Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hot Weather Haute Cuisine

It is mid summer , a time when even the thought of  cooking in a hot kitchen is just too much. Unfortunately mostly everyone, even the most experienced or diligent home chefs slap together sandwiches or worse - order out when the temps go into scorching highs. However cuisine and diets shouldn't suffer . Tasty  and even classy dishes can be made during a heat wave.

The best idea is to look at Mediterranean cuisine, from Spain to Syria , from the south of France to the north of Africa. Home chefs from warm weather countries know how to cook when Mother Nature turns the heat up. One of the easiest and most flavorful is the French Provencale of Nice and Marseilles. Nothing beats a simple pan bagnat which is just slicing whole wheat boules  or rounded bread lengthwise an filling with tuna, anchovies and sliced hard boiled eggs. Add sliced tomatoes, onions and green peppers along with olives  then wrap the sandwich and let it sit for two hours. You can put a brick or anything heavy over it so that the oil is fully absorbed in the bread. The Spanish coast gives us ceviche which is a fish dish that is cooked simply in a lime juice marinade. The fish is usually halibut, turbot or sea bass filets and the whole process takes 30 minutes tops in the fridge. Like the Spanish, the Italians have elegant and quick dishes to make during these steamy estates or summers.One favorite is just a simple dish of veggies , crudo misto with an olive oil dressing .It's a classy way of making sure every one receives their daily dose of veggies. Have sliced Italian bread too for sopping up the oil and a chilled bottle of your favorite wine on the side

If you want elegant and exotic then look to the Arab countries like Morocco and Tangiers. Couscous is an quick  dish and can be customized to suit individual tastes Home chefs can have a taste of the Kasbah in only ten minutes. thanks to being easily cooked up in either water or broth. Spices can be added along with fresh veggies. It can also be turned into a cooling salad, made even more refreshing with the addition of mint leaves. For a quick snack think bagels dipped in za'atar with olive oil. Za.atar is the hottest trend of the year and dates back thousands of years. It is a mix of ground sesame seeds, thyme , oregano and marjoram. Greek sumac is also added which you can buy at specialty stores,Don't worry if you can't find it,The recipe doesn't have to be exact. Add some coarse salt to finish it. Dip toasted bagel or pita in it for a quick Sunday night supper. It can also go on salads and even couscous as well as barbecued meats.Another hot weather cuisine is Greek and they are a country once  known for ritzy out door cafes that serve tasty kabobs made with lamb or chicken The meat is marinaded in a flavorful lemon and olive oil marinade.A refreshing light meal is tzatziki, a chilled yogurt dip flavored with pureed garlic. Pita bread is dipped into it but you could also use veggies too.

Elegant and tasty meals can still be made despite the heat wave. Look to the ultra chic Mediterranean region for inspiration. There's always a classy dish that's super easy to make and fun to eat.

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