After two weeks of moving, it felt good to get back to my routine yesterday.  I responded to emails, returned phone calls, and went to the grocery store.  The refrigerator, which upon first arrival, seemed so much bigger and spacious than my previous one is filled to the brim with food.  Despite the precariously stacked dishes, it feels right.

finely chopped jalapeño

I’m still learning how to work in my new space.   My new kitchen is smaller than my previous one.  This was a selling point.  I went from small to big before going small again and I have to admit, I like smaller better.  It forces you to work smarter and more efficiently.  Mise en place, the chef’s term meaning everything in its place, is the mantra for a small kitchen.

I made cookies yesterday (a great way to figure out cold and hot spots in your oven) and I loved that I didn’t need to move out of a 4-foot work area.   Baking sheets to the bottom right, measuring cups and mixing bowls left above, and everything from baking powder to butter within easy reach.   I did have to tromp down to the basement to get the KitchenAid mixer, but a little stair exercise is a good thing when it comes to seconds on cookies (or cookie dough).

Today, I hauled out the camera and started figuring out where I’m going to shoot pictures of the food I make for Minced blog.   Finding the right light is tricky (I abhor the use of a flash around food) and the gloom of impending storms wasn’t helping my cause.  The camera and tripod have covered every square inch of my kitchen floor, the dining room, and the front porch this afternoon.  I’m not satisfied with the results yet, but you got to start somewhere and I know the perfect space is just waiting for me to discover it.  A little sunshine wouldn’t hurt my cause.

I’m excited to share this recipe for gazpacho with you.  It’s a soup that I like to have in the fridge during the blazing hot months of July and August.   While you can certainly make gazpacho with fresh tomatoes, I like to roast them for 30 minutes to get maximum flavor.  It adds to the prep time, but the flavor is worth it. The same is true with the roasted bell pepper.  Despite the fact that turning on the oven in 90 degree heat can feel like torture, the end result is noticeable enough to make me encourage you to go the extra mile.


No matter how you make this gazpacho, be sure to chill it for at least three hours before serving.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the better it becomes.  While you don’t often think about soup with picnics, I like to think gazpacho is the exception.  When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better than seeing a mason jar filled with cold gazpacho pulled out of the picnic basket.   Happy cooking!

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 6

2 lbs ripe heirloom tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, 1 for roasting the other stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups day-old bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, roast one of the red bell peppers over a gas burner or under a broiler until the outside skin is charred and blackened.  Place the roasted bell pepper in a small bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 10 minutes then rub the skin off the pepper with your fingers.  Remove the stem and seeds from the pepper and cut it into thin strips.  

Remove the skin from the tomatoes (you should be able to do this with your fingers) and discard.  Use a paring knife to core the tomatoes.  Working over a large bowl in order to catch the juices, break the tomatoes into large pieces.

Combine the tomato pieces, the roasted bell pepper strips, the jalapeno, the garlic, and 2 cups of cubed bread in a food processor.  Process until smooth and transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in the cucumber and chopped bell pepper.   Stir in the extra virgin olive oil, the sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Refrigerate the soup until cold, but preferably for at least three hours to allow the flavors to marinate.  Garnish the gazpacho with the basil. 

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