Not Cooking for Summer

Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and great relaxers. At the end of a long day nothing feels better to me than getting in the kitchen and throwing together some food. However, after Chicago’s long stretch of hundred degree plus weather, I discovered a new favorite for summer: not cooking. Instead I turned to fresh and tasty summer staples that almost never required me to turn on the stove. These dishes are some of my summer favorites, that really pop with a couple of small additions. 

First up: deviled eggs. Okay, so this is the only dish that will require you to turn on the stove, but only to boil eggs.  Aside from the requisite mayo and mustard, my deviled eggs usually include a dash of pickle juice. This briny addition, cuts through the richness of the egg yolk and mayo, and brightens the flavor. Another favorite addition is topping them with smoked paprika. Whether sweet or hot, it gives the eggs a barbeque-y  flavor, that really amps up the addictiveness of these little egg bites.

My next summer staple is caprese salad. Nothing is more refreshing than this simple dish of  tomatoes slices, healthy handfuls of basil, and fresh mozzarella, dressed with a nice balsamic and olive oil,( check out Oldtown Oil). In this case, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt are the perfect accents to this, and really any, salad. I like to add Maldon salt, for its lovely crystal flakes, and Black Hawaiian sea salt, for contrast and nice mineral crunch. These give the salad great flavor and texture, that pair wonderfully with its fresh ingredients.

The last dish to complete my summer meal is a ham and cheese sandwich. The beauty of sandwiches is that you can make them however you like. But whatever you decide to put on your sandwich, I highly recommend adding some Vulcan Fire Salt mayo. A smear of this spicy, garlicky spread is great punch of spice that makes a simple sandwich anything but.

These dishes are perfect for travelling, so pack them up for an end of summer picnic, or just anytime.

Happy not cooking!


Deviled Eggs

3 hardboiled eggs

1 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons mustard

1 tablespoon pickle juice

Ground white pepper and salt to taste

Smoked Spanish paprika

Halve the boiled eggs and carefully remove the yolks to a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth and creamy. Spoon the yolk mixture back in the egg whites. Top liberally with smoked paprika. Chill until serving.

Caprese Salad

1-2 medium ripe tomatoes

1 ball fresh mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves, about 1 cup

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella ball to approximately ¼ inch thickness. On a plate, arrange the slices alternating mozzarella and tomato. In between the slices of tomato and cheese, place about 5 or 6 basil leaves. Tear up any excess leaves and sprinkle across the top of the salad. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with salt and pepper.

Vulcan Mayonnaise

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, crushed

1-2 teaspoons Vulcan Fire salt

Lemon juice to taste

In a bowl combine mayonnaise, garlic, Fire salt and lemon. Mix until well combined. Let chill for an hour or so to let the flavors combine.

Caution: The Vulcan Fire Salt is salty and spicy. I typically recommend adding a small amount first, tasting, and then adding more until you get the right heat and saltiness for you.


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