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So we are back in Florida for a short travel break and the first thing my husband does is break out the smoker. He loves smoked fish (me too!) and it is something we rarely find during our travels. It doesn’t take long before the amazing aromas of the smoking fish have me yearning for a Florida classic … Smoked Fish Dip. Whenever we are here, we take advantage of the availability of smoked fish from smoke houses and even smoking our own as often as we can to make dips or spreads in a variety of styles.

Smoked Mahi-Mahi Dip with Jalapeño and Pineapple (recipe below)

Smoked fish has long been a tradition in Florida, where fisherman bring in oily fish like mackerel, mahi-mahi, wahoo, amberjack and mullet that lend themselves to smoking. Mullet has been a local favorite for smoking, though it is mostly used as bait fish elsewhere in the country. Mullet fisheries thrived in Florida in the mid-20th century and many locals have a nostalgic connection, swearing that the fish is good eating. Maybe???? I confess that I’ve never tried it.

You can still find a few classic old fish smokehouses in business, one of the most famous being Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish in South Pasadena, Florida. Ted Peters opened his first smoked fish restaurant in the late 1940’s. The current location has been in operation since 1951. Partnered with his half brother Elry Lathrop, it has always been a family business spanning five generations. It is still in the family with Ted Peters’ great grandson Ben smoking the fish.

The smokehouse of Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish

Inside the smokehouse, the fish is smoked for 4 to 6 hours on wooden racks over a fire of red oak, which is native to Florida. They used to only smoke mullet and mackerel, but now you’ll also find mahi-mahi and salmon on the menu. They are also famous for their fish spread, made with a recipe from Ellen Peters that includes mahi-mahi and mullet, celery, onion, and sweet pickle relish. (They revealed their recipe on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives)

Racks of smoked fish at Ted Peters

On a recent visit to St. Petersburg, we made a stop at the smokehouse where people were lined up out the door to pickup freshly smoked fish. We joined the line and stocked up on smoked mahi mahi, mackerel, and salmon to take home with us at prices that rival buying the fish fresh and having to smoke your own.

Smoke Your Own Fish

Let’s say you don’t live near a fish smokehouse. You may want to get a backyard smoker and smoke your own. We did, and my husband coaxes all kinds of delicious smoked land and sea creatures from it. We found some beautiful fresh mahi-mahi at our local seafood market. We asked the fish monger to keep the skin on, as this holds the meat together.

We start by soaking the fish in a brine. Brining not only seasons the fish, but also firms up the flesh and helps it retain moisture during the smoking process. A basic brine really only requires water, salt, and sugar, but you can use the opportunity to also add some seasoning to the fish. The recipe below is enough for one pound of fish, so scale up as needed to cover the fish.

Smoked Fish Brine Recipe

Per pound of fish fillets, with skin on
(cut into smaller pieces if necessary to fit the grill of your smoker)

1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/3 teaspoon ginger powder
1/3 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until sugar and salt are mostly dissolved.

Rinse the fish fillets, pat them dry, and place skin side up in a glass or plastic container (not metal) with a tight fitting lid. Pour the brine solution over the fish, making sure the fillets are fully immersed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Fish in brining solution

The next day, remove the fish fillets from the brine and drain on a rack while preparing your smoker. I won’t go into the details of smoking the fish, since there are many styles of smokers and each will be different. We followed the manufacturers instructions for our particular smoker and the fish was done after about 2 hours of cooking around 250 degrees.

Drain brined fish on rack

If you are making a smoked fish spread or dip, allow the fish to cool to room temperature before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Our house smoked mahi-mahi and pineapple

Now this may be the hardest part of making smoked fish dip—those golden brown fillets sitting there filling the kitchen with their smoky aroma are irresistible. I mean, you have to taste it to make sure it’s done, right? One bite leads to another and the next thing you know…no more fish.

Smoked Fish Dip

Traditional smoked fish dip can be pretty simple, blending smoked fish with mayo or cream cheese, onions, salt, and lemon juice. Of course, we are rarely satisfied to stick with tradition. Smoked fish is so flavorful and bold enough to stand up to many seasonings, why limit yourself to one recipe?

Chipotle Lime Smoked Mackerel Dip

Below are three of our favorites. They all come together in a similar manner. We use a standing mixer, but all of these steps could be mixed by hand if necessary. Begin by combining softened cream cheese and sour cream in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the seasoning ingredients and mix on a low speed until well blended.

Break the smoked fish up into small chunks. Save about half of the fish, including the fattest, best pieces, to stir in at the end. Put the other half into the bowl with the cream cheese mixture and blend on low speed until thoroughly mixed. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. (Here we might add a few shakes of hot sauce if it is not spicy enough for us.)

Add the remaining fish a little at a time and mix in gently by hand until it is incorporated. You could choose to mix it more aggressively if you want a smoother spread, but we prefer to leave some flakes of fish intact. When making any of these recipes, you can add more smoked fish to make a thicker, more fishy spread; or you can add more cream cheese and sour cream to make a softer dip.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to firm it up before serving. In Florida, smoked fish dip is usually served with saltine crackers, sliced jalapeño peppers and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

Enjoy!

Smoked Mahi-Mahi Dip with Jalapeño and Pineapple

Smoked Mahi Mahi Dip with Jalapeño and Pineapple

To complement the mild flavor of smoked mahi-mahi, we gave this spread a tropical touch of smoked pineapple, a kick from jalapeno peppers, and balanced it out with herbal notes of fresh thyme.

Since fresh juicy pineapple chunks would release too much liquid into our fish dip, we threw a few slices of fresh pineapple into our smoker along with the fish. This not only releases some moisture, but also caramelizes the sugars and concentrates the fruit. It’s so good you may want to make some extra for snacking. ( If you are not smoking your own fish, it works perfectly well to grill the pineapple slices or even roast them in the oven.)

Ingredients

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
4 green onions, minced
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Lemon zest, from one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup smoked pineapple, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped, without seeds
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
1 pound smoked mahi-mahi

Instructions

1. In the bowl of a standing..

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This recipe was inspired by a dish we had many years ago in Ajijic, Mexico. The name of the restaurant has been forgotten, but the taste of seared sea scallops with a smoky charred tomatillo salsa verde has stuck with us. We have recreated it many times. While the ingredients are all Mexican, we have been able to make it just about anywhere thanks to widespread the availability of tomatillos and chili peppers.

Salsa verde is really just a generic name for “green sauce” and many cultures have their own versions. Mexican salsa verde is based on tomatillos and usually also includes chili peppers, onions, and cilantro. Salsa verde is easy to make and versatile to use in many recipes, or to just eat on its own with a bowl of tortilla chips.

Not familiar with tomatillos? One of the most common species of husk tomatoes, they look like small green tomatoes covered with a papery husk. In Mexican markets they can simply be called tomate verde. Tomatillos are related to tomatoes, but they are not the same. They are more tart, less juicy, with small edible seeds. Tomatillos are native to Mexico and also found all over the Americas.

Tomatillos, aka Mexican Husk Tomatoes

There are many variations of salsa verde recipes using tomatillos that are either raw, boiled, sauteed, or roasted. To pair with the sweet nutty flavor of seared sea scallops, we prefer roasting or grilling the tomatillos and peppers, which concentrates and caramelizes the sugars and softens the acidity. Charring on the grill also adds a nice smokiness.

You can adjust the spice level of your salsa verde by changing up the type of peppers that you use. Poblanos are very mild and we use them mainly for their unique flavor and to add body to the salsa. We add some Sweet Cubanelles when we can find them because we like how the sweet pepper balances the acidity of the salsa. The heat of jalapeños varies from pepper to pepper depending on how they were grown. If you really want your salsa to have a kick, add some spicy serranos.

Mix of peppers: poblanos, sweet cubanelles, jalapeños

Charred Salsa Verde

We like to make a big batch of this salsa verde because it is so versatile and it freezes well. Once the grill is hot, it just makes sense to pile the veggies on. This recipe makes about 6 cups, much more than you need for the scallops. Scale it down as desired if you don’t want extra.

Grill the whole peppers over a high flame until the skin turns black, turning frequently to make sure all sides are charred and blistered evenly. Place the grilled peppers in a paper bag or a heat resistant bowl covered with aluminum foil and set aside to steam in their own heat until they have cooled enough to handle.

When cooled, remove the skins, stems, and seeds of the peppers. You can leave the seeds in the jalapeño if you want a spicier salsa. Need more details on how to peel and seed roasted peppers?

Cleaned tomatillos

Tomatillos have a sappy coating over the skin of the fruit, so they need to be cleaned before use. Remove the husks from tomatillos and rinse thoroughly under running to remove the sticky film from the surface.

Using a grill tray, grill the whole tomatillos, onion, and garlic cloves over medium heat until they are softened and charred in spots. Pull the tomatillos off of the grill and into a bowl before they split open so that you don’t lose the juices.

Grilled tomatillos, onions, and garlic

Working in batches, combine tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro in bowl of food processor or blender and pulse until pureed to desired consistency. Make sure to include any collected juices.

Combine ingredients in food processor

Recombine batches in a bowl. Add the lime juice and salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use or keep warm on stovetop to use immediately with scallops.

Seared Sea Scallops

The larger the scallops, the better. We try to get U10’s (10 scallops/lb) but in the end you work with what’s available. Rinse the scallops in cold water. Drain on paper towels and pat dry on all sides with paper towels. Make sure the scallops are completely dry or they will not brown properly.

Dry sea scallops

Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

Add butter and oil together in skillet. Swirl the fats together and heat over high until the mixture starts to bubble and brown. It needs to be smoking hot…but don’t let the butter burn.

Place scallops into the skillet. They should sizzle when they hit the pan. You may need to sear the scallops in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet. You don’t want the scallops touching each other or they will steam instead of browning.

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To recover from the over-indulgence of the holidays, we needed some light and healthy food; yet the cooler weather had us craving something warm and satisfying. With the warming spices of curry, ginger, and smoked paprika, this carrot soup fills all of those needs.

As soon as we returned from our Thanksgiving travels this week, we made a big batch of spicy carrot soup. This soup is so easy to make and it freezes well, so you can have it in the freezer ready to heat up on a cold night. This is one of our go to recipes that we make on a regular basis. We might change up the seasonings but the basic recipe stays the same.

We like our soup to be pretty heavily spiced. We use a blend of sweet curry powder and hot curry powder to give it a little kick. The smoked paprika adds depth to the flavors. If you prefer less spice, I recommend starting with half of the recommended amounts and adjusting the seasonings to your taste at the end.

You’ll notice that we use ground ginger for this soup. We started using fresh ginger, but found that we couldn’t avoid those annoying little root fibers despite blending furiously. We just couldn’t get around them and we like our soup super smooth. So we tried ground ginger and loved the results.

Instead of using heavy cream, we thicken the soup with bread. This is a little trick that we learned in Spain where they blend bread into their gazpacho and salmorejo. The bread pulls everything together for a smooth creamy texture. White bread with the crust removed works best for a silky soup.

Wash the carrots (no need to peel them) and chop them into evenly sized slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Since everything is getting blended in the end, the size of the chop doesn’t matter so much. The most important thing is to have the pieces the same size so that they cook evenly.

Chop the onion and the garlic. Again, size doesn’t matter so much.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic; stir to cover with the oil and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the spices – the ginger, hot curry, sweet curry, smoked paprika, and salt – and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes more.

Add enough water to completely cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high until it comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low-medium heat.

Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.

While the soup is cooking, zest and then juice a lemon. Set aside. We like the bright citrus notes that lemon brings to this soup, but wait and add it at the last minute. (Prolonged cooking destroys the freshness and can bring out the bitterness of the lemon.)

Once the vegetables are soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes until safe to handle. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

Blend the soup in batches. With our blender, it takes three batches. For each, we add one third of the torn bread to the blender and then ladle in the soup. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary for the soup to blend properly.

Transfer the blended soup to a large bowl and then recombine all of the batches together in the pot on the stove.  Adjust the salt and seasonings to taste. The characteristics of the carrots themselves can have a big effect on the final flavor. The sweetest carrots make for the sweetest soup, but every now and then we get carrots that are more earthy. If this case, we balance the flavors by adding a touch of brown sugar.

Warm over low heat before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, pumpkin seeds, maybe a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!

Spicy Carrot Soup with Ginger and Curry

Spicy Carrot Soup with Ginger and Curry

Ingredients

4 lbs carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3-4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat bottom of pan
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp hot curry powder
1.5 tsp sweet curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces
2 tsp salt, or to taste
water

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground ginger, curry powders, smoked paprika, and salt. Stir to coat vegetables and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add enough water to completely cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high until it comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low-medium heat.
  4. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool until safe to handle, at least 15 minutes.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and zest.
  7. Puree soup in a blender in batches. For each batch, add bread pieces and blend until desired consistency. Add extra water to the blender if needed to blend properly.
  8. Transfer the blended soup to a large bowl and then recombine all of the batches together in the pot. Adjust salt and seasonings to taste.
  9. Warm the soup over low heat before serving.

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Cochinillo…crispy brown skin revealing juicy succulent meat underneath. Sometimes it’s dressed up with a fancy sauce; sometimes it’s seasoned with nothing but salt and the smoke of the fire. Either way, few things are more satisfying than the porky goodness of perfectly cooked cochinillo (suckling pig). It shows up frequently on the pages of this blog because if we see it on a menu, we’re usually getting it. So what exactly is cochinillo? Where can you find it in Valencia? And how can you make it at home in your oven?

Cochinillo Asado at Asador de Aranda

Cochinillo is the Spanish term for suckling pig. Technically, suckling pigs can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks old and fed on nothing but mother’s milk. Since these little piglets haven’t had much time to work on their muscles, the meat remains incredibly tender and delicate. The young meat is also higher in collagen than mature pork, which is what gives it that wonderful sticky, gelatinous mouthfeel. I keep reading that suckling pig is low in fat and calories compared to other meat. I want to believe it, but my tastebuds tell me it just can’t be true.

Suckling pig can be found in cuisine from all over the world, particularly in European and Asian cultures. And why not? Humans domesticated pigs 9000 years ago! It can’t have taken long to figure out that the young ones were especially yummy. For some reason, in the United States it is a specialty item that costs top dollar. (Maybe it’s an American aversion to eating baby animals.) In Spain it is a classic dish found throughout the country. It is also popular in countries with Spanish influence. In Mexico, it is called lechón and used in many dishes.

Cochinillo is a traditional dish from Castile and León in Northern Spain, where the province of Segovia is the most well known region for its suckling pig and has very strict standards. Piglets must be no older than 3 weeks, fed only with mothers milk, and weigh between 4.5 and 6.5 kilograms (live weight) to bear the “Cochinillo de Segovia” IGP mark. It is traditionally roasted whole in a clay wood-fired oven, also called an horno de leña. The skin of the pig browns to a brittle crispiness, while the layer of fat under the skin melts away into the meat beneath, keeping it juicy. This is the way that you will find it prepared in classic asadors – restaurants that specialize in roasted meats.

The wood-fired oven at Asador de Aranda, Valencia

You can also find cochinillo at many of the many festivals that travel around Spain. When the Medieval market comes to town, or during the Christmas Fair, these guys are grilling  whole pigs over wood coals. It is generally overpriced but it’s hard to resist the smell permeating the air. We’ve been suckered into an expensive plate of festival cochinillo and I recall being pretty happy about it.

Grilled cochinillo at the Medieval Market

Often you will see Taco de Cochinillo on a restaurant menu. This doesn’t necessarily mean suckling pig wrapped in a flour tortilla. In Spanish, taco also means “block” and it can refer to a preformed square of suckling pig meat. After roasting the pig, the meat is removed from the bones and pressed together into a block. A square of skin is cut and placed on top. This method presents a way to prepare the cochinillo in advance, a great convenience for restaurants without wood-fired ovens or for celebrations at home. The premade taco can be reheated and the skin crisped just before serving. Here is a recipe for tacos of Cochinillo de Segovia that could easily be made at home.

When possible, we prefer to have our cochinillo with a full bodied white wine, like Godello. It has enough body and acidity to stand up to the richness of suckling pig without overpowering the mildly flavored meat.

Cochinillo can be found in many restaurants around Valencia.

These are just a few that we have enjoyed:

The Asador de Aranda on Calle Feliz Pizcueta serves traditional Cochinillo lechal de IGP Segovia. The suckling pig is seasoned only with salt and roasted in a wood-fired clay oven in this classic Spanish restaurant. We ordered a 1/2 quarter of roasted suckling pig, which was considered a serving for one person but was plenty for the two of us to share. The skin was crisp and crackled open with the underlying fat layer melted away. The glistening meat easily pulled away from the bones. A bottle of the Pazo De Monterrey Godello paired nicely with the meal.

Asador de Aranda: Cochinillo lechal IGP Segovia asado en horno de lena

Racó del Turia  on Calle Císcar in Canovas specializes in traditional Valencian cuisine, especially rice dishes. They do, however, also have a stellar cochinillo asado. The roasted suckling pig is served as a slab of tender, velvety boneless meat covered with a layer of crispy skin. The only sauce was from the meat’s own juices. It was accompanied by new potatoes and glazed shallots. Again, we selected a Godello left on its lees for more body from a terrific wine list of over 350 bottles. The decor of Raco del Turia is very elegant, with original oil paintings and Valencia ceramics hanging on the walls. It feels like you’ve been invited into someone’s home.

Raco del Turia: Cochinillo asado

Also in Canovas on Calle Grabador Esteve, La Pureta Bistro is a charming little restaurant with white brick walls, a small terrace in the back, very friendly staff, and a big wine list. Their Taco de Cochinillo confitado is a block of shredded meat that has been cooked in oil, hence the term confitado. As hoped, the meat was tender and the square of skin on top crispy. It was served with a pumpkin puree with lots of intense molasses flavor. I really enjoyed swiping my cochinillo through the pumpkin, while my husband felt that the sweetness competed with the delicate pork. Fortunately, it was served to the side, so both of us were happy.

La Pureta Bistro: Taco de Cochinillo

Orio Gastronomia Vasca is a Basque restaurant in the center of Valencia on Calle San Vicente Mártir. Orio is part of the Grupo Sagardi which began in Barcelona specializing in Basque cuisine. The cochinillo served at Orio is notable because it comes from a rare Basque breed of pig, called Euskal Txerria, that nearly went extinct. The Sagardi group has been involved in the recovery of this breed, serving it in some of their restaurants and using the meat to make their txistorra sausages and jamon. At Orio, the Euskal Txerria cochinillo is served as two tacos of meat “confit” with a layer of crisp skin on top. Each taco sat on a savory vegetable ratatouille. The meat is supposed to be lighter, more tender and juicy than other breeds. Without trying a side by side tasting with another pig breed, I couldn’t say how it was different. But it was definitely good, tender, and flavorful.

Orio Gastronomia Vasca: Euskal Txerria cochinillo

Roasting Cochinillo in your own kitchen

When we discovered suckling pigs shrink-wrapped in our neighborhood grocery store, we did what came naturally. We took one home and figured out how to roast it. They showed up in the local Mercadona and the El Corte Ingles Supermercado at the beginning of the Christmas holiday season. A Medio Cochinillo, a piglet that was cut in half from nose to tail, weighed about 3 kg (6.6 lbs). Some internet searching revealed that suckling pig is probably going to be delicious no matter how you bake it, as long as it fits in your oven. Achieving a crispy skin is the most difficult part.

Medio Cochinillo from Mercadona supermarket

Since we don’t have a wood-fired oven, we stole a technique that we frequently use for roasting whole fish to impart some smokiness to the meat. First, we lined a baking rack with foil and poked holes to let the juices flow through into the roasting pan beneath it. We then built a bed of aromatic herbs using rosemary, thyme, and sage. The piglet was laid on top of the herbs, skin side up. We then rubbed the piglet all over with a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The nose, ear, feet, and tail were covered with foil to protect them from burning.

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The Spanish cherry season starts at the beginning of May and piles of them have made their way into the markets in Valencia. I had never thought of cherries as being common in Spanish cuisine, but they are actually a prized crop here. Cherry trees are native to southeast Europe and western Asia, probably originating somewhere in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Cherries were introduced to Spain by the Romans. They are cultivated all over Spain, but the regions of Aragon, Extramadura, and Catalonia produce the most. Overall, more than a hundred different varieties of both sweet and sour cherries are grown in Spain that mature at different rates to keep the harvest going through the three month season. It’s no wonder I can never find the same cherries twice!

Like with other agricultural products in Spain, there is a lot of pride in the quality of their cherries, which are protected by official Denominations of Origin (D.O.). Three hours west of Madrid bordering Portugal, in the Valle de Jerte in Extramadura, the Picota cherry has been cultivated there since the 17th century. It is protected by the Cereza del Jerte D.O.

Closer to home for us in the Valencian Community, cherries are grown in the northern mountainous regions of the Alicante province under the D.O. of Cerezas de la Montaña de Alicante (Cherries of the Mountain of Alicante).

While I think the best way to enjoy cherries is straight up, hand to mouth, they are also great to cook with. One of our favorite ways to use them is in a cherry gazpacho, an interesting variation of the classic cold summer soup.

For this recipe, we used extra sweet cherries from Aragon. These were big juicy fruits with almost black skins, deep red flesh, and a rich sweetness. A flavor profile that we thought would be complemented by the smoky heat of chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers are not Spanish, but you can find them here. We tried both ground chipotle and canned and found that we prefer the canned chipotles in Adobo sauce. We use one chipotle pepper, with seeds removed.

The soup starts like a traditional gazpacho. We use roma or plum tomatoes (also called pera in Spain). The tomatoes are blanched in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then dunked in cold water so that the skins slide right off. They are then cut in half to remove the seeds and cores, which we drain in a colander over a bowl to catch every drop of juice. The collected juice is used to moisten torn chunks of stale bread to thicken the soup, just like a traditional gazpacho.

We use a 1/2 kg of cherries, or about 1 pound. After pitting the cherries we puree them in a blender until smooth. We then push the cherry juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the skins. (This is optional. One of us has an aversion to pulp, so we take extra measures to remove it in our soups.)

Sweet yellow bell peppers work better with the sweetness of the cherries than green peppers. We peel them with a vegetable peeler and remove the seeds. The tomatoes are then pureed in the blender along with the yellow pepper, a roughly chopped onion and clove of garlic.

The cherry juice is then added and blended well. We save the chipotle pepper for last and add it a little at a time, tasting along the way to adjust the amount of spice. Note that we use an 8-cup blender which is pretty big. With a smaller blender, you may need to blend ingredients in batches and combine together at the end.

Once we get the flavorings adjusted to our liking, we drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil through the opening in the blender lid while blending to give the soup a silky texture. The moistened bread is added a bit at a time and blended throughly until we reach our desired consistency. This soup is best sipped cold, so we chill it for several hours before serving.

Cherry Chipotle Gazpacho

Ingredients

1/2 kg (about 1 lb) cherries
2 kg (about 4 lbs) roma or plum tomatoes
2 yellow peppers
1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
One chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed OR 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup torn bread

Instructions

  1. Remove pits from the cherries, puree in a blender and then run through a fine mesh sieve to remove skins (optional for a smoother gazpacho).
  2. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, dunk in cold water and remove skins. Cut tomatoes in half to remove seeds and cores, straining any leftover juices into a bowl.
  3. Toss torn bread in reserved tomato juice and let sit to absorb juices.
  4. Peel the yellow peppers with a vegetable peeler, remove core and seeds.
  5. Puree tomatoes in blender.
  6. Add yellow pepper, onion and garlic and blend until smooth.
  7. Add the cherry juice to the mixture.
  8. Roughly chop the chipotle pepper and add to blender in small batches, blending and tasting until the desired spice level is reached.
  9. With the blender running, add olive oil in a slow stream.
  10. Add moistened bread to blender in small batches, blending in until desired consistency

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