Table Talk: August 2014
The buzz on Tulsa’s tastiest products, restaurants and events
Judy Allen’s green gazpacho
One great dish
Gazpacho is technically classified as a soup, but it has more in common with a smoothie than any pot of simmering chicken and noodles. Served chilled, gazpacho is by all means the perfect summer soup. It can be made in a blender without a lick of cooking, it is refreshing on a hot day, and it makes the best use of fresh produce.
A fair amount of perfect vine-ripened tomatoes are essential for the classic variety. That being said, gazpacho has morphed into versions containing no tomatoes; green gazpacho gets its kick from tomatillos and cucumbers, while delicate white gazpacho takes on a sweeter note with the addition of grapes and almonds.
These riffs on the classic Spanish staple are sure to keep you refreshed and satisfied through the end of summer ... and you can save those tomatoes for the perfect BLT.
White Gazpacho Serves 4
This Spanish blend of green grapes and almonds is bright and refreshing, with nary a tomato in sight.
2 cups of crustless stale bread, broken into pieces
2 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups green seedless grapes, sliced in half, plus more for serving
1 cup slivered blanched almonds, very lightly toasted, plus more for garnish
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
3/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
Minced fresh chives for garnish
In a large bowl, place bread, cucumbers, grapes, almonds and garlic. Add stock and salt and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld and bread to soften.
Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If desired, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Whisk in yogurt, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and serve, sprinkled with green grapes, chives and almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.
Green Gazpacho Serves 4
Tomatillos, not related to the tomato, add a pleasant zing. For a more traditional gazpacho, use chopped green, yellow or red tomatoes instead.
1 avocado, pitted
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded (if desired) and chopped
One 15-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mexican crema, for serving
Thinly sliced green onion, for serving
In a blender or food processor add avocado, garlic, cucumber, tomatillos, bell pepper and jalapeño and process until almost smooth, but some chunks remain. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in broth and sugar. Season well with salt and pepper and chill until ready to serve. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with crema and sprinkle with green onions.
Out and about
Sharpen those steak knives. Downtown Tulsa is hosting two nights of championship steak cook-offs.
On the first night, Aug. 22, the U.S. Invitational Steak Championship will draw teams from across the nation to find one true American champion.
On Aug. 23, more than 50 teams from around the region will try their hands at grilling up the “Best Steak in Oklahoma” at the Oklahoma Championship Steak Cook-off. After the competition, patrons will dig into a 16-ounce rib-eye steak dinner, including baked potato, salad, bread and beverages.
Other activities include a classic car show, live music and tasty samplings offered throughout the afternoon by many of the cooking teams. Don’t miss the Firehouse Cooking Challenge, featuring a spirited grilling competition among four Tulsa Fire Department stations.
This year welcomes the new Kid and Family Zone, along with a massive car show with more than 100 exotic and specialty cars. Leake Car Auctions will give away trophies in several categories.
As always, profits from the OCSC benefit our community. This year a portion will go to TYPros to assist the Tulsa Zoo, to Our Garden Project and to others.
Tickets are $20. A limited number of tickets will be available at the event, which is at 501 S. Cincinnati Ave.
To learn more, including how to sign up young cooks for the Grilling with Kids event, visit www.oksteakcookoff.com.
The Rush Springs Watermelon Festival has been one of the most popular community food festivals in Oklahoma since its inception in August 1948.
Featuring more than 100 vendors, the festival serves more than 50,000 pounds of ripe watermelon each year on the second Saturday in August to crowds of 20,000-plus. On Aug. 9, visitors are rewarded with a seed-spitting contest, carnival rides and icy-cold, free watermelon slices during the heat of the afternoon.
The festival is located in Jeff Davis Park (Arapaho Avenue and Holly A Street), Rush Springs, Okla. For details, call 580-476-3103 or visit www.rushspringswatermelonfestival.com.
“But, oh, those summer nights ...” Tulsans love to enjoy the outdoors in the summer, from lake activities to ball games to dining al fresco. If only it would cool down a little in the evenings.
I don’t like to turn on the stove in August to make dinner. Fortunately our restaurants do. For summer dining, lighter fare seems to fit the bill.
Libby Auld, owner of The Vault, knows how to do veggies. A vegetarian herself, the chef is a fixture at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market and hosts vegetarian wine dinners at the restaurant. I love her quinoa cakes ($8), three vegan and gluten-free quinoa patties served with roasted red bell pepper rouille. 620 S. Cincinnati Ave., 918-948-6761, www.vaulttulsa.com
Although it is listed as an appetizer, I enjoy the Crab, Avocado and Mango Stack ($15) at Waterfront Grill as a main course. The hearty portion features a generous amount of jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in creamy remoulade sauce and layered high with diced avocado and mango. 120 Aquarium Drive, Jenks; 918-518-6300; www.waterfrontgrilljenks.com
Michael V’s became well known (and loved), thanks to chef and owner Michael Minden’s hearty takes on American cuisine — beef Wellington anyone? But a few years ago he revamped his menu, adding several healthier options. I order the Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna Club ($10.50) on a whole-wheat bun with alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomato, citrus aioli and fries. 8222 E. 103rd St., Ste. 137; 918-369-0310; www.michaelvsrestaurant.com
Some nights it is nice to grab a dinner that is really just a glorified snack. The Antipasto Plate ($18) at Tavolo includes an assortment of Italian cheeses and cured meats, olives, cherry peppers, artichokes, marinated mushrooms and crostini. Paired with an order of bruschetta (chef’s choice; $9) and a glass of Italian red, dinner is complete. 427 S. Boston Ave., 918-949-4498, www.tavolotulsa.com
The lobster dinner at White River Fish Market is only available Tuesday and Wednesday evenings — a great reason to get out and about on a weeknight. For $23, you get a broiled lobster tail and two side dishes (hush puppies are included, but I would definitely add onion rings). If you can’t get out until the weekend, go for the flounder ($15.95), a mainstay since the restaurant opened in 1942. While you’re there, grab some fish at the market to grill at home. 1708 N. Sheridan Road, 918-835-1910, www.whiteriverfishmarket.com