A no-sweat menu for August

August 6, 2013

An invitation to dine entails a pact of sorts. You, the host, offer to properly nourish your guests; they, lucky things, get to show up and adore you for your labors. Nowhere in this social contract does it say you, the host, need to work up a sweat.

Here’s a summer menu that’s sufficiently impressive without requiring any actual cooking, meaning no heating up the kitchen. Start with a smoked trout pâté. Creme fraiche and cream cheese give the spread its requisite richness, while marinated cucumber strips add crunch and tang. A spicy, saladlike garnish of crab and corn adds interest to each bite of a creamy, chilled avocado soup.

The entree is built upon a store-bought rotisserie bird: Dice the chicken, add white beans, fennel and arugula. Tomato aspic — a preparation in which the fruit’s juices become a savory gelatin — provides a retro twist. Finish the meal with a classic icebox cake layered with sophistication. Lemon and blueberry flavor the tiers of cream built on an easy graham cracker base.

Hey, you’re still the one who put it all together. So accolades will be earned the honest way.

Cookbook author and food writer Rosenfeld answers culinary questions at www.cookangel.com. He will join today’s Free Range chat at noon: live.washingtonpost.com.

This is our third annual no-cook issue. All the recipes you’ll find today in print and online at washingtonpost.com/food can be accomplished without the stove or microwave. For more no-cook recipes, visit our Recipe Finder.

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