Friday, August 9, 2013

Seriously Literate, IRL edition

Well, hellooooo strangers. My phone is once again full of photos of dinners I haven't written about, so here is the first attempt to rectify that little situation.

Anyway, I've read so little since the monkey weaseled his way out of the womb and into the world that it's embarrassing. Like, for real, my library card expired. So I did the only thing I could think of that was sure to work—I started a book club. With other actual people who would hold me responsible and, obviously, also like to drink wine and eat read.

I hosted the first go around. Book was Monday Mornings, chosen by my friend A, who claims a friend of hers had recommended it. And I'm totally calling her out here, because the book was horrendous.

Ok, it wasn't horrendous. But it wasn't something I'd recommend. I can see it making a good tv series, if you happen to be in the market for another medical drama (Oh, you aren't? No one else was, either.) but Sanjay Gupta should stick to being a neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent. I mean, I don't mean to be harsh; it wasn't poorly written, it was just, well, pretty one dimensional. I just didn't care about the many, many characters, most of whom weren't particularly well developed, if developed at all. It was just chapter after chapter after chapter, and then the ending was just blehhhhhh, really?

So let's talk food instead! It was a small group this month, only 5 of us, so I of course had to go overboard on the food. And yes, I made food cards. Shh. My mom already made fun of me. Yeah, they had books on them. It's BOOK CLUB, y'all. But know what I didn't have to do all night? Tell people what they were eating. Boom. It's the little things, peeps.

We had my mom's ham rolls, which are flour burrito sized tortillas spread with low-fat cream cheese, sprinkled with a garlic salt, dried oregano, pepper and basil mixture, layered with thin sliced deli ham, then topped thinly with chopped green chiles, chopped green onion and chopped olives. Rolled up, chilled, then sliced about 3/4 in thick. It's quite possibly one of the best things in the world.

I also tried a lemony, rosemary ricotta dip I found online (an Anne Burrell recipe. I liked, didn't love, but was still a nice something different) and my favorite summer soup—gazpacho. Served it in a pitcher with the toppings on the side to make serving interesting/easy, which I had to pat myself on the back a bit for later. Especially the plastic cup/bowl part. Nobody wants to do dishes after a get together.

Don't know how I've never posted my gazpacho recipe, so here we go...also a great use for all those summer veggies y'all are growing in climates more suited for that sort of thing than mine.

Gazpacho with Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese 
(adapted from a Real Simple recipe)

(Just roughly chop all of the veggies, you're gonna blend them)
2.5 lbs ripe red tomatoes
2 cucumbers, peeled
1/2 a peeled white onion
2 large garlic cloves
2 bell peppers, any color (but red or orange is prettiest)
Juice from half a lemon
About a tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp rice (or other) vinegar
More lemon juice (the other half?)
Couple dashes Tabasco (optional)

To top:
Fresh corn (just cut it off the ear, it doesn't have to be perfect)
Crumbled goat cheese
Chopped cilantro

Immersion blender?
Chop everything up and toss it all (veggies through vinegar) into a bowl (or two, depending on the size of your bowls) and use an immersion hand blender to combine everything until pretty liquidy. Stir in 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper.

Blender/Food processor?
Get two big bowls. Chop everything up and toss all the veggies into one. Then just blend as much as will fit into your blender at a time (AKA work in batches) and transfer the blended batches to the other bowl until you get it all. Add the lemon, tomato paste, vinegar, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and combine well.

Then stick it in the fridge to chill, at least an hour. When it's nice and chilly, add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste and Tabasco (if using). Combine well, and serve with a handful each of cheese and corn on top, sprinkled with a bit of cilantro.