Here I am on a Friday, blogging away. What got me out of bed at this hour, you ask? The inimitable--and totally hilarious--Grace of A Southern Grace is hosting a blog event called "Beat the Heat."
The challenge is to prepare a dish that does not require the use of any heat. With South Florida's temperatures in the 90's and the humidity at, like, 1,000 percent, and my clothes sticking to my skin every time I walk from my front door to my car, how could I not take up this challenge?
Interestingly, with this recipe, things got hot, but not because I turned on the stove.
Preparing this recipe, I learned a thing or two about poblano peppers. It turns out that the heat of poblano peppers varies a lot. One poblano might exude a pitiful amount of heat. Its presence may be barely discernible in a dish. You could use the whole pepper, seeds and all, no problem. And that's what I did when I made chiles rellenos on Sunday night: I used one entire poblano and got a satisfying, but not excessive, degree of heat from it.
And then--it turns out--there are poblanos that will scorch your skin as you chop them, make you cry with their fumes, and generally turn your dish into a steaming pit of hell-fire. That's what this little demon fruit nearly did to my gazpacho:
Cute, huh? I wasn't quite prepared for what it had in store. Let's just say that I sampled the recipe at just the right time. Always taste your recipes as you go along. All those screeching reality show chefs can't be wrong.
Because I took a bite of the gazpacho before dumping all of the poblano in there, I saved myself and my husband from a capsaicin conniption.
Conclusion: the amount of poblano that you include in this recipe will depend on the individual pepper and your tolerance for heat. I suggest that you sample a small piece of the pepper and proceed accordingly.
A Fritter Original
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon poblano pepper, chopped (see narrative above)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, chilled (place the unopened can in the fridge for 30 minutes)
1/8 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped roughly
1 tablespoon fennel fronds, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 Valencia orange
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of chilled, pre-steamed crab meat (available at the fish counter)
In a medium bowl, combine the fennel, shallot, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, poblano pepper, garlic, tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, and fennel fronds. Gently stir until well-incorporated. Add the lime juice and squeeze half of the orange over the gazpacho, and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the remaining half of the orange for later use.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours, until ready to serve.
When ready to serve the gazpacho, scoop equal portions into 2 bowls. In a separate mixing bowl, gently toss the chilled crab with the juice from the remaining orange half. Top each bowl of gazpacho with two tablespoons of the crab. Garnish with several slices of avocado, and serve.
And here's the true genius of gazpacho: it moves effortlessly from dinner to brunch, like a tank top that looks killer with your Sevens and your sweat pants. Pulse your leftover gazpacho in your processor for 5 seconds, add a shot of vodka, and you've got the most vitamin-rich Bloody Mary around.
Boom! Two recipes in one!