During the heat wave, instead of popping into a Duane Reade or vacant thrift shop every couple blocks to steal a break in the AC under the guise of “looking for a gift for my friend,” I thought some time Upstate would be nice. Understandably, not everyone is afforded the same gift of a weekend escape and a mom to cook for you. Trust me, I know. Neither the house nor the mom is mine – but just as I borrow them occasionally, you may have them vicariously via this blog post. To top it off, I learned some absolutely DELICIOUS ways to stay cool away from the stove on this trip that I would love to share with you.
After my last post, I wanted to shake things up a bit. Nina graciously invited me into her home Upstate, providing a much needed getaway, and what did I do? I posed a food challenge to her so I could blog about it, of course! And use “blog” as a verb and noun in the same post, apparently.
“The house is at least 30 minutes away from any real grocery store, but you stopped at Fairway in Woodland Park on your way to the house a couple days ago… Nina, cook a whole meal for us using only what you already have in the house and you can’t use the stove or oven!” Well, let me tell you, Nina accepted the challenge with a cool confidence like the professional that she is and an underlying “no holds barred” attitude that I think maybe displays the remnants of having raised three girls who all went through their teens at the same time.
A couple hours later, Nina came up with the menu that I’ve written below. And my favorite, a melon gazpacho is first – the recipe is for you to cherish, try, turn into your own, devour and thank me for not keeping to myself. Second, something I thought was fantastic – smoked potatoes!
Grilled Sausage with Onions and Peppers
Grilled Chicken Paillard
Figs and Prosciutto
Grilled Caesar Salad
English Pea and Cherry Tomato Salad
Cantaloupe Slices and Fresh Raspberries
The Melon Gazpacho
- 1 ripe honeydew melon, 3 lbs. or so
- 1 cup finely chopped shallots or red onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 average sized hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup or a bit more finely chopped mint
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 tbsp. wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. raspberry vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
- optional garnishes: mint sprigs, halved cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of fine olive oil
Peel, seed and roughly chop the melon saving its juices in the process. Puree about 2/3 of the melon in a blender or food processor. Chop the remaining melon into smaller pieces for the soup. Transfer all ingredients into a large bowl. Combine well then refrigerate. Serve very cold after adjusting the seasoning. Garnish, if desired.
The Smoked New Potatoes
Parboil new potatoes till just done. Place on a heavy duty, perforated sheet of aluminum foil. Fold up the sides of the foil to contain the potatoes. Lightly smash, salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place on the grill out of the way of the main action. By the time you’re ready to eat, the potatoes will have taken on some of the smoke and grill flavors.