My weather app claims the predicted temperature today is in the mid-80’s. It’s lying. By mid-afternoon, we’ll be seeing 90+ on the thermometers.
Yes, summertime in La-La-Land, which means perfect weather to swim, but lousy weather to cook in, unless you crank the air conditioner up. Since we still have to eat, even with the weather, we’ve turned to our Instant Pot and our air fryer/toaster oven because those don’t warm the place up as much. Plus, much less oil used to fry things.
I’m still on early days with the air fryer. I’ve figured out the settings for frozen breaded shrimp and tater tots. We’ve even managed some pizza rolls that ended up nice and crispy on the outside, while warm on the inside. The secret? Set the control to air fry, temperature to 400, timer to ten minutes — then watch closely once it goes past five minutes. The moment you start getting really dark spots, turn off and remove. The microwave is quicker, but the air fried version is tastier.
I’m working my way up to General Tso’s Chicken from Basics with Babish because I’ve been craving it. Unfortunately, I have to watch sodium content, which means Chinese food is a rare treat. Unless I cook it myself, so I can control things. Once I’ve mastered basic fried chick in the air fryer, I’ll give his recipe a go. Or maybe I’ll have the husband pick up fried chicken from the story and make his sauce. If you’ve not seen the Binging with Babish YouTube channel, I recommend it. Lots of delicious food, good technical advice, and a few “Seriiously, why am I making this?” videos.
Still, for the summer heat, my favorite meal to cool off is one someone else cooks so my kitchen doesn’t heat up. Since dining out isn’t really feasible at the moment, we order take out once or twice a week. What’s one of our favorites? Pasta from a local spot that’s been there for years. Family run, they make great stuff, and thrive on their take out and delivery business. (If you want to eat in, you have to go early because they have maybe a dozen tables.) Pasta’s a wonderful choice for hot weather. You have a variety of sauces and noodles. Do you want something simple, such as fettucine noodles with a delicate topping of butter and grated parmesan cheese? Or a filled ravioli with cheese, meat, or mushrooms? (Try this mushroom ravioli recipe from Maggiano’s Restaurant.) Even a traditional lasagna can be tasty in a small helping on a hot day. Plus, all of these reheat well, either in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove. Even in summers where we could dine out, we’d often call in an order and it’d arrive by the time we’d pulled together a salad and decided what TV we were going to watch.
What’s your favorite hot weather meal? When the option’s available, do you prefer to cook yourself, go out, or order in? Let me know in the comments, then visit Claire Brett to learn her favorite recipes. Don’t forget, Claire also part of the Once Upon a Twelfth Night anthology, along with A.S. Fenchiel and Christina Alexandra, which will be releasing July 28. Whisk yourself away to a cooler time as the honor of your presence is requested by The Earl and Countess of Stapleton at their house party to celebrate Twelfth Night. Festivities include: a titillating masked ball, ice skating, a romp in the local village, a naughty treasure hunt, midnight kisses in the garden and the Twelfth Night Ball where holiday magic brings about seven perfect matches
Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy.