Thursday, July 23, 2009
Hot Summer Nights
I’d like to tell you I’m an amazing and brilliant cook. But I am not. If I only had a brain things might go better in the kitchen. Yesterday was one of those days.
It’s been crazy hot in our neck of the woods. At the same time our a/c is broken and I’ve been avoiding the kitchen as if it were filled with molten lava. But I started this blog and dagnamit people have to eat. As such I dredged Regional Italian Cuisine for light summer recipes. I settled on Panzanella (cold bread salad), Caprese salad (mozzarella and fresh tomatoes), Insalata di funghi (raw mushroom salad) and Gelato di ricotta (Rum-flavored ricotta ice cream).
Most ingredients were procured from the farmer’s market (I love the farmer’s market!). Of course the farmers didn’t have everything on my list. My hubbie graciously agreed to go the store for the remaining items. After he left I realized I’d forgotten to add bell peppers and mozzarella. Gah! Where was my head? Apparently at high temperatures the gray matter turns to vapor and dissipates into the atmosphere.
Now I realize that most people would call their spouse and have him pick up the missed ingredients. However we are cellularly challenged. Much to my children’s dismay we have only one cell phone for our entire family. Uno. One. And it’s a prepaid phone at that. Typically the phone is not charged and we simply forget to use it. It was already 7:30 pm. I was not about to go back to the store. We were going to have to get creative.
So we had caprese salad with sharp white cheddar instead of mozzarella. Quite honestly the cheddar was better than the mozzarella. Mozzarella is too spongy for my taste; I’m simply not fond of the texture and often eat around it. My husband likes mozzarella but really enjoyed the tangy cheddar goodness.
Our panzanella didn't have peppers. We also made a few other alterations to the recipe. The bread was toasted in the oven at 200 F instead of sitting out overnight. And we left the crust on; it added a nice little crunch which I suspect was the purpose of the peppers.
The Insalata di funghi went off without a hitch and was surprisingly good. I was initially nervous as it called for a raw egg yolk. Raw egg? Yuck! But then my friend reminded me that it was simply a mayonnaise (egg yolk and oil) and suddenly it didn’t seem so bad. The salad had a lovely piquant flavor that paired well with the raw mushrooms.
Then on to the Gelato di ricotta. Let me just tell you that ice cream is better with CREAM. Enough said. Strangely my family devoured said dessert despite its utter graininess and lack of essential ingredient (I bought cream but forgot to use it!). I did, however, remember to add the rum and yes I let my children eat it. Inebriation did not result. Today I’ll be giving the recipe another go - this time with all the ingredients.
Overall the dishes were perfect for a hot summer evening and they didn’t add too much heat to the kitchen. Our tummies were satisfied and we had left overs to boot. I combined the Panzanella and mushrooms into a single salad for today’s lunch. Mmmmm, mmmm!
The recipes were not followed to a “t” but I'm checking them off my list anyway. After all, making do with what you’ve got is the heart of a home cooked meal.