Serious Entertaining »

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: When It's Too Hot To Turn On Your Stove or Oven

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[Photograph of oven: Robyn Lee; all others: Carrie Vasios]

It's the middle of summer and you've invited friends over for dinner. Implied in this invitation was the promise of food, and, even worse, food that you've cooked yourself. A quick dial for pizza will probably be looked at with nothing less than scorn, and while you briefly consider trying to pass off the "good old college days theme" you realize your friends are probably too smart for that. (Note to self: Get scrubbier friends.)

So you've watched the thermometer creep up all day, silently begging it to start its decent, wondering if you can turn on your oven without turning your apartment into the hottest level of hell. During a quick attempt at preheating you actually slide off the kitchen stool while your dog shoots you a look that says, "Good God. Give it up already."

Well, problem solved. Here is an entire menu made sans stove or oven.

Spicy Summer Gazpacho

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This soup is extremely simple to make: just blitz ripe summer tomatoes in the food processor with red peppers, onion, and garlic. Add some cumin and Worcestershire sauce for subtle smokiness and a squeeze of lime juice to cut against the olive oil. This gazpacho is spicy, but it's the type of heat that builds over time. The key? Pickled jalapeños. While you can substitute fresh jalapeños, the pickling juice adds acid and lifts the flavor of the soup.

Tuna Avocado Tartare

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This dish is halfway between a tartare and a ceviche. Fresh tuna is lightly cured in lime juice and mixed with creamy avocado, red onion, and cilantro. Don't leave out the capers—they provide a pop of flavor.

Lime Mint Granita

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Another kitchen appliance you don't need for this dessert? An ice cream maker. Simply by scraping a mint and lime infused simple syrup as it freezes, you can produce this flaky, icy granita. The flavors in this dessert are perfect for a hot day: cooling mint and refreshing lime.

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