Too hot to cook: Summer food sorted

  • 02/01/2012

When it’s so hot outside that you can’t even form the words “What’s for dinner” but instead sweatily mumble “Whamahimmmerrnnhh”, it’s understandably difficult to be motivated about cooking. Even with all the rain that seems an unavoidable part of New Zealand’s summer, it’s not necessarily any cooler – it just intensifies the existing humidity.

So what do you do when it’s too hot to think, let alone think about cooking? As a solution I present a collection of ideas that are doubly cooling. First, they require very little exertion – thus reducing the potential for further sweating – and second, the ingredients themselves are nearly all from the fridge. 

Look to nibbles and canapés for inspiration. If you just amplify the proportions, they can stand in for dinner easily when you don’t feel like proper eating but still need something to keep your blood sugar at a reasonable level.

Guacamole remains one of the easiest things you can make. Bust open a couple of avocados, mash with a fork and add lemon juice and salt, plus a little chilli sauce if you please. Find things to scoop it up with – carrot sticks, sliced capsicums, crackers, a commemorative teaspoon – or if it’s just you on your own you could halve the avocado, sprinkle salt and whatever vinegar you like in each cavity, then eat the lot.

One brilliantly delicious idea my friend Jo has is steamed asparagus served with a bowl of mayonnaise mixed with melted butter and lemon juice. Languidly dip the former into the latter. Or just get a whole lot of crackers and cheese and you know, hummus, that sort of thing, and snack till you’re full.

If you want to put in a tiny bit more effort, take a can or two of drained white beans – cannellini or butterbeans work best – and whizz in a food processor till smooth. Add a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil and some salt, and blend again. It makes this wonderfully light, luscious dip, which is much cheaper than stuff from a tub.

I love roast vegetable salads, but they’re no fun to make this time of year with the oven heating up the house for hours. Instead I suggest vegetables in their raw state, letting yourself be cooled by all their crunch and crispness.

A mix of broccoli and cauliflower cut small and dressed with sesame oil and cider vinegar, scattered liberally with sesame seeds; cherry tomatoes halved and dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and feta cheese; or a cabbage thinly shredded and mixed with roasted peanuts, fish sauce, rice brain oil, a pinch of sugar and the juice of a lemon or lime are all delicious things to keep in mind.

Along the same theme of raw veges with things on them, I carefully give you my recipe for marinated mushrooms. I say carefully, because they’re wildly addictive and they might never make it to the people that you’re supposed to be serving food to.

Slice as many clean button mushrooms as you like, and mix with 1/3 cup rice bran oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ½ a teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon and a generous pinch of salt. Leave the mushroom slices soaking it up for about an hour, although frankly they start to taste amazing right away. Pile into a bread roll, stir through pasta, or just eat as is. Golden syrup could stand in for maple syrup and any nice oil for the rice bran variety.

Finally, consider ice cream for dinner. If you’ve got a food processor, you can literally have it right now: throw in a few cups of frozen berries, a couple of spoons of icing sugar and 1 can of coconut milk. Blitz till it seizes together and turns into beautiful, bright-coloured soft ice cream. Eat immediately, with the pure taste of berries shining on every spoonful. This is one of my very favourite recipes. You could also use yoghurt or cream in place of the coconut milk, and of course you may also serve this for pudding.

There’s something about saying “I’m just going to go make ice cream now” and then walking back in with ice cream for everyone that feels pretty – well – cool.

I hope you’re all having a brilliant summer, and that these recipes provide inspiration, acting as a cold compress to your overheated brain. If all else fails, just lie down with an actual cold compress on your head and see if, from this position, you can convince someone else to make you dinner.

Laura Vincent is the author of food blog Hungry and Frozen.

source: newshub archive