If you can't stand the heat
Having gone weeks without air-conditioning in my kitchen, due to work being done on the exterior of the building, I was very excited to be able to turn it back on.
A warmer kitchen had changed the way I cooked. Except for one meal on a hot day, when I stood over the stove making latkes while a corned beef simmered on a back burner, I was in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. Normally, I love to spend hours preparing a meal. I didn't resort to the obvious mixed green salads (which I rarely eat), but I did find ways to stay cool.
I usually make chickpea dishes using the dried legume, which I soak, then simmer with garlic cloves and a bay leaf. But chickpeas take ages to cook, so in hot weather I resort to the canned variety. With all canned beans, it's important to drain and thoroughly rinse them to remove the canned (sometimes metallic) taste.
Legumes absorb flavour better when they're warm, so after rinsing, put them in a bowl with fresh water, cover with cling- film and heat briefly in the microwave. Drain them again, then mix with the other ingredients. If you intend to serve them cold, add extra seasoning because chilling mutes the flavour.
On the rare occasions I turned on the oven, I tried to cook more than I needed for just one meal, so I could have leftovers; it takes the same amount of cooking time and only a little more effort to roast two chickens than it does one. Roast chicken is almost as delicious cold as it is freshly cooked and there are many ways to dress it up so it doesn't seem like leftovers.
During hot weather, I love cold Japanese noodles - buckwheat or somen - which need only a few minutes to cook (less than most Italian pastas). Because they're served with a chilled dipping sauce, they're very refreshing. It's not difficult to make the sauces from scratch, but the bottled versions - which are concentrated and need to be diluted with cold water - are fine. The noodles need only a little protein (I like cold tofu with grated ginger, minced spring onion, toasted sesame seeds and drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil) and blanched vegetables to make a nutritious meal.
During my days without air-condition- ing, I stopped making cakes and pastries and I've yet to restart. I prefer instead to make frozen desserts - sorbets are more refreshing than ice cream. I also like to serve an easy 'dessert' of a platter of chilled, ripe lychees and cherries.