February is known as a hot sticky month, and it has certainly lived up to that these past few weeks in Auckland. It’s been meltingly, swelteringly moist and clammy, with thick wet air that clings to everything. It makes paper wrinkle, your hair go limp and your mascara run. Hang a towel out on the line after a shower, and bring it in wetter than when you hung it out. Yeah Yeah. We are all so over it.
BUT there is one perfect dish to bring relief and make you feel human again, albeit briefly: Gazpacho! Just saying the name makes me do a little jig with excitement! Yes, a bowl of icy, truly icy – stick it in the freezer type of icy – gazpacho is summer’s antidote to stinking hot weather. I can’t emphasise enough the word ICY ‘cause a warm gazpacho is like a hot hug on a sticky day. Nope. No good. Who wants that? Chill it down in the freezer until it’s got icy shards forming on the sides of the container, serve to waiting mouths, then you’ll discover its magic.
And this version is easy and quick with minimum faffing about, though you might like to make a tray of crunchy croutons. They’re a great contrast to a smooth gazpacho like this one (there are many versions), and they are a good way of using up drying crusts of sourdough bread. Garlic Croûtons
Looking for something a bit fancy-pants to serve friends coming around? Check out my summer-autumnal salmon salad (it’ll do nicely in both seasons). It’s pretty as a picture, loaded with vegetables and full of goodness, and to top it off it has a drizzle or two of low-fat yoghurt sauce.
The sauce is pretty awesome in its own right. It’s flavoured with dill. Yes, yes, I know, not everyone likes dill. If you don’t like it, leave it out, and maybe replace it with something tamer like chives and parsley, (or coriander/cilantro if you like it). But the thing about dill – it’s a pungent little herb for sure – it deals to the rich taste of salmon like no other flavour. Dill
The yoghurt dill sauce works a treat on a whole heap of other dishes, too, and what I love about it is its fresh clean flavour. Garlic gives it pungency … the trick is to make sure you are buying New Zealand garlic if you are in this country, as it is in season, and it is plump, juicy and hasn’t yet started to form the green sprout.
There are a few tips to cooking beetroot, and the easiest method is to stick it in a pot and cook gently until tender. How do you tell if one is tender? If you prick beetroot with a fork during cooking it bleeds out of the colour. Have a look at the pic and see how easy it is to tell whether a beet is good to go, or whether it needs a bit more cooking. Pickled Beets
Well that’s it for this week. What I suggest is that you make a big fat batch of gazpacho, stick it in the freezer for an hour and scoff it outside this evening before the mozzies arrive.
You can always comment at the end of a recipe to let me know your thoughts. I mostly reply (though not to rude ones! HaHa!)