I know I just posted a gazpacho recipe, but consider this a recipe post + introduction to a cookbook that has me totally inspired.
Before we left for our trip to France, I took the kids to Barnes + Noble , and while I was there I decided to get a French cookbook to use when we get back since I would likely want to dive into cooking the foods we tasted (which turned out to be très vrais). This was the one I picked up:
Every review I could find since learning of her and her (much better) food blog, Manger, points out the high degree of life envy people get from her, since she lives in the country in Médoc, France, in a gorgeous house with her photographer husband (who shoots all the pics on her blog and in the book) and lots of gorgeous kids (5 young children and 2 teenage step-children) running around in Petit Bateau dresses. She believes in dressing up even in the country, so most of the photos showcase her chic wardrobe as she is picking fresh plumbs or grilling steaks (she worked in fashion and journalism). With a father from Hong Kong and a mother from Paris, her perspective is very unique. But it is her celebration of simple ingredients, beautiful countryside, and love of family that I find most inspiring. In fact, she got ‘discovered’ because this cake she decorated ‘to celebrate spring’ went viral:
^^I mean…can you even? I cannot. Photo credit goes to Oddor Thorisson (Mimi’s husband).
I sat down to read her cookbook, cover to cover, which is based around the seasons (making me even more inspired and craving fall a bit as I savor summer). Her dishes were at once a reflection of having lived in Paris for 10 years and wanting to recreate the bistro food she couldn’t get in the country, as well as just good rustic home cooking with some imaginative twists. And I have to heart a girl who gives a nod to The Humble Onion – she says “I think onions are so beautiful, to me they are as lovely as flowers and I love having a big bowl of them on display.” Girl after my own heart, that one.
But one recipe jumped out of her book that I had to try immediately: Almond Gazpacho.
It just sounded so different, yet comforting, cool yet hearty. It turned out to be all those things. And you will not even believe how easy it is, or how interesting the ingredients are. That sherry vinegar is that kick I love:
You just pulse it all in a food processor, just like tomato-based gazpachos:
And then serve it with some crusty bread, a drizzle of olive oil, and she lists ‘pigment d’Espelette’ as a topping, which is just a French type of chili powder. She also lists frying up garlic slices as a topping which I somehow missed, but will do next time.
Hope you love it as much as I did! xoxo Katie
Almond Gazpacho (adapted from ‘A Kitchen in France’ by Mimi Thorisson. Printer version here):
2 cups cubed crustless white bread
1 ⅓ c. slivered blanched almonds (plus some for garnish)
1 ⅔ c. seedless green grapes
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 garlic cloves minced + 2 garlic cloves sliced
3 cups ice-cold water
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
2 T. sherry vinegar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon piment d’Espelette (red chili powder)
Soak the bread in a bowl of cool water for 1 minute, then drain, squeezing out as much water as possible.
Transfer the bread to a food processor and add the almonds, grapes, cucumber, and minced garlic. Start processing and gradually add the ice water, ⅔ cup of the olive oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until you have a smooth and velvety mixture.
Pass the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl (NOTE: I omitted this step as I liked it coarse). Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Just before serving, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat, and cook the sliced garlic until golden and crispy about 3 minutes (NOTE: I also omitted this step but would like to try it next time). Add the reserved almonds and toast for a minute or two. Serve on top of a bowl of the soup adding a drizzle of olive oil and red chili pepper.