Tag Archives: Onion

A Chilled Soup To Beat The Heat: Gazpacho

Here is another inspiration from our cruise a few weeks ago: Gazpacho, a delicious chilled soup that is refreshing and requires no cooking! Even at our 7,500 foot elevation, we have seen temperatures in the 90’s and the daytime temperature inside the house has reached 85 degrees! We don’t have air-conditioning so as soon as the sun wanes we open all our doors and windows to capture some of the cool air. This is the perfect recipe to help cool things off. Gazpacho hails from Spain and is made with uncooked tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, bell pepper, garlic and cilantro. Tomatoes are the star ingredient, a great use for the delicious summer bounty from your garden or farmer’s market. Out of season, my favorite go-to is the vine-ripened variety. This is a super easy recipe that can be made with many variations: for example, if you don’t have cherry tomatoes add some of your favorite Bloody Mary mix!

I like my gazpacho more pureed and smooth rather than chunky, and then I add a chopped vegetable garnish at the end for a little crunch.  And I like to peel the cucumbers because they make the soup darker, which you can see from the photo because I forgot to do that!  The garnish has scallions, radishes, habanero and mint, which adds a bright, fresh flavor. The soup also tastes better if made one or two days ahead of time because it allows the flavors to develop and mingle. Another delicious idea: serve the gazpacho in a shot glass for a mini appetizer – top it with some vegetable garnish and add some chopped, cooked shrimp or some diced avocado to finish it off.

If you want to go for a snazzy presentation to impress your honey (or guests), transfer the soup to a fancy pitcher, add one tablespoon of the garnish to the bottom of each cup or bowl and pour the gazpacho table-side.  You’ll look like a pro!

Eat well and share the love!

Gazpacho (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Refrigerate: 4 to 24 hours / Total cooking time: 24 hours
Makes about 2 cups

10 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (Campari), or 3 large, good quality tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes (about 15)
½ cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
3 baby bell peppers (or ½ of one red, yellow or orange bell pepper), seeds removed and chopped
½ small garlic clove
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon lime zest
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion (about ¾ of a scallion)
1 radish, grated
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon finely diced habanero or jalapeno
3 tablespoons finely diced cucumber (peeled)
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzle)

Soup: Cut the tomatoes (except the cherry tomatoes) in half and remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon; discard seeds and pulp. Chop the tomatoes into large pieces.

Add all the soup ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and finely chopped, about 1 minute.  If you like your soup more chunky, blend for less time.

Transfer soup to a bowl or large measuring cup and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. 
Gazpacho is best the next day; if possible make one day ahead to let the flavors develop fully.

Garnish: Add the scallions, radishes, habanero, cucumber, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil to a small bowl and mix well.

Assemble: Serve soup cold – In a small coffee cup or bowl add about 3/4 cup of soup, top with 1 tablespoon of garnish mixture and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

A photo memory from the cruise a few weeks ago…..After the zipline in Jamaica, in Chakka Park and enjoying authentic Jerk chicken for lunch.  The male peacock, with his wings spread, tried his best to get the female’s attention while we watched from the picnic bench. 

There’s a Chicago Dog in my Pizza!

The other night I made pizza dough in preparation for dinner.  When it came time to make the meal, one of us wanted pizza and the other wanted hot dogs instead.  David suggested hot dogs on the pizza.  I thought to myself, what? Hot dogs on a pizza?!  He continued with “how about a Chicago Dog pizza?” knowing how much I love a Chicago-style hot dog, and said “think about it, put all the toppings and the hot dog on the dough and we have a new idea for a pizza”.   Hmm, it did sound quite creative so I decided to give it a shot.  I have to say, we both were pleasantly surprised (David is quite proud of idea now).  It was really delicious, with all the flavor elements that you would find in the real thing!

Here’s how we pulled this off: Put your pizza stone in the oven and crank the temperature up to 500 degrees F, you want it nice and hot.  Pick up some store-bought pizza dough, or buy a medium ball of dough from your local pizza place/restaurant, or make your own and roll it out.  For a real Chicago-style hot dog, you must have a poppy seed roll.  We brushed the dough edge with olive oil and sprinkled some poppy seeds on.  Then it was a layer of mustard, one half stone-ground and the other half yellow.  Next, slices of cooked all-beef hot dogs, some diced onions, diced tomatoes and a topping of grated Fontina cheese.  After being cooked until golden brown and bubbly, chopped pickles, chopped sweet cherry peppers and sweet banana wax peppers finished it off.

If you don’t have a pizza peel (a flat paddle made of either wood or stainless steel; I prefer the latter) you can use the back of a clean sheet pan.  To keep the dough from sticking to the pizza peel, I found that cornmeal works best for me; they are like little edible ball bearings between the dough and the peel that help the dough slide off.  And be sure to shake the pizza peel back and forth a few times during assembly so the dough doesn’t stick to it.  No pizza stone?  Just use a sheet pan with parchment paper and you are good to go. 

Either for a weeknight or weekend meal, this pizza is a fun twist on the classic.

Eat well and share the love!

Chicago Dog Pizza
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

1 medium pizza dough
Olive oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 teaspoons stone-ground or yellow mustard
2 hot dogs, cooked and sliced into 1/8 inch pieces
½ medium onion, diced
1 tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 ¼ cup grated Fontina or Fontinella cheese
1 dill pickle, diced
3 sweet cherry peppers, seeded and diced
3 sweet banana wax peppers, seeded and diced
Fresh cracked pepper
Poppy seeds

Place the pizza stone in the oven and turn the temperature to 500 degrees F.  When the oven reaches temperature, roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface – about 12 inches round.  Lightly sprinkle a handful of cornmeal on the pizza peel (or the back of a clean sheet pan), making sure you have a good coating in the front and the sides.  Place the dough on the pizza peel.

Brush one inch of the outer perimeter of the dough with a light coating of olive oil.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds evenly around the edge.  Spread the mustard on the dough and then gently shake the pizza peel back and forth to keep the dough from sticking.  Lay the hot dog slices around, then the onions and tomatoes; lightly shake the peel again.  Top with the grated cheese and transfer to the pizza stone in the oven.

Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Turn the pizza 180 degrees halfway through cooking.  Transfer to a cutting board and top with the pickles and peppers.  Cut into slices, add some fresh cracked pepper, a few more poppy seeds and serve while hot.

  • Cooking the hot dogs: When we buy the all-beef hot dogs at Costco, we freeze them in two-pack bundles – wrap the hot dogs in plastic wrap and store the bundles in a large bag in the freezer to make it easier for later.  They can go straight from the freezer to the toaster oven (on foil-lined pan, remove plastic wrap) and cook at 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes until they are hot with a nice crust.
  • You can find the sweet cherry peppers and sweet banana wax peppers in a jar, usually in the olive aisle.

Veggies Galore: Calabasitas for Dinner

Calabasitas is something I haven’t made in a while – it used to be one of my mainstays.  I guess that happens, you make certain dishes all the time then the recipe fades away for a bit only to be rediscovered later.  Calabasitas is like a Mexican version of ratatouille only it cooks in less time.  My version has fresh zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, (I’m proud to add that all three are Colorado-grown!) onions, Poblano pepper, tomatoes and cheese.  My secret ingredient is a pinch of dried Italian herbs, which brightens up the flavors.  The vegetables are sautéed until tender and it’s finished off with some cherry tomatoes, melted sharp cheddar cheese, queso fresco and cilantro.  Even though it has all vegetables, it’s a hearty and filling meal.

Coloradans like to brag about the good produce that is grown in our state – we are especially proud of the Palisade peaches and the sweet, tender Olathe corn from the Western Slope.  The peaches aren’t available yet but I did see the Olathe corn in the store and snatched some up.  For more flavor I grilled the corn but you don’t have to, in fact this is great with frozen corn kernels when fresh is out of season.  The vegetables take about a half hour to sauté, and I love that there this is melted cheese on top.  It adds a velvety richness and lots of flavor.  I served mine in individual serving dishes but you can serve it directly from the skillet; sprinkle the tomatoes and grated cheese on top of the vegetables and put the skillet under the broiler for a minute or so until the cheese gets nice and bubbly.  Add the garnishes and serve with warm corn tortillas – dinner is ready. 

Eat well and share the love!

Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

1 ½ cups cubed zucchini (half-inch sized cubes)
1 ½ cups cubed yellow squash (half-inch sized cubes)
½ cup diced Poblano pepper (about half a large pepper)
1 small onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 corn on the cob, kernels removed (or ½ cup frozen corn)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
5 to 6 cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered,
  or 4 tablespoons diced tomato
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons queso fresco cheese, crumbled
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh cracked pepper
2 to 3 warm corn tortillas
Optional: jalapeno rounds, thinly sliced

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

When the oil is warm, add the chopped zucchini, yellow squash and Poblano peppers to the pan; season with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and stir well.  Sauté vegetables for five or six minutes and add the onions.  Add a drizzle of olive oil around the edge of pan along with a good pinch of salt and 1/8 teaspoon Italian herbs.  Sauté for another 20 to 25 minutes until vegetables are soft and tender.  Add the minced garlic and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring often.  Stir in the corn kernels and let heat through, about 2 minutes.  (If the corn is frozen, let cook for 5 or 6 minutes until corn is heated through)

Turn the oven broiler to high.  Sprinkle the tomatoes over the vegetables and follow with the grated cheddar cheese.  Broil for 2 to 3 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with crumbled queso fresco cheese, fresh cilantro leaves and fresh cracked pepper (optional: thinly sliced jalapeno rounds).  Serve hot with warm corn tortillas.

  • Optional Flavor Boost – Quick Grilled Corn: Heat grill to medium-high. Remove husks and silk from corn.  Lightly coat the corn cob with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Grill corn, turning often, for 5 to 8 minutes until the kernels start to soften and get browned. 
  • Safely remove kernels from corn with chef’s knife lay grilled corn on cutting board and place your hand flat on top, with index finger and thumb in the middle of cob (not hanging over the cutting side).  Slice knife down the side of the cob, parallel to the corn, to remove kernels.  Keep turning corn until all kernels are removed.