What to cook this week?
Fri, 28 June, 2019
Just so you know, I’ve been through hell and survived. Hell, as the media put it, came last week in France where temperatures reached all time record 45C for France and almost an all time record for Europe ever, so The Weather Man tells me and he should know*.
It. Was. Hot. I had the outdated pre-climate change notion that when it’s hot, it’s hottest at midday and from 2pm you can emerge as it cools down. Not so – it actually gets the hottest about 5pm so the idea of a nice afternoon aperitif is a non-starter unless you want to pass out. You need to move in slow motion to conserve the energy and even breathing is an effort. And that’s me who loves the heat, the sun and the sweltering climes. I can’t start to imagine what it must have been like for people who have to work outdoors or in a non-air conditioned environment, the homeless, the frail. My friends cackled at the French government’s recommendation to seek respite by supermarkets’ chilled cabinets but it’s the soundest advice I have ever heard.
Do you eat when it’s hot? Not so much, so even though the mini-heatwave in the UK has now gone, we should keep the habit and eat light meals, with plenty of fresh salads and vegetables. Chicken feta and melon salad is one wonderful possibility, with melons in season and gorgeously ripe and sweet. Or the smoked fish salad bowl with rice and oriental dressing. Tomato and fig salad is the one you should make at least once while tomatoes are at their best, and the potato and asparagus salad if you can still get hold of some good local asparagus.
If however you need ideas for a more substantial dish, try the chicken rarebit, it’s chicken like you’ve never tasted before. Or meal-prep a tonne of aubergine ziti with or without bacon according to your dispositions, to slip in portions in the oven for a weeknight meal.
You could make a plum tomato Tatin with pastry from scratch or take a shortcut with shop-bought puff pastry. Get some red, green or mixed peppers for a pot of piperade, a dish so flexible you can have it with breakfast, lunch or as a side for dinner.
Do summery things this week, even if it’s not scorching hot where you are: make a jar of cold brewed coffee; mix a tub of no-churn frozen yoghurt; bake the summer cherry cake and sip a glass of Pimm’s on the weekend. And subscribe to my newsletter of course.
*The highest recorded temperature for Europe was recorded in Greece, 48C in 1977, second highest Spain 47C in 2017