Eating your supper cold

I'm guessing this particular flat bread is from an Eastern or Southern European tradition. Photo: Mirona Liescu, via Creative Commons, some restrictions.

I’m guessing this particular flat bread is from an Eastern or Southern European tradition. Photo: Mirona Liescu, via Creative Commons, some restrictions.

In the middle of the winter, hot food seems essential–oatmeal rather than Cheerios, soup over salad, and great hunks of coarse-grained bread straight from the oven.

But this is summer. It’s hot. And, this summer, humid.

Reading Lucy’s wonderful post about sourdough bread, I wondered if Lucy has ever tried breaking off small pieces, rolling them out, and simply pan-frying the dough. This is what I do during much of the hottest summer weather. Every culture has some kind of simple fried bread tradition–including, as Lucy points out in her article, the tortilla, and her mother’s pan-baked English muffins.

We’re a bread-on-the-dinner-table kind of family. But baking in this heat (while I await the installation of the range on our screened porch to create a summer kitchen) is unpleasant. So, I mix up some bread dough–white, mixed grain, rye–any type works. If it’s a recipe for four loaves, I divide it into four pieces and freeze each in a separate plastic bag.

About a half hour before cooking, I remove a bag from the freezer and then break off small pieces, rolling each into a thin circle (or whatever shape forms under the rolling pin), and fry in a hot, ungreased cast-iron skillet for a few minutes on each side. (You can use a bit of oil in the pan if you prefer, but I generally fry the dough dry.) If you don’t use all of the dough, it will store in the fridge for 10 days easily–and you don’t have to go through the semi-thawing process.

I like to think that I’m doing what early settlers did when they made Johnny cake from cornmeal–if there was no oven or it was too hot to get a wood-fueled cookstove oven up to temperature, fried bread was a solution. And it tastes really good.

Of course this kind of bread usually accompanies a cold supper of assorted salads, or simply cheese and sliced fresh vegetables.

What’s on your summer table?

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3 Responses to “Eating your supper cold”

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  1. Lucy Martin says:

    Sounds great Ellen. You bet I’ll be trying that.

    Could you double check your Johnny cake from cornmeal link? I want to see what you shared there but I get an “error 404 – not found” message. And how wonderful that you’ll soon enjoy a summer kitchen, that’s a smart way to live with the seasons.

  2. Michael Greer says:

    My mother, and my Grandmother, had a kitchen set up in the basement. During hot weather, the cook went down to where it was always cooler to do those summer cooking chores. Much of the canning was done down there, and a lot of the heat and mess stayed out of the kitchen.

  3. Ellen Rocco says:

    Lucy–Sorry about the bad link. I think I’ve got it fixed now.
    Michael–I always wondered if anyone actually used their cellar for a summer kitchen. I’ve certainly thought about it in the past–the coolest location in the house. Unfortunately, our cellar has a couple of drawbacks–it’s dark (no natural light) and damp, plus there would be a lot of up and down the stairs to get to sinks and foodstuffs being processed. I don’t suppose your mother and grandmother took a picture of the cellar summer kitchen? I’d love to see it.