Sunday, July 17, 2011

Casa Moro's Ajo Blanco (White Gazpacho)

For when you just can't bring yourself to turn on an oven, stovetop burner, toaster or microwave...lest they raise the temperature of your house even a fraction of a degree.

I don't think I would have "gotten" this soup judging by the ingredients list alone. But, as luck would have it we were served this as the opening course for dinner at our friends' house. It was amazing.

I left their house that night with 2 borrowed Casa Moro cookbooks under my arm.

...loving that my European friends are the only ones to have commented on this recipe when it posted to Facebook. ;-)

Ajo Blanco:
(Moro, The Cookbook)

225 gr. whole blanched almonds, preferably Spanish (ok, so I made this in a pinch with ground almonds...would have preferred to use whole, but they worked)
750 ml. iced water (I didn't use all the water because I think I misinterpreted the directions and soaked the bread in a separate bowl of water)
75 gr. stale white bread, with crusts removed, soaked in the water (I used a mixed whole grain boule, crusts cut off)
3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 level tsp. sea salt
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs sherry vinegar
200 gr. white grapes, preferably Muscat (I used small seedless reds...)
sea salt and black pepper (book neglects to say when to add I'm adding to each bowl)

In a food processor, grind the almonds until the consistency is as fine as possible.

At this point they should stick to the side of the machine.
Turn off and loosen the nuts from around the edge.
Add 5 Tbs of the iced water.

Turn the machine back on until the almonds form a paste just fluid enough to turn back on itself.
Squeeze the bread of excess water and add to the almonds along with the garlic.
Conbine until smooth.
Add the olive oil and gradually pour in the rest of the iced water, until you end up with a very smooth paste similar to single cream.
Transfer to a bowl and season with sherry vinegar and salt to taste.

According to Casa Moro, you should end up with a nice balance between the almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar.
Chill the soup for at least an hour.
Just before serving, check for seasoning again.
Ladle into bowls, distribute the grapes evenly and garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil if you wish.

I used a food processor as per the cookbook's instructions, but ended up putting the whole lot into my high-powered blender at the end, as I couldn't get enough of the liquid into the food processor without it leaking. I'll likely just use the blender from the get go next time...

I suppose we should eat something else with this, but my heat addled brain can't seem to think any further than the soup.