Cooking in the summer can provide a unique challenge. In the winter, turning a cold kitchen in to a warm and cozy place is a benefit of cooking. In the summer, turning that same kitchen into a sweltering inferno is not. With a little forethought this can be avoided.
Gazpacho a Portuguese and Spanish soup made from stale bread, garlic olive oil, salt, vinegar and vegetables doesnt need any cooking and has undergone many changes since its inception. Modern gazpacho includes a tomato base and a wider range of vegetables. It can be easily made with a food processor and stored beforehand in a refrigerator.
Ceviche is a Peruvian seafood salad marinated in citrus. Traditionally made from raw fish, onions with lime or lemon juice, modern variations include using a tomato sauce or ketchup. In its original form, it can be adapted to most tastes by using a wide variety of fish you should check with your local fishmonger to make sure the quality is good enough that it can be eaten raw and cold vegetables. The citrus juice is there to allow it to be served at room temperature without risk of immediate bacterial growth.
Pickled cucumbers and beats can be prepared the night before, ranging from simply placing julienne vegetables in vinegar to more complex and elaborate preparations that include chili oil and sugar, this idea allows for a wide variety based on what you have available.
Likewise, sandwiches are easy to prepare without heating the kitchen, using coldcuts and already cooked meats and vegetables, they can be quickly prepared to suit individual pallets and served with a wide variety of sides such as coleslaw or any of the ideas above.
The traditional American answer to keeping the summer cool is to grill outside. Virtually anything can be grilled outside, from corn to cucumbers to beef and vegetarian hotdogs. This flexibility can be combined with any of the other ideas above to make a complete meal.
A crock-pot can also be cook meats without heating up the rest of the kitchen as much as a traditional stove. Prepared the night before and left to cook on its own without much attention, the crock-pot not only keeps the kitchen cool, but allows the chef to work on other parts of meal preparation, or enjoying the summer weather.
Salads also offer a wealth of options for summer meals. Using lettuce as a base, the options of what you can put on a salad are limitless, from common vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and carrots to fruit, nuts and diced meats and hardboiled eggs, salads are not only an effective way to prepare a summer meal without heating up the kitchen, but can also be used to help clean out leftovers.
For the more exotic among you, looking up Asian or Mediterranean cuisine online or at your local bookstore will provide a wide range of inspiration. Using rice paper wrappers, traditionally hot serve food can be served cold.
Whether youre seeking the traditional or the exotic, summer cooking doesnt have to revolve around turning your kitchen into an inferno.
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