Gazpacho served in a Frozen Cucumber Bowl
For the first of tonights recipes, I decided to make something very topical, if not very politically correct at the moment. With Everyone screaming "E. Coli Scandal!!" and terrified of eating imported Spanish cucumbers... I have decided to pay homage with a pretty nifty little number, that will have your guests saying "ooh!" and "ah!" and not "Dios Mios!"
Of course, there is nothing new and exciting about gazpacho- although it is always makes for a wonderful lunch or starter on a hot Summer day. The thing that will make this dish special is the presentation- which although a little messy after the meal is finished, (no- don't think about it), is actually quite a bit more practical than it may seem...
To make the cucumber bowl, simply slice your cucumber thinly and sprinkle the slices very generously with salt. The salt will held draw excess liquid out of the cucumber and also lower the temperature of the freezing point later on. Now simply line your bowl with the cucumber slices, being careful not to leave any gaps. It is best to have a couple of layers, overlapping as many edges as you can. Freeze for around an hour and then check to see how it is coming along. Once you see ice crystals forming, add a little water and re-freeze it. An hour later, slide a knife under one edge to loosen the bowl and revolve it a little- so that it is nice and loose and ready to use once your soup is finished. this time when you add a little water, add it on the outside edge, between the cucumber and the actual bowl... this will give a little added stability. And now get cracking with that soup!
There are any number of versions of this dish, but the main ingredients are always tomato, bell pepper, celery, onion and a little garlic. In mine, I added celery, black olives and some chili threads at the end for a bit of extra "oomph!" But first things first- chop all the ingredients and add tomato juice, a little tomato paste and I like to add a splash of orange juice too. Season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar, and flavor with oregano, chopped basil and parsley. Refrigerate well and enjoy the feeling of anticipation, knowing you are going to knock your guests socks off... Olé!
Before serving, add a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. NOW you can add those chili threads or flakes... or Tabasco is wonderful too. A little splash or Worcestershire sauce will give a nice bit of extra seasoning if there is something lacking. It is normal to add a few ice cubes before serving, as Gazpacho is indeed best served ice cold. That is where our frozen bowls have a "cool" second function! They will make sure that the soup tastes so delicious that it will be eaten up in no time! Make your portions small and flavorfull- this is just supposed to be starter and quite literally, an "ice-breaker" for your evening... and the only down- side to this is that you will only have about 10 minutes to enjoy!