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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomato Gazpacho with Mozarella Ice Cream and Spicy Tomato Jelly

This is a little more complicated but the wow factor is high.  Not much cooking required and everything can be prepared ahead of time - definite plus.    This can  also be served as a really cool appetizer in a small shot glass (omit the tomato jelly).

Mozzarella ice cream is really good.  The mozzarella taste is there but very subtle with a hint of basil.  The idea is that it is not too sweet but will add an interesting balance to the acidity of the gazpacho.  The two flavors go really well together and on a hot day, this is a great dish.  You will need a ice cream maker for this - get the cheaper one that you freeze the bowl beforehand - it works very well and is not a huge expense.

Mozzarella Ice Cream

  1. 120 g of good quality mozzarella, cut in small pieces;
  2. 2 cups  (500 ml) of heavy cream;
  3. 1 cup (250 ml) of milk;
  4. 1/4 cup (55g) of sugar;
  5. 4 egg yolks;
  6. Fresh basil;
  7. Salt and Pepper

  • Mix the mozzarella, cream and milk in a blender and then place in a small pot on medium heat (to melt the mozzarella) - but don't boil;
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar;
  • Add the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks slowly while whisking (this will 'temper' the eggs so that they do not cook and scramble);
  • Return the mixture to the stove and cook until it thickens (about 3 minutes);
  • Season with salt and pepper and taste;
  • Place on an ice bath to cool;
  • Return to blender once cooled and add a few basil leaves, blend, and strain;
  • Place the cooled mixture into the ice cream maker and follow the instructions;
  • Once you have the ice cream texture, remove to a plastic container with a lid and keep in the freezer for up to one month.

Gazpacho - this is easy

  1. 350 g of fresh tomatoes (about 5), cut in quarters
  2. 1/2 cucumber peeled, cut in large pieces
  3. 3 garlic cloves;  bring garlic to a boil in a pot of water 3 times to remove the bitterness, this won't take long and adds a garlic flavor that is not too strong and pleasant - also remember to remove the center green core if it has one.
  4. 1 shallot, peeled and cut in half
  5. 1 cooked beet: this will really intensify the color of the gazpacho and add a nice natural sweetness - if you don't have, add a hint of honey;
  6. 1 tbsp (15 ml) of balsamic vinegar;
  7. 1 tbsp (15 ml) of tomato paste; to intensify the tomato flavor;
  8. Salt, pepper;
  9. Espelette or cayenne pepper to taste;
  10. Basil (for decoration)

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and mix;
  • Strain, pressing down on all the solids to get as much flavor as possible, taste and season;
  • Keep in the refrigerator (can be kept for a few days).

Spicy Tomato Jelly

You will need: 'mise en place'

  1. 3-4 tomatoes (or leftover pieces of tomato - include the stem end as it has lots of flavor);
  2. 3-4 sheets of gelatin or gelatin powder or agar agar (follow instructions on package to know exact ratio of gelatin to liquid;
  3. A few drops of seasoned sushi vinegar;
  4. salt, espelette pepper or cayenne
  • Put a few roughly chopped tomatoes in a blender with a bit of water and a tsp of tomato paste (only if the tomatoes are not is season and need a little extra flavor).  Mix until well blended.
  • Put the mixture, which should be liquid, in a pot and bring to boil over medium heat.  Let it boil for a few minutes and you will notice that the solids will separate from the liquid.  
  • Line a fine 'sieve' with cheesecloth or paper towel and pour the tomato mixture through.  All the liquid you will be left with is called tomato water and has an intense, light tomato flavor.
  • Put this liquid back in a clean pot and heat gently.  Add either gelatin leaves that have been soaked in cold water (follow directions to know how much to add per liter of liquid) - it is usually 10 sheets per liter.   Otherwise you can use powdered gelatin (again follow packet instructions) or if you want to be really trendy, agar agar (also good for vegetarians as it is a plant based gelatin).  
  • Season the tomato water with salt, either cayenne or espelette and a drop of sushi vinegar (this will add a nice sweetness and acid component).  
  • Pour the liquid into flat container that will leave you with about 1 cm of tomato liquid distributed evenly.  Place in the fridge and let set.  When you're ready to serve, cut the jelly into the shapes you like and add as a garnish to the dish.  
  • What makes this really cool, is that it is a tomato taste with a different texture than we are used to.  

Tip:  You can do this with fruit juice also and cut into different shapes - with a desert, this adds an interesting element. 

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