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Food That's Cool

When it's too hot to cook, especially in the summertime, you may want consider some recipes that require no heat. Cookbook author and teacher Tori Ritchie shares her cool suggestions in The Early Show's Five Minute Cooking School with Williams-Sonoma.

The following are her recipes for Ceviche, Tuna Tartare, Cucumber-Avocado Soup and Panzanella.

Shrimp Ceviche In Cucumber Cups
Perfectly fresh seafood is essential when preparing ceviche. Buy only shrimp displayed on ice and labeled "fresh," rather than "previously frozen." It is always worth asking the fishmonger if you are uncertain.

Ingredients:
2 English (hothouse) cucumbers, each about 1 3/4 inches in diameter
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
Juice of 4 limes
2 Tbs. minced red onion
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. snipped fresh chives, plus 32 pieces fresh chives, each 1 inch long
2 Tbs. minced red bell pepper
2 Tbs. minced yellow bell pepper
2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. sour cream
Paprika for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Peel the cucumbers; then cut them into slices 5/8 inch thick. You should have 16 slices total.
  2. Using a fluted cookie cutter 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cut each cucumber slice to create a slice with fluted edges. Using a melon baller, scoop out a little of the center of each slice to form a well, being careful not to pierce the bottom. Transfer the cucumber cups to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The cucumber cups can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.)
  3. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the shrimp, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, snipped chives, red and yellow bell peppers, ginger, cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper, the salt and black pepper. Stir to mix, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours, stirring from time to time.
  4. Just before serving, transfer the shrimp mixture to a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl to drain off all the liquid. Discard the liquid. Return the shrimp mixture to its original bowl and stir in the sour cream. Fill each cucumber cup with an equal amount of the ceviche.
  5. Garnish each cup with 2 chive pieces and sprinkle with paprika. Arrange on a chilled platter and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Entertaining, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2004).

Tuna Tartare
Here is a beautiful scenario for color-coding: Rosé sparkling wine against the rich red tones of tuna tartare. The oily flesh of the tuna needs just a bit of balancing, which the wine's acidity provides, as it subtly enhances the lemon.

To echo the toastiness of the wine, serve this spicy dish with toasted French bread or with quickly fried pappadams from India. Dependable: dry rosé Champagne or sparkling wine. Daring: off-dry white wine such as Chenin Blanc.

Ingredients:
1 lb. sashimi-quality tuna fillet, preferably big-eye or yellowfin, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
1 1/2 Tbs. minced green or red jalapeño chili, seeded if desired
2 Tbs. finely minced green onion, white and light green portions
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
Kosher or sea salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
1 lemon, quartered

Method:

  1. In a bowl, carefully and gently combine the tuna, red onion, chili, green onion, lemon zest, olive oil and sesame oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Mound the tuna mixture on individual plates and serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).

Cucumber-Avocado Soup With Tomato Salsa
A cool, creamy uncooked puree of cucumber and avocado is accented by a spicy salsa. A purchased fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa, available in the refrigerator cases of most grocery stores, works well, or substitute a favorite recipe of your own.

Ingredients:
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into pieces
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 Tbs. fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. In a food processor, combine the avocado and cucumber and process until smooth. Add the broth, 3 Tbs. of the salsa, the lemon juice, sour cream and green onions and process until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 8 hours.
  2. Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups. Garnish each portion with a dollop of the remaining 2 Tbs. salsa. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Outdoors Series, Picnics and Tailgates, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Time-Life Books, 1998).

Panzanella (Bread Salad)
Tuscans hate to waste a scrap of bread. Panzanella, a bread salad that combines vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and basil with olive oil and vinegar, is one solution for transforming day-old bread into a delicious summer meal. For best results, use chewy, coarse-textured bread.

Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 Tbs. balsamic or red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 to 8 thick slices country-style white bread, torn into bite-size pieces.

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil. Drizzle with the 1/2 cup olive oil and the 3 Tbs. vinegar, season with salt and pepper and toss well.
  2. Place half of the bread in a wide, shallow bowl. Spoon half of the tomato mixture over the bread. Layer the remaining bread on top and then the remaining tomato mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Just before serving, toss the salad and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. If the bread seems dry, add a little oil or vinegar. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.