A stewed lamb recipe for the summer

Speaking of summer weather, where weren’t we? I pronounce it “excessively hot and humid”. While that’s not true everywhere, of course, I know plenty of people who would say an emphatic yes when asked, “Hot enough for you?” And emphatically no when asked, “Are you going to cook?” Some don’t even turn on the oven or boil a pot of water from June to October.

My friends, cooking in the heat, in summer or not, is part of being a cook. Kiss him. People all over the world cook daily in hot climates. Even if you do all your cooking outside, you won’t escape without a sweat.

There are strategies for the summer kitchen. Early in the morning, before the day heats up, is a good time to get a head start on dinner. What if you could cook today for tomorrow, in the cool of the evening, perhaps? – so much the better. This month’s menu recipes can all be made a day ahead, but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

It’s hard not to get prosaic when you hit the farmers market right now. Gorgeous fruits and vegetables to die for, bursting with all colors – always be my heart. Fine, fat and shiny aubergines, check! Ripe tomatoes of all sizes—to tears! Green beans and green beans and fresh green beans. Peak berries and stone fruits especially fainted. I’m out of breath. Cook dinner with this kind of tasty transport, indoors or outdoors, today or tomorrow, and how can you lose?

With the aubergines, make a smoky spread, sprinkled with cumin, to spread on flat bread. The first step in the process is fun: you have to burn the eggplant. Place them directly on hot coals or in the flames of the gas burner, turning, until they are completely blackened. The inner flesh will have steamed until soft, then just scrape off the charred skin and mash the tender, smoky innards with aromatics, garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil.

Serve a vibrant tomato salad to accompany. As I learned from a friend in Istanbul, pomegranate molasses, sumac and roasted walnuts really give tomatoes a boost. Or layer warm pita or lavash shards with the smoked eggplant and garnish with tomato, if desired. It’s laid back.

At the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, several stalls sell farm-raised meat as a small supplement. From one, I picked up a boneless shoulder of lamb, which I knew would be braised to perfection if slow-cooked for about three hours. I would either do it in a covered grill over indirect heat or indoors in a slow oven.

Then the plan was to tear the meat into strips and combine it with nice green and wax beans and some of the braising liquor. And to wash it all down with lots of refreshing chopped dill, mint and parsley. It’s such a winning combination that I chopped the same herbs to garnish the eggplant and the tomatoes too, and served it all together.

The dessert of this meal consists of stone fruits, melon and berries. A chopped fruit salad, if you like, or a compote. (Previously, a dish like this was called a Macedonia.) The trick is to do a little more than just macerate the fruit. Instead, dilute some homemade jam with a bit of wine or liqueur so they sit down. You will add very little sugar if you use it all. Serve as fresh. It’s just what you need on a hot summer day or evening, especially if there’s a breeze. That, and another glass of rosé.

Receipts: Tomato Salad with Smoked Eggplant Flatbread | Lamb shoulder stew with green beans | Compote of summer fruits

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