Providing the Independence to Chow Down

July 4th has become the midsummer getaway. It might be a week at the shore or a long weekend in the mountains. But wherever you decide to roost, make sure you've got a lot of good food on hand. It's one of the main attractions of being together away from the daily grind.

Vacation kitchens are usually small in size, not particularly well-equipped and depending on your destination, you may have to bring most of the fixings for meals with you. If anything is perishable, such as jars of mayonnaise and eggs, make sure they're packed in an ice chest. Plan to stock up with fresh local produce at roadside markets and refrigerate everything as soon as you arrive.

Pasta dishes are a wonderful catch-all for vegetables, such as fresh corn, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes and those lovely aromatic spring onions that pack a punch. Or upgrade with quinoa, which contains more protein than any other grain.

Hollandaise sauce, whipped up in the blender, dresses up every vegetable; even a light drizzle elevates microwaved steamed asparagus to a gourmet level. Add handfuls of fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon and mint leaves, to make a green salad sparkle with zesty flavor. Zucchini and tomatoes are abundant summer veggies.

Fresh fruits, eaten out of hand, are a healthy, refreshing dessert. Keep bowls of fruit out in a cool place or in the refrigerator for snacking. Make sure berries and hard fruits, such as peaches are well-washed.

For a cooked dessert, ripe, scented peaches heaped into a baking dish and topped with sugar crusted biscuits makes a yummy peach cobbler.

Quinoa Salad With Corn, Asparagus and Tomatoes


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
kosher salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels
10 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1-2 spring onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3/4 cup snipped parsley, packed
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 cup bottled vinaigrette dressing
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the water, quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until tender and water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.

Add the corn, asparagus, tomatoes, spring onions, parsley and red pepper flakes. Pour the vinaigrette dressing over. Stir gently to mix.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 194; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 27 g; fat, 8 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 115 mg.

Zucchini With Tomatoes


2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup meatless marinara sauce
2 tsps. balsamic vinegar
1 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large deep skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini. Reduce heat to low. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often, or until zucchini and onions are beginning to soften.

Add the tomatoes, marinara sauce, vinegar and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

May make ahead and zap in the microwave to heat through.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 72; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 6 g; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 86 mg.

No-Cook Hollandaise Sauce


Cayenne pepper is very hot … use sparingly.

3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
tiny pinch cayenne pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
11/2 Tbsps. hot lemon juice
2 Tbsps. boiling water

Whirl the egg yolks, salt and cayenne in the blender until pale and thickened, 15 to 20 seconds at high. With the motor at medium speed, add the lemon juice and butter gradually until thoroughly blended, then add the boiling water and blend until smooth. If not using immediately, refrigerate.

To serve, set in a bowl of warm water to soften. Stir well.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Approximate nutrients per tablespoon: calories, 83; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 0 g; fat, 9 g; cholesterol, 74 mg; sodium, 100 mg.

Cooked Hollandaise Sauce


If you prefer that egg yolks are cooked, here's a simple recipe. Use very low heat and stir constantly to prevent eggs from curdling.

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 stick firm cold butter, cut in 1/8 -inch pieces
pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

In a small saucepan, beat together the egg yolks, water and lemon juice. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until yolk mixture begins to bubble at edges.

Stir in the butter, one piece at a time, until melted and sauce is thickened. Add the cayenne and salt to taste and stir well.

Remove from heat. Cover and chill if not using immediately.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Approximate nutrients per tablespoon: calories, 83; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 0 g; fat, 9 g; cholesterol, 74 mg; sodium, 100 mg.

Summer Peach Cobbler

(Dairy or Pareve)

Easy with sugar crusted refrigerated biscuit topping.

8-9 medium peaches, stone removed and sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsps. sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps. fresh grated ginger
1 package (15 oz.) dairy or pareve refrigerated biscuits

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a bowl, place the peaches, lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, flour and ginger. Stir gently to mix. Spoon into a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover with foil.

Bake 30 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly.

Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking time, separate the biscuits and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Remove the baking dish from oven. Place biscuits in one layer on top of the hot peach mixture.

Bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes longer or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 234; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 43 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 394 mg.

Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. E-mail her at: [email protected].



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