Friday, October 3, 2008

Like a Heatwave

Yesterday it was unbearably hot. The temperature was in the mid nineties all day but felt more like a hundred. What's going on? It's already October!

Extremely hot weather always seems to diminish my appetite. I don't feel like eating anything heavy. The thought of cooking over a hot stove may sound nice when it's cold and dark outside but yesterday felt like August in Death Valley-inside the house as well as outside. We needed something simple and light.

I've always liked the concept of making a meal out of several small plates. Eastern Mediterranean cultures have meze, the Spanish have their tapas, the Japanese have izakaya, in Hawaii they serve pupus and so on. Most of the savory small plates that comprise these ways of eating are traditionally served with drinks but can also be served as stand alone appetizers or more often here in L.A. these days, are combined and shared to make up a whole communal meal. What's nice about this style of eating is that it's casual, not confined to courses and you get a taste of everything. Go back for seconds of your favorites or order another plate. Have some of this and some of that, have a bit to drink and eat a little more. Our Christmas eve tradition is to start with a nice breakfast then pull out all the stops and get right to work cooking little dishes of our favorites and eat them all day into the night, something I look forward to all year. Sorry, I got off on a tangent... back to last night's dinner.

Cannellini Bean Salad

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

Pasta with Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Olive Oil and Toasted Garlic

I wouldn't really define last nights dinner as any of the above ways of eating (alchohol wasn't included and there wasn't a lot of variety) but if it had anything in common, it was made out of three small light dishes. The first was a refreshing cannellini bean salad dressed with olive oil and lime juice. The second dish was brussel sprouts with red onion and pancetta (a dish I copied from a local Italian restaurant) and the filler was pasta with shrimp, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil and toasted garlic. It was light, that's for sure. The flavors where more summer like than fall but felt appropriate for our hot weather. At least I didn't sweat through dinner.

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