Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Eating in the Heat

It seems appropriate to follow up a garden post with one listing some of the recipes sparked by the garden and its offerings. There is not a huge harvest yet, but we are well into summer eating. Last week a heat wave mugged this area and it was all I could do to even think about food. Nothing like day of 100 + weather with high humidity and crabby boys bouncing off the walls because it was too hot to go outside and Grandpa's pool was on the fritz. We did manage to come up with some good meals and ideas that I will share in case the heat wave comes to your town.

The key to hot days is to try to cook very little, and if one does need heat, to do it outside. This panzella salad takes 5 minutes and is filling enough to get you through dinner.
All I do is rough chop tomatoes in a bowl, preserving the juice and seeds, chop tons of fresh basil and douse generously with olive oil and balsamic. You will need a good sturdy bread loaf, we always pick up the La Brea bakery bread, it keeps for a few days, but is actually better used in this recipe when a little stale.
Chop up the bread into rough chunks, toss with the tomato mixture, add salt and fresh ground pepper and you have your meal.

My Mama picked up a great recipe while watching Emeril's show but she put her own spin on it, as she is wont to do. It is a cilantro based marinade/dressing that packs so much flavor. Tangy and fresh with lots of good cilantro flavor. I find it irresistible.
Cilantro Dressing
This is the basic recipe we used::
1/2 sweet onion
1 clove garlic
2 bunches cilantro
Juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime
1/4 c. sweet chili sauce
1/4 c. canned pineapple chunks
Juice reserved from pineapple

Chop onion, garlic and cilantro and add to blender with juice, chili sauce and pineapple. Blend until mixture emulsifies, add pineapple juice or water to thin mixture until it is pourable.

I have used this on salad with a little added olive oil for flavor, on fish and chicken as a marinade and today I mixed a spoonful into rice and beans with a little yogurt to make a delicious creamy saucy rice dish. We were out of pineapple the second time around, but it seemed to come out just fine.

One way to get dinner done when it is hot is to turn to the grill. I love grilling fish in a packet with a side of grilled vegetables.
Fish "Fry"
For this meal, I made a simple marinade with lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs including basil, oregano, marjoram and thyme, olive oil, a crushed garlic clove and salt and pepper. I fashioned long pieces of foil into packets for the fish and veg, poured the marinade over each, dotted the fish with butter and grilled until tender. Easy and fast and very yummy.

I finally had a chance to try my hand at making spring rolls, but I am calling them my 'summer' rolls. I love these, always order them from a local Thai restaurant. We have been trying to eat at home to save money and these can cost a pretty penny. I picked up a package of rice wrappers at our local Asian market, I think they cost $1.29.
rice paper wrappers
They are simple to prepare, you just dip the sheet into warm water until the pattern disappears, then place it on a piece of wax paper.
I filled mine with whole basil, mint, cilantro and spinach leaves, shredded carrot, cucumber and green onion and shrimp. They tasted great, but I found the rolling process really difficult as the wrappers get extremely sticky once wet. Not pretty to look at, but very good to eat.
'summer' rolls
I mixed up a quick peanut dipping sauce by combining peanut butter, agave syrup, hot chili sauce, lime juice and water. Double yum.

Hope there is something that calls to you, especially if you are dealing with the heat of the summer. Happy eats.

* I have a few exciting posts coming up : A knitting 'recipe' for the littles and a great project I 'unvented'. Look for them this week and next.


Lola and Ava said...

Cilantro . . . yummy! I think it smells what green would smell like if colors, in fact, had smells. Dave gets a little irritated with me when I break of a leaf in the grocery store and squish it between my fingers. Apparently, I don't really care, though. I'll have to try the marinade.

Bon said...

i had panzella last night...damn, it's good. and your little rolls have me hungry for crispy things.

i like what Lola & Ava said about cilantro. she's right. mmm.

Claroux said...

I love your posts. And even though I live thousands of miles away I will be over for dinner LOL! Everything looks DELICIOUS! I'm jealous. Wish I could be that creative with cooking. Jeff is the cook in our house and with him working so much overtime we've been subject to my basic cooking skills -NOT fun.

Your boys are SO blessed to be growing up in a home where creative juices flow and a love for all things good and natural is evident! *hugs*

Em Natural said...

I swear Amiee, it is like we are on the same wavelength! Michael and I had the spring rolls 2X last week. So yummy! I want to do it again tonight:)
Lots of love hope you are feeling better can't wait to see you in Tahoe!