Ask Casey: Hot-Weather Cooking

Ask Casey: Cooking and Kitchen Questions Answered

I’m cooking dinner for my parents…but it’s August and I don’t want to heat my apartment. What can I cook that doesn’t involve the oven and a minimal amount of long boiling pots?

This is a tough call for me, because I am a full-fledged kitchen sado-masochist. I have no compunction about turning on the oven in 90-degree weather, torturing myself and my extra-furry, extra-sheddy cats in the pursuit of delicious cherry pies, peach galettes, the best breakfast bread, and even mac and cheese. But maybe it’s time to rethink my ways.

I mentioned this in my compound butter post, but if you don’t have an outdoor grill, the next best item might not be a stovetop grill pan but a toaster oven. When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just throw my dinner protein in there instead of firing up the burners.

True, this doesn’t work when you’re making an entire roast chicken or pork tenderloin, but unless you’re a crazy person like me, you’re not contemplating this on an August weekend anyway. Go for smaller portions, like lamb chops (10 minutes at 450˚ for medium-rare, slathered with rosemary butter upon removal) or my summer take on what the Italians call involtini (basically a meat roll).

As a side, salads are obvious solutions for a course that doesn’t involve the oven or stove, but as the garden lettuces start to fade away, how about making a peach caprese? Just substitute peaches for tomatoes (a good idea considering this summer’s tomato blight) layered with fresh mozzarella and drizzled with your best olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a little mint to the traditional basil chiffonade to further the sweet/savory connection.

Finally, I haven’t tried it yet, but White on Rice Couple’s one-pot stovetop mac and cheese looks like a worthy alternative to my traditional version. You’re still going to be burning some BTUs while you stir the mixture, but it’s better than resorting to baking or the broiler. To pump it up for an impressive parental dinner, try a combo of fontina, istara (a great Spanish cheese similar to manchego), or Gruyère cheese instead of basic cheddar.

Ask Casey about anything food-related (unfortunately, I’m not very good at answering home improvement questions or giving advice on housebreaking puppies) at caseyATgoodfoodstoriesDOTcom.

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