It’s hot outside, which makes it hot inside. I do not want to turn on the oven. My “room temperature” is around 80F. Yes, I do have the AC on. It’s 120F outside. The oven is this horrible pit of more heat that I dread. How can I make interesting, healthy dishes that avoid the oven and count as real food? – Some Like it Hot, but Enough Already! – Las Vegas, NV
You ain’t kiddin! We’re well into fall now, and someone forgot to tell the weather Gods in Los Angeles too. We’ve hit record triple digit temps again this week, but hopefully cooling back down now. Having said that , if you can’t stand the heat, you really don’t have to get out of the kitchen. Here are a few helpful tips to keeping the heat outside, and your cool on the inside:
1). Salads! Open a can of oil-packed tuna, and make a French salad Nicoise, or a classic tuna salad. My chicken pesto salad is an all time client favorite, or try the delicious kale salad below. Just add beans or chicken to complete the meal. You can even cheat, and buy your chicken freshly roasted direct from the spit at the grocery store like I did earlier this week. Salad options are only limited by your culinary imagination.
2). Then there is the obvious, hot weather is synonymous with the grill. Marinate and rub poultry and meats, and either store them in the fridge for use in the next day or two, or freeze right in the marinade. Then defrost, and grill when you’re ready. You can even grill your vegetables too!
3). Most people think of winter comfort food when they think of the slow-cooker, but it can be your best summer ally too. Slow-cookers cook without heating up the kitchen. Throw your vegetables, protein, a few spices and a little liquid in before you go to work, and voila – a hot dinner awaits you in a cool kitchen when you get home!
4). Of course you can always beat the heat by using the Personal Chef Approach™ (PCA™) to do your cooking in advance during the coolest times of day, then just heat to eat in the microwave when you’re hungry. “Some may like it hot,” but now you can beat the heat, and eat well too!
5). Last, but certainly not least would be to hire The Roving Stove to do the cooking for you! Then all you have to do is heat to eat in the microwave! What are your favorite beat the heat meals?
Mandarin Kale Salad with Hearts of Palm
This completely fat free, sweet & spicy salad dressing is adapted to home cook specifications from a recipe Chef Joe DiMaggio Jr. shared with me. The sweetness of the mandarin oranges balances the bitterness of the kale perfectly, while the hearts of palm, carrots, cabbage, and roasted sunflower seeds give extra texture.
3 11 ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups fresh kale, de-stemmed
1/4 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup carrots, shredded
1 14.5 ounce can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1). Puree 2 drained cans of the mandarin oranges, mustard, vinegar, honey and tarragon together in a blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2). Toss the kale, cabbage and carrots with desired amount of dressing, and plate. Sprinkle remaining mandarin oranges, hearts of palm, and sunflower seeds over the top, and drizzle with a little more dressing.
To turn this fabulous appetizer into a full meal, just add cooked chicken breast, grilled shrimp, or beans. Keep any extra dressing refrigerated up to a month.
IS OUR VERSION OF THE SYNDICATED COLUMN “DEAR ABBEY,” ONLY ON KITCHEN WOES RATHER THAN THOSE OF THE HEART. SEND US YOUR COOKING DESIRES, QUERIES, AND CATASTROPHES TO DEARJEWELS (AT) JULIEANNERHODES (DOT) COM.
This post was first published October 5, 2012