andalusian gazpacho

Andalusian Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a cold soup from Andalucía, in southern Spain. Many food historians believe that it is derived from a Roman dish made with bread and water flavored with olive oil and salt. The name gazpacho may come from the Latin word, caspa, meaning “fragments” or “little pieces”, which refers to the bread crumbs, an essential ingredient in the Andalusian version. The bread not only thickens the soup, but also makes it more filling. Tomatoes, considered today as classic ingredient in gazpacho, was not added to the soup until the discovery of the New World.

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caramelized fig breakfast bruschetta

This is reprinted from The Thompson Family Cookbook, a collection of recipes from my extended family that I compiled last year.  The recipe was adapted from the Breakfast Bruschetta served at Starling Diner, a cute little neighborhood restaurant in Long Beach, California owned by my cousin, Joan.  Starling Diner is a wonderful place to hang out and have a leisurely breakfast.  The food is outstanding and the ambience is comfortable and relaxed.  My favorite things on the menu are the creamy Breakfast Polenta, the decadent San Francisco Stuffed French Toast and these Breakfast Bruschettas.  At Starling Diner, the bruschetta is served with seasonal berries, but I think the recipe works beautifully with caramelized figs as well.  Perfect for a casual brunch, this is a quick and easy dish to prepare that may be assembled ahead of time.

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homemade french baguette

Homemade French Baguette

There is nothing like the fragrant aroma of bread baking in the oven and it is actually simple and easy to do.  There are only six ingredients for these french baguettes, most of them common pantry items – water, sugar, yeast, flour, salt, and cornmeal.  When it all comes together, the dough requires kneading, which is one of my favorite parts of baking bread by hand.  I love the feel of the dough as it turns from a sticky, squishy mess to a soft, smooth ball.  It does takes at least 10 minutes of kneading and a couple of hours for yeast breads to rise and double, but the effort and wait are well worth it.  The resulting baguettes are crusty on the outside and soft and on the inside.  Slathered with butter, it is absolutely delicious!

Here’s my serving suggestion for the baguette – Sirloin Steak Crostini with Chimichurri Sauce, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Sirloin Kebabs.  Chris made a half batch of the Chimichurri Sauce and marinated a little piece of steak so we could taste test the recipe before serving it to Paul and Tracey for dinner tomorrow. Chris grilled the steak perfectly and my homemade baguette soaked up all the tasty olive oil from the Chimichurri Sauce.  Absolutely delicious!  I hope Paul and Tracey will enjoy it, too.

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

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