Cooking in summer? Don’t do it — at least not inside.
So says Erik Gotwalt, a York County chef. “Stay away from the oven and stove and try to cook as much outside as you can.”
And when planning what to serve, think bright and fresh. He said citrus, fresh berries and fruits add color and a fresh taste to summer meals.
Gotwalt, a York native and graduate of Eastern York High School, said Americans do love their barbecue food for picnics in the summer, but you can add a light note with summer recipes that don’t require cooking.
Frances Dietz of Springettsbury Township recommends using the grocery store salad bar to make quick work of salads and side dishes.
Dietz, who is retired after teaching home economics in the West York Area School District, gives cooking lessons in her home. She suggests adding fruits and vegetables to items from the deli case for an easy way to improve nutrition. And she saves time on desserts for picnics and potlucks by building off a box mix.
Watermelon, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
4 fresh Roma tomatoes
1 seedless English cucumber
1 mini seedless watermelon
½ red onion
7 basil leaves
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons clover honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by cutting the tomatoes into quarters, slicing them and removing the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and place to the side. Peel and cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to remove any seeds and discard. Cut the cucumber into thin half-moon shapes and set aside. Cut the watermelon into quarters and remove the rind, then dice the watermelon into small uniform pieces. Finally, peel and mince the ½ red onion and combine all above ingredients.
In a bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lime, the vinegar and honey until combined. Toss the dressing and basil with the diced items and serve on a chilled plate or bowl.
1 whole pineapple or a whole, precored and peeled pineapple
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
Core and peel the pineapple, cutting into large chunks. Combine sugar and water in saucepan and simmer on low heat until small bubbles form. Remove from heat and cool. Place chunks of pineapple into blender and puree. Pour pineapple mixture into a bowl, add syrup mixture and stir. Place bowl into the freezer and cool for several hours or until firm. Serve scoops of granita with a sprig of mint or strawberries.
1 loaf French baguette
2 ounces melted butter
1 whole bundle asparagus
1 shallot, minced
5 garlic cloves minced
½ pound smoked bacon
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a medium saucepot filled with water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus in the water for 1 minute and remove quickly to a bath of ice water to cool. Dice the bacon and cook in a saucepan until the fat is rendered. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until caramelized. Deglaze the pot with vinegar and add the sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Finely dice the asparagus and place in a bowl, add the grated Parmesan and bacon dressing. Toss all ingredients together using salt and pepper to taste. Cut the baguette straight across into fairly thin crostini, spreading the butter on each piece and baking in oven at 325 degrees for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy. Chill bruschetta and place atop the finished crostini.
Salad Bar Summer Salad
4 cups raw spinach, washed, in bite-size pieces (curly leaves preferred)
2/3 cup diced watermelon*
2/3 cup diced cantaloupe**
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2/3 cup diced pineapple, fresh preferred
½ cup chopped pecans or a purchased mixture of sugared pecans and raisins
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
about ¼ cup Greek salad dressing (Such as Gazebo Room brand, or from recipe that follows)
Combine all ingredients. Makes about 6 servings.
* Strawberries can be substituted for watermelon, but should be lightly sweetened.
** Honeydew melon not recommended as a substitute for cantaloupe.
Greek Salad Dressing
6 tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mediterranean is best)
Whisk ingredients until blended. Serve on salad.
Francie’s Fruited and Curried Cole Slaw
1 pound coarsely shredded creamy cole slaw from the deli
1 ¼ cup halved red seedless grapes
8-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
¼ to ½ teaspoon curry powder
Combine all ingredients. Chill at least a half hour before serving. Makes 10-12 servings.
Upside Down Mocha Brownies
1 boxed brownie mix for an 8-inch square pan, plus ingredients called for on package
1 ¼ cup butterscotch chips, divided
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
¼ cup heated heavy cream
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
Mix brownies according to package directions. Stir in ¾ cup of the butterscotch chips, the vanilla and the instant coffee.
Grease an 8-inch pan, line with parchment and grease the parchment.
Pour batter into parchment-lined pan.
Bake according to package directions or until top is crusty. Cool in pan.
Use edges of parchment to lift brownies out of pan. Turn upside down and remove parchment.
Frost the new “top” with a ganache made by stirring together the heated cream, remaining butterscotch chips and peanut butter until melted and thoroughly blended. Ganache sets and firms as it stands or chills.
Cut into 16 squares.
White Bean and Tomato Salad
2 19-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 sprigs fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
½ cup thinly sliced scallion greens
2 tablespoons shredded basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Best made ahead of time and served at room temperature.