Remember when we were all bitching about the cold spring? Yeah, me neither.
In this hot-ass weather, there are a few things you must know about feeding yourself. First, never cook. Second, you don’t need to survive on expensive takeout to avoid starving to death, nor do you have to brave restaurants that might not be air-conditioned, accidentally committing yourself to a full meal with only the wheezy ceiling fan left to contend with ventilation needs.
So do what Gwyneth Paltrow says (fun fact: she actually authored several cookbooks) and DRINK WHILE COOKING. I’d recommend a dry rosé with a fat ice cube (classy, I know, but you know what else is classy? Not sweating your face off while preparing dinner, and the ice helps) and lots of frozen fruit.
If you don’t drink alcohol (and you shouldn’t, it’s a filthy habit), make a similar drink with juice or seltzer and drink that instead. And don’t even think about turning on the stove unless you want to pass out right now.
Herewith, a few rules for beating the heat in the kitchen.
Rule no. 1: Your food processor (or blender) is your new best friend.
Married people, did you get that Cuisinart off your wedding registry? Bust it out. Single or otherwise un-Cuisinart-ed folk: if you can’t justify buying a Cuisinart right now (though you won’t regret it, promise), a blender will do. This is the only kitchen utensil that matters in a heat wave.
Rule no. 2: Now that you have that Cuisinart on your counter, think about the food pyramid and try to hit as many sections as often as possible in one cold, blended concoction.
For example, Exhibit A: Traditional Andalusian Gazpacho.
Here’s my recipe (a variation on something I found on Epicurious years ago):
(Yields sixish servings)
6 inches of a baguette (stale is fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced (1 small onion works, too)
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar (any light vinegar will do)
2ish lbs ripe tomatoes, quartered (that’s about 8 vine tomatoes)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the darker, the better)
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, sliced
Cut baguette in half and soak in water while you cut veggies. Squeeze water from bread and place half of it in food processor. Dust veggies with salt and put half of each in food processor with bread. Blend until smooth; add half the oil and blend until really smooooOooth. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, then place those in the bowl with the rest and mix thoroughly.
Now garnish with other food pyramid categories: I like to add crumbled feta, chopped Black Forest ham, arugula, and hard-boiled egg to mine, but other veggies and legumes–like avocado, bell peppers, cucumbers, radishes, black beans, chick peas, spinach, fennel, and endive–are also great candidates. See if you can hit all five food groups in proper proportion.
Serve immediately or cool for days.
Look for more heat hacks on the next page.
Rule no. 3: Freeze things.
Blueberries, raspberries, and stoned cherries (and chocolate and oily nuts, like cashews and macadamia nuts) are all wonderful frozen. Eat them as snacks, or add the fruit to drinks (like that rosé you were drinking while cooking). You can actually buy Popsicle molds and freeze juice into them for easy DIY popsicles. Think about freezing sparkling beverages like those amazing Pellegrino spritzer drinks, or mix seltzer with Goya juices and freeze that. If you want to be extra sweet about it, dust the Popsicle mold with sugar. If you’re feeling super wild, line it with Pop Rocks.
Rule no. 4: Eat meat raw.
Make your own ceviche or steak tartare. None of these things are particularly difficult; the key is to buy really fresh, good meat. If you’re not sure where to begin, go to a reputable butcher or fishmonger, tell them you’re making tartare or ceviche, and ask what cut they recommend.
My favorite super easy ceviche recipe:
(Yields six servings)
2 pounds fresh whitefish, cut to half-inch pieces (I like branzino or snapper but tilapia works, too)
1 pound ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, chopped
Juice of 6 limes
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon powdered coriander
1/3 teaspoon powdered cumin
Place fish, garlic and onion in a bowl with citrus; stick it in the fridge. In the meantime, cut the other veggies, and enjoy your cold drink (drinking while cooking, right?). After 20 minutes, remove fish from fridge, add veggies and spices and mix thoroughly. Dust with salt to taste. Let sit five minutes and drain any excess liquid. Serve with avocado, black beans, and arugula on flour tortillas (which are OK when cold, unlike their corn counterparts), or with the same over a salad. If you need meat, that Black Forest ham comes in handy here, too.
Rule no. 5: Eat WTF you want for dinner.
It’s hot, and you may spend much of your day angry for no reason aside from the weather: Why not have bread, cheese, and salami for dinner? Eat it outside at one of NYC’s breezy waterfront parks with a friend or loved one and watch the sunset. Pro tip: The cops are less likely to ticket you for drinking in public if you put your wine in a lidded coffee cup.
Rule no. 6: If all of the above is too much for you, order delivery that’s good even when cold, and get enough so you can eat it tomorrow.
Like pizza! There are few better breakfasts when it’s 85 degrees by 7 a.m. than cold pizza. Call me crazy, but I also like cold Chinese. Pork fried rice, for instance: It’s nice and crunchy and still good and salty when it’s cold so the flavor lasts.
Hungry for more? Find me on Twitter: @findthathannah