Okay, I haven't shared many recipes on this blog.

I've been researching recipes a lot lately for two reasons.

1. Cooking in a poorly ventilated kitchen in Haifa heat is no fun, so I've been collecting easy summer recipes. [we tend to eat out more during the summer because of this and we're looking to cut those expenses in at least half, so need some real options!]

2. With no gas, we have no stove [see below]. This means that many of my easy recipes are not options at the moment.

So, I just found a recipe for microwave polenta at www.epicurious.com. I could href that, but hey, I'm on a lazy roll.

It consists of:

2 cans (or 2 cups) of broth (choose your poison)
3/4 cup of cornmeal

Mix in a bowl and microwave for about 15 minutes on High, stirring every 5 minutes.

At the end, add 3 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. (the recipe also suggests bacon & Romano cheese, as I don't have them, I didn't. I wouldn't add bacon anyway, though.)

Ta da. Done. The possible variations - with spinach, mushrooms, spices, etc. - are practically endless.

It's so good to have a feel good, tasty, healthy dish that is just so durn easy to prepare - I just had to share!

If you have any easy summer faves of your own, I'd love to hear from you!


Okay, I confess. I have been checking this blog for new easy to cook not heat up the kitchen fave summer recipes in the hope of being inspired. The truth is I have pretty much stopped cooking. My big solution is . . . eat out. Oops! I forgot, we are saving money. How about (and we actually had this the other night) pita bread spread with hummus inside then filled with a salad (Shirazi) which is chopped cucumbers (from the garden so I left the skins on -- very small seeds. If the skins had been tough or there had been big seeds, I would have removed both) chopped tomatos (left the skin on but removed the seeds) and chopped onion dressed with freshly squeezed lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. yep, that was it -- dinner. We may have had watermelon afterwards. Actually pretty refreshing.

You have no gas. I have a couple of suggestions.

First, buy a hibachi. Grilling is good and good for you - the fat drips off and burns away. Plus, everything tastes better.

Okay. Next, here are a few recipe ideas.

1. Spinach salad. Takes ten minutes to prepare - make it right before you serve it. There is little you can do in advance (roll the lemon, wash the spinach, that's it) and it will wilt if you let it sit for any longer than half an hour. You will need:

Spinach leaves.
Feta cheese.
Cracked peppercorns.
Olive oil.
Sea Salt - I like the flaked kind.
A lemon.
Petit pois - which, ironically, was a nickname that Maman used for me when I was very young. She always told me it meant "little mess." Maybe I misheard her, and there's a French word for mess that sounds like pois.

Anyway, roll the lemon, wash the Spinach, peal the petit pois out of their shells - if you're using frozen, boil some water in the microwave and drop the petit pois in for two minutes.

Dry the spinach. Pour the olive oil over the spinach. Work it in with your hands. This is the most fun part for me. Add the peas. If you had to blanche them let them cool first.

Crumble the Feta cheese into chunks and work it in to the pea - olive oil - spinach mixture.

Cut the lemon and squeeze it into the salad. Stir with hands. Work quickly now, because the lemon juice will start to wilt the lettuce.

Add salt to taste. Work with hands.

Wash hands, which may need to be licked clean, as they'll be covered with olive oil, feta crumbs, lemon juice and a bit of sea salt. Someone ought to make a crisp flavour out of this combo.

Anyway, serve quickly and offer each guest some cracked black pepper to put on their salad, if they desire.

I've also added sauteed field mushrooms and bacon to this salad, and you can also add avocado.

2. Tabouleh requires no heat to cook at all, and is very tasty. You will need:

Parsley. You will need this much: a lot more than you think you will need. I underbought by an order of magnitude. I ended up returning to purchase parsley twice; the first time to by four times as much as my initial purchase, the second time to buy twice as much as I had already bought in total.

Tomatoes. Ripe ones; I recommend against Roma or plum style tomatoes. A nice juicy beefstake is about perfect.

A coupla lemons.

Mint. Some recipes call for it, some don't, I use a little.

Bulgar. Popop used to love this stuff and now I know why. I've started to eat lots of bulgar and I just plain like it. It tastes good, absorbs flavours well and cooks easily - you can cook it without heat, in fact, as we will discover.

Olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

I add chopped baby leeks. You would probably be better off adding chopped baby onions or young shallots.


First, mise en place: soak the bulgar in cold water, roll the lemons, chop the parsley, chop the spring onions, chop the tomatoes, chop the mint, mince the garlic, crack the pepper and place each ingredient into bowls of their own.

Now, go sit down, have a cup of tea and read a book for half an hour. Set a timer. Don't do anything before the timer goes off.




Okay! Put the minced garlic into a big bowl and squeeze some lemon juice onto it. Add some salt, pepper and a coupla tablespoons of olive oil.

Check on the bulgar. If it feels al dente, you're fine. Get out a fine seive, line it with cheesecloth and drain the bulgar through it. Twirl the cheesecloth up to squeeze out excess water.

Stir the bulgar into the lemon juice and garlic. Add everything else. Squeeze some more lemon juice over it, stir and then go read your book for half an hour. Cover it to keep the flies away. It'll be done when you get back. The lemon juice helps to cook it, even at room temperature.

3. Hummus Tahini is always better if you can cook it, but it isn't bad if you don't.

I like to make a hummus salad, like so:

You will need hummus, vegetables, olive oil, garlic and barbecue sauce. And cheese, if you like cheese.

Make the hummus the standard way - chick peas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, blended until it's the right texture. I always end up playing around with the lemon juice and salt at the end and over blending, because I only measure during patisserie - cooking is an art, except patisserie, which is a science.

I add a coupla splashes of Tabasco, too. I use a bit of cayenne or Tabasco or Frank's Red Hot in just about everything I cook. I was inspired to do this by a restaurant that Mark & Mara took me to in Columbus that had a chocolate/cayenne pepper dessert. It was a good dessert and the potential to become great was obvious.

Anyway, arrange the hummus on a large serving dish. For vegetables, I like to use red peppers, yellow peppers, tomatoes, sweet onions (purple or Vidalia) and blanched asparagus - all cut into bite sized pieces.

Now, if you had your oven, arrange the veggies on the hummus, cover with barbecue sauce, shred the cheese on top and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the hummus is hot throughout. Remove, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a few olives.

There are lots of other cold summer dishes that I like - blinis, sour cream & sevruga; gazpacho; summer veggie salads, of many types; cottage cheese and fresh fruit (peaches, apricots & pears especially); tuna and homemade mayonnaise petit fours (this makes a nice amuse bouche); mangoes, strawberries, cayenne pepper, grated vanilla, cream and raw demerara; oysters, clams, mussels, langoustines, cracked crab - all pre-cooked and served on ice with lemon wedges, celeriac remoulade, Tabasco and a dish of melted butter; Vichyssoise (which also makes a nice amuse bouche - put it in an espresso cup and serve it with a chive straw and melba toast); there's more but I'm much too ill to keep going; must sleep now.

Love you, Mara.

You guys are too funny. Thank you SOOO much for your recipe suggestions.

Now to the funny part. Have you forgotten I live in the Middle East? hahahahaha! Thanks for the homus, pita, shirazi salad (called 'arab' salad here usually) and tabouli. heeheehee! - Seriously, I can only eat so much of that stuff, though!

And Nathan, darling, I love you and I can't wait to be near enough to you to have you cook for me again!

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This page contains a single entry by Mara published on July 9, 2005 8:50 PM.

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