Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Giddy for Green Tomato Gazpacho

As the family legend has it, on the night before I was born, my mother cooked up a pizza topped with sliced green tomatoes, and the next morning, pop! There I was. (Though, truth be told, it may actually have taken a bit more effort than I'm leading on...)

I won't go so far as to call green tomatoes some kind of folk remedy for inducing labor, but I sure do think they provide awfully good incentive for anyone taking their sweet time in the womb.

Now that I've been out in the world a few years, I've discovered all kinds of other ideas for what to do with green tomatoes.

Green Tomatoes at the Market

My first suggestion would be that you take just a little time and invest it in making a green tomato chow chow. If you can some now, you'll have it this winter, and it really is just divine, especially when mixed into bean soups, egg salads or (my very favorite) served alongside grilled/broiled meat or fish. Nom!

But if you happen to have a few green tomatoes and not much time to spare, I'd recommend gazpacho. It's easy, it's low-key and since it's not a cooked dish, you won't heat up the kitchen. Or even break a sweat, to be perfectly honest.
Supremely Easy Green Tomato Gazpacho (Serves 3 to 4)

2 cups green tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup green or yellow pepper, roughly chopped
2 small or 1 large clove garlic
1 medium Kirby cucumber, quartered
1 jalapeño pepper, halved and seeds removed (optional)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or 1/2 slice stale bread, torn to pieces
1 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1/2 tsp fresh oregano)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional Garnish
chopped cilantro, 1/2" cubes of cucumber, sliced green onion and/or cubed avocado

1. In a blender or food processor, chop the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, cucumber and jalapeño, if using.
2. Add the breadcrumbs or pieces, tomato juice and olive oil. Pulse to incorporate.
3. Stir in the chopped cilantro, oregano and Worcestershire.
4. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to adjust to your desired flavor.
5. Chill for at least three hours (or overnight). Garnish, if desired, and serve cold or at room temperature. It's great with chewy baguette slices or garlic bread.

The beauty of a gazpacho is that it's so flexible and so forgiving. You can leave it chunky or make it really smooth. You can really even drop half the ingredients here and still come out with a tasty soup, though this happens to be the formula I like.

And on that note, you might notice that this recipe is almost identical to the Red Tomato Gazpacho I blogged a few years ago, or maybe even the Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho from last August.

Huh! Funny how that happens! Yes, folks. You're on to me. It's all about theme and variation here at Chez Ginsu...

Salud!
Miss Ginsu

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8.17.2009

Summer Ceviche Salad with Fresh Papalo

The vendor had noticed us ogling her herbs. "It's papalo! Here, take some with you." she chirped. "I'll write the word down for you. It's from Mexico. Use it like cilantro."

At the next stand over, we scored some gray sole and returned home with arms full of tomatoes, onions, lettuces, cucumbers and this unfamiliar herb.

A quick web search revealed that papalo is indeed native to Mexico, and it grows like a weed across the Southwest US as well as Central and South America. Generally eaten raw, is often added to things like guacamole, salsas and sandwiches.

Fresh Papalo

This site claims the flavor is "somewhere between arugula, cilantro and rue," but having not eaten rue, I thought I tasted something slightly citrusy and minty, like something between cilantro and the sushi bar staple, shiso.

Homesick Texan makes a very pretty salsa verde with it, but on this particularly hot, humid day, we had our minds set on a cool ceviche salad for lunch.

This is just a variation on my basic ceviche recipe. I think the only thing that could have made it more delightful would be a sliced avocado on the side.

Ceviche Salad

Summer Ceviche Salad (Serves two)

2 sole fillets (or another white fish) sliced in 1/2" wide strips
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp honey (or a pinch of sugar)
1 tsp chopped papalo (or cilantro)
1 tsp chopped epazote (optional)
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 radishes, sliced very thin
1/4-1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced very thin
1 green onion (white section) sliced very thin
4 cups mesclun or chopped leaf lettuce

1. Combine the lime juice and salt in a glass/pyrex dish or another non-reactive container.
2. Add the fish slices, tossing well to coat the fish with juice, and chill (for up to, but not more than an hour), stirring once or twice during that time to make sure all the fish surface area comes in contact with the juice.
3. After 20-30 minutes, the fish should look white and opaque. Drain off most of the lime juice and incorporate the olive oil. Coat the fish well.
4. Mix in the honey (or a pinch of sugar) and taste the lime juice-olive oil blend. Adjust the flavor, to taste, with salt/sugar.
5. Toss in the herbs, tomatoes, radishes, jalapeño slices and onion.
6. Divide the lettuce greens and make a bed on each plate. Spoon the ceviche on top of the lettuce and drizzle the greens with the lime juice.

Because it's often used as a substitute for cilantro or culantro, you won't be surprised to learn that the papalo was delicious in our ceviche.

I think it'd also make a delightful addition to fish tacos. That citrusy aspect is bound to make papalo welcome anywhere you'd use a pinch of cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

If you happen to be in NYC, you can get your very own papalo (and epazote and other good-lookin' herbs and veggies) at the Angel Family Farm stand at Tompkins Square on Sundays. Looks like they're based in Goshen, NY, and they run a local CSA, as well.

Salud!
Miss Ginsu

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7.30.2009

No stove, please. I'll have ceviche.

Bah! Cooking... Who needs it? With the temps the 80s and high humidity all week, I just can't get excited about turning on the oven when I come home from work. Raw-food diets suddenly begin to seem more attractive.

J and I try to maintain a Fish n' Film Friday dinner (it's a great mnemonic device to keep fish in our diets), but the thought of turning on the stove last week was just... too... much. So then, our thoughts turned to tangy, spicy bits of ceviche.

Grouper ceviche
Grouper ceviche with radishes, jalapeño and cilantro

Ceviche (sometimes spelled seviche) is simply thin-sliced (or cubed) raw fish that's marinated in a strong acid, usually citrus-based, such as lemon, lime or grapefruit juice. The acid pickles or "cooks" the fish, turning its appearance from translucent to opaque.

Ceviche can be made with salmon or mackerel, of course, but those are fattier, more fully-flavored fish. I prefer the white fishes or ceviches made with shell-off shrimp and scallops. My recommendation? Go with snapper, grouper, sea bass, flounder, halibut, sole or mahi-mahi and doll it up with whatever tasty things you have in the fridge.

Chopped herbs or minced onions are a natural. Peruvian ceviche is very minimalist (and usually served with onions, sweet potatoes and corn), while Mexican ceviche is often mixed with a sort of pico de gallo of chilies, tomatoes and onions. I recently discovered it's also delightful when mixed with chopped-up pickled onions or pickled ramps.
Basic Ceviche
1 pound white fish (sliced uniformly thin), shelled shrimp or scallops
1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil

Optional extras
1 Tbsp chopped pickled ramps
1 small red onion, sliced very thin and rinsed in cold water
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 radishes, sliced very thin
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4-1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced very thin

1. Combine the lime juice, salt and cilantro.
2. Put the fish in a glass/pyrex dish or another non-reactive container.
3. Pour the lime juice mixture over the fish and chill for up to two hours, stirring once or twice during this time to make sure all the surfaces are covered.
4. After two hours, the fish should look white and opaque. Drain off the lime juice and toss the fish with olive oil to stop the "cooking." Season to taste. (You may wish to mix in the tiniest pinch of sugar if the mixture seems too tart.)
5. Toss in your choice of optional extras, or simply serve as-is, over fresh greens or piled in a cocktail glass.

For my own personal tastes, I find that ceviche cries out for some tortillas (fresh or fried), a crisp salad of fresh greens or even avocados and a cold beer. Wheat beers like Hefeweizen seem to work very well, as do classic Mexican beers like Sol, Corona or Negra Modelo.

Salud!

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6.17.2008