Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Long Hot Elf

We are sure you remember, unless you are new to the world of Elfin’s kinky cookery, that this past winter we were bemoaning the cold and chill and wretchedness of the season. Well BOY HOWDY, bring it back!! We are sweltering in one of our hottest summers EVAH!! Today’s high is expected to be 102°! Those of you out west may snort at that BUT when you factor in the MISSISSIPPI HUMIDITY, our heat index will approach 115°. Yesterday afternoon around 5, the heat index was 112°…you could not breathe the thick air and were loath to even walk to the mailbox less than 20 yards away.
With that in mind, what MORE fun to help one cool down than a watermelon smoothie
When we first heard of this concoction, it sounded terrible…a watermelon SMOOTHIE. It conjured up images of watermelon and yogurt –blech! But, we were told that the ONLY ingredient was watermelon. You just freeze up some cubes of watermelon without the seeds, of course. Then you throw some fresh cubes/slices of watermelon in a blender along with the frozen watermelon and blast the crap out of it till you have a smoothie. It looks more like a slushy though, don’t you think? This also helped The Elf work on her morbid fear of her Vitamix (see below).

So, we also got to thinking about other vegan opportunities to chill out/down and, thanks to Camille Peeples and her new business FEAST, gazpacho has now become The Elf’s passion. All of us in the South KNOW that the fresh tomato is the most coveted of all summer eating experiences. There just ain’t nuthin’ like it. So, The Elf decided to learn how to make it herowns-elf. The first elf-fort was lackluster, especially when compared to Camille’s BUT the second batch got better. It actually had to do with the actual tomatoes used.  The second batch used The Elf’s favorite tomato, the Arkansas Traveler. It’s a deep rose pink and is a sweeter, less acidic tomato than what you typically find. Then we whipped out the Vitamix cookbook and found a recipe. Y’all know The Elf’s enduring terror of her Vitamix, so we were in high hopes of this recipe being a breakthrough in terms of overcoming that fear. What we wound up with was a cross between the Vitamix recipe (which leaves out garlic, for goodness sake) and a recipe called Spicy Gazpacho from the Rockin’ Arugula site.
And here’s the final Elfin spin on Gazpacho…spicy as all get out because we not only added garlic but also Sriracha and a touch of cayenne. So, it’s not for the faint of tongue.
Our next adjustment to the recipe will be to get the fat content down a bit. We’ll let you know how that turns on next week—got an idea or two on that one.

It’s a semi-known fact that the cuisines of countries where heat rules is full of, well, heat. Indian, Ethiopian, African and Thai cuisines are all loaded with significant spices. So, we posed the question to Google and got a variety of answers. Primarily, the use of spices is likely to increase the amount of sweat which is designed to help the body cool down. Here’s the link to this site (which is fairly old but fun) and you can see what other ideas folks have.
 We only know that the ONE TIME we ordered Thai HOT in a restaurant, obviously oblivious to the repercussions that were about to follow, we learned just how intense that heat can be. Nevertheless, we have made a couple of side dishes that explore that spiciness that we have found to be absolutely delicious. First, roasted spicy peanut cauliflower wings
 and the FABULOUS Maple Sriracha Roasted Brussels sprouts! Even if you’ve always turned your nose up to Brussels sprouts, these are worth a try! SO GOOD!
Lastly on the Elfin kinky summery cookery we have a special dessert that really spotlights what summer is all about…a cool pudding made from all fresh fruit/berries and a scoop or two of a great non-dairy ice cream. So here we have the (sorta) progression of a Summer Berry Pudding via Michael Chiarello
First you prepare a raspberry puree and set aside
Next up you have a slightly cooked passel of fresh berries—strawberries (coarsely chopped), blue berries, blackberries, and any remaining raspberries you may have

Dipping slices of sourdough bread in the puree, you place them in a glass bowl or pudding mold that is lined with cheesecloth
Continue to layer the fruit and dipped bread, with the final layer being the bread.
 Fold over the cheesecloth, place a small plate on top and a weight (we used a big ole can of tomatoes). Let compress and chill overnight.
 Unfortunately, we dove into the dessert at a dinner party before The Elf could take a final picture of it BUT we at least got ONE shot of a serving. We used So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean non-dairy ice cream.
So, we HAVE to feature as our spice this week, none other than, ta-da!
According to Wikipedia, Sriracha is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. The name comes from the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand where it may have first been produced and used as a condiment for seafood. The ingredients listed on the bottle of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha are: chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum. Huy Fong Foods' chili sauces are made from fresh red jalapeño chili peppers and contain no added water or artificial colors. Garlic powder is used rather than fresh. While there are other brands of Sriracha, Huy Fong Foods is considered THE go-to source for Sriracha. Unfortunately, The Elf doesn’t have the ‘good stuff’ but the Kikkoman will fill the bill until we get to Mr. Chen’s Grocery. We also have a powdered Sriracha on hand to sprinkle on food stuffs if we want to kick it up a bit.
 And lastly on the Sriracha scene, we thought this a fun site regarding this ubiquitous sauce so are passing it along to you.
And so we come to the end of yet another fun-filled and hopefully entertaining blog. As we play with this gazpacho recipe a bit more, we’ll post our final version. Still have some Elfin ideas to try out first. We can only say that we hope you are staying cool where you are and wish you a magnificent week ahead. In the meantime, y’all remember to breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a LOT and love life.
The Elf

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