Green Plum Cooking School – Saturday, August 14th
Today, I’m making a gazpacho with beets. I’m having trouble with my mic, though. I’m not sure anyone can hear me. I just keep talking. I mention my mother’s gazpacho and the one I had in Spain years ago – lasting food impressions that are always my reference points when I make gazpacho. My mother’s is a puree and much like a salad with a balance of acids and oil from the vegetables or fruits; in Spain, the gazpacho had more red bell peppers in it, was strained after it was pureed (which made it finer) and was garnished with lots of goodies like croutons, hard-boiled egg and tomato. The beet gazpacho I’m making today brings aspects of these two gazpachos together.
I start by boiling the beets in water to which I have added sugar and vinegar. The result is a beet-colored sweet and sour elixir that will flavor our gazpacho. The garnishes are prepped: concasséd tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion — all diced or minced. I correct Megan’s (aka Miss Priss) knife skills and reiterate that I want it diced or minced. But she says she can’t hear me. I check my mic. Sarah and Megan’s heads are down and they are determined to squeeze and chop and mince all of the ingredients. I take some time to chit chat about things with the audience. I mention my Twogs (my last two blogs that are full of tweets) which I did on my vacation because it’s not enough that I close t’afia and pay for my staff to go on vacation, I now have an obligation to you, dear readers, to disclose my every experience!
For those who didn’t read my Twogs (Hello, is this thing on?), I recounted my experience listening to Alice Waters talk at Toby’s Feed Barn in Tomales Bay (she was supporting her new book, “The Green Kitchen”). You may remember that I started my Green Plum Cooking Classes by working my way through Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food” for the first year. I wanted to see if it was really possible to cook something delicious and simple in one hour, using the ingredients I found at the market every week. Well, it is possible. So, now, in my second year of cooking every Saturday morning at the market, I am using my own recipes from my online cookbook, Eat Where Your Food Lives.
During Alice’s talk, she challenged the audience to YouTube their own experiences in their Green Kitchens (failed or otherwise). I’m considering filming my classes. Alice said that if she was going to do a TV show, she would just dig a hole, put a grate over it and start a fire and invite all of her talented friends to come and cook. That’s where I’m at — only I want a wood-fired brick oven instead.
We bowl up the Beet Gazpacho. Really, it should be very cold, but today we’re outside…in August…in Houston. You could puree the ingredients with ice water to make it colder. We could pass the gazpacho through the strainer again for a much finer texture but I go with my mom’s gazpacho texture because I’m running out of time. I suggest to the audience to put it in the freezer with their vodka and realize that the two would make a great combo: beet gazpacho martinis…which reminds me of another vacation story, but no one can hear me at this point anyway.
NOTE: The recipes used in my Green Plum Cooking School classes can be found in my online cookbook, “Eat Where Your Food Lives,” available for purchase at http://www.ChefMonicaPope.com)