We are having a heat wave here in England with gorgeous sunny skies, warm breezes and temperatures of 28c. Beautiful, except people are just not used to it. Not all offices are air-conditioned and neither are grocery stores. (I know!) Unlike my native America, where you need a sweater to go into the supermarket in July and then feel as if you are entering a blast furnace when you leave. Yikes! Anyway, the heat makes me want the foods of my childhood summers- and the drinks of my early twenties. So I thought today I would share a few fragrant recipes. Nothing fancy, just easy to toss together and then relax!
First, a disclaimer- I am not a chef, by any definition. I am just someone who likes to cook and is hopefully improving as she goes along!
Right we need a drink to start with, don’t we? One Sauza Commemorativo Margarita coming up! (Sauza Commemorative Tequila is aged in oak Bourbon barrels and has a gorgeous deep woody flavour and scent) As a child, Margaritas were exotic drinks that my parents only had in the hottest days of summer and, on the rare occasion that I was allowed to taste them, terrible! It wasn’t until I waitressed at a Mexican restaurant during college that I fell in love with margaritas. The flavours, the colours, the salt, the spray of lime juice as the knife snicks through the peel of the fruit- bliss! All of that and happy memories of my parents sitting talking in the dusk as my brother and I chased fireflies make them hands down my favourite summer drink. Of course, something so delicious sits you at the top of a slippery slope and, while the way down may be fun, the bottom is never pretty is it? I had a boyfriend who nicknamed tequila ‘to kill ya’ and the stories, well,…but I digress. Anyhoo, I trust you all to pace yourselves and have some of the gorgeous food below!
Ok, first up is Dilled Seafood Salad. I love dill! It is such a wonderful, clean flavour and just really makes me happy. My mom used to make salads very similar to this which were integral to our summer dinner menus. I find this seafood salad is an excellent lazy summer weekend meal. Any sort of seafood works here and you can put it together in the cool of the morning and then when dinnertime approaches, in the heat of the afternoon, you can feel all smug that it is in the fridge, ready to rock. (Oh, how I love that feeling!) It is easily doubled and goes down a storm at big gatherings. The recipe is from The New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny:
Dilled Seafood Seashell Pasta Salad: Yield: 4 main –course servings
For the dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 ½ tbsp. fresh chopped dill, plus sprigs for garnish
For the salad:
8 to 10 ounces small or medium pasta shells 1 ½ to cups cooked fish or
Salt and fresh ground black pepper shellfish, broken into flakes or
3 tbsp dry white wine chunks
1 green bell pepper, chopped Lettuce leaves
2/3 cup thinly sliced celery Salt and fresh black pepper
½ cup chopped red onion 1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in wedge
6 radishes, sliced
- To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and, while still warm, toss with the wine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Add the green pepper, celery, and onion to the pasta. Pour the dressing over and stir to combine. Add the seafood and stir gently but thoroughly, taking care to leave some large chunks. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- To serve, line a platter with lettuce leaves. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Spoon the salad over the lettuce, arrange the tomatoes and radishes on top, and garnish with dill sprigs.
(Of course, as a bread lover, I need a roll to go with my salads so I usually plump for Cornbread or Buttermilk Rolls here.)
I hope you have left a little room for the final touch- margarita cookies. Yes- Margaritas. And Cookies. Together in one recipe. It sounds crazy but they are phenomenal! I would DEARLY love to take credit for these beauties but I must bow in awe before Deb of Smitten Kitchen. She is ah-may-zing. Here is the link to the cookie recipe:
I have spent ages reading her archives and cooking from them. It is one of my favourite ways to relax. (That and The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Ree has fab food and is hilarious to read.) Deb has a really friendly inclusive ‘voice’ and is seriously talented. I defy you to just check the recipe and go!
So there you have it, some easy, fragrant and delicious summer goodies- enjoy!
And, please, feel free to share any of your favourite easy summer recipes in the comments!
Oh, and just because I love you all here is a great YouTube advert: