Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Summer Lunch For Two

When I was a little girl, I loved day trips. Sometimes it was the beach, other times the countryside. I loved packing lunches and even then, I expected to have multiple courses and snacks to munch on throughout the day. In retrospect, I think food was actually the thing I looked forward to the most, more so than the destination itself.

A few days ago, as I was completely submerged in writing, I looked up at my computer screen. "It is 4 o'clock and I have not left the house all day!" I thought. Seems to happen often these days.

Kids arrived home shortly after. They craved my attention, but my mind was elsewhere. It is hard to come out of your head when you have been in it for so many hours, isn't it? I asked the babysitter to stay a bit longer and I decided to go for a run to clear my head.

I thought of those day trips and the outdoor lunches in the summer heat. Sometimes even on the side of the road, close to a stream, or under an oak tree. I remembered my dad cutting melon slices for all of us while my mom finished her lunch. An array of small plates and nibbles always followed by a tart or shortbread we took from our family's pastry shop.

The following day, I woke up knowing I still had lots of work to do, but thought it would be fun to prepare a quick meal Miren and I could eat outside. Partly for her, but mostly for me. Just to get a break and some fresh air.

We had ripe heirloom tomatoes that I blended into a gazpacho with cucumber, scallions, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of avocado oil. Toasted gluten-free bread, rubbed juicy tomato all over it, and topped it with shaved Idiazabal. Miren's favorite.

We also enjoyed a simple salad with greens, berries, and pan seared salmon. And for dessert, plum and currant crumble.

"One for you, one for me."

Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup

Serves 2

3 medium heirloom tomatoes, stem removed and diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 scallions, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
small bunch of oregano
2 sprigs thyme
salt pepper
avocado oil, to garnish
2 slices toasted bread
Idiazabal or Manchego cheese, shaved

Puree all ingredients in the blender and chill for 1 hour.

Serve with toasted bread rubbed with tomato and shaved Manchego cheese.

Salmon and Berry Salad

Serves 2

8 ounces wild-caught salmon (mine was Coho)
2 cup mixed greens (frisee, baby romaine, watercress, arugula, parsley...)
1/4 cup yellow raspberries
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup red currants
1 scallion, sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for salmon
salt and pepper

In a small saute pan, cook the salmon for 2 minutes (depending on the thickness) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Flip over and finish cooking for another 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a bowl, toss together the greens and all the berries.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over salad. Season with salt. Toss to combine and top with seared salmon pieces.

Red Plum, Currant, and Almond Crumble

Serves 4

1/2 cup (70 grams) superfine brown rice flour
3/4 cup (70 grams) almond meal
1/3 cup (70 grams) natural cane sugar
5 Tbs (70 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced
6 red plums, pit removed and sliced
1/4 cup red currants
1/4 cup white currants
1 Tbs natural cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400F (220C).

In the food processor, combine the first four ingredients and pulse until it forms a crumbly sand. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.

Toss the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Divide amongst 4 (8-ounce) bowls. Top with crumble.

Bake for 30 minutes until filling bubbling and crumble is golden.

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