Our favorite chef, Ro Howe—owner of Barraud Caterers in New York City and a veteran contributor to Women’s Voices for Change—proposes a summer meal, impressive enough to serve to guests, that can be prepared without so much as a glance at the oven. —Ed.
Let’s face it—no one wants to turn on the oven, light the burners, or fire up the grill when hot, humid weather wheedles its way past the protection of tree-shade and water fountain.
So here’s a completely balanced, proud-to-invite-you-to-dinner menu of starch, protein, and vegetables that you can prepare without so much as glancing at the oven.
For the first course I chose a gazpacho. Gazpachos, originally from Spain, are the most wonderful chilled soups made from raw ingredients. The second is a tuna tartare and Asian pear salad with a grapefruit sorbet that “dresses” the salad. The third is a rich, seductive Italian cheese course. And, finally, dessert berries dance with crème fraîche topped with meringue. Though it’s raw, there’s nothing parsimonious about this menu in terms of flavor or texture!
Carrot gazpacho with orange-blossom yogurt
Shiso tuna tartare with Asian pear and grapefruit sorbet
Robiola Bosina with balsamic-dressed radicchio and amaretti
Berries with togarashi meringue and crème fraiche
Shiso Tuna Tartare with Asian Pear and Grapefruit Sorbet
Yield: Six portions
Equipment: medium bowl for tuna, larger bowl for ice, measuring cups and spoons, mandolin slicer, ice cream maker
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons finely minced shallots
1 ½ tablespoons finely minced cilantro
6 tablespoons finely diced mango
1/3 teaspoon togarashi
6 tablespoons finely minced shiso
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ½ pounds grade A tuna in one piece
2 large, unblemished Asian pears, peeled
1 ½ teaspoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup pink grapefruit juice
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons toasted black sesame seeds
Combine oil, shallots, cilantro, mango, togarashi, shiso, and salt and pepper.
Trim the tuna of skin and dark blood line. Carefully slice tuna into ¼ inch dice and place in bowl, placed in another larger bowl filled with ice. Refrigerate, covered, until ready for service.
Using the mandolin, very thinly slice the peeled pear. Brush lightly with sesame and olive oils.
For the sorbet, combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar, and corn syrup.
Chill for an hour till very cold. Pour into ice cream maker and churn. Place sorbet container in freezer to chill, ready for churned sorbet.
Combine the tuna with the herbed oil gently. Taste for seasoning.
To assemble, place a slice of Asian pear on the plate. Neatly spoon one sixth of the tuna on top. Cover with another slice of pear. Complete the remaining plates.
Place a small scoop of sorbet on top of the Asian pear. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Yield: Ten portions
Equipment: Two medium mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, small hand whisk, standing mixer with wire whip, rubber spatula, small sheet tray, tinfoil, metal spatula
1 pint of strawberries, washed, dried, and quartered
2 half pints raspberries
1 half pint blueberries, stemmed and washed
1 half pint blackberries
¼ cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
2 cups whipped crème fraîche
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartare
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon togarashi powder
Combine the berries in a large bowl. Add Grand Marnier.
Whip the crème fraîche to stiffen a bit.
Combine the egg whites and cream of tartare. Combine togarashi and sugar.
Line a sheet tray with tinfoil.
Whip egg whites to soft peak. Sprinkle in sugar and whip to stiff. Place in piping bag with floral tip. Pipe onto sheet tray.
Gently brûlée with torch.
To serve, place crème fraîche in the bottom of the plate or bowl. Top with berries.
Release meringue and place one atop each bowl of berries.
Chilled food, chilled wine, and happily chilled you!