I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hot Summer Days

Some days are just too hot to cook. When the weather is sweltering and the kitchen doesn't have AC there is no desire to fire up the stove or even to turn on the burners. In fact, sometimes when it is this hot, I almost feel like it's too hot to eat. But if you know me you know there is no way I would ever skip a meal, so in the past few days I have made a few small snacks/appetizers/desserts that require no cooking at all but still will satisfy your cooking urge and your hunger.
The first is a wonderful Spanish Gazpacho. This recipe comes from my amazingly adorable grammar teacher from my days in Ronda, Spain. One day she decided it would be fun for us to go to a kitchen to cook to help us understand the vocabulary better and to experience some traditional Spanish food. Gazpacho is the one that I have brought back with me and made the most often because it is so simple, but so refreshing, especially on a hot summer day, and especially on a hot summer day after you have maybe had too many beers the night before.
Gazpacho actually began without the tomatoes as a cold bread soup with stale bread, salt, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Tomatoes and peppers were brought to Europe with the Columbian Exchange after 1492 and eventually integrated into the soup. Traditionally the soup is served cold, but there are warm versions as well. Sometimes there are additions made with meat and chunks of vegetables, but most of the time I like to keep it simple. Less time in the kitchen that way! The recipes vary a lot, but this is the one that I always use.

3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 green pepper (I like anaheim/italian peppers)
1 clove of garlic
about 3/4 c. olive oil
2 t. vinegar
1 t. salt
3 thick pieces of stale, wet bread (I usually cut a few pieces from leftover french bread, then run them under water for a few seconds and squeeze them out slightly)

Blend all ingredients together. I like to use my hand blender because that is what we used in Spain, but a regular blender works just as well. I prefer the mixture to be blended very well and have tiny chunks instead of a thicker, bruschetta size blend. After mixture is blended, add 3/4 cup of ice cold water. Soup can be served now, but is always better if you let it sit in the refrigerator to cool.

Garlic Scape Pesto
(From the Washington Post)
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmigiano
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Method:Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Melon with Port and Lavender
(thanks to Figs, Olives, Wine!)
1 ripe Cantaloupe
Ruby Port (no need for anything posh here)
Small pinch of fresh or dried lavender (optional)
Halve your melon and gently scoop out the seeds. With a sharp pairing knife, lightly score the hollow of the cavities in a crosshatch pattern. This will allow the Port to penetrate the flesh. Fill the melon halves about 3/4 of the way with Port and let sit for 15 – 30 minutes. Just before serving, crumble the dried lavender over the exposed flesh.

Peach & Goat Cheese Salad
(dressing recipe from Sarah, not me)
Mixed greens
Goat cheese (I used a honey, orange, walnut flavored, but regular would be just fine)
Fresh peaches, chopped
Chopped Walnuts
For Dressing:
¼ cup honey
2 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Mix together the ingredients for the salad dressing until combined. Toss dressing with greens, goat cheese, peaches and walnuts.


Leslie said...

mmmmm, the melon and peach salad look so fresh & summery! Any chance of you moving to ATL to become my personal chef?

Ownah said...

Well written article.