Cooling Off With Hot Food Writers
If you live east of the Mississippi and as north as Boston, you know it's BLAZING hot for early June. Here in Washington, we're in Day Four of an extreme heat wave, making popsicle eating a competitive sport.
In the heat of the moment, I asked a few dozen food writers, bloggers and chefs to share their favorite ways to cool off in the kitchen -- suppers that are raw, uncooked or using as little stovetop power as possible. Below, a dozen or so very cool ideas.
Fruit is at the top of the list for Washington area writer and cooking instructor Monica Bhide:
Here's what I'm having for lunch these days. Peel and chop -- lychees, papaya, mango, apricot and watermelon and place in a large bowl. If I have on hand, canned jackfruit and canned mangosteen (found at local Indian and Asian stores, drained and rinsed), also go into the bowl. Add freshly chopped mint, a touch of lemon juice, salt and sugar to taste. CHILL for at least two hours and enjoy a super, spectacular cold, exotic fresh fruit salad for lunch.
Slightly further north on I-95, Baltimore-based blogger Rachel Rappaport of Coconut and Lime suggests her pea shoot pasta as a main -- a great idea if you can get to the farmer's market this week -- but, she confesses, "My absolute favorite low-cook food is a dessert" -- blueberry-ginger ice box pie. Yowza!
Great minds think alike: Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of "Veganomicon" and Post Punk Kitchen fame and I are on the same wavelength. Her reply to my e-mail: "I was just writing about this (I mean, literally, just now writing it)." Her grain salad-y idea is along the same lines as my instant couscous improv number from last week. Here's her take:
Choose a grain that you just need to pour boiling water over, like bulghur or couscous (not a grain, I know!), that way the stove is only on for the amount of time you need to boil the water. Prepare the grain the night before, when things cool down a bit. Put it in the fridge overnight and then next day add maybe some cooked beans (from a can is fine), a little vinegar or lemon, olive oil, sliced fresh veggies, fruit and fresh herbs. You'll have yourself a refreshing, filling and pretty gourmet meal that will last you a few days and you hardly had to touch the stove.
Cold soup is on the menu for three food bloggers:
Beatrice Peltre who writes the bilingual La Tartine Gourmande suggests sipping on a chilled avocado, orange and lime puree and Young Gansie at Endless Simmer takes that avocado theme in a tropical direction and adds some sultry mango. Cucumber soup is on Shannon Henry's mind over at the Denver-based Cooking With Friends. "I made a HUGE vat of it and have been giving it out to friends," she writes.
Kim Carlson, editor of the Portland, Ore.-based Culinate reports:
It's freezing in Portland -- well, 61F -- and we really haven't had one of those days where it's too hot to cook for quite awhile now. But when we do, I'll probably make a Salad NiÃ§oise. I know that means I have to cook a few things before I go to work -- small white potatoes, green beans, 7-minute eggs -- but that's pretty easy. If I'm really lucky, there's leftover albacore cooked on the grill (but I'm not above using a good canned tuna either). Other ingredients: the ripest tomatoes available, really good black olives, and butter lettuce. I make a simple mustard vinaigrette and serve it as a composed salad; that way everyone can find something on the platter they like to eat.
Jaden, the hot number over at steamykitchen.com has drinks, dessert and dinner all lined up:
Summertime in Sarasota, Florida gets so unbearable that even the ants march following the shade lines of palm trees. During those days, we break out the Slip-N-Slide on our front lawn and enjoy Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Fresh Lemongrass Ginger Ale. Of course, the adults get the ginned version!
For supper, I head to the market for fresh seafood and make an Asian style ceviche -- sliced salmon, scallops, salmon eggs, mussels and pomelo sections with lime juice, fish sauce, grated fresh ginger and topped with minced chilies and cilantro.
And our favorite dessert of all time is home made Co-Co-Fro-Yo with Tropical Fruit
I caught Miami-based writer Diana Abu-Jaber, author of "Crescent" and "The Language of Baklava" in transit in Chicago, and when it gets too hot, she returns to her Jordanian roots:
My favorite, coolest meal for me is a traditional Jordanian mezza -- a compilation -- garlicky hummus, pita bread, cured black olives, sliced tomatoes from the garden sprinkled with olive oil and fresh basil, Armenian braided cheese, sliced baby cucumber, iced sweet mint tea. (To be followed with rosewater ice cream!) I can make this into breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Cucumbers are the solution for two chefs in two different parts of the world.
Chinese cooking expert Fuchsia Dunlop, whom I interviewed recently about the earthquake in China, suggests this "Cool as a cucumber" Sichuanese appetizer:
Whack a cucumber, hard, with the side of a Chinese cleaver to loosen it, and then cut into bite-sized pieces and place in a serving bowl. Make a sour-hot dressing from Chinkiang vinegar (dark brown Chinese rice vinegar) and chile oil, with a dash of soy sauce for saltiness, and perhaps a pinch of sugar and a smidgeon of toasted sesame oil if you please. Pour over the cucumber, mix well and serve immediately.
Cucumber, greek yogurt, lots of garlic, salt, and a little lime -- great on fish or even as a salad dressing, thinned out with some olive oil. No measuring, no fuss.
Got a cool idea to add to this hot list? Talk to me today at noon for the popsicle edition of What's Cooking.
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