Tuesday, 21 August 2012

White Gazpacho with Tomato Granita

I've had a busy month following the launch of my cookbook Scrumptious: Food for Family and Friends, and in all my excitement I clean forgot about sharing one of book's recipes on this blog. I know this is a dish designed for the hottest days of the year, but as my jasmine creeper has just burst sweetly into flower, I think it's time to start thinking about summer.  Also, this is one of my favourite recipes in the book: it tastes gorgeously cool and creamy, and is a real show-stopper presented in ice bowls, because the bottom of the soup partially freezes, creating a surprise layer of zingy ice cream.

Photograph by Michael Le Grange, and plate by David WaltersClick on the image
 to see a full-size version. Image © Random House Struik 2012. 
This isn’t an authentic gazpacho because it contains yoghurt, but with its topping of feathery flakes of iced fresh tomato juice, it certainly tastes like one. Even better, I think.

The flavour of this soup improves after a few hours of chilling, but it should be served on the day it is made. The granita can be made a day or two in advance.

Here's how: make the ice bowls in batches, starting up to 3 days ahead. Arrange four 1-cm-thick slices of cherry tomato in the bottom of a plastic or ceramic soup bowl. Balance another, smaller bowl on top (there should be a gap of at least 1 cm between the bowls). Wedge a few more tomato slices into the gap so it’s even all round, and tuck in some fresh coriander sprigs and small red chillies. Fill the gap with cold water and freeze for 4 hours, or until solid. To unmould, dip the bottom bowl into hot water, and run some more hot water into the top bowl. Wrap each bowl in clingfilm and keep in the freezer until needed. To serve, place each bowl on a small plate and tuck a napkin or thick paper serviette under each one to stop it from sliding around. 

White Gazpacho with Tomato Granita

2 extra-large free-range egg yolks
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
2 thin slices fresh white bread, crusts cut off
2 Tbsp (30 ml) white wine vinegar
5 Tbsp (75 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 English cucumbers, peeled and cubed
6 slim spring onions, white and pale green parts only, sliced
1 small green pepper, chopped
4 large sprigs pale celery leaves, taken from the heart of the bunch
4 Tbsp (60 ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups (500 ml) thick natural yoghurt
2 cups (500 ml) iced water
salt and milled black pepper

For the tomato granita:
400 g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
2 tsp (10 ml) Tabasco sauce
salt and milled black pepper

First make the granita. Place a shallow metal dish (a cake pan is ideal) in the freezer for 1 hour. Purée the cherry tomatoes in a blender and tip the mixture into a sieve set over a bowl. Press down on the puréed tomatoes with the back of a soup ladle to extract all the juice. Discard the pulp, stir in the lemon juice and Tabasco and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the cold dish and freeze for 30-45 minutes, or until the mixture is set at the edges. Using a fork, scrape and scratch the frozen edges to create crystalline flakes. Freeze for another 20-30minutes (set a timer to remind yourself), scrape again, and continue freezing and scraping, working inwards to the middle of the dish, until you have a fluffy pile of coral-pink ice flakes. Keep covered in the freezer until the last minute.

Put the yolks, garlic, bread, vinegar and 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of the oil into a blender and whizz to a paste. Add the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and blend to a thick emulsion. Add the remaining soup ingredients -  in batches, if necessary -  and process until smooth and creamy. Pour the soup into a large non-metallic bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Ladle the cold soup into chilled bowls, add a few ice cubes and a pyramid of granita, and take immediately to the table. If you’re serving this in homemade ice bowls, there’s no need to add the ice cubes.

Serves 8.

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