Tuesday, August 2, 2011

As he came into the window, there was the sound of a gazpacho

Not much news today, just taking a little time after work to write a quick blog entry. Tonight marks the opening ceremonies of the biennial EBI Retreat, where I go talk about my biofuels research with other people who get money from the same oil company. Not an olive oil company. I wish. Fortunately, we aren't retreating as far as central Illinois this bi-year; instead, we're retreating a little under a mile down the road to the Claremont Hotel. I am still about as excited as I was for the last retreat, though. Dinner tonight will be "a light dinner of heavy hors d'oeuvres." Isn't that the name of a Traffic album?

I'm going to keep making that reference until someone acknowledges it.

DID YOU KNOW? I first learned of the existence of ceviche during AP Biology, my junior year of high school, when Mr. Kemble explained to us the concept of denaturing proteins, and how you could "cook" a piece of meat either by applying heat or by increasing the acidity. Last night, inspired by Kenji again, I tried my hand at actually making ceviche for the first time, with a few corn kernels thrown in for good measure because Heidi just put up a recipe for raw corn salad. It was surprisingly easy and I probably worried more about slicing the onions and padron peppers than I worried about whether the fish was actually cooked or not. Well, no food poisoning so far today.

Less likely to induce gastrointestinal distress was this refreshing gazpacho I adapted from Ad Hoc At Home. Instead of using sun golds and Armenian cucumbers, I used a heap of tomatoes from Jeff's farm box, a couple of unidentified summer squash, and two red peppers. Thomas Keller has this strange, complicated way of making gazpacho where you puree all the vegetables, strain the resulting soup, and then blend a generous amount of olive oil back into the strained soup. The oil gives the gazpacho a tremendously smooth, velvety, luxurious texture. If I could offer one criticism of this otherwise fantastic recipe--it makes the soup just a little bit too smooth for my liking. Criminally smooth. Even with a fine dice of red peppers and padrons added for some crunch, I was sitting there last night, slurping my soup, thinking "This is just too easy. It feels too nice in my mouth. This is unsettling. Something is wrong here." Life isn't easy. Why should your gazpacho be?

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