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Summery gazpacho soup with Spanish ham and basil

Doesn’t food taste better when it looks pretty?  I certainly believe so.  I completely wrecked my fried egg the other day, had a complete tantrum about it and ended up literally flinging everything onto the plate – I was so mad about it looking crappy that I’m convinced I didn’t enjoy it as much.

Homemade gazpacho with Spanish ham

This homemade gazpacho is one of my favourite pretty looking dishes I’ve made in recent weeks – the colours are just so summery and inviting.  Plus it’s very tasty and with this current heat wave I could eat bowlfuls of this chilled soup.  There was some interest on my Instagram about the recipe for it, so here it is.

Summer gazpacho soup

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This was my first attempt at making tomato pilaf.  Not really sure what a pilaf is, but it was tasty and a bit like a risotto.  I’d seen the recipe in Jojo Tulloh’s Freshly Picked and it sounded so simple and potentially tasty.

We used brown rice instead of white so it took longer to cook, but by far the most enjoyable part of making this was skinning the tomatoes – it’s just such a mucky job but deeply fun.  This is fantastic comfort food and requires excellent tomatoes.

Tomato Pilaf

Feeds 4 (but we found it only fed 2!)

olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
200g long-grain rice
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp salt
450g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped
knob of butter
small bunch of basil
black pepper

Warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-sized pan and gently fry the onion until it is soft.  Stir in the rice and cook for about a minute.

Pour over 500ml of just-boiled water (I used the water I’d used to loosen the tomato skins) along with the salt.  Bring to a simmer and cover and leave to cook – the recipe says for about 10 minutes but our rice (which was brown) took a lot longer.

When the rice is almost cooked, heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and tomatoes.  Fry over a high heat until the tomato is almost a sauce, but still with some chunks.

Stir the tomatoes into the rice, along with torn up basil leaves and a generous knob of butter.  Season with ground black pepper and eat right away.

Taken and adapted slightly from Jojo Tulloh’s ‘Freshly Picked’.

A Cozy Kitchen is full of recipes that you want to cook.  You can get lost in pages and pages of great sounding (and looking) recipes, but it was this recently posted recipe for Fresh Tomato Bruschetta that caught my eye.


Image: A Cozy Kitchen

Although tomato bruschetta almost doesn’t really need a recipe, it should be tried if you’ve not made it before.  The best tomato bruschetta I’ve ever had was in Italy last year in a tiny cafe in Amalfi. 

However, the tomatoes from Naples are reputedly the best in the world due to the volcanic soil they are grown on – it makes them beautifully sweet.  So what could be nicer than to send off the summer with a plate of toasted bread topped with sun-warm chunks of tomato drizzled with a little oil and a scattering of torn basil.

Here’s the delicious tomato bruschetta we had in Italy…

I’m not doing very well at keeping up with … well … updating!  There’s so much I want to share and yet I must find more time!  And so many promised posts and recipes … I haven’t even finished off my food memories of Italy (part 1 and 2), and that was last September!

Note to self: must try harder.

On a jollier note, we had a scrumptious and so SO simple tea of roasted summer vegetables.  This is my idea of cooking, of eating, of tasting.  And what a Nigel Slater way to eat dinner – just a plate of roasted vegetables and some hunks of good bread to mop up the juices.

In my pan of delicious roasted vegetables were the following: baby orange peppers, red pepper, yellow cherry tomatoes, red baby plum tomatoes and homegrown yellow courgette.  All cut into similar sized chunks, drizzled with good olive oil and roasted. 

The added extra that make this dish really simple were liberal dollops of sundried tomato paste, hunks of buffalo mozzarella, finely chopped garlic, a sprinkling of dried herbs, and some good old fashioned seasoning (salt and pepper). 

I also whizzed up lots of fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a good handful of grated Parmesan which was drizzled over everything towards the end of the cooking, and extra served fresh.

All this was munched up with gorgeous foccacia bread from Jane’s Handmade Bread – bought that morning at Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market.

You can’t get better than that!

Tonight we enjoyed a picnic dinner at our allotment after an hour or two of raised bed construction.  This is what we managed to achieve – one half of my new herb bed:

We ate Majorcan new potatoes boiled then smothered hot in goat’s butter and lots of salt and pepper … grilled blackened sausages from Little Heath Farm in Dunham Massey dunked in Wilkin & Son’s tomato ketchup …

sliced tomatoes sprinkled liberally with salt and garnished with torn basil leaves (totally unseasonal but irresistable as the weather starts to warm) …

and slices of coffee coloured seeded bread from Red House Farm smeared with Oxford Blue cheese …

Sitting on an old rug looking out over our allotment eating good grub – what a blissful way to spend a weekday evening.  Buddy peered down at us from the boot of the car, his nose twitching as the smell of sausages wafted up his nostrils.

Two little robins hopped around the allotments, perched on the spade…

then a tub of chicken manure pellets…

and finally an orange plastic bottle balanced atop a bamboo cane…

Heavenly.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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