Where for art thou, my bottle of wine? Chilled and light and green, my favorite Pinot Grigio, or perhaps my Portuguese Vino Verde with your tiny, teeny, bubbles of sparkles? I need you for this appetizer.
I need you for this appetizer, which is really dinner on a hot summer’s eve. I need you because you help me relax and enjoy the slowness of the season. I need you because with you I focus on the flowers and not the weeds.
With you I revel on these lazy summer nights where the fastest moving things are the mosquitoes and my dog chasing squirrels out of his territory. Rabbits are no more. Well, there may be two left in hiding. Even they are moving slower these days.
Jeez, I sound like a lush don’t I? But, honestly, I think I only get that bottle one night a week. And it has been so hot, who wants to cook?
Although, in Denver, our last few days have been delightful and have even had a chill in the air. My son tells me he arrived in Sonoma where it is 100 degrees. My daughter tells me today is rainy and hot and humid in Philly – an awful combo if you ask me. And my mom tells me she can’t cook because in Phoenix it is 118. Ouch. My father tried to explain to her that it is not 118 in the house because she has air conditioning and therefore cooking shouldn’t be a problemo, but she says it is just the thought.
Go figure. I’d rather cook in than go out in that heat. Ah – I forget – it is a dry heat.
And me, well, we have a swamp cooler. And frankly it works pretty, pretty good except on those very hot days where the air doesn’t blow to the kitchen. It is situated close to the bedrooms, which makes sleeping good. But on those hot days, cooking can be miserable. So I resort to the picture above. Or the grill. Or, sandwiches anyone?
Luckily, my husband never complains about what he eats; as long as he is fed. He gets crabby without his three meals a day, though he handles usually two of them, and dinner; he takes what he can get. He always looks at the plate above and comments on how nice it looks. He then asks what’s for dinner, thinking I am just being really nice and giving him these great appetizers. I just give him a dirty look and know by the time it is gone he is well satiated, the wine has kicked in and he is more than full.
But what’s for dessert? Not my problem, I tell him.
And so it is on these hot nights. I dare you to give this a try. You can add more cheese, some fruit, a loaf of bread and thou. It is enough. It is good and hits the spot. Just don’t forget the wine. All right already-beer works well, too.
A few notes:
I had a bag of red peppers in my laundry room fridge that froze. They experienced that mysterious cold that comes upon the fridge in darkness and causes pop cans to explode and food to freeze. So I roasted my own which I do when I have time. But for convenience sake – a jar of drained whole red peppers works well, too. If you want to roast yourself just place the entire pepper on a hot gas flame and let each side blacken. Place in plastic bag to steam and when cool, the skin should peel right off.
White beans – I like the little white beans that have a soft texture, not hard. They are almost creamy. You may need to experience with brands. Sometimes they are canellini beans. Sometimes they are Great Northerns. Leftovers taste great with a piece of grilled tuna on top. If there are leftovers…
I love both the white beans and red peppers with goat cheese. And salami or some calabrese on a crostini. And some olives. You could throw in some marinated tomatoes or even some sundrieds. And don’t forget the wine.
Red Peppers Herbs d’ Provence
1 1/2 c roasted red peppers
2 t lemon oil (or use olive oil and 1 t lemon juice)
1 T herbs d’ provence (savory, fennel, basil, thyme and lavender)
1T good balsamic vinegar
1/2 t coarse salt
Combine and let everything marinate at room temperature for about an hour. Serve on crostini with goat cheese.
Rosemary Balsamic White Beans
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t dried red chili flakes
2 t rosemary
2 T chopped Italian parsley
2 T finely chopped onion
Stir all together and let marinate at room temperature for about an hour. See serving suggestions above.