peach and tomato gazpacho

September has arrived, and with it the routine — if not the cooler weather — of fall. As much as I love summer, autumn is my favorite season, and I think that routine has a lot to do with it. While back-to-school brings hectic mornings, the days and weeks have more of the structure that I crave. The weekends are filled with activities – from football games and kids’ birthday parties to planning for the upcoming holidays and family gatherings.

Because we live in Florida, we are treated to wonderful fruits and vegetables year round, even through the fall and winter months. Our farmers markets may slow down a little, but they never truly stop. We may miss out on some of the traditional summer produce — like watermelon and blackberries — but that’s okay. Because it’s time to move on, you know? I’m ready for fall. I’m craving the comfort foods of autumn…the hearty chili, braised beef short ribs, Brussels sprouts with bacon, satisfying bean soups, and all things pumpkin. Definitely pumpkin pie.

But, again, because we live in Florida, and because today is September 1st, it’s still hot out. And it will be hot out for a while longer. So, I’ve made a no-cook soup to share with you, using some of the best late summer fruits I had on hand. This one won’t heat up your kitchen since the only appliance you’ll need is a blender.

For this gazpacho I used some juicy peaches, gorgeous ripe tomatoes, some basil, and a bit of jalapeno to give a little kick at the end. When served chilled, this cold gazpacho is a refreshing first course to serve with an end of summer meal. Or, you can have it as I did — as a snack on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon after gym workout.

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This is my contribution to September’s roundup of recipes for gourmet, unbound, the collaborative project celebrating Gourmet Magazine’s 68 years of food knowledge. Head over to read the other great posts from the other devotees of Gourmet.

Yield: 4 first course servings.

Peach and Tomato Gazpacho


1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (4 cups)
1 pound peaches, pitted and chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno (seeds removed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup water


Pureé two-thirds of tomatoes and half of peaches with shallot, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 teaspoons basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Force through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. Stir in the amount of water required to reach the consistency you desire. Let chill in refrigerator.

Make tomato peach salsa: Toss together remaining chopped tomatoes and peaches with remaining tablespoon oil, remaining 1/2 tablespoon vinegar, remaining teaspoon chopped basil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl.

Serve soup in bowls topped with tomato peach salsa.

Adapted from this recipe from Gourmet, September 2005.

swag from the international food blogger conference

When my head finally hit the pillow last night in my hotel room in Seattle, about two hours later than I planned, I found that sleep didn’t come easily. My body was fatigued – I could feel it in my calves and in my back – but my mind was wired. Thoughts and images raced through my head, and it felt as if I’d been connected to an intravenous drip of pure caffeine, with maybe a hefty dose of amphetamine thrown in for good measure.

I had just wrapped up a weekend at the second annual International Food Blogger Conference. It’s going to be difficult to put the weekend into words that will describe accurately – using all five senses, if I learned anything from the lesson from the IFBC writing session – how wonderful the experience was for me. But I’ll give it a go.

I think you’ll find on other blog sites the details of what individual sessions were about. There were the basics of recipe writing – a great session by Amy Sherman, Dianne Jacob, and Kristine Kidd – and a fairly mind-numbing session (to me, anyway) on blog traffic and SEO (search engine optimization). Someone will have all the details of the legalities and ethics of blogging session in a post somewhere, but I can sum it up quickly: be transparent and disclose, disclose, disclose. There will be great posts on the session on Modernist Cuisine and on James Oseland‘s keynote address at the Saturday evening dinner. And I’m certain there will be beautiful posts on my two most favorite sessions – the two that nearly brought me to tears – the specialized diets session featuring Shauna Ahern and Alexandra Jamieson and the photography session featuring Penny De Los Santos.

As I write this – seated in seat 22D on my Delta flight home from Seattle, next to a young blonde woman who leaned over, staring at my laptop and asked, “Do you take photos of food for a living?” – I realize I’m bringing home just a few messages after the onslaught of information that came into my already filled-to-the-brim brain this weekend.

First, I am not a flowery writer, the way Kathleen Flinn’s session seemed to be headed, with ornate and over-the-top descriptions of the lemon without using the word lemon. That is not my style, and it is not the voice of this blog. It is not MY voice. I’m not going to change that. But I do promise to write more, to practice the art of writing, because THAT is important to me.

The second message that I heard and chose to walk away with is one that came from several people, and it basically is this: write about – or photograph – what you love. Shauna said that blogging is about “sharing the meaningful stories that move us,” Penny essentially said the same during the photography session – “Be inspired. Love what you do.”

The final message that I came away with – and the most profound of three – is this: the food blogging community is the most amazing group of people I have ever met.

Maria, Mardi, Jen, Marie, & Kelly

This is the sentiment that I have the hardest time putting into meaningful words. The thoughts that were racing through my head last night at 11:00 – and 11:10, and 11:20, and 11:30 – when I knew I should be sleeping since I had a 3:30 am (!) wake-up call, were not of recipe development or how to get published or how to get Molly Wizenberg to follow me on Twitter. The thoughts in my head were about all the simply fantastic people I’d met. People whom I’d met on twitter or through their blogs, people who I’d only known through their words, sometimes only in 140 characters or less. I felt like I’d known some of these bloggers for years, not just months. There was a connection there, a real connection.

That human connection was the real gift – the swag, if you will – that I brought home with me from the conference. That’s the swag that I value the most.

tailgate food: guacamole dip with fresh corn

It’s almost September, and around here that means one thing. Football season! College football, to be exact. I live in the heart of Gator Country, and Florida Gator football is an integral part of the culture here. Football game Saturdays bring football fans from all around the state of Florida (and many from outside the state), and besides the football game itself, there is one thing that’s on everyone’s mind. Tailgating.

Tailgating is serious business. And tailgate food? Also serious business. I’m not even going to discuss the beverages. Ahem.

Chips and dip always seem to make their way onto every folding table or cooler top or truck tailgate during football Saturdays. One of my favorite dips of all time is guacamole, and this recipe, friends, is a guacamole dip that you will want to make. Oh, yes. You will.

Let’s talk terminology for a minute. For me, traditional guacamole has good avocados at it’s base – and some salt and perhaps some lime, tomato, or onion – but really not much more than that. Since this recipe has some extra ingredients, namely the nonfat Greek yogurt, I’m calling it a guacamole dip.

The original recipe called for sour cream, but I like to replace sour cream whenever possible with nonfat Greek yogurt. I don’t see any difference in taste, and I love the fact that it’s healthier. Along with the Greek yogurt, this recipe has tomato, garlic, and fresh corn kernels. The raw corn kernels give a little burst of sweetness in your mouth with each bite.

The recipe was supposed to have a bit of chipotle pepper added in as well, but, if I’m going to be perfectly honest with you — and I clearly am — I couldn’t find the can of chipotle in adobo sauce. Turns out the can of chipotle was in the laundry room where we keep the cats’ food, mixed in the stack of canned cat food.

These things sometimes happen.

Anyhoo. Let’s move on.

Even though the guacamole dip was chipotle-less, it was simply amazing. Truly. Perfect. Next time I make this I won’t even try the chipotle. Let the cats have it. I’m good with this guacamole dip just the way it is.

So, dear readers, go make this guacamole dip. Your friends will thank you. Your family will give you extra hugs. Your hips will be so happy that you used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of full-fat sour cream. Bring this to your next tailgate party, and you will be the Champion of the Tailgate.

Yield: About 2 cups.

Guacamole Dip with Fresh Corn


2 large ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 ear fresh corn
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
kosher salt


Mash avocados with lime juice in a medium bowl. Using a sharp knife, remove the corn kernels from the cob and add to avocado mixture. Stir in tomato, green onions, and minced garlic. Add the Greek yogurt and stir well to blend. Season to taste with kosher salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon).

Note: This can be made up to 4 hours ahead, but you should place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent discoloration. Refrigerate until ready to serve.