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Serve cold plates when it seems too hot to cook

 

Last updated 8/14/2008 at Noon



Even the most passionate of cooks may want a break from cooking full meals when the weather is hot, sticky, muggy and otherwise uncomfortable. The very thought of turning on the oven late afternoon is almost repugnant. It also borders on being unconscious of the area’s energy needs, too.

So, don’t cook!

Consider one of these three cold plates where the “cooking” is minimal. Everyone will eat well, and maybe feel better with lighter fare… plus, clean-up is minimal.

These three menus can be just a starting point. Feel welcome to substitute menu items that you may have on hand or that appeal more directly to your taste buds.

In creating a “cold plate” remember that we “eat with our eyes first.” So, you’ll want to consider combinations that have contrasting flavors, colors, textures, and shapes.

You may also consider not assembling the plates for each person. These all serve up well as buffets… sometimes a wonderful way to serve family meals, as it allows the maximum freedom of choice for all.

Light and lovely, this fruit and dairy plate is nourishing and yet simple. Make the shortcakes in the morning, cool and keep in a tightly closed container until evening. The pretzels or pretzel rolls add a salty contrast to the sweet fruit.

Land of Milk and Honey

Fruit Plate

Scoop of Cottage Cheese in Wedge of Cantalope, Mint leaf garnish

Small bowl of 2% yogurt or Greek-style Yogurt with honey served with Blueberries and Raspberries

Clumps of seedless red grapes

Fat Pretzel sticks or Pretzel-style rolls with unsalted butter

Cinnamon Shortcakes drizzled with caramel, sliced strawberry garnish, frozen topping or whipped cream

Cinnamon Shortbread

2 ½ cups biscuit mix

2 tbsp. cinnamon

¼ cup sugar

½ cup whole milk or cream

¼ cup butter, melted and

cooled slightly

Stir biscuit mix, cinnamon and sugar together with a fork. Add milk and cooled butter and stir just until soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls (about 6 or 7) onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 425-degree oven about 10 minutes or just until golden brown.

Remove to cooling rack.

Just before serving, split each shortcake and warm in toaster-style oven or broiler just to warm through, about 2-3 minutes. Top shortcakes with berries and garnish with frozen topping or whipped cream.

Canned vegetables make short work of this tasty main dish salad. It is prepared on a flat platter and is easily served family-style or on a buffet. The vanilla sauce starts with a packaged mix for pudding, thinned a bit with fresh vanilla adding a welcome flavor note.

Mediterranean-inspired Special

Easy Salad Nicoise

French-style bread

Sliced Tomatoes with bottled pesto sauce

Mixed Berries with Vanilla sauce

Easy Salad Nicoise

2 cans tuna, drained

1 can potatoes, drained

1 can green beans, drained

½ cup oil and vinegar or balsamic vinegar dressing

¼ cup minced herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives, thyme)

½ lb. cooked ham, cut julienne

4 hard-cooked eggs, halved

Boston lettuce, washed and drained

½ jar roasted red peppers

½ green pepper, optional

Drain tuna and chill. Drain potatoes and cut into slices into medium bowl. Drain beans and add to bowl. Drizzle with oil and vinegar dressing and marinate in refrigerator.

Just before serving, line serving platter with lettuce. Spoon tuna onto lettuce. Take potatoes and beans from dressing with slotted spoon (reserving dressing) and arrange on top of lettuce. Sprinkle ham over all. Cut eggs into halves and place around platter. Cut red peppers into pieces and sprinkle over salad along with green pepper, if using. Combine herbs with reserved dressing and drizzle over salad. Serves 6.

Vanilla Sauce: Prepare small package vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix according to package directions using 2 ½ cups milk and adding ½ tsp. vanilla. When cooked, turn into small bowl and cover surface with waxed paper. Cool slightly before serving over mixed berries. Or, chill and serve over mixed berries.

Visit the deli department of Major Market for the beginnings of this International Sampler. Then, whip up two vegetable additions and this no-cook dinner is ready.

International Sampler

3 varieties of sausage

Swiss, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese

2 cans German-style potato salad

Marinated Cucumbers

Cherry tomatoes in Herb sauce

Crusty Italian bread

Pesto sauce

Cheesecake and chocolate sauce

Marinated Cucumbers

2 medium cucumbers

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. water

Using a vegetable peeler, peel cucumbers very lightly, leaving a thin layer of light green on the cucumber. Slice thinly into a bowl. Toss with salt. Allow to stand at room temperature l hour, turning mixture with spoon two or three times. Turn into colander or strainer. Rinse well. Drain well. Turn into bowl. Add vinegar and water. Stir gently. Chill at least 2 hours. To serve, remove from liquid with slotted spoon. Serves 4-6.

Cherry tomatoes

in Dill Sauce

2 pints cherry tomatoes, washed and dried

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp. tarragon vinegar

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tbsp. fresh minced dill

Prepare tomatoes. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon and dill and mix well. Refrigerate until just before serving.

To serve, cut tomatoes in half. Place in shallow bowl. Turn sour cream mixture out onto tomatoes and mix gently just to coat tomatoes with sour cream mixture. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

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