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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Too hot to cook

Tags: Food
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With summer temperatures sometimes soaring as high as 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s almost too hot to eat. But it’s definitely too hot to cook.

Fruits and vegetables with high water content are best in hot weather – melons, berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and celery. Buy sumptuous summer produce and have it chilling in the refrigerator for easy, refreshing snacks. 

Cold fish has great appeal – summertime and poached salmon are synonymous. The white meat of poultry, served cold in salads, sandwiches and alongside marinated vegetables is a treat, too. And salads, salads, salads. The only dish more refreshing is chilled soup – gazpacho, cucumber, vichyssoise and the whole berry family – boysenberry, raspberry, strawberry and blueberry.

Sorbets and ices made with fresh summer fruit cools us down.  Cold popsicles can be made with fruit juice in ice cube trays. A pitcher of invigorating homemade lemonade or iced tea should be but a few steps away. Remember, sugar makes us feel hotter, so cut down on your normal amounts. Fruit juice or concentrate is a satisfying substitute.

 

CAESAR SALAD WITH ALBACORE

 

Forget everything you’ve ever heard about boring old tuna fish. Add these special ingredients and combine them with a Caesar salad, and you’re in for a gourmet delight. This recipe can also be made with canned salmon.

 

Albacore Spread

2 - 6 1/2 oz. cans albacore tuna in water

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. canola mayonnaise

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped fine

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped fine

1/4 cup sweet red onions, chopped fine

1/4 cup celery hearts, chopped

2 tbsp. black olives, chopped

 

Mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate. 

 

Caesar Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, chilled

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 to 8 anchovies, mashed

1/2 cup herbed croutons

 

Break chilled romaine into serving sized pieces and scatter them in bottom of large salad bowl, preferably wooden. Whisk together olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice, Dijon and garlic. Drizzle over lettuce and toss until it is thoroughly coated with dressing. Add cheese and anchovies and toss once more.  Scatter croutons over top.

 

Putting it all Together

Put Caesar salad on individual, chilled salad plates. Place scoop of albacore spread in the middle of each salad. Serves 4 to 6.

 

CAPRESE

 

1 loaf freshly baked bread

4 ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced thick

1 lb. white mozzarella, sliced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

fruity olive oil

 

Slice bread into thick pieces.  To assemble, place 2 slices bread on a dinner plate. Top bread with 1 slice tomato and 1 slice mozzarella. Sprinkle with basil and drizzle with olive oil.

 

GAZPACHO

 

From Spain, gazpacho is one of the most popular cold soups. It is wonderful in the summer when the weather is hot and tomatoes and onions are sweet.

 

3 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped fine

1 sweet Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped fine

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped fine

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups tomato juice, chilled

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. lime juice (or more to taste)

few dashes Tabasco

few dashes Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. cumin

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

 

Combine all ingredients, stir to blend, cover and refrigerate until very cold, 3 to 4 hours. Serve in frosted soup bowls. Garnish with diced avocado, chives, cilantro, sour cream, croutons and lime wedges.  Serves 6.

 

KASHA WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, CHESTNUTS AND PEAS

 

Cooked brown rice or couscous may be substituted for the kasha.

 

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats) cooked

1/4 cup dried wild mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups fresh peas

1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 cup fresh water chestnuts, peeled and sliced or

1 small can water chestnuts, sliced

1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

1 dozen fresh figs, sliced in quarters (optional)

 

Combine lemon juice, vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper and let them sit for 10 minutes while you are assembling the salad. In serving bowl, combine kasha, mushrooms, peas, bell pepper, shallot and water chestnuts. Pour dressing over mixture and toss gently. Sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with figs, if desired.  Serve at room temperature.  Serves 4 to 6.

 

GAGIOLINEL ALLA TOSCANA

(Marinated white beans)

 

Very loosely adapted from La Vera Cucina by Carlo Middione, Simon & Schuster, this will last for several days in refrigerator. Serve with green salad and crusty bread.

 

1 15 oz. can cannellini or other white beans, drained

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup sweet onion, minced

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

4 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp. dried sage

1 ripe medium tomato, chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, (optional)

 

Mix together all ingredients. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve on a plate lined with radicchio or butter lettuce, on which you have drizzled some extra virgin olive oil and a tiny splash of vinegar.

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