The Big Lunch, crespeou & gazpacho

The Big Lunch 2010

 

I think Tim Smit’s aim for The Big Lunch www.thebiglunch.com  to “get people out on their street, raise a glass and share a bite with their neighbours” was successfully met on Sunday the 18th of July. 

The turnout to our Big Lunch was excellent with c60 people joining in the celebrations. 

Everyone had been asked to bring two dishes (one main + one side) and bring a pudding if they fancied; there was a BBQ area for those who like to demonstrate their cooking skills (guess who?) and a BYO drinks tent, games + face painting and LIVE music. 

I had been asked to judge the Pavlova competition which was no mean task. In the end I chose a fabulously luscious one with passion fruit folden through the cream, topped with blackberries and lavender sprigs.  The merengue was perfect: glossy and crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The runner-up was an excellent chocolate Pavlova which was decorated with mixed berries including chocolate dipped strawberries. 

Pavlova extravaganza

 

Recipes to follow as soon as I have  managed to winkle them out of the Pavlovas’ creators. 

Our contribution to the event was a gazpacho and crespeou, multi layered “cake” from Provence made up of savoury omelettes. 

Gazpacho & crespeou

 

I used three different flavours: herb, cheese and tomato, all held together by layers of fresh goats cheese. 

Here’s the recipe which is really easy; you could make the crespeou the day before and chill until needed although you may lose some of the freshness of the colours. 

It’s really very easy to do and assemble: just make sure you’ve got the mise en place ready before you start i.e. everything prepared and to hand. 

I used a medium sized non-stick fyring pan but you could create a cake with more height (and more drama!) if you used a smaller pan. 

Crespeou 

This is what you need: 

Serves 6 – 8 with salad and bread (or some chips) 

for the herb omelettes 

6 large eggs 

2 tbsp each of finely chopped parsley, chives and tarragon 

freshly ground black pepper 

for the tomato omelettes 

6 large egss 

1 tbsp tomato puree 

75g sun-dried tomatoes, snipped into small pieces (I used Merchant Gourmet’s vacuum packed ones, not the ones preserved in oil) 

freshly ground black pepper 

For the cheese omelettes 

6 large eggs 

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan 

freshly ground black pepper 

Filling 

250g fresh (= rindless) goats cheese (I used an organic Welsh goats cheese but you could use Chavroux or similar) 

loosened with a splash of milk or yoghurt so it becomes spreadable but not runny 

olive oil for frying 

This is what you do: 

1. for the omelettes, get three bowls ready 

2. crack 6 eggs into each bowl and add the herbs, tomatoes and herbs respectively 

3. season with freshly ground black pepper and whisk to mix well 

4. heat some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat 

5. start with the herb omelettte and pour half the mixture into the pan; unlike a traditional omelette, after the initial stirring of the mixture in the pan, cook until set. 

6. slide the omelette onto a serving platter 

7. add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and pour in half the tomato mixture, cook as before and slide on top of the herb omelette 

8. leave to cool a little and then spread half the goats cheese mixture over the surface; make sure you go all the way to the edge of the omelette and spread as evenly as possible 

9. now make a cheese omelette with half the cheese mixture, adding a little oil to the pan if needed, and slide the cheese omelette on top of the layer of goats cheese 

10. cook another 3 omelettes as before, layering as you go 

11. remember to add the remainder of the goats cheese over the tomato omelette 

12. leave to cool and chill for a couple of hours and cut into wedes when ready to serve 

You may have noticed that I did not add any salt: I don’t think the cake needs it, because the sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan are quite savoury enough by themselves. 

The gazpacho is based on a Moro recipe which I have used hundreds of times.  

This intensely flavoursome “liquid salad” is the easiest thing to make and I believe is at its best when it is really hot outside and tomatoes are at their reddest, sweetest, juiciest best. 

Don’t bother making this soup out of season, it’s not worth it! 

You will notice the addition of breadcrumbs: if you are familiar with the supermarket versions of gazpacho this may come as a surprise, but I think it adds some body and texture which I like. 

Once the soup has been thoroughly chilled (at least 2 hours in the fridge) you can serve it as it is, or add some bits of Serrano ham, hard boiled eggs or extra tomato/pepper/onion. 

It’s up to you. 

Gazpacho 

This is what you need: 

Serves 4 

1 kg tomatoes, washed + chopped into 4 

3 garlic cloves, chopped very finely or pushed through a garlic press 

1 green pepper, washed, deseeded and chopped roughly 

3/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped roughly 

1/2 medium onion, grated finely 

2 large handful of breadcrumbs, made from decent bread crusts removed 

3 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar 

4 tbsp olive oil 

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

This is what you do: 

1. Using a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients to the bowl 

2. whizz until smooth but with some bits of tomato and green pepper still visible 

3. if you want a smoother texture, then push 1/2 the mixture through a mouli 

4. check for seasoning and check again once chilled before serving 

5. this soup is quite thick but you can add some ice cubes before serving if you want a thinner soup 

I like to serve gazpacho in clear tumblers or in clear glass bowls. 

Sometimes I use (these so kitsch they are stylish) 1970’s glasses which I think were originally intended for prawn cocktails. They consist of two clear glass pieces: a bowl with a dish that hangs in the bowl and I put crushed ice in the bottom bowl. 

Salad in a glass! Can’t think of anything better when it’s hot. 

Enjoy. With a glass of French rose. 

Monique

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