I received the book as a Christmas gift in December. Wrapped in tinsel and ribbon, it seemed to hold the weight of the world.
When I tore the paper to reveal the cover, I saw it did. It was The French Laundry Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the ultimate in American fine dining. One hundred and fifty Thomas Keller recipes sat heavy in my hands, and I hadn't the slightest idea of what to do with them.
I didn't open the book again until yesterday. Inspired by the drop in humidity and the crispness of the light, I peeked in again. This time, it seemed right. The page opened to gazpacho, and I looked to the pile of produce spilling out from the wooden basket on the hutch. I readied myself for a first French Laundry attempt.
It was far simpler than I'd imagined. Making gazpacho with Thomas Keller was a lot like making gazpacho with my mother, except that he was much quieter, and harbored a stern penchant for exact measurements.
As I sliced through tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and peppers, I became emboldened. I halved his recipe, tweaked it here and there, and made substitutions with newfound freedom. I have no idea how close the dish my liberties created tastes to the original Thomas Keller. Similar or not, however, it is the perfect antidote to a hot July night. Grab a spoon, dig in, and enjoy.
adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook
Serves 4 as a small starter soup, 2 as a meal
Chop and throw in a blender or food processor: 1 large green onion, 1 small green pepper, 5 small roma tomatoes, 4-5 pickling cucumbers, 1 clove garlic, and 1 teaspoon cilantro. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1/8 cup olive oil, and 3/4 cup tomato juice. Blend until pureed. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend; serve chilled with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a drizzle of balsamic dressing.