The standard cliche is that our desire to eat and to cook is lost during the summer months. That, of course, is nonsense.
Throw some chicken pieces on a grill and barbecue them with a savory sauce, cook some fresh corn and massage it with butter, have some handcrafted salads, cold drinks and frosted melon slices or ice cream on hand. Then bring on some people and watch the food disappear.
It is true that some appetites decline somewhat, sometimes. It is even truer that in the season of bathing suits and tennis costumes, people are very conscious of form and figure and may be counting calories. Therefore, even in the air-conditioned world in which most of us dwell, it is easy for the lazy to cook to invoke heat and humidity as rationaless for being lazy.
In fact, it takes as much effort to turn out a cold poached fish or even a proper macaroni salad for summer dining as it does to make onion soup and cog au vin in the winter. But even by early June heat and humidity make it difficult to formulate a diatriabe against laziness in the kitchen. Instead, let us recognize the inherent right of the cook to stay indoors and cut corners - within the boundary of good taste.
Here are a few recipes - one for beef, two related to salad, a soup and a cold souffle desert - that are relatively quick, simple and taste good. AFLFREDO'S CARPACCIO (Serves 6 or 7)
This recipe by Alfredo Viazzi is one of the most popular dishes at his Trattoria da Alfredo in New York City. It was served recently to a small luncheon group and heartly endorsed. 4 pounds strip sirloin, in one piece, boned and trimmed of all fat[*] 2 egg yolks Juice of 1 lemon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 easpoon white peopper 3/4 cut olive oil 1 teaspon finely chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon 1 teaspoon finely chopped freshly parsley 3 drops hot pepper sauce 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon A-1 sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons catsup
Have the meat well chilled as it will slice more easily. Trim off the tail piece and any remaining fat. Cut steak along its length into 12 or 14 thin slices. Place each slices between pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a wooden mallet until wafer thin. Arange on a platter and refrigerate.
To make the sauce, belnd the egg yolks with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Beat with a wire whisk and stir in olive oil very slowly. When sauce begins to thicken, add the herbs and seasonings. Continue adding oil and beating until sauce reaches a very smooth, thick consistency. (If possible, prepare sauce in a glass bowl with a round bottom, set in a larger bowl filled with ice. This creates a much better texture.
Serve meat (2 slices will cover a plate) with sauce on the side as an appetizer or as a main course with fresh asparagus or a salad.
Note: For those who can't afford steak or don't care to eat meat, the sauce goes very well with artichokes or a medley of cooked vegetables. QUICK SOUP (Serves 4) 1 can chicken gumbo soup 1 cup table cream 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
Simmer all ingredients together the night or morning before serving. Cool. Reheat or serve cold with sliced apple garnished with finely chopped parsley or chives. ANNE MARIE'S 10 MINUTE POTATO SALAD (Serves 4 to 6) 1 pound bacon or 3 slices Canadian bacon 1 can (No. 10) new potatoes 1 small onion or 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped Apple elder vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 teaspoon caraway seeds 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Cook bacon crisp; drain and crumble; keep grease hot. While bacon is cooking, heat potatoes in water until warmed through and chop onion or scallions (white and some of the green only). Quarter potatioes and place in a bowl with bacon and onion. Pour off half of bacon grease. Heat the remainder just short of smoking and pour over potatoes. Quickly add half as much vinegar and the sugar (measure by eye) to the pan. Stir until vinegar sizzles and sugar dissolves.Pour some potatoes and mix. Add salt, pepper, caraway and parsley and mix again. Cover with a dinner plate and let sit for 20 minutes before serving. GREEN GODDESS DRESSING (Makes 2 cups)
his is the recipe used at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic 3 tablespoons chopped anchovies 3 tablespoons chopped chives 1 tablespoon lemon juice 3 tablespoon tarragon vinegar 1/2 cup chopped parsley 1/2 cup sour cream 1 cup mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Serve chilled with artichokes or with a salad COLD LEMON SOUFFLE (Serve 8) 1 envelope unflavored gelation, softeed in 1/4 cup cold water 5 eggs 3/4 fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons) 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 cup whipping cream
Prepare a 1-quart souffle mold by wrapping and tying a 3-inch collar of oiled aluminum foil around the top.
Separate eggs, placing whites in a mixing bowl and yolks in a saucepan. Mix yolks with lemon juice, rind and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook slowly over low heat or in the top of a doubleboiler, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin. Chill until mixture begins to set (watch carefully).
Meanwhile make meringue by beating the egg whites until they are firm, then beating in the remaining 3/4-cup sugar. Next beat the cream stiff.
Use a rubber spatula to transfer the chilled but still unset yolk and sugar mixture to a bowl. Fold in the merigue, then the whipped cream. Pour into mold and chill for at least 3 hours. Decorate with candied violets or rosettes. Before serving, remove collar.