Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrity Guest Blogger: Lina Trujillo

Gazpacho by Lina Trujillo
carefully noted by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

I walked into the kitchen where Lina waited impatiently.

“OK, we will make gazpacho together.” She tapped the marble counter. “This is everything you need.”

It didn’t seem like very much. I pulled out my small notebook and scribbled down the list:

• A baguette
• 8 medium red tomatoes
• 1 large green (bell) pepper
• Half a cucumber, peeled
• 1 clove of garlic
• Salt
• White wine vinegar
• Olive oil
• A large pitcher

She took the baguette and ripped off about a third of it. “You need a large piece of bread.”

“Wait, how large, I need to weigh it!” I managed to get it onto the kitchen scale and see 60 grams before she took it from me, rolling her eyes.

“It’s approximate, you don’t need to measure.” She began ripping the bread into pieces and dropping them into the pitcher. “Just a bit of this and a bit of that. Hack everything into pieces so that it is easier to liquidize into soup.” She quickly chopped the pepper and cucumber without a cutting board, just holding them in her hands. I tried not to wince. She cut the tomatoes in half and dropped them in as well, core and all.

“Don’t you...”

“I don’t cut anything out,” she said. “We’ll strain it later so it doesn’t matter, just throw everything into the pitcher.” When it was almost full, she paused. “We need to make space.”

She got out an electric mixer with a blender attachment and began breaking down the tomatoes. Soon, the pitcher was only half full and she was able to add the rest of the tomatoes.

“Could you use a stand-up blender?” I asked.

“Sure. You might have to do multiple batches.” She cut the remaining tomatoes and threw them in followed by the garlic. “Only use one clove of garlic, so that it doesn’t overpower the flavor.”

I scrawled her advice as quickly as I could and looked up to see her adding the seasoning. “How much salt?”

“A lot!”

“Could I use Worcester sauce?”

She paused. “What’s that?”

“It’s a condiment.” My voice faltered under her gaze. “It tastes salty.”

“Just use salt! The tomatoes are sweet and they need plenty. The salt is important.”

“Could I use celery salt?”

Her face flushed. “You are making gazpacho, not a Bloody Mary. Use sea salt!”

She poured it in. I wrote a heaping teaspoon and kept my mouth shut.

“Now oil and vinegar. Don’t ask me how much! As much as you like, just make sure it is more oil than vinegar.” She added both in quickly.

I bit my lip and wrote 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil while she liquidized the ingredients.

“Blend it for a very long time,” she shouted over the whirr of the blender. “It should be very smooth. When you think you’re done, blend it some more.”

Then she cocked her head and looked at the liquid in the pitcher critically. “It’s not red enough,” she said and got a few more tomatoes. She added two and then laughed and threw in a third. “Another one won’t hurt. The tomatoes are the most important ingredient.” She paused to look at me. “Seriously. Without the tomatoes, you have nothing.”

She ran the blender for a few more minutes and then handed me a spoon. “Now taste.”

It was sweet and acidic and a little bit spicy. It tasted as if it had onions in it or something else sharp, maybe the effect of the vinegar. It tasted like summer. “It is wonderful!”

“More vinegar?” She already had her hand on the bottle.

“I don’t think so.”

She gave me a dubious look and took the spoon from me so she could taste it for herself. Then she nodded.

“Fine, it’s not bad. Now you need a sieve and a very large bowl. Pass the gazpacho through the sieve, pressing it through with a spoon.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “You can add some water to make it lighter. I do that sometimes. Or ice, I like to fill it with ice cubes.”

She poured the strained liquid back into the pitcher and held it out to me. “And that’s it! You can drink it from a glass or serve it in a bowl. I like it in a bowl, so you can mix things into it. Fry small pieces of bread in hot olive oil to make croutons. Offer onion, pepper and cucumber chopped fine. Even chopped fresh tomato, if you like.”

I took the pitcher and inhaled the red scent of tomato. “How many does it serve?”

“Depends how much they eat,” she said. “I never have any left over. Now get out of my kitchen, I have work to do.”

And I took my gazpacho and left.


Sylvia said...

I'm still looking for a chef's hat...

fairyhedgehog said...

Great guest post and I love the picture as well!

Whirlochre said...

I want a pair of those checked trousers, but as ever, my problem is slim waist / long legs. Still, it's much better than it was in my youth when I was practically 2D (and my legs were each a mile long).

McKoala said...

You can come here and make bloody mary's...

Great post, great photo!

(Whirl, you poor dear...)

Old Kitty said...

I'd have snuck in a vodka drop or ten!

Hello Lina!! Glad you whipped Mr Whirl into a frezy of tomato!!! Take care

Phoenix said...

Fab image!

But after reading the comments, I'm now picturing Sylvia and Whirl both dressed in checkered pants and chef hats on some Celebrity Chef type show.

It's too early in the morning for this.

jjdebenedictis said...

I suppose there's no hope of the gazpacho being emailable?


Mother (Re)produces. said...

Look out, world-
It's double o'Sylvia, and she's got a blender!

Those pics are just too fab! You need gold plated kitchen utensils though, so we can call you the woman with the golden pancake turner.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Whirl, you're lovely. You are however complaining that your legs are too long and too slim.

Just thought I'd point that out too you, in case you hadn't realised.

Sylvia said...

Jen, you should make it! Everyone agrees that Lina's gazpacho is the nicest on the coast and I was amazed at how simple it is.

Gold-plated spatulas sound awesome. I'd probably accidentally melt them into the scrambled eggs though.

Whirlochre said...

Struggling to catch up today, so instead of responding to you all individually, I shall blend my reply into a McKoala-Kitty-Phoenix-JJ-Mother-Sylvia-friendly catch-all mommage de vivre of "Wahey".

All of which is very soup-like, say I.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I want credit for resisting the temptation to make a shiny poop joke, Sylvia.

Robin B. said...

Achhhhh! I missed this. Love it!!

pacatrue said...

Sylvia is Master Chef Spain.