Today’s post will be my last one for the foreseeable future. Since I am turning off the lights for a time, this Iowa girl needs to talk corn and tomatoes.
Every year it happens. September barges in before I’m ready for summer’s farewell. Autumn has the upper hand and is clearly broadcasting its presence. Nights are cooler. Aspen leaves quake yellow. And, snow appears on our highest peaks. I get it.
September is still farmer’s market heaven. Snap up those luscious tomatoes. Savor every ear of corn you can grab. My Corn Soup (Two Ways) is magical. Corn cobs make the broth. Who knew? Doesn’t everyone have a favorite Gazpacho recipe? This week’s CooktheBookFridays group is stirring up David Lebovitz’s recipe. His secret ingredient is vodka.
September is also the month we volunteer USFS rangers step aside for hunters and Old Man Winter. It’s been an especially great year. Our visitors constantly remind us we have a dream job and a gorgeous office. (We know that.) There is not a day I don’t wake up thanking God and Michael Hirsch that I can live amidst these splendid mountains.
Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. Hal Borland
As I said earlier, I am dimming my Lights and look forward to returning in a few months.
David Lebovitz’s GAZPACHO from My Paris Kitchen
3 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 slice firm, white country style bread, crusts removed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
1/2 red, green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt (more, if needed)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or chile powder
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vodka
DIRECTIONS: (The gazpacho can be made 3 days in advance and refrigerated.)
1. Fill a large pot half full of water and bring it to a boil. Remove the cores of the tomatoes and cut an X in the bottom of each.
2. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water (work in batches if your pot won’t hold them all) and let the tomatoes blanch for 30 seconds or until the skins loosen. Transfer them to a strainer and rinse with cold water. Peel the tomatoes, discarding the skins.
3. Cut the tomatoes in half HORIZONTALLY. Remove as many seeds as possible. Set a coarse-mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze the liquid and seeds out of the tomatoes; press the pulp through the strainer. Save the tomatoes and the tomato liquid. A few remaining seeds in the pulp will not matter.
4. In a small bowl, soak the bread in cold water for 1 minute, drain and squeeze the excess water out of the bread.
Working in batches, pulse the tomatoes and tomato liquid in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the bread, until they’re almost liquified, yet still have bits of tomato visible.
5. Mix the nearly pureed tomatoes in a large bowl with the cucumber, onion, pepper and garlic. Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, salt and spice. Season with pepper and add the vodka. Taste. Add additional salt if necessary.
5. Chill thoroughly before serving.
CORN SOUP (Two Ways), recipe by Faith from the KITCHN
8 medium fresh ears of corn, husks removed
7 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Truffle Salt and Chives
Smoked paprika, dash of Cayenne, fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped, and lime juice
1. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside. Place the cobs in a stockpot or Dutch oven and add the water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the corn kernels, a couple of big pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
3. Remove the corn cobs from the stockpot and add the corn mixture to the broth. Bring to a boil, then cover again and simmer 25 minutes.
4. Purée the soup, working in batches if necessary, in a blender until completely smooth (alternatively, blend directly in the pot with an immersion blender). Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed. (TIP: I used an immersion blender.)
5. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer in a clean pot or large bowl, pressing on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to serve cold. Garnish each bowl with the topping of your choice.
TIP: Leftover keeps well, without the toppings added, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Rewarm or serve cold and garnish just before serving.
COOKtheBOOKFRIDAYS is an international food group cooking its way virtually through My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. To see what my colleagues have stirred up this week or to join our group, go here.