Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Entertaining {Guacamole, Mojitos, Gazpacho, and Sangria}








The cat's outa the bag now. I recently confessed to my girlfriends that my sole reason for growing mint  (besides the fact that it's the only thing which refuses to die through vast epochs of neglect) is for the mojitos. Yep, when it comes to summer drinkies, I'm a passionate imbiber.



When it was decided to kick off a bachelorette party for a dear friend at my place I immediately stopped picking all the good leaves off the mint and started stalking the shops for quality avocados.  









Guacamole and mojitos are my summer entertaining 'gimmes', and gazpacho (a chilled Spanish tomato soup) and sangria often add to the line-up - tasty and light on the tummy. Certainly fits the bill for a night of teeny dresses and tube-tops whirling on a dance floor.


Debauchery or no debauchery, these are all great do-ahead items suitable even for a quiet, sophisticated, patio gathering. You know the type, that 'respectable' get-together where one may or may not end up whirling anyways on a kitchen-cum-dance floor.








Continue to Recipes...




Recipe: Gazpacho Soup (vegan)
Serves 8
Adapted from Gourmet Aug 2002

1 bread roll (rohlík)
1 clove garlic
2 1/4 pounds (1 kilo) ripe on-vine tomatoes
2 Tb best quality sherry vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1 peeled cucumber (or half the long seedless kind) 
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
few Tbs chopped multi-coloured bell peppers (garnish)
few strips of cucumber matchsticks (garnish)

Can/should be made a day ahead to allow it to chill and the flavours to mesh together.

Get out your immersion/stick blender, or traditional blender/food processor, and an optional big sieve. After blending, you'll use a sieve if you want it super smooth, use only a blender if you're looking for easier preparation (and slightly bigger bits floating around.) Get everything together, ready, and waiting. Soak the bread roll in a little dish of water for a minute, just till slightly soggy, and squeeze out most of the water. This is used to thicken the soup, rather than cream.

Mince the garlic on a little bed of salt using a big knife. Toss into the blender/bowl with the bread, half the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cumin. Blend well. Add in the rest of the tomatoes and the half cucumber. Blend until well chopped. Slowly add in the olive oil while blending a bit more. 

Strain if you prefer, stick in a big glass bowl/jars in the fridge overnight. Garnish with chopped bell peppers and cucumber matchsticks.

Recipe: Guacamole (vegan)
Serves 8

4 cloves garlic
half a medium red onion, minced
2 jalapenos - seeded (or 1 jalapeno seeds-in)
large handful of cilantro (more/less to taste)
4 ripe avocados - (pits reserved to stick in the tupperware as an anti-browning agent.)
juice of 2 limes
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (more/less to taste)

Instead of tortilla chips, try the healthier and cheaper home-made bread crisps: slice a bunch of bread rolls (rohlíky) or baguette into thin circles. Spread on some baking trays and spray well with olive oil and salt. Bake at 350°/180° for 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool and keep in tupperware up to 3 days.

Mince the garlic with a big knife on a little bed of salt. Finely chop up the onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Toss the avocados in a bowl with the lime juice and all the spices you just chopped. Mash well (potato masher or something similar.) Stir in the tomatoes and salt.

If you make it a few hours in advance, that's fine, but it will brown on top. To reduce this, put the avocado pits IN the dish with the guacamole and seal with plastic wrap resting on the top of the dip. When serving, just give it a stir, as any browning is just the colouring and I've never noticed it to affect the taste.  


Recipe: Mojitos
Serves: 6-8

3 cups loosely packed mint leaves
7 Tb sugar
juice of 7 limes
1 1/2 cups white rum
2 cups club soda (or sparkling water)
lots of ice

garnish:
lime slices
raspberries

In a large pitcher, toss in the mint, sugar, and lime juice. Muddle together until the sugar dissolves (yes, its the worth the few bucks to pick one of these bar muddlers up, as it does a nifty job bruising those leaves and dissolving the sugar.)

Pour in rum and club soda. Mix well and store in fridge until guests arrive. Serve over lots of ice with the limes/berries.

Or, after work, when the adirondack is just calling to you from the patio (yes mum, talking to you!), follow directions from above, but mix in 1 nice tall glass:

Recipe: Mojito for One

mint from one large stem
juice from 1 lime
1 Tb sugar
2 oz. shot of white rum
1/4 - 1/3 cup club soda (enough to fill glass over ice)
lots of ice



Recipe: White Sangria
Adapted from Spain Recipes
Serves 4

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch/large stem mint
3 cinnamon sticks
1 bottle white wine 
4 peaches, chopped
2 lemons, scrubbed clean and sliced

lots of ice
sparkling cider, or bubbly lemon-lime soda (in Czech Republic Top Topic is good here)

In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, mint and cinnamon until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes, turn off heat and let cool and flavours steep.

In a pitcher, combine the wine, peaches, and lemons. Strain the mint syrup and add in the flavoured liquid. Keep in the fridge overnight and drink the next day. In a large wine glass, pour over ice about 3/4 the way up and top with sparkling cider of your bubbly bev of choice. The sangria mix usually keeps just fine for a couple days in fridge. Although, it will rarely need to be kept that long!


Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy.
-- Jo

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