My friend Keena learned to make this gazpacho from her sister-in-law Margot. But I still call it Keena’s Gazpacho, because she’s put her own twist on it. Here are some notes to consider before you start:
– Keena uses heirloom tomatoes for their flavor and color, and at a minimum, she uses at least one yellow tomato, so that the finished gazpacho has a beautiful orange color. She tells me that when she tried making the recipe with only red tomatoes, it worked fine, but the taste seemed a little flatter and the color was less pretty. Her sister-in-law once made it using all Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes and a yellow pepper instead of a red one, and the resulting gazpacho was a pretty shade of green. Whatever tomatoes she uses, Keena makes this gazpacho in a 7-cup blender, and the size of the blender determines how many tomatoes you can use. She uses as many as will fit in her blender jar.
– Keena likes her gazpacho smooth and sippable, but her sister-in-law garnishes it with diced cucumber and bell peppers, so that it’s a little chunky. You can do whatever you want.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Score an “X” into the bottom of each tomato, and then blanch them until the skin begins to peel back around the “X.” Remove from the water, cool them until they’re not too hot to handle, and then peel. Remove and discard the stems, and cut out the rough spot where the stem attaches. Chop coarsely.
Put the olive oil in a blender, and blend on high speed until frothy. Add the garlic, and process briefly. Add the bell peppers, cucumber, a couple pinches of salt, and as many tomatoes as will fit comfortably into your blender. Process on high speed for a while, stopping the blender from time to time to scrape down the sides of the jar and mush around the ingredients as needed to allow the blender to run smoothly. (The mixture will be fairly thick until the tomatoes are pureed.) Let the blender go as long as you can stand the noise; the longer it goes, the better it will taste and the creamier it will be. Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry vinegar, and process to incorporate. Taste, and add vinegar and salt as needed.
Chill thoroughly before serving.
Yield: about 6 servings
Contrast is what makes this tart work: the crust is quite sweet, and the plums should be quite tart. Look for plums that are both sweet and tangy, especially the ones that make you pucker a little when you bite into the flesh closest to the skin. I’ve made this tart with some unnamed red-skinned, yellow-fleshed plums that I found at the farmers market, and also with Flavor King pluots. Medrich recommends Santa Rosa, Friar, Laroda, and Elephant Heart plums, and she advises against the small, oblong plums often called Italian prune plums. They’re not tangy enough.
Also, I make the dough for this tart in a food processor, but you can make it by hand, so I’m including instructions for both. The food processor makes it especially quick and tidy, but either way is easy.
Finally, for the tart dough, you don’t want ice cold, rock-hard, straight-from-the-fridge butter. You want it to be a little softer than that, but not as soft as it gets at room temperature. You want it to be firm, as it is when it’s pleasantly cool.
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 9 ½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom – or, barring that, a 9-inch springform pan also works nicely.
To make the dough by hand, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the egg and butter, and use a pastry blender, a large fork, or a couple of knives to cut the mixture together, as though you were making pie dough. The dough is ready when it resembles a rough mass of damp yellow sand with no dry flour showing.
To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to mix. Add the egg and butter, and pulse just until the mixture resembles damp yellow sand and is beginning to clump around the blade.
Press the dough gently but evenly over the bottom but not up the sides of the pan. You’re not trying to pack it down; you’re just lightly tamping it.
If the plums are very small (under 2 inches in diameter), cut them in half and remove the pits. Cut larger plums into quarters or sixths, removing the pits. Leaving a margin of ½ inch around the edge of the pan, arrange halved plums cut side up over the dough, with a little space between each one. Arrange wedges skin side up – they look nice that way after baking – and press them lightly into the dough, so that they won’t turn onto their sides in the oven.
Bake until the pastry is puffed, deep golden brown at the edges, and a lighter shade of golden brown in the center, about 50 to 55* minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then loosen and remove the rim of the pan, and cool further. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: This tart keeps at room temperature for a few days, but its texture is best on the first day.
* UPDATED on November 3, 2010: A number of readers have reported that 50 to 55 minutes was too long in their ovens, and that their tarts were burnt. To be on the safe side, set your timer for 35 to 40 minutes, and keep an eye on it.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings