By MATT CRANE
Mary Tkach knows a thing or two about cooking.
Tkach, along with her husband Joe and brother-in-law Paul, celebrate 16 years of business this August as owners and operators of City Bagel Cafe. With summer beginning, Tkach offers up a refreshing, signature dish that pairs well with the hot months ahead: gazpacho.
“It’s a real seasonal dish,” Tkach said. “It’s perfect for summer.”
Finding origins in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, gazpacho is traditionally served cold.
“You may be off put by it at first, but once you’ve had it you’ll come back for more,” Tkach said. “It’s not hot, so it’s something nice you can enjoy with a summer meal.”
Along with its refreshing qualities, Tkach said the soup is fundamentally good for the body.
“It’s all vegetables, so it’s healthy,” she said. “With diets these days, this is something people can look for because every ingredient is good for you.”
Tkach said she would advise against drastically altering the recipe, claiming adding or subtracting certain vegetables could change the consistency of the dish. She does, however, leave room for adding some flair to the soup.
“It’s great with some feta cheese sprinkled on top, and maybe some avocado,” she said. “I think it would pair well with hummus, too.”
Tkach said her recipe will produce approximately two gallons of soup, so home chefs may scale back on the amount of ingredients at their discretion.
Healthy options are important to Tkach, but that does not mean there is no room for desserts.
Tkach recently featured her strawberry-rhubarb crisp at the restaurant.
“The rhubarb is very tart which really complements the sweetness from the strawberries,” Tkach. “And it pairs so well with ice cream.”
Tkach said rhubarb may be hard to come by in the coming months.
“It’s very seasonal, and will probably only be around for a couple of months,” she said. “It’s too hot to grow here so I try to check the stores and buy some whenever it’s available.”
Above all, Mary Tkach believes in making fresh, seasonal food for her family and customers to enjoy.
“The recipes may be simple or basic, but they make great food,” she said.
5 lbs. tomatoes
5 celery stalks
3 lbs. cucumbers (not peeled)
1 yellow bell pepper
1 sm. red onion
2 12 oz. cans of V-8
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 C. olive oil
1/2 C. red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper, to taste
Chop vegetables and mix all ingredients. Slightly blend all ingredients in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1 lb. strawberries, diced
1 lb. rhubarb, diced into 3/4 inch pieces
2 C. sugar
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 C. dark brown sugar
2 C. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 C. or 1/2 lb. butter, melted and cooled
In a large bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, 1/2 C. of flour, and cinnamon. Transfer to a buttered baking dish. Mix remaining 2 C. of flour, brown sugar, oats and melted butter. Sprinkle over fruit mixture and bake for 35 minutes at 375°. Serve with ice cream.