Picture the scene: it’s hot, too hot, and it’s planning to get hotter. A couple of weeks ago we had a run of hot days with temperatures in the unpleasant zone of the high thirties (close to 100 farenheit). Not wanting to put the small portable air conditioner under any more strain, we were keeping the kitchen as cool as we could. What do you cook in this kind of weather that doesn’t use the oven or other heat producing appliances inside?
So, this In My Kitchen post is actually about staying out of the kitchen. Here are some of the tips and tricks we tried.
Starting with the obvious: when it’s hot, eat cool food. Salads are on the menu for these summer days.
It doesn’t take long for lettuce to get a little boring, so we tried a few new salads and cold vegetable side dishes. This bean salad was an easy one which I really liked. Any type of canned beans will do, although for this blog I thought the appropriate bean of choice was the five bean mix. Use home cooked beans if you prefer. The optional bed of lettuce or other salad greens helps to break up the heaviness of the beans.
Can of beans salad
- 1 x 400g can of cooked beans (such as a five bean mix), drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest
- parsley, chopped
- chives, chopped
- a little salt, to taste
- (optional) salad greens
Place the beans in a serving bowl (on top of the salad greens, if you like). In a small cup or jar, mix the red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon zest and parsley. Pour this over the beans and stir through. Sprinkle with chopped chives and a little salt.
Also an obvious one, if you have a barbecue outside, this is the time to use it. Can’t go past a good sausage, plus we barbecued vegetables a few times. The vegetables worked well when we steamed the heavier ones a little in the microwave first, then mixed in a little olive oil, sprinkled on a few herbs and some salt and pepper.
3. Sous vide style cooking
A big pot of water for sous vide cooking still generates some heat, but a much lower temperature than the oven, plus we usually set it up in the laundry. See this post for our earlier experiments with DIY sous vide cooking. This time we tried a 24 hour shoulder of lamb (super tender, a big hit with the kids), and 2 hour beef, cut into steaks and later seared on the barbecue (also good).
4. Take the slow cooker outside
Here’s an easy way to keep cooking heat and odours out of the kitchen: if you have a power point outside, take the slow cooker out there.
We did this a few times with a simple apple and sage pork dish.
I added some finely sliced apple and some crispy sage leaves just before serving to avoid the “just a whole lot of meat” look to the dish, and we served it with steamed potatoes and salad. I used a boned and rolled pork shoulder, but it works as well with any large piece of pork. If your piece of pork came with string or netting around it, I would remove that before cooking in the slow cooker.
Slow cooker pork shoulder with apple and sage
- a one to one and a half kilo piece of pork meat, such as a boneless pork shoulder
- 4 or 5 fresh sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
- one apple, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine or stock (even better, use verjuice if you have it)
- salt and pepper
Place the pork in the slow cooker and add all the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in the slow cooker on low for approximately 8 hours, until the meat easily falls apart.
At the end of the cooking time, scoop out some of the juices into a heat proof jug and place in the fridge or freezer for a short time, until the fat rises to the surface and you can spoon off the fat and dispose of it appropriately. Pour the remaining juices into a wok or saucepan and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until it has reduced and thickened slightly.
Shred the pork meat. Serve with the sauce, and with sides such as steamed potatoes and green vegetables and salad.
Another yummy slow cooker dish was slow cooker tropical pork with pineapple (recipe in this post here). We served it with red quinoa, extra slices of pineapple grilled on the barbecue, and barbecued vegetables
5. Night baking
Our Cherry Blossom #2 baked a cake in the evening so the house had a chance to cool down overnight. She used this simple chocolate cake recipe.
Here is a picture of the cake under the starry sky:
Do you have other ideas for keeping your cool in the kitchen on hot summer days?
For more In My Kitchen posts from food bloggers in Australia and around the world, see Maureen’s links at the Orgasmic Chef blog.