Gazpacho for Fall Cookbook Season

Did somebody say tomatoes?

Howdy cookbook fans!

And welcome to the officially official beginning of FALL COOKBOOK SEASON! The folks over at Taste were lovely enough to interview me about everything we can look forward to this fall—head over for a read. (And if you’re new here because you read about SPN on Taste, WELCOME!) Every week this fall, I will be featuring a different fall cookbook, with a recipe in the free Tuesday issue and a Q&A with the author in the paid Friday issue.

This week’s book is Nourish Me Home by Cortney Burns. Burns is the former chef at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, but this is her personal cookbook, chronicling her move to the East Coast and the culinary inspiration she found in New England. The book is an appealing mix of cheffy and hippie, with an eye towards mindfulness, a focus on fermentation, and lots of just really delicious-sounding recipes (with seasonal variations!). One of those recipes, Burns’ Late Harvest Gazpacho, is featured at the bottom of this newsletter. I figured it was about gazpacho-o-clock in the summery parts of the world. And if you’d like to read my Q&A with her on Friday, become a paid subscriber by clicking the big red button below.

Our cookbooks should be viewed as workbooks, not as untouchable treasures. The sign of a good cookbook is when it has become stained and splattered, dog-eared and thin.

Treat your cookbooks like workbooks, writes Katherine Martinko. [Treehugger]

Journalist and Food Writer Julia Reed Dies at 59

Julia Reed, journalist and author of several books on food, drinks, entertaining, and living the good life in the Southern US and around the world, died last week at the age of 59. Writes Jon Meacham in Garden & Gun, where Reed was a regular contributor:

Whether her subject was Scotch whiskey, the opossum, or the mad politics, mournful music, and out-of-the-way cafes and bars of the South, Julia unerringly found the universal in the particular. In a way, she was a foreign correspondent in her own land, filing dispatches about the sacred and the profane—and revealing, often subtly, the porous border between the two.

Reed was the author of Julia Reed's South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long, Julia Reed's New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll, and Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties: An Entertaining Life (with Recipes). The New York Times has collected several of her recipes, including Hot Cheese Olives and Southern Squash Casserole, here.

Kids are a lot smarter and more capable than adults sometimes give them credit for, and it’s easy if you treat them like they’re smart. They frequently step up.

J. Kenji López-Alt on writing a kids book about food from around the world and “a picky eater who figured out how to not be picky,” Every Night Is Pizza Night. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, my gosh, it felt like therapy…I had to really dig deep to find why I love food. I really uncovered and unearthed a bunch of memories through the process of being interviewed. And it really did help me close chapters in my life because I really lay it all out there.

—LA chef Alvin Cailan talks about working on his new book, Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream, with co-author Alexandra Cuerdo. [NPR]

Late Harvest Gazpacho

Reprinted from Nourish Me Home by Cortney Burns with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020. Photo: Heami Lee.

Late in summer, on the cusp of autumn, as the light changes and the days shorten, I find tomatoes are at their best. Having soaked up summer’s warmth, they become deliriously sweet and juicy. Or perhaps it’s their fleeting nature that fuels my love affair. I make this soup to honor the seasonal shift from light to dark, warm to cold. It’s my favorite way to take in and celebrate summer’s final hurrah. 

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds (910 grams) late-season tomatoes, about 4 large

4 sweet red bell peppers

9 ounces (255 grams) dill pickles

1/2 cups (6 grams) lightly packed parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons lightly packed dill leaves, chopped, plus more for garnis

1/4 preserved lemon, diced

1 large shallot, minced

4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced

2 garlic cloves, grated

1/2 serrano chilem grated

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (120 ml) pickle brine

1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Herby Yogurt (recipe follows)

16 cherry tomatoes, quartered, for garnish

Fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon, chives, or bronze fennel, for garnish 

  1. Set a metal grate directly over a gas burner or heat a grill to medium-high. Set the whole tomatoes over the flame and wait for the skins to blister, then flip and repeat; this should take only a minute or two per side. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel away their skins, remove their cores, and cut them into quarters.

  2. Char the red peppers over the flame, giving a little more time for their skins to become mostly black all over. As you did with the tomatoes, wait for them to cool before peeling away their skins and any papery char (it’s OK if a bit of char lingers), then remove the stems, scrape out the seeds, and dice.

  3. Dice the cucumbers and reserve about 1⁄4 cup (30 g) in an airtight container for the garnish. Add the rest to the bowl of a food processor along with the tomatoes, peppers, parsley, cilantro, dill, preserved lemon, shallot, anchovies, garlic, serrano, vinegar, salt, coriander, and pepper. Pulse until all of the vegetables are mostly incorporated but still retain a rustic consistency.

  4. To make the soup extra-smooth, ladle half of it into a blender along with the pickle brine and purée until very smooth. With the blender (or food processor) still going, stream in the oil. Transfer all of the soup to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

  5. To serve, divide the soup among serving bowls. Top with a giant spoonful of the yogurt, the cherry tomatoes, reserved cucumbers, and torn fresh herbs.

KITCHEN NOTE: Salt-brined pickles and the citrus funk of preserved lemon give this soup a slight fermented acidity and depth that doesn’t overwhelm the freshness of the rest of the vegetables, but fresh ingredients can be substituted for their preserved counterparts, using fresh cucumbers for the pickled ones and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in place of the preserved lemons.

Herby Yogurt

3/4 cup (180 g) strained full-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lightly packed dill leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon lightly packed parsley leaves, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon rose water

  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and oil, then add the dill, parsley, lemon zest, coriander, fennel, salt, pepper, and rose water. Stir all the ingredients together up to 1 day in advance.

That’s it for today! See Friday people Friday for book deals, more news, and a visit from Cortney Burns. Have a great week!