Ask the Past: summer cooking

It's too hot at the moment for me to want to turn the oven on. Can you recommend any recipes that won't heat my kitchen up?

I have a couple of cookbooks that give a recipe for each day, but when I checked the 18th of January, it seems that they were made of sterner stuff when it comes to having the oven on on a hot day. The Red Cross War-Time Rationing Cookery Book (1943) had this recipe for Wholemeal Chocolate Cake:

1/4 lb dripping, 1/2 lb brown sugar, 3 tablespoons golden syrup, 1 cup milk. Put these on fire in saucepan and warm. 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 cups wholemeal, 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda in 1/2 cup cold milk, 1/2 cup chopped dates, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, vanilla to taste. Mix dry ingredients together, add fruit and nuts, then golden syrup, etc. Finally soda and milk. Beat well, bake in flat deep tin in moderate oven.

Their recipe for the 19th of January might be more what you're looking for, though:

Apples with Mayonnaise. 4 apples, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup stiff mayonnaise dressing, 2 oz (1/2 cup) grated cheese. Grate the apples and mix them at once with the lemon juice; add the mayonnaise and the grated cheese and serve between a slice of white bread and a slice of brown bread, or as a filling for wholemeal scones.

365 Puddings offered up this recipe for Opal Pudding for the 18th of January. It doesn't involve turning the oven on, and unlike most of their puddings, it doesn't involve a multi-hour boil time, so you could say it's their version of a light summer pudding:

2oz sugar, 1oz butter, 3oz currants, 2 1/2oz sago, 1 1/2 pints milk and essence of lemon. Boil milk, then sprinkle in the sago. Simmer for 5 minutes stirring frequently, then add the currants and cook gently until mixture is quite thick. Add butter, flavouring essence, and sugar. Serve with whipped cream or custard.

These are all very well and good, but at some point, you're likely to want something a little bit more substantial, and there is nothing cooler or more refreshing in the summer than a nice salad. The Hostess Cook Book (1952) includes several extremely hearty salads that will do as an entire meal, such as this Chicken and Ham Rainbow Mould (2):

Ingredients: Tomato puree, sugar, mustard, gelatine, ham, peas, chicken, cream or evaporated milk, mayonnaise, nutmeg, salad.

Heat 1 cup undiluted tomato puree and flavour with 1 teasp. sugar, 1 teasp. mixed mustard, and extra salt and pepper if necessary. Add 2 level teasp. gelatine. Remove from heat and stir until dissolved. Add 2 cups minced ham. Pour into the mould. It should fill about one-third of it. If you have pre-decorated the mould, be sure that the tomato and ham mixture is cool before you pour it in.

When this layer has set, tip into the mould enough green peas to fill another quarter of the mould. Heat 1 cup pea liquid and add to it 2 teasp. gelatine. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved, then allow to cool without setting. Pour over the peas. Put away until firm.

Mince enough chicken to make 1 1/2 or 2 cups - depending upon how much room is left in the mould. Add to it 3/4 cup cream or evaporated milk and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Dissolve 3 teasp. gelatine in 1/2 cup boiling water and when the gelatine has completely disolved stir into the chicken mixture. Allow to cool, then pour onto the set pea layer. When firm, turn out and serve with salad.

If that feels like more trouble than you want to go to, then this American Fruit and Cheese Salad might be more what you're looking for:

Ingredients: Mixed fruits, walnuts, bananas, lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise, egg.

Place 3 cups mixed fruits in a basin. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup sliced banana. Toss together.

Place a ring of finely shredded lettuce onto each individual plate and pile some of the fruit mixture in the centres.

Cover with grated cheese then with mayonnaise. Cheese mayonnaise may be used and the grated cheese omitted. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and garnish around with chopped hard-boiled egg.

I'm sure that will help.

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