
In a pot or large bowl, combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, cold beef broth (optional), red wine vinegar, parsley, oregano, Worcestershire, and coarsely ground black pepper to taste. Stir.
Sprinkle garlic with a pinch of salt, and set in bowl.
When egg is finished cooking, run under cold water, remove shell, add to garlic and salt mixture, and mash together with fork.
Pour tomato juice into large pot or bowl with vegetables, and add garlic, egg, and salt mixture. Add bread crumbs and stir so that they dissolve into liquid.
(I removed about 1/2 of the mixture and puréed the other half, then put them together, so that the soup had some smoothness to it and some texture from the chopped vegetables.)
Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley, minced red onion, and chopped olives if desired.

Cook’s Notes: · My recipe serves eight, and it’s not worth the trouble to prepare this soup for one. But like homemade tomato sauce, its flavor improves with age—you can store it in the refrigerator and eat it for about a week.
· Why mash the garlic with egg and salt? To make a garlic-infused paste that adds body and substance to the tomato broth.
· Use kosher salt to bring out the flavors of the vegetables.
· Try to chop the vegetables so that they’re small but not minced or pulverized, and don’t worry if the sizes aren’t uniform. The pieces should be small enough to chew but big enough to recognize.
· If you prefer a more elegant presentation, emulsify the chilled mixture before serving. Seasoning is a very personal matter. I tend to like my gazpacho pungent and sharp, with salt, lemon, and onion flavors lingering on the palate. If you prefer milder soup, reduce the onion, garlic, and vinegar quantities by half. If you want a spicier soup, add 2 teaspoons of minced jalepeño peppers. To make vegetarian gazpacho, substitute vegetable broth for beef broth.

Basil Biscotti – sweet and savory

  • August 9, 2012
I love pesto as much as the next guy, but what about using basil in some non-traditional way? When I saw anise basil growing in the fabulous schoolyard garden started by my friend Dorothy (along with about 40 other basil varieties), I knew I had to try making something sweet with it. So why not biscotti, since anise is a flavoring frequently used for cookies? I also added a little of the lemon and lime basil growing in the garden too, just because it seemed like a good combination. And it was. I used a good cup of the basil and the anise taste was subtle in the finished cookie. Next time I’d add even more to make the flavor more pronounced. The green color of the chopped basil held, even through the baking.
When I posted on Facebook that I was making basil biscotti, Marie of Proud Italian Cook, asked me if they were savory. “Hmmm,” I thought, “Why not try some of those too?” So I used the small-leafed basil growing in the garden (the kind Ligurians swear is the most pungent and best for pesto) and a recipe on Marie’s website that was originally in the Washington Post, created by Domenica Marchetti. Domenica has written several wonderful Italian cookbooks, including one on pasta that I’ve written about. I changed the recipe a bit to use parmesan cheese rather than asiago and pecorino, (since that’s all I had on hand) some chopped walnuts — and the basil of course. The results were fantastic – and addictive. I could eat dozens of these, with a glass of wine or a cocktail in hand. Try it for yourself. Even if all you don’t have anise basil, or the small leafed kind. Regular basil would be great too, especially in the savory biscotti.

Sweet Basil Biscotti

printable recipe here

This is my friend Lilli’s biscotti recipe that I’ve posted before. They’re the gold standard for biscotti.
The only difference this time is the addition of basil.

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 cup whole almonds, toasted ahead of time in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes
1 cup chopped basil (I used anise, plus a little lemon and lime basil)

Mix sugar and butter together until blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until all is blended. Scrape from the bottom to make sure everything is mixed in. The batter will be very stiff. Add the almonds (and dried cranberries if using) either with a durable wooden spoon, or with your mixer. Don’t mix for long if using a mixer since you don’t want to break up the almonds.
Mix sugar and butter together until blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until all is blended. Add the basil. Scrape from the bottom to make sure everything is mixed in. The batter will be very stiff. Add the almonds (and dried cranberries if using) either with a durable wooden spoon, or with your mixer. Don’t mix for long if using a mixer since you don’t want to break up the almonds.

Take about 1/3 of the mixture and plop it onto a well-floured counter or board. Shape into a “log” that resembles a small, flat loaf of bread, tapering the two ends at an angle. It’s a sticky dough, so you’ll need to keep your hands and board floured. Repeat two more times with the remainder of the dough. Butter a cookie sheet and place the “logs” on the cookie sheet, leaving ample room between them. Coat with a thin layer of milk or beaten egg. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until golden – about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and turn the heat up to 450 degrees. Carefully place one of the “logs” on a cutting board, using two spatulas if necessary to keep it from splitting. With a sharp knife (I use a serrated knife) slice the cookies at a diagonal. Hold one hand firmly on the log while you cut with the knife in the other hand, so you don’t break the dough and crumble the cookies. A few are bound to break. Place the cookies back on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for about five minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Flip the cookies over and bake another five minutes on the other side. Makes about four dozen biscotti.

Savory Basil Biscotti – adapted from Domenica Marchetti
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt(Domenica calls for 1 cup of grated aged Asiago cheese and 1 cup of grated pecorino Romano, but I used 2 cups parmesan cheese)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced skin-on almonds (I used finely chopped walnuts)
3 large eggs lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the dough (4th egg is optional)
1 cup whole or 2 percent milk (I used skim milk)
1 cup basil, chopped finely
Combine the flour, pepper, baking powder, salt and cheeses in the bowl of a food processor; pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse briefly. Add the nuts and basil but do not process.
Combine the 3 beaten eggs and the milk in a measuring cup, then add to the food processor bowl, pulsing as you pour. Process just until the egg mixture and nuts are incorporated and the dough begins to form a ball. (This proved to be too much volume for my food processor. I had to switch to the mixer.)
Turn out the dough onto a large piece of wax paper, patting it into a disk. Wrap the disk in the paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. (I baked it without refrigerating it first and it worked just fine.)
Position oven racks in the middle and lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator; if it is very firm let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 11 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops of the logs with the remaining beaten egg, if using. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom; then bake for 15 minutes so the logs are golden on top and springy to the touch. Use a wide spatula to transfer the logs to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes; keep the baking sheets at hand because they will be used to bake the sliced biscotti.(Wipe the paper or liners clean as needed.)
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Working with one log at a time, place it on a cutting board and use a serrated knife to cut crosswise on the diagonal with a slow, sawing motion into 1/3-inch-thick slices, arranging them closely together on the baking sheet as you go. Bake both sheets for 15 minutes (on the middle and lower racks), then rotate them from top to bottom and front to back; bake for 15 minutes, until the biscotti are golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.