Mains, Soup


It’s been really hot in London this week, so a perfect time to do the first proper recipe from “The French Laundry Cookbook” that I got last weekend. Gazpacho!

I made the balsamic glaze the day before making this and it was really easy, the only thing to keep in mind is to keep the heat very low. I used my diffuser which made it a lot easier but the glaze still started to bubble a bit after 2 hours on the hob so I had to move it to one half of the diffuser to keep the temperature. All in all the cooking of the glaze took about 2,5 hours. After the glaze was done I stored it in a little squeeze bottle in my cupboard.
This soup was truly amazing… bursting with flavours. First you got tomato and cucumber, then the heat from the cayenne and the onions and finally the sweetness from the balsamic glaze.
Perfect for a warm summer night in the beginning of July.
We enjoyed the soup with some bread sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and then lightly toasted under the grill.
The wine was a kiwi Chardonnay that worked very well with the soup. Since the soup is quite powerful and spicy you need something like a buttery and big (think New World wines) Chardonnay with quite low acidity to match it.

Ingredients for the balsamic glaze:

500 ml balsamic vinegar (I used Aceto Balsamico Di Modena)

Preparing the balsamic glaze:

Heat the vinegar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until steam rises from the liquid. Place the saucepan on a heat diffuser and let the liquid reduce very slowly (it shouldn’t simmer) for 2 to 3 hours, until it has reduced and thickened to a syrupy glaze. There should be approximately 1/2 cup of glaze. Keep the glaze in a squeeze bottle at room temperature for garnishing: if the glaze is too thick, warm the bottle in hot water to loosen the glaze.

Ingredients for the gazpacho:

240 ml chopped red onions (about 1 medium sized red onion)
240 ml chopped green bell pepper (about 1,5 medium sized green pepper)
240 ml chopped English cucumber (about 1 cucumber)
240 ml chopped and peeled tomatoes (about 4 medium sized tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
60 ml tomato paste (I couldn’t find tomato paste so I around 2 tablespoons tomato pure instead)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
90 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
710 ml tomato juice (I used 750 ml because that’s what was in the bottle)
Sprig of thyme

Preparing the gazpacho:

1. Mix all the ingredients except the balsamic glaze together in a bowl or other container, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

2. The next day, remove the thyme and blend all the ingredients in a blender until the gazpacho is smooth. You will have about 2 quarts. For a smoother texture, strain the soup to yield about 1 quart. Refrigerate the gazpacho until ready to serve.

To complete: Ladle the cold soup into bowls and squeeze dots of balsamic glaze over the top.


Lemon Tart

This is the first dessert recipe I did from the wonderful book “Bouchon” by Thomas Keller. It was not too difficult to do and really delicious. It makes enough lemon tart for about six people.
We had it with some strawberries but something like a vanilla cream would go well with it as well since it’s quite acidic.

Ingredients for the pine nut crust:
285 grams (about 470 ml) pine nuts
80 ml sugar
455 grams (about 710 ml) all-purpose flour
230 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparing the pine nut crust:
Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Divide the dough into three equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using. (The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.
Ingredients for the lemon tart:
Butter and flour for the tart pan
1/3 recipe pine nut Crust

Lemon sabayon:
2 large eggs, cold
2 large egg yolks, cold
180 ml sugar
120 ml fresh lemon juice
85 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Preparing the lemon tart:
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch fluted tart pan (it should be about one inch deep) with a removable bottom and refrigerate it while the oven preheats. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use your fingertips to press the chilled pine nut dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough (this extra dough can be made into a cookie that you can cook at the same time as the crust). Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate it and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling. (There may be some cracks in the crust; they will not affect the finished tart.) For the sabayon:
Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet. Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.