Thursday, July 03, 2014

Easy-ish Hot Night Dinner: Gazpacho!

No, it's not 100% low carb--tomatoes have a lot of sugar in them--but it's fast and doesn't require any cooking and it's FULL of vegetables, and, oh yeah, it's delicious.

I followed this recipe exactly, except I used pre-minced garlic out of the big jar from Costco instead of fresh. DON'T HATE ME. I know. I know how much worse it is. In fact, I'm well aware, because, after tasting the Gaz, I had to add insult to injury and add some garlic salt to the mix, just to bring out the gar. flavor.*

I am deeply ashamed.

What this recipe really requires is chopping. Lots of chopping. If you are a slow chopper, as I am, then this will not be quite so fast. I started at (about) 10:40 and finished at 11:15. And keep in mind: that is WITHOUT cooking.

The Gaz is currently chilling, as am I. Because my kitchen is still cool. BA-ZINGA.**

More seriously, folks, I did a few more things differently from the original linked recipe:

1. I didn't strain anything. As I told my partner, partway through the cooking chopping process: "We're actually having RUSTIC Gazpacho, where 'rustic' means 'eat your own dang seeds'," but the truth is more complicated than that. I tried straining the gazpacho through the fine-meshed sieve, and in fact dirtied TWO EXTRA DISHES to do so, but...stopped. The problem may have been that my sieve was perhaps too finely meshed. I was getting mainly pink-colored water as the result, and my partner and I wanted to consume actual calories at sometime before 2 am this evening.*** So I stopped and tried to mix everything back into the same bowl. This brought on some spills, as every one of my kitchen experiments is wont to do, but nothing that couldn't be cleaned up easily.

2. I used a mix of balsamic vinegar and cooking sherry in place of "vinegar", and didn't measure either element. This "not measuring" thing is fairly normal for me, as is "substituting flavor profiles for other flavor profiles that I think might fit."

3. I didn't measure the olive oil, either. The cool thing about being a chemical engineer is that you get an instinctive sense for when bases and acids mix together to form a cohesive, impossible-to-separate, whole. Add too much acid, and you've got separation. Add too much base, and you have the same problem. The trick is to keep them, [cooking word shoutout!]: emulsified. It's also a lab term. If your acids (the tomatoes, and later the vinegars) are in balance with your bases (oils) then you'll get a lovely creamy, soupy, texture to your gazpacho. You could rub it in your hair.**** Mess up either one of those amounts and you'll have soupy salsa.

Thanks and enjoy your cool kitchens.

*I've been reading a lot of P.G. Wodehouse recently. Mom, this is reference to P.G. Wodehouse's writing gimmick of using abbreviations to get inside the head of Bertie Wooster, which Mr Wodehouse did to great, great affect. It's still one of my favorite writing tricks.

**Mom, this is a reference to The Big Bang Theory, a TV show. There's a character named Sheldon who started off (and still technically is) a sidekick, but has become a fan favorite, and he has a terrible sense of humor, but still manages to prank his fellow nerdy colleagues. When he feels that he's scored one on them, he yells "BA-ZINGA".

***I think all start-up employees would agree with me here that 2 am still qualifies as "evening."

****This is a reference to an old family joke: "That sauce is so good, I could rub it in my hair!" BUT it also has a practical meaning! Everyone is well aware of the futility of trying to mix oil and water, yes? Right. So why should tomatoes be any different--after all, they contain water, right? A LOT of water. And yet tomatoes are well known for their affiliation for olive oil. What gives? Well, the acid in tomatoes makes it possible. Like liquid soap, or shampoo: you need an emulsifier to keep the oil and the water together. In this case, the acid is the emulsifier. Why can't you pour salad dressing in your hair? Well, there's a number of sensible reasons, but mainly it's because the water and the oil will stay separate. You'll end up with wet hair, and then oily hair. Adding an emulsifier to the mix makes your shampoo a homogenous substance, an easily used goop that cleans your hair and washes out with water. This is part 11 in an umpteen-part series on Chemistry.

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