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“Scratch & Dent” Gazpacho

It’s that time of year when farmers’ markets overfloweth with tomatoes. I love rescuing soft and bruised tomatoes from the “scratch & dent” boxes that most vendors use to liquidate their damaged fruit. As long as you are able to make soup, sauce or salsa the same day, they are a real steal.

Gazpacho has always been a late summertime staple in my culinary artillery. But a recent discussion with a chef friend and an ingredient borrowed from Spain’s white gazpacho have helped me crack the code and create an addictive chilled soup that has so many layers of flavors it lingers in your mouth like a fine wine.

The trick is to emulsify some tomatoes, stale bread, Marcona almonds and olive oil at the start, which combine to create a rustic texture. Then, finish the soup with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and ground chilies. While this gazpacho may be a little more labor-intensive than others, fortuitously, the ingredients do all the hard work for you. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 poblano chili

3 pounds tomatoes (ideally heirlooms)

2/3 cup stale bread (ideally a rustic sourdough), cut into crouton-size bits

¼ cup skinless Marcona almonds

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium red onion

½ fennel bulb, trimmed, or 2 celery stalks

1 cucumber, skinned, seeds removed

½ cup lightly packed basil or cilantro, stems discarded before measuring

1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (ideally the good aged stuff)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ – ½ teaspoon ground Chipotle or New Mexican chili

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blacken poblano over a gas burner or BBQ. Put in a bag for 5 minutes, then peel off and discard skin. Discard seeds and stem. Reserve.

Core tomatoes, then cut a small “X” at the bottom. Drop tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove, let cool for a minute, then peel off and discard the skins (which should just pop off into your hands).

To a food processor, add 3 tomatoes, bread, almonds and garlic. Run processor for 30 seconds, then drizzle in oil in a thin steady stream until it emulsifies with the contents (about 1 minute). Transfer the lot to a large bowl.

Roughly chop poblano, onion, fennel, cucumber and basil. Puree along with remaining tomatoes in two or three batches as necessary. Add these batches to the original bread/almond tomato batch.

Season with balsamic, lemon juice, chili powder, S&P. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.

Yield:  about 8 servings

notes

• If you halve the recipe, it can all be made in one batch in the food processor. Just add everything to the processor, in the proper order, and include the seasonings at the end.

• Leftovers will last for three days in the fridge.

"scratch & dent" gazpacho with burrata

ANNOUNCING!!!

So much to share with you…

Fellow Gastronauts, fasten your seatbelts. Season 2 of World’s Weirdest Restaurants has finally been cleared for lift-off on Food Network Canada. The 15 new episodes launch on Monday, June 17, with the first two episodes screening at 9p and 9:30p. This season includes catapulted chickens skewered on the heads of unicycle-riding servers, as well as weird and wonderful restaurants located in mines, on cranes on ferris wheels and in bunkers. Launch dates in other territories to follow.

To kick off the series, I’ll be doing a cross Canada media tour and hosting a World’s Weirdest Pop-up in Vancouver and Toronto (on June 3 and 6 respectively). Tickets are very reasonable (‘cause we love ya) and very limited (’cause the pop-ups are very intimate). Ticket information is as follows:

http://electricowl.ca/event/worlds-weirdest-restaurants-w-host-bob-blumer-pop-up-restaurant/

http://www.gladstonehotel.com/food.

This year, my New Years Resolution was to return to my artistic roots. Whereas in the past several years I have been focusing my modicum of creativity on my food presentation and my TV shows, I wanted to get back to the drawing board—figuratively, if not literally. To that end, I am thrilled to be able to share three separate projects with you:

Surrealism Decanted

On June 21, I am launching a gallery show of my surreal wine glasses, decanters and other wine-related objets d’art at the Jessop Cellars Gallery in Napa, California.  I have built about 25 pieces on my own and collaborated with Virginia glass blower Christopher Mcelroy on another half dozen pieces. The show, which will stay up through the end of July, will be launched with a “surreal meal” on June 21 that’s part of the winery’s “tastemaker speaker series” series.

www.JessupCellars.com

The Ultimate Foodie Suite at the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto.

Since it became my home-away-from-home several years ago, I’ve slept in over half of the 30 artist-designed rooms at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Now it’s my turn to design a room. Together with the Gladstone team, I’ll be imagineering and installing a very surreal environment in room 403—complete with custom-built furniture pieces, fabrics and lights. And wait, wait, there’s even more. My room is one of three in the hotel with a kitchenette. I plan to make the most of it by tricking it out with all of my favorite kitchen gadgets, a wine fridge stocked with wines hand-picked my yours truly, and lots of other visual and functional surprises. The room will debut in mid-October. It can be reserved through the usual channels at the hotel.

www.gladstonehotel.com/

Collaboration with fine art photographer Fausta Facciponte

Two years ago I fell in love with the work of Toronto-based photographer Fausta Facciponte. After purchasing one of her prints (Peter 2009), I lured her into my world with the promise of dinner, and now I feel fortunate to call her a friend. In January, we decided to collaborate on a series of photographs of my collection of 60s and 70s promotional food mascots (think: Mr. Peanut, the Trix Wabbit and the Pillsbury Dough Boy). The first three of these images will be featured in my room at the Gladstone, and we intend to show the entire collection once the series is complete.

http://www.greenrabbits.com/

Etc.

i’ve enjoyed posting photos on Twitter so much that i have decided to stream them directly on Instagram. The weird, wacky and wondrous is now on parade at bobblumer

The rest of my year is filling up with the completion of the second edition of Pizza on the Grill, events, appearances and classes. If I’m anywhere near you, I hope you’ll come by and say hello.

http://www.bobblumer.com/calendar/

As always, there’s no one between your emails and my computer screen, so drop me a line.

That’s it for now, I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Asta la pasta baby,

bob