If you live anywhere near dirt, you’re likely enjoying the tail end of the summer’s bounty. Before the tomatoes are all gone, use them for something besides a BLT.
My Grandma used to make gazpacho. She mixed a cold can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup with a packet of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning. My entire career has been in retribution of that dish.
Gazpacho comes from Andalusia in southern Spain. It was originally made without tomatoes, which weren’t introduced until the discovery of the new world. There are several regional varieties, including a green version made with lettuce, parsley, cucumbers and mint; and ajo blanco, a white gazpacho made with olive oil, bread, garlic and nuts. But in the heat of the summer, its tomato gazpacho I crave. Gazpacho was traditionally pureed by hand in a mortar, but feel free to whip out the blender or food mill to make quick work of it.
2 dinner rolls, soaked in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (concassé)
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TB. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 TB. salt
1 TB. ground cumin
1-2 TB. hot pepper sauce
2-4 cups tomato juice
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Roquefort is the oldest blue cheese, favored by the ancient Romans 2000 years ago. It comes from the Aquitaine region of southwest France where it is made from sheep’s milk and cured in limestone caves. It’s discovery is told in the tale of a shepherd that left a hunk of bread and a sheep milk cheese in one of these caves. He found it later, and though it was covered with mold, he pronounced it delicious!
It is the mold penicillium roqueforti that gives this cheese it’s flavor. It occurs naturally in the soil of the local caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in southern France. Traditionally the cheese was made much like it’s origin story. The mold was collected by leaving bread in the caves for several weeks. The moldy bread was then dried, ground to a powder, then added to the curd. Today, the mold is grown in a laboratory, and added via aerosol through holes poked in the rind.
In addition, this cheese must be made from the milk of specific breeds of sheep (Lacaune, Manech, Basco-Béarnaise). Like so many other culturally rich culinary traditions, roquefort’s AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) is regulated by the EU’s INAO (Institut Nationalde l’Origine et de la Qualité).
I know this cheese is often referred to as the King of Cheeses. I also know that the Stilton heads also claim that title. This is a controversy I have no intention of participating in. I love all my cheeses equally.