Is it hot where you are? It's too hot here, for late spring, so while we're not ready yet for full-on summer cooking with popsicles and watermelon, we're craving bright, fresh, cool foods. Here's a good weekend menu from our friends at Cookstr, gathered from their deep library of chef recipes. There's a crunchy carrot salad, bitter orange ice cream, and a lamb salad that we are seriously craving right now.
Most of this menu comes from Nigella Lawson's cookbooks, and this makes sense to us, since her indulgent yet fresh and improvisational style is welcome this time of year. We have always enjoyed Nigella's recipes when cooking for a crowd, too, and all of these seem well-suited to a weekend lunch with friends.
• Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad, from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia, a really fabulous cookbook on Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine. This salad is a fresh take on the common condiment of pickled carrot and radish. It looks refreshing, cool, crunchy, and a good fusion-style accompaniment to the steak salad.
• Elderflower and Passion Fruit Cooler, from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer. This feels both British and Australian to us, with its elderflower and passion fruit flavors — northern and southern all mixed up in one deliciously cool spritzer. This has no alcohol, so it's a great Sunday lunch drink.
• Bulgur Salad with Pink Seared Lamb, also from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer. It riffs on tabbouleh, but upends the ratio of herbs to grain, and substitutes aromatic cilantro for the parsley. This ties it in with the carrot and daikon salad perfectly. The seared lamb is just enough to make this a hearty lunch dish, and we could also imagine substituting steak.
• Bitter Orange Ice Cream, from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites. This remarkably easy ice cream actually doesn't even call for an ice cream maker — just oranges, confectioners sugar, and cream. Sounds cold and so good.
(Images, clockwise from top left: Joseph DeLeo, Petrina Tinslay, Petrina Tinslay, Francesca Yorke)