My favorite soup

Summer means cold refreshing food. That means I can load up on my favorite soup…Gazpacho. The best recipe I have found for it comes from a chef from Food Network. It’s so quick, easy and delicious, I can’t get enough of it.

Macho Gazpacho

Ingredients

2 (32-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in puree
1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce (for mild heat use 2 tablespoons) — aka Tabasco, Cholula, etc. — I’m a heat wimp, so I only use a couple splashes
1/2 European seedless cucumber, cut into chunks
1 small red onion, cut into chunks — I use whatever I have on hand
2 jalapenos or serranos, seeded and coarsely chopped — again, I’m a heat wimp so I don’t even use these
2 ribs celery, from the heart of the bunch, chunked
Handful fresh cilantro leaves
1 lemon or lime, juiced
Coarse salt and black pepper
Lemon or lime wedges, for garnish

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Directions

Working in batches, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse grind into a thick soup. Adjust seasonings. Pour soup into a thermos and chill until ready to serve. Serve in chilled glasses with wedges of lime or lemon for garnish.

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So quick, so easy, so good. Sometimes I add more or less of some of the veggies. It makes a good amount of soup, too. I can easily cut the recipe in half, or I know I get several days out of it. It’s great served with some grilled fish.

Let’s Get Crack(er)in’

Pre-dinner, appetizers, crackers.  Go to store, reach for X box.  Get home, open cardboard then bag (or just rip open the bag of pita chips — don’t lie).  Why must we always do this?

I am crafting ideas for an event in a couple weeks and wanted to do a test pilot recipe for homemade super crisp crackers.  Did some googling and an Alton Brown recipe came up on Food TV‘s site.  How can you go wrong with Alton?  I used the basics and threw in some lemon zest and vodka to complement some of the fish I aim to serve the crackers with.

Ingredients
5 ounces whole-wheat flour
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
<used all whole wheat because I was out of regular!>
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 1/2 ounces water
<used 1.5 ounces vodka and 5 ounces water>
added 1.5 teaspoons lemon zest
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I went with the awesome Penzey’s dry lemon peel for my zest that I wanted to add.   Add water, 15 minutes later, voila!
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Then, you just mix the dry ingredients, blend in the wet ones, knead a few times and break into 8 small balls of dough.
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You let them sit for 15 minutes then roll them out to desired thickness, based on what kind of cracker you’d like.
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Put the entire piece of dough in the oven.  You’re supposed to flip them half way but I love baking stuff on oven-proof racks to avoid the flipping need.  After 6-15 minutes, depending on what you choose (based on Alton’s specs), take the crisps out of the oven, let cool, then break into desired size of crackers.
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The recipe (online) got rave reviews.  I think my effort to put my own flavor into it altered it a bit in an off way (the vodka made them a bit ‘soggy’) but they are still darn edible.  I just always love tweaking things.  But, give them a try!  Very easy to make and a fun alternative to store-bought crackers.