Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"It's too hot to cook" Recipe #1: Rustic Cucumber Sandwich

Well folks, it's hot down here in San Antonio. I mean really, really hot. Like, 103 degree heat midday kinda hot. It is hot first thing in the morning, after the sun goes down, and it even stays hot long into the night.

This is the kind of heat that induces sleepless nights, grumpy spouses, and pit-stained t-shirts. Many of you know how it feels... after a long day at an air-conditioned desk you come home from work, and in the 15 yard span between parking in front of your building and making it into the air conditioning of your apartment, you break out into not just light brow perspiration, but actual hard core upper lip and drip-down-the-neck sweat. Your pits are soaked through. Even your legs are dewy in the heat. You open your apartment door, lock it behind you, and immediately disrobe into your skivvies. The only thing you can think is "less clothing, now!" So you strip and go stand in front of your air conditioning vent. All this after only 20 seconds outside.

Needless to say, this kind of heat does not inspired cooking. Using the oven makes the house too warm. Standing in front of a gas stove would feel like standing in front of the fiery gates to hell. Even using a microwave means eating something that could potentially raise your core temperature by a degrees, and that would be a disasters. In times like these, we must resort to simple, refreshing, minimal heat meals.

Thus I introduce to you the first recipe in an installment of "It's too hot to cook" recipes - the Rustic Cucumber Sandwich. The sandwich is simple, it hardly needs a recipe, but it is valuable because it meets my criteria for a simple hot-weather meal. It is satisfying due to the thick, hearty bread. It is refreshing thanks to the crisp cucumber. It includes the basic nutritional elements needed to satisfy, including carbs in the bread and protein and fat in the cream cheese. Best of all, it utilizes the bounty caused by the summer heat - one of the summer's redeeming qualities - by drawing upon the produce of your garden. The bed of cucumbers and pot of dill never looked so appetizing.

Like any good sandwich, the foundation is based on good bread. I like to buy ours from a local bakery called Broadway Daily Bread because it is dense, chewy, and moist. This bread sticks together without crumbs, and also sticks in the belly. You can experiment with bread per your tastes. I imagine a wheat would make this all the more rustic, and you might even be so bold as to opt for sourdough or rye. No matter the bread, endure a moment of culinary heat by toasting the bread. As it toasts, fine slice a cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze a lemon on the slices, sprinkle with chopped dill, and toss. When the bread is slightly cooled, spread both sides generously with cream cheese and arrange cucumber slices neatly on bread. Squish together, cut lengthwise, and serve.

Hey, there is a reason people use the phrase "cool as a cucumber" and on these hot days of summer, cool as a cucumber is what I want to be.

1 comment:

Samwar said...

A nice cold tuna salad sandwich also does the trick, maybe that can be recipe number 2!