Boycotting a Hot Kitchen: Chill Out Summer Recipes

Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM

It’s pretty much a given that the long, sunny (and downright hot) days of summer don’t quite put you in the mood for cranking up the oven for hours to make a pot roast or beef stew. Moreover, who wants to cut short an afternoon fishing on the Mesa or floating down the Colorado to come home and stand over a hot stove?

Boycotting the kitchen from Memorial Day to Labor Day is perfectly understandable.

On the other hand, an entire meal of cold food, while convenient, is not terribly exciting. If you’re having a couple of friends over sometime in say, late July, keep in mind that grilled hot dogs and macaroni salad likely lost their appeal weeks ago. And you can’t bring yourself to lug home yet another watermelon from the market.

And let’s not even mention zucchini.

With a modicum of effort, you can take advantage of the abundance of local produce here in the Grand Valley (or perhaps even your back yard!) and put forth a meal that will make the summer shine, as well as taking everyone’s mind off peaches with a hint of off-season fruit in the Peartini.

Some advance prep work is the key to this hot-weather meal, which starts with a zingy cocktail based on homemade pear vodka. (You can substitute a brand-name vodka if you didn’t think of this last week.) An assortment of purchased olives makes a fine accompaniment.

We love Grilled Olathe Corn Pudding with Poblano Peppers and Asiago served warm or at room temperature, but it’s good cold if you want to do everything way in advance. Alongside, serve a platter of sliced local tomatoes with a sprinkling of fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, some French bread, and finish everything off with our twist on a summer classic, Mint-Basil Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Consider it a celebration of the summer and the sweltering days we’ll be longing for soon enough!

JENNY KELLNER

JENNY KELLNER

PEARTINI - Makes four

PEAR-INFUSED VODKA (Prepare in advance)

  • 5-6 pretty ripe pears, peeled and cut into chunks

  • A fifth of decent vodka

Put the pear chunks in a clean, wide-mouth glass jar, fill with vodka and cover. Put it in the fridge for up to a week, shaking it up every now and then. When you run out of patience, strain the vodka through a coffee filter into another vessel. Afterward, puree the boozy pears in a food processor or blender.

ASSEMBLE THE COCKTAIL

  • 4 tablespoons of the boozy pear puree from the pear-infused vodka or pear puree

  • 6 ounces of the pear-infused vodka or pear-flavored vodka

  • 6 ounces elderflower liqueur, such as Bols or St. Germain

  • Prosecco or other sparkling wine 4 slices of pear, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, shake together the pear puree, vodka and elderflower liqueur. Strain into well-chilled martini glasses. Float some Prosecco on top and garnish with a pear slice.

GRILLED OLATHE CORN PUDDING WITH POBLANO PEPPERS AND ASIAGO - Serves four

JENNY KELLNER

JENNY KELLNER

  • 6 ears of fresh young Olathe corn, enough for about two cups off the cob

  • 3 poblano peppers

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted 2 rounded teaspoons flour

  • 2 big pinches sea salt

  • 4 tablespoons Asiago cheese, shredded

  • A few fresh grinds of pepper

Turn on the grill and roast the corn and the peppers for five to seven minutes, turning occasionally, until the corn has a bit of char and the peppers are nicely charred all over. Remove the veggies and set the corn aside to cool; place the peppers in a paper bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, let sit for 10 minutes, then skin and seed. You can do all this ahead of time.

When you’re ready, heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with a bit of the melted butter. Finely chop the peppers and scrape the kernels off the corn into a large bowl. Add the peppers and remaining ingredients to the corn and pour into the baking dish.

Place that dish into a slightly larger pan with enough water in it to to touch the side of the baking dish. Carefully place in the oven and bake for a half-hour; check to see if the center is almost set. If not, bake a few minutes more.

Let it cool and serve.

JENNY KELLNER

JENNY KELLNER

MINT/BASIL CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM - Makes 1 quart

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate chopped into bits, or use semi-sweet chips

Warm the milk in a saucepan, and when bubbles gently form on the side, add the basil and the mint leaves. Turn off the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes or so. I don’t think longer would hurt, but I’ve never had the patience to wait!

When ready, strain the basil-mint milk through a sieve into a small bowl, squeezing any remaining liquid out of the leaves. Return the milk to the saucepan and reheat along with one cup of the heavy cream.

Meanwhile, beat the sugar and the egg yolks together. Take 1/2 cup of the hot basil-mint milk/cream from the saucepan and temper the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add the tempered yolks to the saucepan along with the remaining cup of heavy cream.

Heat over a medium flame for three to five minutes, stirring/whisking all the while and being careful not to let it boil. When the custard coats the back of a spoon, remove from the heat and pour into a chilled metal bowl. Refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably more, until completely cold.

Freeze according to your ice-cream maker’s directions, adding the chocolate bits or chips at the end. Scrape into a freezable container, press wax paper or plastic wrap onto the surface, cover and freeze for two hours before serving.

Serve in cute bowls with a sprig of mint, basil or both.

Mint-Basil Chocolate Chip Ice Cream comes from the book Ice Cream and Friends (2017, Ten Speed Press).

Other recipes were published online by Food52.com — (Peartini in 2012; Corn Pudding with Poblano Peppers in 2011).