Beginning of my Summer Menu Planning

With summer only being weeks away it’s time to think about what are the flavors and influences of the season. Summer and Fall are probably my favorite seasons to cook. There is so much bounty it can be a daunting task to try to focus in on the flavors that showcase the season best but I have a few things up my sleeve that I am really excited about. 

The first piece is the breakfast. Typically I do a seasonal porridge but with the weather warming up I wanted to do something different. That’s when I thought about a trip to Bali. Breakfast there was good but the thing that really stood out was their fruit bowl. It was chunks of melon, slices of the sweetest banana I have ever had and topped with a tasty granola with a little drizzle of honey. To me not much else screams summer like melons so this will be a perfect way to start the day. Thankfully so many grocery stores are carrying more exotic fruits so getting something fun like Jack Fruit isn’t hard. I will also come up with my own granola type topping that I think might include a puffed whole grain for added crunch so be sure to check back as I am sure it’s to be a good one!

The other piece to my summer planning is seafood. Each season I work with limited meats. Fall was all about pork, winter was all about beef, spring was all about chicken and lamb, so summer is when I work mainly with fish and seafood. Not is this only a nice  accompaniment to all those veggies that will soon be hitting the farmers markets but the light fresh taste of seafood will be great for those hot summer days and thankfully most of the dishes are quick to cook.

The biggest issue I was and to some scale am still having is trying to find great resources for recipes that use fish or seafood as the main component to the dish. Often recipes I look at are too quick, too simple, and overall just uninteresting. Sure there’s a time for a quick pan fried fish or something like shrimp cocktail but I also want something interesting. The irony is that I recently discovered that a cookbook in my collection, that I have never used, could potentially be the answer or at least point me in the right direction.

That cookbook is Jose Garces: The Latin Road Home. When I got the book I had cracked it open but I didn’t take the time to read it and instead just thumbed through the recipes. Nothing was jumping out at me. I just didn’t get how to use this cookbook so it sat untouched on my book shelf since then. I don’t know why but something prompted me to grab the book when I started thinking about new menu plans. So yesterday I gave it another go. Immediately I found something interesting, Braised Rabbit, Shrimp, and Lobster Rice Stew. I have been wanting to work with rabbit for a while now so this piqued my interest.

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After finding something that got me excited I dug into the book even more. I think I counted a half a dozen recipes for ceviche and countless more that use either seafood or fish. This got me even more excited so I dug deeper into the book. What I learned was that the cook book actually has a brilliant layout. It covers Ecuador, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru. He has devoted one chapter to each country and at the beginning of each chapter he offers four menus. The first three menus are designed to serve four and the final menu is designed to be a dinner party completed with multiple courses, desserts, and even cocktails.

Understanding how this book is laid out makes it much more accessible on understanding how to approach each section and how to end up with something that will give me authentic experiences in trying these new cuisines. All in all this seems like the perfect discovery as I venture into the world of fish and seafood. I have yet to cook out of it but as I do I will be sure to share my experience.

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