This heat wave seems to never end. My lawn is bristley and even the weeds are sickly. I fondly remember last year when I didn't have to water the lawn even once and it was lush and green. Now it's bald and brown. My wonderful basil plants are drooping and no amount of water seems to satisfy. I've retreated to my air conditioned house, thinking I'll never venture out again. Fortunately I did a grocery run yesterday, so at least I'll have food for a while. Somehow, when I'm sweltering, the idea of really "cooking" a meal does not even enter my mind.
Basil Tomatoes with Goat cheese
The hothouse tomatoes are beautiful this time of year and so delicious too - not just a pretty face as they often are in winter. They team so wonderfully with shredded basil, some crumbly soft goat cheese first rolled in Italian herbs, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of seasoned rice wine vinegar. Best of all, it only takes a couple of minutes to prepare when energy is low and I am as wilted as my basil plants.
The chicken salad is a fond reminder of my mother. She used to make it whenever she made chicken soup and it was always a star on the many picnics and family backyard summer feasts. She actually would make the soup in order to make the chicken salad even on hot summer days and no air conditioning to boot!!! Stewing the chicken really does give the salad a creamier texture, but I cheat in the summer using bought bbq chicken or left over grilled chicken breasts as the base. The recipe is simple - the hardest part (because it's hot) is boiling the egg.
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Fridge time: 1 hour
3 cups of cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup fennel root, coarsely chopped (my mother used celery)
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, snipped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp powdered mustard (I like Keen's best)
Combine all of the ingredients together and mix well. Add extra dill, salt, pepper mayo to taste. I like mine creamy and peppery.
Let it sit in the fridge for about an hour to set the flavors. Of course, it often doesn't make it to the fridge before a heaping plateful is eaten just for testing purposes, you understand.