Vegan

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

With another year under the belt, life continues to serve unexpected surprises. The Age of Question seems to only deepen with time as I find myself slowly inching towards 30. Does anyone know when it becomes the Age of Answers? Summer has been kind to us here in Texas. With mild temperatures and ample rain, we've had an abundant harvest this year. Especially our tomatoes: Teardrops, Green Zebras, Brandywine and assorted Heirlooms -- Nature has been very kind and giving this season.

There's something intrinsically magical and pure about growing your own food -- though it takes countless hours of work, sweat and patience -- the pay off seems to nourish in more ways than one. You can literally find the beauty of life in a tomato.

To think what once laid as a dormant seed, given water, soil and light, it awakens and sprouts. And with time, care and a little homemade compost -- it grows into a healthy plant that flowers and ultimately produces the lusciously juicy fruit.

We often forget to appreciate these tiny miracles but they are constantly around us: growing, thriving, living as the World intended.

As with all great ingredients, I allow them the spotlight -- to showcase their wonder without all the flare and masking.

 

We'll start with a yellow tomato gazpacho which I adapted from Bon Appetit. Topped with creamy avocado chunks, thinly sliced purple onions, dotted with meaty cubes of heirloom and drizzled with a bright and bold cilantro oil -- this Summer soup celebrates the beauty of the season.

The best part is, this soup can be made ahead and would serve as the perfect starter for any Summer party. Feel free to serve in shot glasses or tiny bowls and always make sure you serve this soup ICE COLD. Your guests will thank you :)

If yellow tomatoes are not available to you, feel free to use red tear drops -- though the color will be different the flavors will still be wonderful. For those who aren't a fan of heat, leave out the chile but being the thrill-seeker that I am, I put a yellow thai chili from our garden and rest assured, it did the job.

As chiles vary in heat, always be sure to taste the spiciness level and adjust accordingly.

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
A chilled Summer soup that will leave you wanting more...
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 pounds yellow tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Garnish with cubes of avocado, thinly shaved onion and meaty cubes of heirloom tomato.
  • Cilantro Oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chili with seeds, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. Squeeze tomato juices and seeds into strainer set over bowl. Press on seeds to extract all juice. Chop tomatoes. Set aside 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup cucumber, and 1/4 cup bell pepper.
  2. Combine remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper in processor. Add tomato juices, onion, orange juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeño; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to bowl; add reserved vegetables. Cover and chill overnight.
  3. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Garnish and drizzle with cilantro oil.
  4. Cilantro Oil
  5. Combine all ingredients except water in processor. Puree until almost smooth. Transfer puree to fine strainer set over bowl. Using rubber spatula, press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Whisk 1/4 cup water into mixture in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewhisk before using.

 

 

 

Black Sesame Cookies

I started getting gray hair when I was 12, and now at 24 I'm about a quarter gray.  I am lucky to have a mother who's a hairstylist that dyes my hair to hide my secrets, she is worried I will go completely gray before her.  The time a person develops gray hair is dependent on your genes, but my mother is convinced it's because I have a deficiency in my body.  So for years she made me eat black sesame seeds claiming it would restore pigment into my hair.  Going back home this time around she gave me another tub of ground sesame seeds "You don't forget to eat hei zi ma (black sesame seeds) it is good for grey hair!" I never argue with my mother, I hear they know best :)

Granted, black sesame seeds don't seem to have slowed down my gray hair production it does have a lot of healthy nutritional benefits.  They are high in many minerals like iron magnesium and calcium which help promote bone and joint strength.  In Chinese medicine, black sesame is used to promote health to the kidney and liver, and to treat constipation and promote regular bowel movements! T.M.I.? Perhaps...but you'll be thanking me when these cookies make you regular :)

Ingredients for Black Sesame Cookies:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cup black sesame seeds, ground

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, beat shortening and sugar with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.  beat in vanilla and egg.  In another bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly incorporate dry mixture with wet mixture, be careful not to over beat the batter or it will change the texture of the cookie.  Dump in the ground sesame and mix until evenly dispersed throughout cookie dough.  Drop tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11-13 for crisp cookies.  Remove from oven and cool on cooling rack.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 20-23 minutes

Who says cookies aren't good for you?  These are also a great recipe for vegans, I have recently switched to vegetable shortening instead of butter because it contains less saturated fat than butter does.  It also increases the shelf life for cookies and it does not need to be refrigerated.  In the past, vegetable shortening has gotten criticism for containing trans fat but there are a lot of products out there that do not contain trans fat like Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening Sticks.  I also felt it gave my cookie a much lighter and crumb-ly texture than usual -- I like it!