Keeping the Summer Alive with Warm Weather Cuisines
Once September hits, it can feel like fall is quickly approaching, even with weeks of summer left. While we love our sweet stewed apples, roasted butternut squash and warm skillet pies, we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer sun. On the tail end of the dog days (pun intended!), we’re keeping summer alive in our kitchen with warm weather foods from around the world. Here’s how we invoke global south cuisine right here in Chicagoland.
The American South
Before jetsetting south of the border, let’s explore what foods our friends in the southern regions of the U.S. serve. One of the first dishes that comes to mind is the classic “chicken and waffles.” Though there’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not its origins are truly southern, no one can deny that it’s now a staple of the South. Our occasional twist on the dish? We serve the fried chicken in a waffle cone—tasty and portable. For classic, handheld southern chicken minus the cake, paper cones work too. We like to put the accompanying sauces in pipettes, which makes it easy to dress each and every bite. Rounding out our tour of the American south is a must-have dish for barbecues and all other summer celebrations: a creamy, crunchy, irresistible side of mac and cheese. We like to serve ours in individual mini skillets—an extra “country” touch.
¡Hola! Our southern continental neighbors enjoy what we would call “summer weather” for much of the year. While their cuisine is just as varied as that of the U.S., it’s built around the vibrant produce native to the landscape, and the hot, zesty flavors of Mexico’s spices and chilies. When we think Mexican, we think of America’s favorite adopted dish: the taco. Instead of full-size tacos, we often prefer serving minis for hors d’oeuvres. It’s the perfect bite! The crunch of the shell contrasts beautifully with the crema, cotija or avocado topping. We craft a fresh, makeshift mini taco holder from a zucchini. With mini margaritas garnished with salt and lime, our display looks summer-certified!
Does anything sound dreamier than a summer in Italy? The beaches of Amalfi, the villas of Tuscany and all the Mediterranean food we could ask for. To celebrate summer weather Italian-style, we’re thinking past pizza and pasta (though we love those dishes dearly, too). Instead of filling up on dough-based entrees during the main course, we like to serve bready bites for hors d’oeuvres. Our heirloom tomato tart encapsulates this destination—Italy introduced the rest of the world to the “pomodoro,” or “golden apple.” Each tart has a dollop of creamy goat cheese, another cultural must-have. Garnished with thin strips of fresh basil leaves, it almost resembles the Italian flag.