These last few days, I haven’t cooked much. For me, nice weather is the perfect excuse to let hubby light the barbecue when he comes home from work while I pour us drinks and fix a quick apéro. My Latina blood loves this more than I can ever explain, hence the bitching when it’s cold (and it should be HOT).
The only action happening in my kitchen is the making of salads. I love salads, and I’ve probably said that a million times before. Even in the dead of winter, there’s no better lunch than a huge bowl of greens, a little protein and a nice, homemade dressing (I don’t use yucky stuff from a bottle, the ingredients scare me!).
What a difference a week makes! Those who follow me on Instagram may have rolled their eyes a few times after seeing some of my photos complaining about the weather (have I become Dutch or what?!). But how could I not? It felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in at least a month! Okay, okay… maybe I was exaggerating just a tad. All I know is I was not amused with the thick cloud cover, heavy rains and the fact that I was walking around in a bulky sweater!
I started to question whether we would have a summer at all. Kicking myself for putting so much work into a garden I wasn’t even able to enjoy (we renovated a few months ago). And yes, every time someone mentioned or posted a photo of beaches, pools, blue skies or ice cream, I turned just a little bit green. Like the weeds that were abundantly growing in my garden thanks to the damp weather. Or this beautiful mint plant, which isn’t doing too bad either…
Luckily, things are looking better this week, and if I am to believe the weather folks (which I will, for the sake of my sanity), the sun will stay for at least a while longer. Good, because I don’t mind the warmth of the sun against my skin at all. Or the long summer evenings in my garden eating good food and sipping cool wine. Or not having to have carry my umbrella everywhere.
Today we were blessed with a sultry 34C, or as they say in Holland ‘a tropically warm day’ — not so sure about the ‘tropical’ part, I’ve seen hotter when I lived in New Jersey or vacationed in France!
To celebrate (and hydrate !), I made a gorgeous and fresh, non-alcoholic cooler. No sugar, all natural and so refreshing!
This is exactly the type of drink I like to serve when I’m being angelic and laying off the wine. Hey! I’ll be in France next Friday so I’m cutting my liver a little slack for the time being!
This is hardly a recipe if you ask me though, but here’s what I did:
Squeeze two limes into a large glass jug (mine holds about 1 1/2L), add some fresh sprigs of mint, about 250g ripe red & hulled strawberries and 1/2 a cucumber (sliced). Now top with a liter of sparkling mint water (the kind with no sugar or calories, just natural mint aroma). Refrigerate for at least three hours and serve over ice!
So pretty, so easy and so deliciously cooling! Here’s to hotter days! 😀
During the warmer months, salads are not only healthy, but also deliciously refreshing. If you allow yourself to be inspired by nature and use fresh ingredients you will see that the variations in taste, color and texture are as big as your imagination. Served with bread and paired with a good wine, they make the perfect light meal. Pure, fresh and bursting with vitamins!
This salad is truly summer on a plate. The delicate flavor of the baby greens combined with the sweetness of the dressing form the ideal base for the rest of the ingredients: fragrant, crunchy walnuts, crusty bread topped with a creamy layer of grilled goat’s cheese, paper-thin slices of raw ham and as a finishing touch, sunny raspberries.
The salad makes a wonderful, light lunch for two, but you can also offer it as an elegant starter for four. If you serve the salad as a starter to a barbecue, follow it with a grilled leg of lamb and round off the meal with a creamy dessert such a crème brulée dusted with a touch of lavender sugar.
Summer Raspberry & Ham Salad
For 2 people (or 4, as a starter)
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsps walnut oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tsps honey
- fleur de sel
- freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 slices pain de campagne
- 4 petits chèvre doux (soft goat’s cheese)
- 100g mixed baby leaves
- 100g fresh raspberries
- 6 slices raw ham (approximately 60g)
Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl until they emulsify. Roast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until they release their delicious aroma. This usually takes 2-3 minutes. Spread the goat’s cheese on the slices of bread and place them under a hot grill until the cheese begins to bubble and brown in some places. Place the baby leaves in the bowl with the dressing and toss until each leaf is coated with dressing. Divide the salad among two plates and sprinkle with the walnuts. Top with the fresh raspberries and the ham. Cut each warm slice of bread in half and lay both halves on top of the salad. Serve immediately, preferably with a lively, aromatic Sancerre.
I woke up this morning startled by what sounded like a waterfall right outside my window. They had warned us for heavy rains and thunder yesterday, but nothing could have prepared me for the tropical rainstorm that yanked me out of my sleep, turning the skies black and the streets unfriendly. I have the luxury of working from home, but hubby has an hour trip to his office and my teen bikes to school. I was worried silly, though luckily it cleared up on time for them to make their journeys dry. Now I’m only hoping that will also be the case when they return this afternoon. It’s almost July for crying out loud! Someone bring back the summer!
In the meantime, I try to fool myself into believing it’s sunny and warm by cooking ‘summery’ food. Like the delicious potato salad I made yesterday to go with lemon-thyme pork chops and a tomato-basil salad.