Think cool, eat cool and be cool! There is no reason to let the hot, hot, hot days of summer get in the way of enjoying the languid days of summer. When the heat seems almost unbearable I stock up on lemons, lime a cucumbers. A squeeze or two of citrus juice in my tea, lemonade, cola, or gin and tonic seems to cool me off. A salad of thinly sliced cucumbers and onions tossed with mayonnaise and yogurt is a favorite dish as is chilled cucumber soup.
My potted herbs, especially mint and basil, will brighten up vegetables and salads. Lemon thyme and rosemary will be delightful to season fish and pork.
Come with me then, and sit in my kitchen cooled by the ceiling fan and we’ll whip up some cool things to enjoy after the sun goes down.
- Makes about 8 servings
- 1 head Boston lettuce
- 4 medium-size tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 medium-size cucumber, scored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 small purple onion, sliced and separated into rings
- Yogurt-herb dressing (recipe follows)
Line salad plates with lettuce leaves and arrange the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions on top. Drizzle with the dressing.
- Makes about 1 cup
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dillweed
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
- Salt and white pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Chill for about one hour before using.
Cool cucumber soup
- Makes about 4 servings
- 6 medium-size cucumbers, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (green part only)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 1/4 cups plain yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Puree the cucumbers in a food processor or blender. Add the green onions and garlic and process again until smooth. Add the yogurt and process until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with the mint leaves.
Once the sun goes down and the cool of the evening sets in, bring out the grill. If Iâ€™m lucky, there might be a few fillets of speckled trout or redfish hanging around the freezer. Those fillets are ideal for slapping on the grill to make a great summer sandwich. Ice down some beer or chill a cold crisp white wine and you can have a refreshing supper in no time.
GRILLED FISH SANDWICHES s
- Makes 4 sandwiches
- 4 fillets of fish, each about three-fourths inch thick, about one and one-half pounds
- Lemon-soy marinade (recipe follows)
- 4 toasted whole wheat buns, or bread of your choice
- Mayonnaise or tartar sauce for serving
- Lettuce and tomato slices
Place the fish in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Remove the fish from the marinade and arrange in a fish basket or place directly on a grill over a medium-hot fire. Cover and grill the fillets until they flake easily with a fork, about 8 minutes on each, side, brushing with the marinade two to three times. Spread the buns with mayonnaise or tartar sauce, arrange the lettuce and tomato slices and top with the grilled fish.
- Makes about 2/3 cup
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the lemon juice, soy, pepper and hot sauce in a food processor or electric blender. Process for 15 seconds. Gradually add the olive oil with the motor running.
Here’s another idea for a quick cool meal. Whenever my husband fires up the grill, we cook a little extra. For instance, boneless skinless chicken breasts or a couple of pork tenderloins marinated with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator after they come off the grill. During the week, both can be thinly sliced to put on sandwiches. Or, serve them at room temperature with grilled fresh vegetables. You can use more or less the same idea for the pork tenders as the chicken. Sometimes I use fresh sprigs of rosemary for the pork, or even lemon thyme.
- Makes 6 servings
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or lemon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Put the chicken in a large shallow glass dish. Combine the melted butter with the mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, salt, black pepper and hot sauce. Mix well and pour over the chicken. Grill or bake in the oven.
During the summer I try to keep a couple of cool spreads or dips in the â€˜fridge â€“ they are ideal for putting on sandwiches or for dipping boiled or fried seafood.
- Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 2 large egg yolks
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil or olive oil (or a combination of both)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put the egg yolks, salt, pepper and vinegar or lemon juice, mustard if using, and hot sauce in a food processor or electric blender. Process for about 30 seconds. With the motor running, stream in the oil through the feed tube until the mixture thickens.
In a small bowl, mash the garlic with the salt to make a paste. Add to the mayonnaise mixture and pulse two to three times to blend. Season with the black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
DIP FOR SEAFOOD
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
MATTâ€™S TARTAR SAUCE
- 1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
- 1 large pod garlic, mashed
- 1 large sweet pickle, minced
- 5 drops of Tabasco sauce
- 3 good shots of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated onion
Mix all the ingredients together and chill for about one hour before serving.
YOGURT DILL SAUCE
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
ICE CREAM TREATS
Also to keep you cool, I offer these cooling ideas.
BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
- Makes about 1 quart
- 2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed well and picked over
- 1 cup sugar
- Â¼ cup water
- zest from 1 lemon removed in long strips
- 1 Â½ cups heavy cream
- Â½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Â½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, water and zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to fall apart and the syrup thickens, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and discard the lemon zest. Carefully transfer in batches to a food processor or blender and puree on high speed. Pass through a fine strainer into a large bowl, pressing against the solids with the back of spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturerâ€™s instructions. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze until firm and ready to serve.
CINNAMON ICE CREAM
- Makes about 1 quart (serves 6)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 egg yolks
- Cinnamon sticks for garnish
Heat the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly add one cup of the cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until smooth. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the cream mixture, whisking constantly. Place the saucepan back over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Do not boil. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl. Chill to form a custard.
Pour the custard into the canister of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturerâ€™s directions. To serve, place a cinnamon stick in the top of each serving.
CAPPUCCINO ICE CREAM
- Makes about 1 quart (6 servings)
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
- 1 cup brewed espresso
- 3 tablespoons creme de cacao
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Beat the egg yolks, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl until blended. Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling. Pour the cream in a stream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat to make a light custard, about five to seven minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
Dissolve the instant coffee in the espresso. Stir in the creme de cacao, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk into the custard. Refrigerate covered until cold. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturerâ€™s directions.