6 May 2012

Gazpacho in a Glass with Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salsa from Whitewater Cooks with Friends

Gazpacho in a Glass with Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salsa

" Food, for me, is all about sharing.
 Sharing ambiance, flavours, ingredients,
 conversation, wine, laughter and of course, recipes."

- Shelly Adams

My favourite cookbooks reside in the kitchen cupboard, splattered with food stains and filled with memories. As I flip through them, I marvel at all the dishes I have prepared and all the recipes that have landed in my prized, "best-of-the-best" personal collection. When I open them up, they speak to me!!! I can hear laughter and animated conversations from wedding showers, wedding receptions, graduations and L'il Burnt Toast's recitals where many dishes from their pages shone.  They have inspired me to become a better cook and to continue a life long love affair with cookbooks. 

A few years ago a new series of cookbooks entered my life from a talented author Shelly Adams. She and her husband owned the Whitewater Ski Resort high up in the Canadian Rockies, outside Nelson, British Columbia. She ran the Fresh Tracks Café and the skiers were constantly begging for the recipes. So with the prompting of her friends, she decided to accommodate their wishes and write a cookbook. This has led to 3 cookbooks in the Whitewater Cooks series. Shelley’s cookbooks have been bestsellers, in large part due to how quickly word spreads about the quality of her recipes. They have earned rave reviews and are currently on the Book Manager’s National “best on the shelf” list. 

With her latest cookbook Whitewater Cooks with Friends  in her acclaimed Whitewater Cooks series she draws inspiration from fellow chefs, caterers, and foodie friends to create a new collection of recipes of casual yet impressive dishes meant for sharing. Cooking great meals doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated and you don’t need to be a trained chef to make fabulous, healthy and delicious food. These recipes can be prepared with ingredients most of us stock in our fridges and cupboards and can be made in a short amount of time if you have done a little bit of planning and prep beforehand.

There is no greater pleasure than cooking with friends, for friends and surrounded by friends whether you are gathering around the pool on a blistering summer day, congregating around the kitchen table, or around a campfire at the cottage or even in your own backyard. Cooking is sometimes a solitary affair but I think much of the joy from preparing food comes from sharing great recipes, flavours, and of course the food itself. It’s from this idea that bestselling cookbook author Shelley Adams found her inspiration for her latest book, Whitewater Cooks With Friends.

It was a difficult choice to choose just one recipe to share with you. I am dreaming of summer (although I am trying hard to live in the moment) so on this hot afternoon, with my feet cooling in the lake and my hands wrapped around a chilled, fresh, summery soup all is well with the world. I served this flavourful soup to my guests as an appetizer in small canning jars topped with the Dungeness crab and avocado salsa.

Here's the recipe......

**Gazpacho in a Glass with Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salsa**

4 cups tomato juice (or a combination of 2 cups Clamato and 2 cups tomato juice)
7 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 long English cucumbers, seeded and diced finely
1/3 cup red onion, diced finely
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
2 red peppers, diced
1/2 cup sherry
salt and pepper to taste


1 baguette
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, halved


1 cup Dungeness crab meat, coarsely chopped
2 avocados, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime

Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)

1. Combine tomato juice, tomatoes, stock, olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. 

2. Add cucumbers, onion, basil, parsley, red pepper and sherry. Puree with a hand-held mixing wand or in a food processor, until still slightly chunky.

3) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4) To make crostini: Cut baguette into 1/2-inch slices and brush who olive oil. Bake at 350F until golden brown and remove from oven.  Rub each baguette alive with halved garlic clove.

5) To make salsa: Combine crab, avocado, cilantro and lime juice and toss gently, just before serving.

6) Place a spoonful of the crab and avocado salsa into the bottom of individual clear glasses or soup bowls. 

7) Ladle gazpacho into each one and top with a crostini.

8) Drizzle with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired.

Note: For  a pretty presentation, put a spoonful of the crab and avocado salsa on top of the crostini s well as in the bottom of the glass.

In a recent interview with Shelly she answered a few questions for us....

1)  I love a good cookbook and I have plenty of shelves and boxes full to prove it.  I have been a huge fan of your Whitewater Cooks series. If you could pick just one what is your favourite recipe in this cookbook? Not necessarily for taste but perhaps the story behind it or the person involved?

I love The Glory Bowl because I am addicted to the dressing. When planning menus for The Fresh Tracks Cafe at Whitewater, I had to think of the hungry and HEALTHY  skiers appetites and that is how this recipe evolved…

2) This cookbook is different than your other cookbooks in your series where you engage us with recipes from the Fast Tracks Cafe at the Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson. Can you tell us what inspired you to create a cookbook based on the talents of your many friends? 

 I decided to include friends recipes because I have so many talented ones!! Recipes are for sharing.

3) I love your quote in "Whitewater Cooks with Friends" that "great recipes are meant to be shared". Can you describe how you felt the first time you held a copy of your cookbook in your hands? 

 The first time i held my cookbook in my hands, I felt like I had a new baby!

4) What sage advice would you have for bloggers who have had thoughts of writing a cookbook of their own? How long did it take from conception to holding your cookbook in your hands? What would you tell other aspiring cookbook authors that they need to be sure to do(or not to do) when/if they embark on this journey themselves? 

To write your own cookbook, make sure you do everything really slowly and thoroughly. Pretend you are explaining each  recipe to someone who has never cooked. Keep the method clear and simple. Make sure the photos really show the food as it will actually look. No changes, no fake food styling. Test all the recipes many, many times, and by different types of cooks. Each of my books took about year from start to finish, working about 4 hours a day. Also, finding a publisher is a good option.

5) What was your biggest challenge in writing "Whitewater Cooks with Friends"? How did the experience differ from writing your other two cookbooks in the series?  

There were no challenges , I loved working on the whole thing. The only small challenge was that i couldn't find a Pomegranate in Nelson for the jewelled salad!

6) As bloggers there are many great cooks such as Julia Child that inspire us in our kitchens every day. I am a sucker for a great success story! In your career who has inspired you in the kitchen?  

My Mom and Joanne Ryan.

7) We all have tried and true recipes that we are assured will be successful. If you were to create a menu for your closest friends what recipe from "Whitewater Cooks with Friends" would be the star? With choices like Lava Cakes with Sour Cherries and Mascarpone, Cashew Lamb Riblets with Saffron Curry Sauce and Pork Tenderloin Saltimbocca Roasted on a Bed of Braised Apples the choice is difficult to narrow it down to just one. What are the most important keys to success for the home cook? 

To have all the ingredients and have read the recipe from start to finish before making it.

8) I use a recipe from Marcella Hazan that uses simple ingredients and butter in spaghetti sauce. The butter balances the flavours and creates an unexpected  silky texture. For me this was an "aha" moment where I discovered a new  technique that changed the way I look at this simple dish. Have you had such an "aha" moment in the kitchen? Have you changed your style of cooking over the years? 

Yes, I have become a simpler cook because i like to spend all my time outdoors, but still know we are going to be eating something amazing when I start dinner at 5!  

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. A fabulous recipe and dish! The flavors must be wonderful. Thanks for sharing that lovely interview with us.



  2. The crab and avocado addition to a flavorful gazpacho sounds great! What a wonderful recipe for summer.

  3. So much of food is tied to memories of meals we share with others.

  4. Oh, I love gazpacho and I LOVE crab - so I know I'd adore this combo. :-) What fresh and marvelous flavors.

  5. I love cooking for and sharing food with others! It's the best. This gazpacho sounds so refreshing!

  6. what nice gazpacho Vall and beautiful pics!!

  7. My favorite line part of the interview is that she also wants to cook simple recipes starting dinner at 5. That's me, and so much to be said for simplicity. Enjoyed the interview and the tips.

  8. Wonderful post. I couldn't agree more about sharing great food with friends and family.

    As for the gazpacho.... I am sooooooooooo drooling!

  9. AnonymousMay 07, 2012

    I will really enjoy this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. What a lovely recipe, Val. I can't begin to tell you the lessons I've learned or taught around the dinner table. Food is often the immediate reason that people come together, but once at the table warmth and excitement flow. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. I fell in love with Dungeness crab the first year we went to Victoria; cannot find it around here. Love your original way of serving this cold soup. Must look for Shelly Adams; would enjoy this kind of book.

  12. AnonymousMay 07, 2012

    I love the presentation of this soup!

  13. I would love this is in my life - the ingredients complement each other so beautifully. Now I have a new cookbook to yearn for! Lovely interview! Don't be surprised if I show up at your door looking for this.

  14. Nice interview. Never heard of the Café but would like to get the cookbooks.

  15. gazpacho is one of my favorites.
    i have such fond memories of it as a kid and now as an adult. i know i'm supposed to say that i make the best BUT there is this little general store/deli on MV island that makes the best, and every summer i can't wait to get over there. They make it with huge chunks of veggies, very little broth and giant buttered croutons on top.

  16. i just adore gazpacho--it reminds of everything i love about summer! :)

  17. You picked a great recipe to share, Val. We love Dungeness crab and this lovely soup will be a wonderful addition to our summer menus.

  18. What a terrific take on gazpacho, Val! AND ... I love the use of the small jelly jars ... a dish like this would make a beautiful and easy brunch offering and with the jars (I have a kazillion!), it would be easy to dish up and have on large platters for sampling! Genius!

    Excellent cookbooks by an honest and accessible lady!

  19. The soup looks so great in the jars. This is perfect for a picnic! The crab and avocado look delicious on top too.


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