"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hot Food in the Summertime

So it's officially summer now, and though I haven't posted much since spring, it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. No, that activity is relentless -- every morning shortly after breakfast I start thinking about dinner -- shopping for it, defrosting, prepping, cooking. My family seems never to be prepared to start sharing preferences that early in the day, but I need to start planning long before anyone has an appetite for it. Including me.

Some of the culinary highlights of the last couple months:
  • We got a waffle iron! I splurged on the Breville when it went on sale, and against my husband's wishes for another appliance in the kitchen. It's been a huge hit though, and even he's sold on it. Highlights include making four big waffles at a time, a well to hold all the inevitable excess spillage, a non-stick, easy-clean surface, and a timer that lets you go off and do other things, like stare morosely into your coffee, while you wait for them to be done. Oh, and waffles are a great way to use up buttermilk you bought for other recipes. These are now in the Saturday morning breakfast rotation, and one of these days I will get around to experimenting with savory waffles for dinner. Blue corn waffles with chicken in gravy sounds really appealing to me.
  • I figured out that my smoothie maker can be put to even better use if I skip the kale and add booze! After drinking what was essentially a delicious sugary glass of half-melted peach sorbet and alcohol at a waterside bar, my friend Sam and I experimented with making frozen Bellinis at home. Mixing frozen peaches (and some strawberries if you like) with peach liqueur in the Magic Bullet, and topping with inexpensive local sparkling wine makes for two very happy moms on the back deck on a Friday afternoon.
  • Spatchcocking isn't only fun to say! It's also the best way I have learned to get a roasted chicken on the table that is (a) not half-raw and (b) is done before bedtime. I have my butcher remove the backbone (and save it in my frozen chicken parts bag destined for stock) and I rub that sucker with lots of rosemary and garlic in olive oil. Crisp on the stove, put the skillet in the oven with something heavy pressing it down, and in less than an hour we have crispy but juicy roast chicken. I like to serve with lemon wedges and a little pan gravy. 
  • I don't hate fennel if it's roasted and/or sliced super thin in a slaw. And it's really nice to continue the theme and serve with Pernod-orange juice cocktails over lots of ice.
  • Fish schnitzel (sole filets crusted in panko and pan fried) is a surefire way to get even Lucas to eat fish with enthusiasm. I served with tiny cheese ravioli in brown butter sauce, carrots, and salad. The kids dipped in ketchup, while the grownups got a little brown butter-white wine-lemon-caper sauce, though I did catch Mr. Gateau hitting the ketchup on seconds.
  • File under everything is better with bacon -- creamy fresh corn soup with bacon and some swirls of pesto.
  • Grilling season is, in fact, the most wonderful time of the year. No fuss, no muss. Extra points when we eat outside and just sweep the crumbs onto the ground. I've been doing a lot of pork tenderloins, which take to all kinds of seasoning very well and cook quickly while staying moist, and chicken skewers, generally either in a malai kebab yogurt marinade or a red wine-olive oil-garlic marinade.