As a kid, my mother sent me to a variety of after-school art classes. Over the years I became comfortable working in many mediums—all of which have served to help me create the images and build the objets d’art that have become my signature style (some of which are contained in this book). Here’s your opportunity to discover your inner artist and transform the humble field cucumber into a mixed-media art project. All it takes is a couple of common kitchen utensils to turn the ends of the cukes into sculpted vessels, and a few basic ingredients to turn what’s left into a zippy and refreshing green gazpacho.
8 cucumbers (the conventional field variety)
¼ cup stemmed fresh mint
1 shallot, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds discarded, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons best-available olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut 2½ inches off both ends of each cucumber. Reserve.
Peel middle sections, cut in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape out seeds. Discard seeds.
In a food processor or blender, add the middle sections of the cucumbers along with the mint, shallot, jalapeño, lime juice, and garlic. Purée.
Strain puréed mixture through a fine strainer into a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press out as much juice as possible from the mash. Discard solids. Whisk in oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
Take the 12 most aesthetically pleasing cucumber ends and slice ¼ inch off the bottom so that they stand solidly on their ends. Use a zester, paring knife, or vegetable peeler to create designs in the peel. Use a melon baller or a tiny spoon to scoop out the seeds and some of the surrounding cucumber, creating cucumber shot glasses. Stir the gazpacho before serving and pour into the sculpted cups.