26 August 2014

Recipe: Tomato Gazpacho with Tower of Crab

After a visit to the Minneapolis Farmers Market, I came home intent on making gazpacho. Not just any gazpacho, however. I remembered making an amazing recipe for a dinner party … a few years ago. I couldn’t remember what year it was. But I was very sure the recipe was from Bon Appetit magazine. I remembered a couple of very distinctive things about the recipe. There was no bread to thicken the gazpacho. I remember pureeing the vegetables and then pressing them through a sieve, so that there was no pulp in the soup. But the most distinctive part was a ‘tower’ of crab salad, molded and placed in the center of the bowl with the gazpacho spooned around it.

No problem, I thought. I’m sure I’ll find the recipe on Epicurious. Nope. Well, I thought, maybe it’s on the Bon Appetit web site. Nope. Now I was starting to doubt my recollection. I tried a general Google search. Lots of gazpacho recipes, but none with a tower of crab salad.

I pretty much gave up on finding the recipe. I became convinced that I found the recipe in some obscure publication and only thought it was from Bon Appetit. I started looking for alternative recipes and found a couple that sounded intriguing. But for some reason, I tried a few more Google searches and changed the order of the words in the search “gazpacho” “crab” “tower” “tomato” and sure enough, I found the recipe I originally wanted. It appears in a few locations, but the one that was most helpful was a blog called Black-Eyed Peas, a blog that now appears to be defunct, last updated in 2005. That post credited the recipe to (wait for it …) Bon Appetit, June 2004!IMG_0022

To make the incident even a little stranger, I decided to check my back issues of BA to see if I happened to still have that issue. What are the chances? Ten years ago, and since then, I quit saving old issues. Why bother when all the recipes are available on Epicurious?

But, buried near the bottom of a stack of magazines, voila – there it was, June 2004. I opened the magazine; it was still bookmarked to the recipe for Tomato Gazpacho with Tower of Crab. I quickly saw why I kept that issue. Besides the fantastic gazpacho recipe, there are several other delicious recipes for party entertaining.

So I made the recipe and served it tonight. Just as fantastic as I remembered (if I do say so myself). I made two modifications. As printed, the recipe calls for garnishing with croutons. I deleted the croutons. And, the recipe calls for garnishing with minced chives. But my garlic chives are blooming right now. So instead of garnishing with minced chives, I sprinkled the soup with snipped chive flowers. If you look closely, you can see them in the photo.

I fully intend to keep that magazine in my stack. But just in case, I’m posting the recipe on Krik’s Picks so that if I ever lose the magazine, I’ll still have the recipe online.

Tomato Gazpacho with Tower of Crab

2 lbs of plum tomatoes (about 12 large), cored, quartered
1 1 lb English hothouse cucumber, peeled, cubed
1 large red bell pepper, quartered, seeded
1 large yellow bell pepper, quartered, seeded
1/2 8-oz white onion diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Crab Salad

1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over, broken into small lumps
Finely diced peeled English hothouse cucumber
Finely diced red bell pepper
Finely diced yellow bell pepper
Chopped fresh chives

For Soup: Working in batches, puree tomatoes, cucumber, all bell peppers, onion, garlic, oil, and vinegar in blender. Strain puree through sieve into large bowl, pressing hard on solids to extract as much pulp and liquid as possible.

Whisk cayenne pepper into soup, season to taste with salt. Cover: refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated)

For Crab Salad: Combine shallots, mayonnaise, minced chives, lemon juice, ketchup, and cayenne pepper in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Fold in crabmeat. Season salad to taste with salt. Line 8 small deep glasses or custard cups with plastic wrap, leaving overhang. Divide salad equally among prepared cups (about 1/3 cup for each). Press salad to compact and conform to shape of container. Cover with overhang. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

Open plastic on top of salads. Turn out each salad into shallow soup bowl. Peel off plastic. Carefully pour soup into each bowl around crab salad. Sprinkle soup with croutons, finely diced cucumber, bell peppers, and chopped chives.

25 August 2014

Heyday Mpls. delights with creative small plates

My wife and I have a couple of friends with whom we enjoy trying new restaurants. Not always brand new, mind you. But if none of us have eaten there before, we still say it’s ‘new.’ In the case of our most recent dinner, Heyday, it really is fairly new. It opened in April 2014.

We actually tried to go sooner. But surprisingly, one thing after another kept popping up. So it wasn’t until mid-August when we finally went. We had a very good experience. Heyday

We had a reservation, and it was fairly early – 6 p.m. When we arrived, the restaurant was not very busy. We got a friendly greeting from the host and joined our friends who were already seated. Our server popped by after we were seated and had a chance to peruse the menus. Heyday has a good selection of wine by the glass. I was tempted by a Lambrusco, which you don’t see too often on menus in the U.S., but reminded me of our trip last spring to Italy and Emilio-Romagna. But ultimately I went with a chianti. (Another Italy reminder. It was very nice.) Heyday also has an interesting selection of beer on tap, including several local brews. The cocktail menu caught my wife’s eye. She was intrigued by a cocktail called The Garter Belt – gin, rose wine, and Dolin Blanc, a style of vermouth. (Click here to learn more than you probably ever wanted to know about different styles of vermouth. The gin, by the way, was Letherbee, a Chicago distillery that’s distributed locally by Tradition Wine & Spirits.)

We had several questions about items on the menu. Our server was very helpful and knowledgeable. For example, my wife is sensitive to cilantro. She asked if one of the items was made with cilantro. The server didn’t have to ‘check with the chef.’ She knew right away that it did not.

The server suggested that we order several plates for the four of us to share. She suggested three plates per person,which would have been 12 for the four of us. Ultimately, we only ordered eight plates. That was fine. But anyone with a big appetite probably would have wanted more. Also, some of the plates, especially the starters, were quite small and difficult for four people to share. In general, I would advise splitting a plate between only two people.

For starters, we ordered a melon salad, lamb tartare, a chicken liver tart, and a gorgonzola tart. They all were very good. The general consensus was that the chicken liver tart and the gorgonzola were the best.

Our next round of plates was nominally our ‘entrées’. They were bigger, and higher price. But none of the items that we ordered included a potato or rice or couscous. In fact, those starchy side dishes aren’t available at all on the menu, either as sides or accompanying an entrée. Heyday does serve good bread, however, and brought a second basket when we requested. We weren’t very diverse in ordering entrées. We all ordered fish – three of us ordered Dorade (sea bream) and one ordered black cod.

All of the food that we had at Heyday was excellent. The flavors were great. The plates looked very appealing. The fish was expertly prepared. When we got the bill, it really was a pretty reasonable total. But it was kind of expensive for the amount of food, and if we had ordered another round of plates, it would have been proportionately more expensive. (We did not order dessert. But our server brought us a plate with a selection of four morsels to sample. Nice touch.)

By the time we left, most of the tables were taken. Full on a Wednesday night – not bad. Bodes well for the future of Heyday.