Holy Awesomeness

I’m pretty pleased with how dinner turned out tonight. Craig’s parents, Jen, his aunt and cousin, and also his grandmother came over for dinner tonight. I’ve been dying to try making gazpacho soup (“GAZPACHO SOUP!!!” -name that British tv series) ever since The Pioneer Woman did a few weeks ago. But hers was kinda weird and lumpy and overall kind of strange. The recipe didn’t seem to have it’s heart in Portugal… not that mine did either. In fact, I kinda took the recipe and bent the whole meal in a Mexican-American fusion meets Portuguese ideas kinda way. First there was the gazpacho, then the sangria, and finally the rice. Dessert was a whole other story, but I digress.
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The meal took quite a bit of time to pull together, but boy-o was it worth it. Plus, I made enough for like 15 people to eat, so now there’s tons of leftovers, which is AWESOME. I didn’t write down an exact recipe, but here’s the gist.

Laurel’s AWESOME gazpacho
*8(ish) vine ripened tomatoes peeled, and deseeded
*1 large white onion, chopped in large chunks
*2 ENORMOUS cucumbers (bigger than what I’d imagine one would find in erotica) I suppose 3-4 normal sized ones would do. – diced finely
*1 bunch cilantro
*2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, skin peeled off, and diced
*1 jalapeño, roasted and deseeded, skin peeled off
*1 huge can cambells tomato juice (avoid v8, it has a celery flavor, weird)
*1/2-1/4 cup lime juice, fresh is best but don’t worry too much about it
*a splash of rice wine vinegar
*several dashes of Tapatio hot sauce
*more salt than you think you need
*I think that’s it

Anyway, blend the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, 1/4 of your total cucumber mass, cilantro, and jalapeño, I had to do a few batches in the blender and water it down with the tomato juice. I suppose you could use a food processor if you had one, I don’t. Then mix in the remaining ingredients, and stick it in the fridge for a few hours. I imagine it gets better with time, like fresh salsa.
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I served it with largely cubed avocado, a little sour cream, and some shrimp that had just been seasoned with salt and pepper then grilled. I also included a crusty crouton to dip in it (which was rad) that consisted of a slice of crusty Italian bread slathered with a lime-cilantro compound butter and grilled (a little longer than I’d have liked; what can I say, I’m forgetful!).
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To round out the meal, I prepared “Green Rice” as it’s known at home, and lime-brined chicken breasts. “Green Rice” is basically a few roasted poblanos, peeled and deseeded that have been thrown into the blender with an onion, a bunch of cilantro and enough chicken stock to make up the remainder of the cooking liquid for some normal long-grain white rice. The chicken was an interesting experiment. If you’ve ever made ceviche, you know the effect that citrus juice (more importantly, citric acid) has on flesh. It’s the reason that marinades with acidic components are rarely left in contact with meat for more than a few hours. I was unsure how much acid it would take for chicken breasts, and frankly didn’t care that much as the meat was getting cooked anyway. When I entertain, I try to give myself a little room for error as I tend to get caught up in conversation and forget things, so decided that brining was the way to go. I made an extremely simple brine as I wanted the flavor of the chicken to stay very clean and not have any non-Mexican flavors coming out, like bay leaves or whatever (plus I was too lazy to put my slippers on and go outside and pick one). The brine was 2 quarts of water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, some black peppercorns, and the juice of about 6 limes. It turned the chicken this sick whitish pink color, and the brine liquid turned an even more repulsive creamy thick consistency.
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I also got some rad little bowls (smaller bowls = simple portion control) and large white plates because I keep dropping our old ones and the pattern is discontinued (thanks CB2). They made for a nice way to display such a colorful meal. It was full of awesome. It was time consuming, but really, many of the best meals I’ve had are time consuming, and sitting down to enjoy something like that is so satisfying, knowing that you’ve made pretty much everything from scratch. MMMMMM MMMMMMMM!
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