white gazpacho (ajoblanco)

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Bloggin’ ain’t easy. It’s satisfying, creatively. It’s motivating. You get to eat all of your posts. But there are flops. Fumbles. Epic fails. Sure, sometimes you can eat those too, but that’s paltry consolation for a recipe that you just can’t seem to get right, even after multiple attempts.

I began the day feeling inspired. I had visions of those Basque macarons that I tried in Saint-Jean-de-Luz – a small town in the Basque region of France. Parisian macarons are tiny and airy with a slight crunch to the shell and sandwiched together with a layer of ganache in between. Basque macarons are a whole ‘nother story (does anyone else hate that grammatical mishap?). In shape, they’re more like a cookie or biscuit and texturally, they’re light and fluffy. The Dorie Greenspan gets into the details of different macaron types on her frenchie-food blog, in case you’re interested.

To cut to the chase, macarons are really hard to make well. My first batch came out flat as skinny crêpes. I figured I hadn’t beaten the egg whites to a stiff enough peak, hence runny batter, hence flat macarons. Round two I beat those egg whites until I was red in the face. Stiff they were and the batter was thicker too, but the finished product was still far from the Basque macarons from Maison Adam. I played with the heat, I even cheated and added a bit of baking soda to one batch, but still, no dice. With a sigh of defeat, I resolved to switch gears. Waste not, want not, I’m going to use the skinny macarons to make a Basque macaron ice cream because they do taste almondy, sweet and delicious. But I’ll have to do more research before I return to the macaron battle. If anyone has any tips or suggestions, I’m all ears.

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Down but not broken, I decided to make something savory. If you know me, you know I am a big BIG fan of salmorejo Cordobés, a gazpacho-like soup that’s thicker than regular gazpacho and served with HB egg and bits of jamón. There’s another variation on gazpacho though, ajoblanco or white gazpacho, that I’d never tried before. It’s made with ground almonds, olive oil, garlic and milk-soaked bread. More importantly, it’s basically a fail-proof recipe, so after the SNAFU of this morning, I figured today’s the day to try it.

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And I made it. And it was good. Cold, garlicky, creamy and a little salty. Soothed my little discouraged heart. So here’s the easy-peasy recipe for white gazpacho, aka ajoblanco. Happy Sunday, folks. Cocinamos!

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Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon good quality sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • a few whole almonds sliced thin
  • thinly sliced scallion
  • a handful of raisins

Instructions:

  • Submerge bread in milk to soak for five minutes or so.
  • Meanwhile, add ground almonds, garlic and olive oil to food processor. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Gently remove the bread from milk and without squeezing, add to almond mixture. Throw in a pinch of salt and mix until smooth. Pour in water and a tablespoon of sherry vinegar and mix until consistency is smooth throughout.
  • Chill for at least half hour. Serve cold with sliced almond, scallions, a few raisins in each bowl and a pinch of crunchy salt.

*the flowers pictured are from the nuptial celebrations of my good friend Andy, chef and star of web series, Andy’s Kitchen, and his lovely wife Sarah. They were married last night in the Metropolitan Building in Long Island City, with incredible views as backdrop to one of the most joyful, fun ceremonies I’ve been to. Congrats, guys!!

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