Monthly Archives: June 2010

What to Cook When It’s Too Hot

So far this week, this weather has been hot and sticky. It reminds me of childhood years in Maryland. However, in Maryland, our house was air-conditiioned. In Boston, air-conditioning in my life is limited to the car and the office. Sure, I know, we could buy an air conditioner. We actually have a window unit, but it’s in the closet. It seems like the weather always breaks before we set it up. We’re managing with the house fan, ceiling fans, and lots of window fans. On a humorous note, the humidity has been so high that my curly hair is an inch or two shorter than usual. I look a little like a Brillo pad.

It’s hard to be motivated to heat up the kitchen when the weather is like this. On Sunday, we picked up a salmon steak for dinner. (We ran into Sabine at the store, who asked if I would write about what we cooked. Hi Sabine! This is what we had for dinner. Hope your salmon was good too!)

Howard grilled the salmon with our favorite seasoning for fish: Trindad Style Lemon-Garlic Marinade from Penzey’s. It’s actually a rub, not a liquid. I just love it on grilled fish, especially salmon.

I didn’t want to make the kitchen any hotter, so I put together a black-bean salad that required no actually cooking, just chopping and mixing. The grilled fish with bean salad and a big green salad made for a refreshing summer dinner.

We even had enough salmon left over for a pseudo-Nicoise salad the next day for lunch. I started with salad greens, chopped tomato (hothouse), and Kirby cucumber that we brought back from the local farmstand in Maine. I added shelled raw peas from our garden. I briefly microwaved the leftover fish and some leftover steamed potatoes. Then, everything was tossed together with some tarragon dressing. Voila! Easy lunch.

Tonight, I did use the stove to make orzo with mustard greens, another successful recipe from NoTakeOut. Other than boiling the water for pasta, everything else was just chopping, and once the pasta was cooked, everything else was combined off the heat.

Black Bean Salad
Serves 4 – 6

3 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed well
Kernels from 2 ears of corn, cooked
1/4 red onion, diced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
A generous handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl with the dressing. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Sausage Burgers

Bird update: The robin family seems to have left their nest. Hopefully, everyone is safe and sound, just relocated. We’ll look forward to a new family next year.

Earlier this week, we were watching this Mark Bittman video that TiVo downloads from the New York Times. He talked about making pork and fennel burgers, like an Italian sausage burger. We happened to have a package of sweet Italian sausage meat from Chestnut Farms. The day before, we were discussing what we could do with it that was summery. Ta-da! Mark Bittman offered the perfect inspiration.

Howard was in charge of the burgers. I was in charge of the sides. Being the Side Salad Queen, I came up with an orzo salad with an Italian flair. I liked the surprise of the toasted pine nuts. I made the salad, so I knew they were there. Because their shape looked more or less like the orzo, I didn’t really notice them on the fork. But there was an unexpected burst of flavor as I ate.

The burgers were yummy, but we thought they would be improved by roasted or grilled peppers and onions. Tonight, to go with the leftover burgers we reheated, we topped the burgers with sauteed onions and roasted peppers. It hit the spot.

Confetti Orzo Salad
Serves 6

¾ cup dried orzo, cooked according to package directions and drained
½ cup roasted peppers, cut into slivered, not more than 1-inch long
¼ cup diced red onion
2 Tbsp capers
½ cup Kalamata olives, quartered from end to end
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp finely chopped winter savory and oregano (or anything else you prefer)

Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with Balsamic Dressing.

Balsamic Dressing
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together until emulsified.