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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Culinary Explorations : Gazpacho, Grapes and New Ingredient Find (VerJus)

Malaga on Urbanspoon

I found information online concerning this restaurant after seeing Bobby Flay’s Boy Meets Grill show. On this episode, he highlighted the restaurant Malaga in NYC where he frequents. Urbanspoon did not have much about the restaurant or any related reviews which is surprising because had been around for many years. Perhaps the Urbanspoon crowd has not found it yet . But I found more at


This place does a lot of tapas, lobster and Spanish / Mediterranean inspired dishes. One day it will be on my radar to visit and try for myself. But for now I wanted to find some gazpacho recipes that were different than the ones that I normally create. Most of the ones I have made and which we like are the tomato based variety. However, ones with grapes sounds so different and could go with many other meals.
After I was in Boulder, CO at my daughter’s graduation and her favorite restaurant there , Mediterranean, I started to look for restaurants like this in the Kansas City area. There are not many "pure"Mediterranean restaurants in this area. Some have the entrees so I went looking for more foods to try.

I’ve made falafel and more for hundreds of people at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Swope Park, Kansas City, MO, the last couple of years. It is non stop, from earlyh morning until night. Making falafel, frying, cutting the pita, making salads, working with the rest of the people in the Israeli booth, plating the different entrees or appetizers, and also handing out items at the check out and taking the money. It’s a lot of fun and I also take look at the other booths also see what interesting food items they have. But I digress.

I’ve never made white gazpacho but since hearing about it from Bobby Flay’s show, I think it might be a great and festive soup to try someday. One reason that I like searching for new recipes is I learn more myself . One of the ingredients that Flay uses in this recipe is called VerJus which I never hear of . Looking up some sources I found a good definition and recipoe for it. VerJus can be used as an alternative to vinegar or simply added as an acid related condiment, to bring out the natural flavors foods. Sounds good to me and I will have to try it as well.

I also found a slightly different one that is good too (see below). Enjoy and let me know what you think. I will make them soon and comment myself.
Chilled White Gazpacho

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Show: Boy Meets Grill Episode: Mediterranean

* 1/2 cup lightly toasted almonds
* 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
* 2 cloves garlic, smashed
* 2 1/2 cups white grapes
* 1 cup white grape juice
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 slices country white bread, crusts removed and cubed
* 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
* 2 to 3 tablespoons verjus (VerJus can be used as an alternative to vinegar or simply added as an acidulant - to bring out the natural flavors in your foods. see recipe below)
* 2 to 3 tablespoons walnut oil
* Chopped chives, for garnish
* Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish, optional
* Champagne grapes, optional


Place almonds, pine nuts, garlic, grapes, grape juice, water, and bread in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Chill the soup for at least 30 minutes.

Remove soup from refrigerator and fold the whipped heavy cream into the soup. Finish with a few tablespoons each of the verjus and walnut oil. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish each with chives, almonds and grapes, if desired.
VerJus can be used as an alternative to vinegar or simply added as an "acidulant" ( acid like condiment) - to bring out the natural flavors in your foods.
Finally found a very nice website with the recipe.
Here is Madeleine Kamman's recipe for verjus: "2 pounds green grapes (berries only), as green and sour as possible but already juicy (1 kg.), sugar, 90 proof alcohol or Armagnac, wine vinegar. Select about 30 very large berries and prick them with a fork in 4 different places. Put the berries in a half-gallon jar. Crush the remainder of the grapes. Rinse and squeeze dry a large piece of cheesecloth. Line a strainer with the cheesecloth and strain the grape juice, squeezing well to extract all the juice. Measure it accurately. For each cup (1/4 liter) of grape juice obtained, measure 1/4 cup (75 g) of sugar, 2 cups (1/2 liter) of alcohol and 1/2 cup wine vinegar (1 generous dl). Dissolve the sugar in the grape juice. Add the alcohol and vinegar; pour over the berries in the half-gallon container. Store in a cool place (60-65(F) for at least 2 months before using. It keeps forever, and is good in all chicken dishes, with ham, ducks and so forth. A supply made with 1 quart of grape juice, 2 quarts of alcohol and 2 cups of vinegar lasts one year." (Try this with apples off that flowering crab in your front yard; the taste should be very close to true Canadien.) __________________________

White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds

2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

Show: Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger Episode: Get the Party Started

* 2 large English cucumbers (or 3 large regular cucumbers), peeled and roughly chopped
* 3 slices white bread, crusts removed
* 1/2 cup warm water
* 3 cloves garlic
* 6 scallions, whites only, divided
* 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar, plus more, to taste
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
* 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup green grapes, halved


Set aside 1 cup of chopped cucumber for a garnish. Soak the bread in water until soft, about 2 minutes. Place soaked bread, the rest of the cucumber, garlic, 3 of the scallions, vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the almonds, salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until cucumbers are completely blended and liquid and almonds are almost completely invisible, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and vinegar, if desired.

To serve, ladle 1 cup gazpacho into a bowl. Mound 1/4 cup reserved chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon scallions, 2 tablespoons grapes and 1 teaspoon almonds in the center of the soup.

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