Monday, September 3, 2018

Around the Kitchen Table - Are you frying? + book #giveaway

From Daryl:  It's still summer. It's hot. Are you frying? I don't know about you, but in the summer, I like to do most of my cooking outdoors and not add the extra heat in the kitchen. Sure, I bake occasionally. What is life without a good muffin? So how do you keep hot food on the table without heating up your house? What are your go-to meals that keep you satisfied but not sweltering? Do you actually fry anything in the summer? I have to admit I love stir-fry in the winter!  


LUCY BURDETTE: Our garden has come in fast and furious so this is the season for tons of sliced tomatoes and cukes, or steamed green beans, or maybe fried okra. My easiest hardly-any-cooking-involved meal is chunks of fresh tomatoes mixed with fresh mozzarella and basil and good olive oil served over pasta. You can add a little grated Parmesan cheese on top too!


LESLIE: Truthfully, I don't worry much about heating up the kitchen -- our preferences seem to adjust themselves seasonally, and we don't find ourselves wanting the kinds of meals that require long hours over a hot stove. I do bake some, but mostly in the mornings -- muffins, as Daryl said, or bacon on Sunday. (Yes, we bake bacon -- and highly recommend it!) And I have had to test a couple of recipes that required the oven later in the day. But Mr. Right is a terrific grill-master and we use the propane grill on the back deck several times a week. It's great for veggies and naan or pita as well as chicken, fish, or meat. Oh, and grilled peaches, served with a balsamic reduction you can make in a small saucepan on the grill!


We moved a few years ago, threw away our grill, and never replaced it so I have no other option but to cook inside even on the hottest days. I rarely bake since we're trying to eat healthy so that's not an issue. For our main meal, I have a ton of stove top recipes so if it's really hot, I stick to those. Last night I made skillet ragu. Another alternative that I've been thinking of purchasing is a combo air fryer/toaster oven. It's a bit pricey, but I may put it on my Christmas list.

PEG: My go-to when I'm limp from the heat and don't want to cook at all are BLTs.  They're so easy and give me a night off from preparing dinner.  (I do the bacon in the microwave.)  Another favorite is gazpacho--everything goes in the food processor and out comes "liquid vitamins" as I think of the soup since it's so chock full of veggies.  And if neither of those appeal, I grill.  I probably grill several times a week all season (and sometime in the winter, too, even though I have to brush the snow off.)  It's so easy to do shrimp or chicken kebobs or salmon.  Like Leslie said, our tastes adapt to the season and something heavy like shepherd's pie just doesn't appeal.  


LINDA:  I'm with you about the gazpacho, Peg. Love it and it's my summer go-to. This year, I discovered gazpacho with green tomatoes. Where have I been all this time? But I'm a griller at heart and will only use the stove for short periods and necessities, like boiled potatoes for potato salad. The oven is never on, unless it's pouring outside and I can't use the BBQ. I seldom, if ever, fry meats and poultry although I will poach a fillet of halibut or salmon. Anything goes on the BBQ, from meats, poultry and fish to fruits and veggies. It's the best thing about summer.


CLEO: Our small New York kitchen is not air conditioned, so for us grilling is good, and our secret to grilling great steaks and ribs! (No kidding.) Coffee is an effective and wonderfully earthy meat tenderizer and many of our readers have tried and loved our quick and easy marination method. Get our COFFEE RIBS recipe here. For our recipe on using coffee to marinate steak, click here. Another thing we do for really hot days is eat ice cream for dinner. We'll either go out for a sundae or eat a bowl of my homemade no churn ice cream. Marc's favorite is WHITE HOUSE CHERRY. It's one delicious way to beat the heat!
Click for Cleo's "No Churn"
White House Cherry Ice Cream
(a non-partisan recipe)


SHEILA: Frying with a lot of fat or oil always makes me think of medieval soldiers pouring boiling oil on the attackers of the castle, so I tend to avoid it. My mother once had a deep-fat fryer, in 1960-something. I remember her making donuts--once. After that, the machine was never seen again.

I do like grilling outside. But the best thing I ever saw along those lines was when I was house-sitting for a college friend in her home in Carlisle MA for a couple of months. She had a grill (gas-fired if I recall) built into the kitchen, and I used that a lot! No clean-up, no muss or fuss, and it worked really well. I'd love to have one, but I'd have to build a kitchen around it.


Krista: I'm afraid my grill hasn't even been uncovered all summer. I've been trying out recipes for The Diva Sweetens the Pie and one of my favorites is Piled High Fresh Strawberry Pie. As the name suggests, most of the strawberries are fresh and uncooked. I confess that I ate two pieces for dinner the other night. Shhhh.

🍅 🍅 🍅

Thanks to all for stopping by! 


Leave a comment and tell us what you do during the
summer to keep cool to win copies of:

A Deadly Eclair, the first French Bistro mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber 

Death on the Menu, a Key West food critic mystery by Lucy Burdette (audio version on CD) 

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, Cleo Coyle's first new Haunted Bookshop Mystery in nearly 10 years. On sale September 25th!