Monday, June 27, 2005

Menu Ideas For a Hot Summer Night

The questions I'm most often asked when I conduct my cooking class parties are: "What should I make to go with (fill in the blank)"; and "I'm having some people over for brunch/dinner/picnic/drinks before going out, etc., what should I serve?" So I thought I would share a few ideas for simple dinners on hot summer evenings when we're really too wilted to do much. Here are a few of the dinners I made recently:

Steak on the barby and Salad

Striploin (my new favorite cut - I used to favor rib steak because it is so marbled with fat that there is nothing juicier or richer in flavor. Now I find them too fatty, but T-bones and sirloins are too lean for me and don't have the flavor I'm looking for).

Salad - I love crisp lettuce with steak, especially if that's all we're having for dinner. Romaine hearts, lots of fresh herbs like parsley, oregano, basil, and, if I've got any fennel root (it crunches like celery and has a subtle licorice taste), then I add the feathery leaves. For more crunch, I add chunks of cucumber and slices of fennel root. Some days I like my salad totally green. Other days I want color and add red and yellow pepper chunks, black olives, little grape tomatoes and red onion slices. Top it off with a vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, red, white, sherry or champagne vinegar, crushed garlic, a touch of your favorite spicy mustard, salt and pepper, and voila!!!

Dessert - what could be easier than ice cream or fresh fruit?

Just a salad - it's too hot for anything else - supper

Salad - romaine hearts and mixed greens, endives, fresh herbs (it's my signature and makes every bite a different taste sensation), a can of tuna - well drained (or cooked shrimp or crab meat), olives, parmesan cheese shavings, hearts of palm, carrots and any other crunchy vegetable you have in the fridge - fennel root, cucumber - whatever. Hard boiled eggs makes this sort of Salade Nicoise. Again add your favorite vinaigrette. Serve it with a baguette or other crispy bread and your done.

Dessert - I must admit, I'm not a big dessert eater, but for those of you who are, ice cream or fresh fruit are always a no cook option.

Shrimp and Chorizo Sausage Kebabs on the BBQ

Kebabs - first soak wooden skewers for at least thirty minutes in cold water. (It keeps them from burning). Ten minutes before you're ready to put them on the grill, marinate the shelled raw shrimp in juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime, some chopped basil, 1 tbsp of olive oil and crushed garlic. Cut the smoked chorizon sausages in 1/2" coins. Once you're ready to cook, thread the sausages and shrimp on the prepared skewers. They only take 2-3 minutes per side.

Steamed tiny new potatoes with chives - this really doesn't steam up the kitchen very much. Put the potatoes up to boil just before you marinate the shrimp. When they are tender, remove water, add a little butter, salt and pepper and some fresh chives, if you have. Keep them covered until the kebabs are ready.

Grilled asparagus spears - just drizzle with a little olive oil before adding them to the grill. They take about as long as the kebabs.

Dessert - how about some purchased tarts or pie? Naturally the old ice cream, fruit idea still applies.

Just open a bottle of your favorite wine, cold brew or fizzy pop and you're all set - Enjoy!!!


thimblesee said...

I'm a self-confessed non-cook, but "ya gotta eat," so I listen to friends who DO cook well. Have you ever included cranberries in your salads? I add raisins and love it. Feta cheesse, too, of course!

Ruth said...

Yes I often use cranberries, and even dried blueberries when I can find them. I must admit, though, I'm a sucker for dried cherries. And since my son-in-law doesn't like cranberries I even put them in "cranberry" muffins and other baked goods instead. Oatmeal raisin cookies take on a real zing when I add a handful of dried cherries.