Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cooking Through A Heat Wave

Most of the US is in the middle of a hotter than a fired up grill heat wave. It is summer , after all and the dog days of August to boot. Cooking in a hot kitchen is not always the best. What to do? Keep it light  and easy, both with food and eating.

If you have a grill this is the time to use it but use it  sparingly. One, it's torturous to stand outside in ninety to one hundred degrees , tending to a hot  fiery grill and two, too much of that barbecued stuff is no good for you. If you do have to cook, keep it easy , Dogs, burgers and steak are your best bets. They're a simple cook up  without any hassle or fuss. Make easy sides too. Think a baked potato or grilled onions and tomatoes. For those who don't have grills or don't like the idea of charred meat, then  stick with pasta and rice. These are versatile and you can make all different types for variety. Try a pasta con salsa crudo. This is just taking chopped tomatoes and letting them sit in a bowl with a bit of sea salt and red pepper flakes as you cook the pasta. Mix in when it's done and add some fresh mozzarella or freshly picked basil on top. Rice is another easy fix. You can make a quick lunch or Sunday supper congee with some bouillon cubes and a cup or two of instant rice. It can also be spiced with oregano and red pepper along with sliced ham and stuffed into cored and seeded peppers. Greens like Swiss chard and broccoli rape can be cooked in a flash  in a frying pan. You can serve them with sautéed chicken breasts or steak for a heartier meal

Salads, any salad , is desirable. Make a tasty chef  salad that will last for two meals. Serve with sun warmed baguettes or Italian bread. Canned tuna is another heat wave must. It can be made into a variety of different dishes. Buy both the oil and water based ones to expand your food base. Tonno en olio makes a simple but truly satisfying supper when paired with just French bread. Add tomatoes for  a taste of Provence.. Plain tuna can be mixed with mayo , diced celery and onion for a tuna salad that is perfect for lunch time sandwiches. If you want to go  up scale then think crab. Like tuna you can make wonderful salads with it.  Hard boiled eggs are another plus during these hellish times. They cook up in three minutes and can be added to any salad or just eaten plain with a little sprinkle of salt. Egg salad is another friend to a home chef. It's an excellent filling for sandwiches but also for hollowed out tomatoes too. If you're stuck entertaining, don't worry. There are some elegant and easy dishes to make for company. Cold poached salmon is a great dish .It takes, at most ten minutes or less to cook up .Serve with sour cream and onion sauce  for color and more flavor. Another chic idea is serving paper thin prosciutto slices  with melon along with a chilled Prosecco wine.

It's a heat wave,for sure. It's time to chill , especially in the kitchen. Take it easy , cook light and simple. Eat light and simple too during these hot summer days.

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