And a whole lotta sugar. That right there about sums up why I haven’t shown my mug ’round these parts in over two (two!) full weeks.
That I’ve been up to my earlobes in a bunch of the good stuff is an understatement; over the past two weeks, I transitioned from the cafe to the bakery, and for a good chunk of that time, I was cramming long shifts at both into days that suddenly came up much too short.
Starting my days at a chipper six-thirty in the morning and wrapping them up just before the clock turned me into a pumpkin is exhausting (to say the very least), and where on weekends I should have been catching up on my precious lost winks, I was entertaining out of town guests, dancing the night away at a wedding in California, and chasing one cheeky pug and her new BFF feline around as they terrorized and tornado’d about the house.
That all said, there are far, far worse things to be inundated with than cherry pies, blackbottom cupcakes, shortbread, and chocolate ganache, and the past few weeks have been a sugary whirlwind that would send my dentist scampering off for the hills.
Dough has been flying, bread has been rising, mixers have been whirring, and I have drank more double-shot macchiatos than I care to admit. I’m finally almost (almost) past that awkward very beginning phase – the one where you still have to ask how to use the phone (so….do I need to dial a ’9′?) and manage to be in the way of every baker who’s carrying a blazing hot tray of bubbling raspberry scones
The bakery is starting to feel like a warm, coffee-scented second home.
I quite like that.
But like it or not, I’ve missed out on posting during one of my favorite times of the entire year: this late September-half-Summer-half-almost-Fall time of bliss. The time when the tomatoes sit heavy on the vine, threatening to break free of their green shackles, and when produce bins are piled high with a surplus of fresh and shiny vegetables.
Though often I find gazpacho can taste like a bowl of cold salsa soup, when it’s done right, there is almost nothing that can trump it on a warm late-Summer day. I’m much more a fan of the pureed variety than the chunky type, and when the pureed type has just the right amount of body, tang, and interest, it sings.
I’ve long been a fan of using bread to give body to soups, and while working at the restaurant I picked up two very valuable tricks of the gazpacho trade: swap out jalapenos in favor of fresno peppers for a lighter, brighter, spice, and top the one-dimensional soup with something that treats both your eyes and your stomach.
This gazpacho is very similar to what was one of my favorite menu items at the cafe, but I kept the more traditional jalapeno, and evened it out with a dash of honey and some diced red pepper (for sweetness). A final key detail that I think turns this healthy soup into something a bit more substantial: chopped avocado.
All together the soup is everything you’d come to expect from a gazpacho; it’s cool and somewhat creamy, yet light and bright at the same time. Where this soup detours in the right direction is the lovely body and texture that the marinated and blended up bread imparts, and in the satisfaction of spooning gazpacho clad avocado chunks into your mouth.
This soup is a keeper, on steady rotation here in the late Summer, and I’m so glad I lifted my head out of its buttery haze to share it with you, before it’s too late.
Late Summer Gazpacho: Tomatoes, Red Pepper, Jalapeno, Avocado
8 very fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 medium sized cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1/4 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, cut into a medium dice
1 fresno chili, seeded and cut into a medium dice
juice of one lemon
one half of a large baguette, cut into thin slices
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
large pinch salt, plus more to taste
fresh cracked pepper
a generous portion of diced avocado (1/4 avocado per bowl of soup)
rough chopped cilantro
In a large bowl combine the first eight ingredients (the tomatoes through the baguette). Toss the ingredients to combine, and then drizzle the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and honey over the top. Add a hefty pinch of salt and a few generous grinds of pepper, toss the vegetables again, and let the mixture sit for 45 minutes to one hour, in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.
Blend the marinated vegetables in batches in a blender until the mixture is very smooth (with no chunks of vegetables), but still has a bit of texture (the texture should be smooth but just a tad grainy looking – this is from the bread). When all of the vegetables have been blended, stir the soup, and adjust your salt and pepper levels.
Serve chilled, with diced avocado and roughly chopped cilantro on top.
Soup will keep the better part of a week in the fridge; simply stir and readjust seasoning (if needed) before serving.