Back in the Land of Shark Week and Air Conditioning

by Catherine Down

Back home briefly for summer break and all I can say is THANK GOD I made it back in time for Shark Week. Today I made a list of things I’m particularly appreciating about America:

1. air conditioning

2. cheddar cheese

3. my family and friends

4. mexican food

5. being able to wear exercise clothes in public

What needs to be added to that list? My mother’s food processor.

Creamy Gazpacho

Technique adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

This is so much better when the flavors have time to meld so I recommend making this the night beforehand


5 large tomatoes with core removed (3 regular and 2 heirloom)

1/2 English cucumber (the long skinny cucumbers without seeds)

1 yellow bell pepper (seeds and ribs removed)

1/2 green bell pepper (seeds and ribs removed)

1/2 large red onion

1 serrano chile (sliced in half, seeds and ribs removed)

2 cloves of garlic finely minced

2 tbs kosher salt (plus more to taste)

1 piece of French baguette (approx. 4 inches long)

1 handful cilantro

1 handful parsley

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs sherry vinegar

black pepper, to taste



1. Coarsely chop all the veggies, the onion, and chile and place in a large mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Finely mince the garlic and place in a small fine mesh strainer. Rinse the garlic under cool water (this will remove some of the sulfurous taste of raw garlic) and drain. Toss with the veggie mixture. Mix in 2 tbs of kosher salt and let the veggies drain in the strainer over the bowl for at least an hour.*

2. Take a slice of stale French baguette (about 4 inches long) and tear into chunks. Soak for a minute in the juices that have collected in the bowl below the veggies.

3. Take half of the vegetables and place in the food processor. Pour half of the veggie juices and bread chunks in as well. Throw in the handful of cilantro. Start processing the mixture and slowly drizzle in a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil so that the gazpacho emulsifies and looks creamy.

4. Pour the first batch of gazpacho into a large bowl. Take the other half of the veggies and bread/juice mixture and put in the food processor. Throw in a handful of flat leaf parsley. Start processing the mixture and slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

5. Mix the two batches together in one large bowl. Add 2 tbs of sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Garnish with minced vegetables if you so desire and serve cold.

*This step is very important! Cook’s Illustrated writes that “for maximum flavor extraction, salting the vegetables and letting them sit for an hour works best. With time, the salt draws flavor compounds out of the cell walls while simultaneously forcing the proteins to separate from these molecules, producing a more intensely flavored soup. Simply seasoning the soup before serving will not have the same effect.”