Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recipes To Beat the Heat

With so many 100 degree days, you know you're supposed to hydrate – with water not margaritas– but what do you eat?
I am a huge fan of cold soup and this gazpacho and mixed berry dessert gazpacho were delicious. The dessert soup drew so many oohs and aahs at our last party that I have now put it on my list of “special desserts”.
I’m not one for sweet drinks but this Watermelon Martini really hit the spot. Because it was so hot, I went a little lighter on the vodka. The recipe called for seedless watermelons but I cheated. I just can’t resist the summer tradition of spitting the seeds.
I found the recipe for the Summer Sandwich in House Beautiful which just goes to prove that you never know where you are going to find your next great recipe. I would have never thought to look in House Beautiful  (I bought it to read up on decorating small spaces)for a recipe that I now consider a summer classic it was that good.
Having hauled home a huge box of fresh peaches from Green City Market, I found the Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad and really LOVED the combination of flavors .The star ingredient besides the fresh peaches was, of course, the caramelized bacon but I cooked it a lot longer than the 35 minutes it called for.
Watch it and also be careful that you still have bacon left to put in the salad.
The recipe actually looked a bit of a mess but it was the only dish I ate the entire plate of the morning I cooked. Decided next time for eye appeal that it could use a little less dressing.
Whether you cook or order out, summer is a great time to lighten up. The easiest way to cut calories from your summer diet is to load up on all of the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
I’m sticking with this healthy plan for 30 days although what makes me think of Julia Child’s comment  now that the only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.
Bon Appetit!
Cold Soup
This is lightest thing to eat when the temperature is off the charts.
Use your favorite gazpacho recipe and accent with a variety of julienne vegetables including cucumbers, carrots and a half dozen radishes.
Mixed Berry Gazpacho
Modified from Bon Appetit
3 cups mixed berries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Vanilla ice cream

Combine first 6 ingredients and basil sprig in a medium heatproof bowl; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap.
Place over a large saucepan of simmering water; cook for 10 minutes.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Chill until cold, about 4 hours.
Divide fruit and juices among bowls and top with a scoop of ice cream.
Watermelon Martini
Yield: 2 cocktails

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 oz fresh watermelon juice
2 & 1/2 oz good vodka
2 & 1/2 oz Limoncello or orange liqueur
1 oz fresh lime juice
Watermelon wedges for garnish

Chill 2 glasses in your fridge or freezer 10 minutes before making the cocktail.
Combine the sugar and salt and spread it on a flat bread plate. Dampen the rim of your glass with water or lime juice and dip it in the sugar/salt mixture. (Save the leftover mixture for another occasion).
Combine the watermelon juice, vodka, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 6-8 times.
Strain and pour the mixture into the prepared glasses and garnish with a watermelon wedge.
Summer Sandwich
Gabrielle Hamilton in House Beautiful Magazine

1 pound (scant 2 cups) fresh ricotta
Zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 teaspoons for drizzling
2 pinches coarse kosher salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
4 long, even slices of very good bread
2 large, perfectly ripe avocados (approximately 18 ounces), at room temperature
1 pint mixed-color grape tomatoes, cut in half horizontally
8 red pearl onions equaling 2-3 ounces, thinly sliced into rounds (or equivalent in thinly sliced red onion)
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Skin of 1 preserved lemon, flesh removed, finely diced
½ teaspoon toasted poppy seeds
Mix the ricotta with the lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper, and set aside.

Arrange slices of bread on a cutting board and divide the ricotta mixture evenly among the four slices. Spread into a generous even layer.
Split the avocados, remove the pits, and slice each half into even slices without cutting all the way through the leathery skin. Then, with a soup spoon or a flexible rubber spatula, release the flesh and arrange the slices neatly and evenly among the bread slices.
Artfully and attractively arrange the tomatoes by nesting them into the soft avocado. Then arrange the red onion slices over the tomatoes.
Garnish each sandwich with the sesame seeds, the preserved lemon skin, and finally, the poppy seeds. Transfer to plates and drizzle with olive oil. Serves 4.

Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad
From Food and Wine
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound thick-sliced bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slabs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
4 large ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cayenne. Bake for about 25 minutes, until caramelized (the bacon will crisp as it cools). Let cool, then cut the bacon into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until softened and browned, 10 minutes. Separate the onions into rings. Brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat until tender, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
In a large bowl, toss the onions with the peaches and bacon. Add the buttermilk dressing and toss to coat. Serve right away.