Summertime in south Louisiana means porch sitting, floating down lazy Louisiana rivers, and inventing every possible way to avoid turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen. Sometimes I feel too hot to eat…did not think that could ever be possible! As the temperatures hover in the mid 90’s with a heat index of over 100 my potted plants wilt and so do I. That’s when I begin to imagine cool and refreshing simply cooked or assembled food requiring minimal energy and time in the kitchen. The market this week had just the answer to my menu dilemma with peak season locally grown veggies and fruit that had great possibilities for a perfect Sunday afternoon lunch; Creole tomatoes, home grown cucumbers, mint, basil, and fresh blueberries. Hope the blue crabs are running, because a marinated crabmeat salad would compliment the menu I have in mind. Voila, here it is:
Creole tomato gazpacho with mint and basil pesto, marinated crabmeat salad and Louisiana blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
I already feel the temperature dropping!
The home grown tomato and cucumber flavors intensify and show off in this savory, and spicy gazpacho.
4 cups seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 cup seeded and chopped cucumber
½ cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne to taste
1 can V-8 juice
You must have a food processor to make this soup. This list of ingredients is an estimate and can be increased or decreased or creatively added to however you like. Chop all veggies in processor. I like to leave the veggies chunky rather than pureed. Place in large bowl. Using a large spoon or whisk, stir in seasonings, olive oil, vinegar, and V-8 juice until gazpacho reaches the consistency you desire.
Chill and serve. May need to adjust seasonings after chilled to make sure it has the kick you want. I served my gazpacho with a dollop of fresh mint and basil pesto.
Marinated Crabmeat Salad
I love this crabmeat salad. The recipe is a little loose so I tried to be more specific with amounts of ingredients. My recommendation is to taste as you go along. You may want more lemon or vinegar to give it a little kick. Spices are to taste. Crabmeat can be very expensive. I use “special” rather than jumbo lump that can set you back a bit. Cut the recipe in half and use only a pound if you do not need this much. Make sure that the crab has never been frozen!
Can be served as a lunch entrée or dinner appetizer.
2 lbs crabmeat
1 can or jar of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jar of Italian olive salad
fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (I like a lot!!)
½ cup chopped celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots grated
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
salt, cayenne pepper, Tony Chachere’s, fresh basil if available.
Place all chopped ingredients in bowl and combine. Add crabmeat and spices and lemon juice, vinegar, oil, etc. Fold together gently. Do not break up the crabmeat. Taste and correct seasonings to your liking. Serve on bed of lettuce and garnish with tomatoes, hard boiled egg, olives, etc., or with crackers, or small toasts as appetizer. Yum!!
Finally, and never to be forgotten, a fresh fruit dessert. OK, I promised that I would not turn on the oven, but the 30 minutes of heat is worth it to bake the cobbler until hot and bubbling so the vanilla ice cream slowly melts and mingles with the blueberry juices.
Jan’s Cobbler Dough
I first started making cobblers when I moved to Covington and met a friend with a blueberry farm. This led to many adventures such as the “Blues-berry Festival” and blueberry cook-offs. I remember when our friends the Wheelers came in town one summer on their way to our annual beach trip. It was the weekend of the Blues-berry Fest cook off and it soon became a family cooking effort. The kids collaborated and made a red white and blue trifle like dessert that won second place in their category. Can’t remember if I ever entered my cobbler, however, I shared the recipe with a few of the growers and cooks who prepared and sold this cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream at the event.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, room temp
¾ cup whipping cream
4 1/2 cups berries or peaches
Place the berries in a large glass baking dish. I toss the berries lightly with a tablespoon or two of flour so they do not get too juicy. Sift the flour and other dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and work gently into the flour mixture with your hands until the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in whipping cream until the dough forms a ball. Break the dough into small patties (about 6-8) and place these patties on top of the berries. There will be spaces between these rounds of dough and that is OK. Place in 400 F oven for about 25- 30 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and cobbler dough is golden brown.
Serve immediately while warm in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. YUMMY!