Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Food

I love summer entertaining. I mean, what's not to like? It's easy, casual and you get to wear shorts. You can even go barefoot and pull your hair back in a ponytail (well, not if you're bald like my husband, Henry. You get my point, however). It also requires nothing more than marinating some chicken in olive oil, rosemary and lemon juice and throwing it on the grill. Top it off with some lemon-pepper-shallot butter (1 stick of butter, juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 chopped shallot, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste) and it becomes really memorable.
Then all you need to do is shuck a few ears of corn, drop them into boiling, salted water, cover the pan, turn off the heat and it's ready whenever you are.
Next? Thickly sliced gorgeous summer tomatoes, seasoned assertively with salt and freshly ground pepper. You can guild the lily if you like, with stuff like fresh basil, olive oil, pesto or fresh mozzarella but none of that is really necessary since your tomatoes are really, really ripe and juicy and can easily stand on their own merit. (Of course, all bets are off if you can get your hands on some fresh burrata, but that's another post, since I just ordered some online today!)
Now all you need is dessert. Here's my solution: I call it Like Watermelon for Chocolate. It's cool, it's refreshing, it requires NO HEAT OR BAKING (essential for summer food) and it's delicious. It's also ridiculously easy.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and invite the neighbors for dinner in the backyard this weekend!

Like Watermelon for Chocolate (adapted from "Verdura" by Viana La Place)
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cognac or brandy
Best quality bittersweet chocolate bar
Place watermelon in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, combine sugar and brandy. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then pour over watermelon. Refrigerate until very, very cold - at least 3 hours.
To serve, use a slotted spoon to place watermelon into individual serving glasses (well, alright, if you are me, you will add some of that good boozy liquid also). Serve with slabs of good chocolate.
Serves 4 (or two, if you live in my house)

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