29 July 2006

tooooo hot toooooooo coooooooooook

Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Feta and Toasted Almonds

Fettucine with Walnuts, Zucchini Ribbons, and Pecorino Romano

Too hot to bake.
Too hot to braise.
Too hot to stir risotto.
Too hot to play Guitar Hero.
Too hot to fly my new stunt kite named Friendlies.
Too hot to sit on the porch, plus there are killer bees out there that just won’t die.

The only logical course of action left, then, once the above options have been eliminated, is to hole myself up with the fuzzy cats in the one air-conditioned room in our home and flip through cooking magazines and fantasize about when this heat wave will be over so life can go on and I can eat foods that are not salad. Oh, I love salad, yes I do, but not as much as I love a hot, splattering platter of bacon-wrapped parmesan-stuffed dates, y’know?

Something else that I love is when you are seeking inspiration in your cooking magazines one hour before you want to eat dinner, and you still haven’t gone to the grocery store, and you don’t really want to cook anyway because it’s too hot, but you don’t want to eat freezie-pops for dinner (again), AND THEN…you find two quick, healthy (actually healthy doesn’t matter to me) recipes that you can make for the same meal AND neither of them require the application of exorbitant amounts of heat AND they are both on the same page of the magazine, enabling you to conserve precious sweatdrops by not turning pages back and forth between the recipes while you cook.

If you are thinking that you totally love it when that happens, or if you thinking that someday that would nice if that happened to you, then please open up your August 2006 issue of Bon Appetit to pages 70 and 71, and you will find two superb recipes that Bon Appétit should have turned into a centerfold. That is, if cooking magazines had centerfolds, which I think they should. Bon Appétit, can I come and work for you and design centerfolds for your magazine? Oh Nellie, could you imagine? Hello Dreamjob, good bye Oldjob, I sure wouldn’t miss working in a gymnasium with 55 nine-year-olds, each of them holding a violin or some other stringed instrument that they’ve never played before and I have to teach them all how to play their instruments all at the same time, all sixty of them…and some of them smell like poop…and some of them are wearing roller skates…why do I do this to myself?

Anyways, I digress. I think the heat must be getting to me now.
Back to dinner, the only heat involved in preparing these Bon Appétit two delights is:
1) the boiling of the water for the pasta,
2) the heat from toasting the almonds and the walnuts,
3) the heat of the scorching sun on your forehead when you are walking home from the grocery store, arms laden with ingredients, and
4) the heat from the friction that your knife creates when it is wailing on the cutting board (hee-hee I accidentally typed “whaling" at first).

If you are reading this at 6 PM, then you still have time to go the store and make this dinner and have it on the table by 7 PM. Maybe even earlier if you can cut stuff real fast with your knife, or if you have friends who can help you cut stuff real fast.

Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Feta and Toasted Almonds
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit except I didn’t toast the almonds because I was too hot.

8 cups watermelon, chunked (that means cut into chunks)
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, chunked
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt ( I'm not sure if the fleur de sel is necessary but I do think the kosher salt makes a difference)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, dill and mint)
6 cups fresh arugula leaves or small watercress springs
1 cup crumpled feta cheese
½ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Combine melon, tomatoes and salt in large bowl. Toss and let stand for 15 minutes.
Add arugula, oil, vinegar, and herbs to the melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.
Sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds.

Fettucine with Walnuts, Zucchini Ribbons, and Pecorino Romano
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit

2 ½ pounds small zucchini
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced into a paste
2 anchovy fillets, minced (I omitted the anchovies but I imagine that they would be delicious)
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 pound fettucine
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped (make your husband toast the walnuts if you’re too hot)
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided (I used asiago flakes)
½ cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil
¼ cup (packed) chopped fresh mint (I forgot this ingredient, ooops. Still loved it!)
Fresh zucchini flowers, thinly sliced, for optional garnish (if someone can tell where to find zucchini flowers in Chicago I would be much obliged.)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave zucchinis lengthwise to create fine ribbons. Leave a small stripe of the peel on each ribbon for color and taste.
Place ribbons (should be about 10 cups) in a large colander set over a bowl; sprinkle with kosher salt and let stand for thirty minutes. Rinse zucchini under cold water; drain well. Spread on 2 large kitchen towels or paper towels; roll up in towels to absorb excess water. Set aside.
Cook pasta in salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid.
Transfer pasta to a large powl. Toss with oil and ¼ cup cooking liquid. Add remaining ingredients, reserving ½ cup of cheese. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper, and add more pasta cooking liquid if the mixture seems dry.
Sprinkle with oil, the remaining cheese, and the zucchini flowers, and serve.


doodles said...

your photos are wonderful and the dishes photo'd look yummy. Too hot too cook means a lot of us are eating more and better salads....and then posting them on our sites. So we all get new ideas fora different meal. Thanks

maltese parakeet said...

it's never too hot to play guitar hero! :) what's your favorite guitar hero song?

Erielle said...

doodles ~ Glad to have given you a new idea. Bon Appétit has a lot of tasty salad ideas online at epicurious.com.

maltese parakeet ~ I don't think I can pick one Guitar Hero song for my favorite! My top three are Unsung, Even Rats, and Ready 2 Rock (the last two are in the Bonus Tracks). I am so excited for Guitar Hero II, coming out in November, yay! What are your favorite songs!

shaz said...

hi there. great blog! Im a foodie blogger from singapore. I added your blog as a link on mine. Hope you dun mind. happy eating!

jenjen said...

these are definitely great meals when its too hot to cook. I feel for you up in the n. hemispere. I am just anticipating how hot it will be when its summer down here soon.

Anonymous said...

Hello, m'dear! I know that was quite an involved entry, but I wondered if you could speak to the watermelon-tomato combination. I'm assuming it's delicious because you like it, but you know about assumptions... Also, may I suggest your bruschetta recipe as an eventual add? (Mostly because I might want to make it soon, and if you're going to type it out, you might as well put in on your blog.)
Love, Emily

Erielle said...

Shaz~ Of course I don't mind! I have been on your site and it looks like ther are some fantastic places to eat in Singapore...it makes me want to go there and eat all day long.

JenJen~ Hopefully when winter comes, the heat won't keep you from baking because your site is so beatiful! There are a bajillion recipes I have copied down for later.

Emily~ I think you would like the tomato-watermelon-feta combination. It does sound odd, but it's quite refreshing. The watermelon takes over the function of a watercress or a radish in a salad, or even a cucumbe, in that it is the slightly translucent, light, and crunchy component. I don't even love watercress or radishes, so who knows, watermelon may become a salad staple for the summertime. We'll make it next time we see each other.
And bruschetta!