Summers in France are very different from the summers I grew up with in Estonia. There is more sun, for one thing, temperatures can go up to 40°C and the air is dry. There is no relief in the wind or shade, as the heat really consumes it all. I'm sure on the coast it's different but west from Paris, where we live, it can get challenging. Summers in Estonia are cooler. There is sun and warmth but there is also breeze and summer rain, a wonderful thing on a warm day. The temperatures usually stay in the mid twenties and in case they do spike higher, we always have the sea. I grew up by the seaside and spent all my summers on an island, so the sea and summer really go hand in hand for me. Each summer in France I feel that I wasn't made for this kind of heat. And as we don't have the sea nearby, we have to get creative with cooling down. So here are some of my favorite summer recipes for those hot days when I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. They are easy to make, don't require any (or almost any) heat and are great for cooling down. There isn't a summer without theses dishes in our family.
Cold beetroot soup
This is a very quick and easy soup, as there is no actual cooking involved. Just the matter of blitzing everything together. The tangy-sweet flavor combination comes from my mother's borscht recipe. The sweetness of beetroot, tang from the balsamic vinegar and spice from black pepper - the combination really makes this soup. It's a hit with all our smaller and bigger family members and a tested way to get food on the table fast. Perfect on a hot day to cool down.
500g beetroot (boiled and chilled)
1,5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A sprinkle of black pepper (more if preferred)
100ml of water (boiled through and chilled)
Roughly chop the beetroot. Add all the ingredients in the blender and blitz away. If the texture is a bit too thick for your liking then add a bit more water. Put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before serving. Crème fraîche and thyme are optional.
Summery potato salad
A summer essential, either as a side dish or the main event. My potato salad is much more constructed then the traditional Estonian potato salad where all the ingredients are neatly chopped and drowned in sour cream. It's hard to give the precise quantities of the ingredients, as I usually make a big bowl enough to feed an army. So I'm just going to list the ingredients that I usually use.
Potatoes (boiled, I usually leave the skins on, and covered in lots of butter and fresh dill when still hot)
Shallots or red onions (seared in olive oil until softened a bit, around 5 minutes)
Boiled eggs (6 minute eggs are just right for me)
For the dressing :
Garlic powder or fresh garlic chopped finely
Biscuit layer cake
No heat or baking required, just a matter of layering and putting in the fridge. I make this cake every summer around Midsummer. It's a quintessential part of my summers, although it's easy enough to make any time of the year.
Ingredients : (5 biscuits make 1 individual cake or portion, you can combine as many as you like)
5 butter biscuits per portion
Strong coffee (chilled)
Soak a biscuit in cold coffee, not too much or it will dissolve, and place on a plate. On top of the biscuit spoon a layer of crème fraîche and repeat until you have as many layers as desired. Once done, put it in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Serve straight form the fridge, accompanied by fresh berries or some melted dark chocolate.