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Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

  • June 26, 2017

This soup would never have been on my radar until last week, when I ate dinner at a restaurant called Larimar, in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Intrigued by the waiter’s description of the dish, I ordered something similar to this as an appetizer and after one sip, I knew I had to try to recreate it in my kitchen.

If it’s not exactly the same, it’s quite close, I think. The big difference is that the restaurant served its version topped with chunks of crabmeat, something you could easily do if you live near a good fish market.
If not, it tastes great all by itself, decorated with a strawberry and some edible flowers.
 I’d been looking for a way to use the pretty blue borage flowers (and the pansies are still going strong) that are blooming in my garden right now.
The soup makes a terrific first course – we ate it for dinner last night ahead of some leftover chicken and veggies. But I will make this again this summer (maybe even this week) because it’s delicious, it’s healthy, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and it’s quick to prepare.
I hope you try it sometime soon too.
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Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho
printable recipe here
makes 2-4 servings, depending on size of bowl (and appetites)

1 1/2- 2 cups strawberries (about 1/2 pound), cut in chunks
1 large tomato (about 1/2 pound), roughly chopped
1/2 cup yellow, orange or green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cucumber (peeled and seeded), roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, (take out seeds and ribs unless you like more heat)
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in blender. It may be difficult to get going until the strawberries start to become liquid, unless your blender is powerful. To avoid this, you could puree the strawberries first, then add tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. My blender did not pulverize the almonds totally, so I strained the mixture to get a smoother soup. This is best served a few hours, or even a day or two after making, when all the flavors have had more time to blend.

Jersey Shore Clambake

  • July 15, 2014

 First of all, let’s get one thing straight. If you’re from New Jersey or the Philadelphia area, you’re going “down the shore,” NOT “to the beach.” And shore towns in Jersey can vary in character from places that are noted for flashy boardwalk rides (Seaside Heights before Superstorm Sandy) —

photo from Jerseyboardwalk.com
 to quiet shore towns with manicured lawns and multi-million dollar McMansions (Spring Lake) —
Photo by Ron DeCicco
 to shore towns whose streets are lined with old-fashioned “gingerbread” Victorian homes (Cape May).
photo from www.thenewestvegetable.com
But no matter where you go along the Jersey shore, you’ll find great local seafood (OK, so the shrimp aren’t caught here) – perfect for a summer clambake.  We were lucky enough to be invited to one such event at the lovely seaside home of friends – Mary Ellen and Jim –  in Pt. Pleasant.
The lobster-themed table setting was a hint at the feast to come.
Take a closer look at the beautiful, embroidered napkins.
We arrived in time to see the whole process, which starts with an assortment of seafood and small potatoes. The recipe, from Ina Garten, also calls for kielbasa. Mary Ellen left it out and I was glad she did, because I’m not fond of the smoky taste of the sausage either. Throw in corn in you like, but you really don’t need it.
Don’t forget the lobsters — quick, before they get away.

The recipe starts out with a sauté of leeks and onions in good olive oil. Make sure you’ve got a huge pot to contain all the layers. First the potatoes, then the clams.
 Pile on the mussels and shrimp next.
 Finish with the lobsters, pour in some dry white wine and place a lid on top (maybe with a weight as well, to keep those frisky crustaceons from clawing their way out).
 After everything is cooked, remove the lobsters and separate the tail and claws from the main body. Jim snapped off the claws and snipped their tips with kitchen shears to allow water and steam to escape,
You could tell he’d done this many times before, expertly slicing the tails in half before placing them on the platters with the rest of the seafood and potatoes.
 There were four of us at the table, but more than enough food for at least two more. This is only one of the platters. No complaints here, as we dug in with gusto.
This mesmerizing view of the bay (their “back yard”) only added to the enjoyment of the meal. I think I could happily eat hot dogs and beans with a view like this, but I sure was glad to be eating the clambake instead.
Thanks Mary Ellen and Jim, for a fun night of terrific food and friendship.
See you “down the shore.”



Kitchen Clambake
Recipe from Ina Garten
printable recipe here

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds kielbasa
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, well cleaned (2 leeks, white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (red or white)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, in the shell
3 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters
2 cups good dry white wine

Directions
Slice the kielbasa diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute the onions and leeks in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 16 to 20 quart stockpot over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order: first the potatoes, salt, and pepper; then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a wooden board, cut them up, and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being very careful to avoid any sand in the bottom.