Diamond in the Rough
by Chef Deb Traylor
I think every one of us can relate to a time or place when we began some sort of endeavor or adventure and it turned out to be so much more than we ever expected. In fact, I think this is what makes each day so exciting! The unexpected things that sparkle; the risks, the lessons, the moments when we take a left turn instead of going right. It’s those little gems that often become our favorite things. It’s how I feel about Ginger and Baker, and what began as this seedling idea of Ginger’s to open “a sweet little pie shop,” that today is so much more then we imagined.
In fact, we have a handful of rooms and spaces at Ginger and Baker that are now more then we ever imagined. One of those was once the old Feed Mill's dirt-filled basement, complete with low ceilings, a century of cobwebs and old grain, and a molasses pit that held a bit more than dust and sticky-sweet syrup.
In the beginning, we figured this dark place would probably be a storage space for supplies and equipment. Then one day Jack, Ginger’s husband, had an idea that the old stone and thick structural beams looked like a perfect place for a wine cellar. A wine cellar? Yep!! It was this left turn that created what may easily be one our favorite spaces – the Ginger and Baker wine cellar, a beautiful, intimate room for dining and events with 100-year-old stone walls and roughhewn beams supported by hand-forged metal brackets. It’s a special place, and one that we cannot wait to show you. An unexpected little gem.
Which brings me to today's recipes, Gazpacho Granita and Beet Ravioli, two little gems in their own right. When we brainstormed ideas on what might be on a menu in the wine cellar, of course we wanted the recipes to pair well with wine. But we also wanted them to be unexpectedly delicious, just like the wine cellar turned out to be.
First, an amuse bouche, a French term that literally means "mouth amuser." It's a little taste that a chef might send out to whet appetites for the fun to come. For our amuse, we simply froze one of our favorite gazpacho recipes, grated it into a flavor-packed ice and topped it with crunchy veggies. It brings all the fresh tastes of summer to mind in a single cool bite.
For an appetizer, we thinly sliced roasted beets and filled them with creamy herbed goat cheese, a new take on ravioli that results in a flavorful, colorful plate of gems. The best part? Both dishes may look pretty fancy, but at the root, they're pretty easy to make and a perfect way to add a little sparkle to a summer meal.
Stay tuned for a peek at more "gems" over the next several weeks as we get closer to opening. We can't wait to welcome you in this fall!
Zucchini Gazpacho Granita
- 2 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 2 roasted green chilies, peeled seeded and chopped, or 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large green tomato, cored and chopped
- 1/4 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. mint (personally, I like 3 times this amount, I'll leave it up to your taste)
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3-4 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 tsp. honey
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- finely chopped zucchini, cucumber and radish
- thinly sliced red and yellow cherry tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Place all gazpacho ingredients in a blender and blend for 3-4 minutes until absolutely smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Freeze mixture in a metal or glass container for at least 6 hours. After it has been in the freezer for 5 hours use a fork to scrape and stir the ice. Return the mixture to the freezer and repeat every 15 minutes until the mixture it light and fluffy.
To serve: Freeze small bowls or serving spoons. Spoon a small amount of the frozen gazpacho into the cold bowls or spoons and top with a little chopped vegetables and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately! Note: This recipe can work as an amuse bouche (small taste) or you can make it a first course in slightly larger bowls.
- The more zucchini you use, the creamier it becomes
- If serving as a soup rather than a granita and the gazpacho is too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, add more zucchini or cucumber, or both.
- Feel free to add a little avocado, or even 1/2 cup of buttermilk if you want a creamy gazpacho.
- If for any reason, you find your soup bitter (the skins on cucumbers can be bitter), a little honey will mellow it out.
Roasted Beet Ravioli with Herbed Goat Cheese
- 3 beets, roasted, peeled and thinly sliced (we used red, yellow and white beets)
- 4 oz. fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
- 4-6 oz. heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, thyme)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
- pinch of fennel pollen, if desired
- a few sprigs of arugula, purslane or chives, for garnish
To roast beets: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean beets, rub with a little olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place foil packet on a baking sheet and cook for 40-50 minutes or until a sharp knife can easily pierce the beet. Cool. To peel, place each beet in a paper towel and gently rub off the skins. Reserve until ready to use.
Filling: Place goat cheese in a small bowl and use a fork to mash and soften the cheese. Slowly add heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, blending completely before adding more cream. Continue adding cream until you achieve the consistency of peanut butter. Add fresh herbs and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside until ready to use.
Plating: Thinly slice beets with a knife or mandolin, about 1/8" - 1/16" thick. Place a beet slice on a plate or serving platter and mound a teaspoon of filling in the center. Top with another slice of beet and gently press the edges. Repeat with remaining beet slices and filling. Drizzle with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and a pinch of fennel pollen, if desired. Garnish with arugula, purslane or chives. Makes about 12 appetizers.