No matter the heat index, we still have to feed the family. What we want is to make it as painless as possible, yet with satisfying results. Impossible? Here's a little help.
"Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals All Day Long." You may have seen some of the recipes from this compilation by the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living and its popular digest-size magazine, Everyday Food, on its PBS show of the same name, now in its sixth season. They are dishes that were developed with an eye to ease, but also to seasonality and a sense of the consumer's health choices. Chapters run from breakfast to dessert with recipes such as Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Baked Flounder with Roasted Tomatoes, and Fig and Almond Crostata (free-form tart.) Paperback. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. $24.99.
"Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners." Who better to lend a hand in the kitchen than Sara Moulton, our longtime friend from television cooking shows and Gourmet magazine's executive chef for 23 years. I only wish that the recipes had been divided seasonally, as there are some delightful summer recipes, but one has to scout them out. Her "Summer Salad From Paris" -- basically a Caprese with the addition of avocado (who'd have thought!), Cucumber and Tomato Salad With Yogurt and Toasted Cumin Seed Dressing, and Joanne's New and Improved Blueberry Tart are definitely on my list. Hardcover. Simon & Schuster. $35.
BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 4 as main course
8 slices bacon
1/2 baguette (8 ounces) sliced into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound romaine hearts, coarsely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook bacon until crisp. Crumble.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss baguette cubes with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake on rimmed baking sheets until golden brown, rotating baking sheets and tossing croutons halfway through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar and scallions; season with salt and pepper. Add the romaine, tomatoes and croutons; toss to coat with dressing. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve immediately.
--Adapted from "Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast."
Marion Sullivan is culinary programs specialist at the Culinary Institute of Charleston. Send your questions to Booksforcooks@bellsouth.net.