Discover more from the smitten kitchen digest
oven-off cooking for sweltering days
plus: a flaky chocolate cake
Monday, July 17, 2023
My Benihana, Myself [Eater]
Every summer, when it gets as hot as it inevitably does, and doubly so this summer, I question everything I ever thought about cooking, right down to: Are we sure we really want to do this? Not to go all Girl Dinner on you but are we absolutely certain dinner needs to be any more than a bowl of sliced peaches and a second bowl with potato chips (embarassed by how much I’m into Trader Joe’s Ridge Cut Potato Chips with Sea Salt these days, but not enough not to tell you)? I no longer am.
Below, however, a list of things I love to eat when it’s hot out when I need a brief break from chips and cold fruit. All except the newest SK recipe — which can be forgiven, as it bakes quickly and is going to blow your mind — involve no oven time, just stovetop, a quick grill, or blissfully, none of the above. I hope this list feeds you well this week.
I’ve written three cookbooks and I’m a tiny bit biased, but I think you’d love them all. I’m thrilled that this warmer weather means you might be able to cook some of my summery favorites from my most recent cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers, such as: zucchini cornbread and tomato butter, snow peas with pecorino and walnuts, cucumber salad with garlicky dill yogurt, clam chowder with bacon croutons, zucchini and pesto lasagna, and crispy chili garlic butter shrimp, raspberry crostata, strawberry summer stack cake, and the blondie chipwiches.
New: The lightweight, semi-collapsed disc of cognac-kissed dark chocolate I nominate to be your backpocket, arsenal-worthy decadent cake for small but fancy times. Less, ahem, leaden than a classic flourless chocolate cake, this is also a perfect petite size and bakes up quickly.
A ribbony, lemony, salad that's flecked with parmesan, punctuated with arugula, and exactly as refreshing as it looks.
An all-crunch, bright salad that I riff on for as long as the warm weather lasts, and also a favorite reminder that there are few salads not improved by a good chop, herbs and salty accents.
A colorful, crunchy salad with optional protein and the best miso-sesame dressing I know how to make, designed with portability in mind.
A small-diced salad heaped on a great swirl of hummus to be scooped with grilled pita wedges is the only thing I want to eat for the rest of the summer. With a few chocolate ice cream sandwich intermissions, for balance and stuff.
This salad is a forever site (and Deb lunch) favorite, just lightly crushed chickpeas with minced red onion, parsley, lemon juice and zest, enriched with olive oil. It's great straight from the bowl but possibly even better on a slice of toast atop a layer of tahini dressing. (Instructions for all of the above and then some more ideas in the recipe.)
For the first time in my avocado-buying life, I've been able to not miss the approximately 5-minute window in which they're neither rock hard nor mush. This is how we're celebrating. I realize the idea of a recipe (a recipe!) for avocado toast is bonkers but this one is truly the best classic version I've ever had.
These are the cold peanut sesame noodles I’ve been making since college. Over the years I’ve had dalliances with other cold noodle recipes but I recently came back to this one and it was like reuniting with an old friend. I forgot how perfect this sauce is. I can’t believe I ever tossed it aside for something new. We’ve been making up for lost time since.
This intense raspberry granita converted me to granitas. I used to think they were often icy and dull but this is vibrant and impossibly refreshing, basically the best crushed popsicle/sno-cone I've ever made and the only thing worth eating until this heat wave abates.
This is the easiest popsicle I've ever made (4 ingredients!), yet the flavor is impeccable: unquestionably a key lime pie, formatted as a dream of a frozen summer dessert. This is adapted from one of my favorite popsicle cookbooks -- which sounds too specific, it's actually just a favorite cookbook, period -- Fany Gerson's Paletas.
Inspired by one of the best things I ate in Rome, years ago, think of this like a reverse affogato: the espresso is frozen and lightly sweetened, the cream is not, and I'll never find a more refreshing afternoon pick-me-up on a sticky day.
This drink solves everything. It makes the stickiest weather seem bearable, it makes you feel like you’re on vacation even if you’re not, and it makes you wish sandal season were longer, if it means you get one of these daily.
All of the awesomeness of hot chocolate reformatted as a frosty milkshake. Chocolate shavings atop a drift of whipped cream: not optional.
Ever wonder where I get my cutting boards, paring knives, offset spatulas and more than you see when I cook? I've created a page on Smitten Kitchen with links to some of my favorite kitchen items, the ones I'm asked about the most. I recently added several new favorites I’ve bought in the last year. For each item, I've attempted to provide a range of shopping links so we're not just focusing on one giant retailer.
See you next week!