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Summer’s Here! My top 10 favorite summer food splurges
By Chef Tim Tibbitts
Jun 21, 2013 - 6:06:03 PM

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As the weather starts to really warm up we start to look for ways to cool down and food is no exception. Summer food is lighter and seems fresh and bright compared to the heavier meals of the winter season. When the mercury starts to approach the red line, these hot season favorites will be a hit around the pool, out on the patio or under a beach umbrella. A couple of these great dishes and a cool breeze is all you need to make a hot, lazy day just about perfect. Here are my picks for the coolest foods to enjoy during the dog days of summer.

10: Snow Cones

Snow cones are brimming with cool flavors and a satisfying crunch. You don't have to be a kid to love them, either. Head to any fair or recreational food court, and you'll see plenty of grown-ups standing in line for a snow cone or Hawaiian ice of their very own. In fact, these summer sweets are so popular that you can pick up crushed or shaved ice makers and syrup through most food supply outlets and make your own at home. And they can have adult flavors as well!

9: Gazpacho

Chilled summer soup is a refreshing option with a sandwich. You eat salad vegetables right out of the fridge; why not go for a flavor-packed refrigerated soup, too? With a few fresh veggies and a food processor, you can create a memorable meal with Latin flare that doesn't contain fat or a lot of sodium. Gazpacho thickened with bread crumbs (the Portuguese way) has a nice broth, and the tomatoes and cucumbers give it just-picked goodness. It's full of nutrients, easy to make and low in calories. What's not to like? We are adding a Spanish style gazpacho to our summer menu featuring a beautiful conch salad garnish!

8: Ice Cream

Summer wouldn't be nearly as nice without ice cream, and your favorite brand will taste even better when you use it in fun and interesting ice cream-based desserts like ice cream sandwiches. Just place your favorite ice cream between 2 large cookies and you’re off to the races! If you have a weekend afternoon to spare, try making your own ice cream concoctions; you'll be a superhero -- cape optional.

7: Grilled Burgers, Brats and Ribs

There's nothing like meat on the grill to make mealtime a summer recreational activity. The griller at your house may not think he's into performance art, but stand back and you're likely to see real showmanship at work.

Be the envy of your neighborhood by expanding your grilling repertoire. Beyond burgers and brats, try grilling your veggies like corn on the cob and even using the warm grill for a few dessert options this year. We love outdoor cooking, not just because al fresco food seems to taste better, but because it keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen, too.

6: Green Salad

Summer is the best time to luxuriate in a big, beautiful green salad. All the ingredients will be fresh, and most of them will probably be available in our local stores. This season, add more variety to your basic dinner salad recipe by using spinach, bitter greens and a variety of colored peppers. The more colors and textures you add, the more interesting and flavorful your simple salad will be. Add fruit or cheeses, different seafood like cold shrimp or scallops, sliced meats like chicken, turkey or roast beef along with hard boiled egg all help make a salad a light, refreshing, but still hearty meal.

5: Chicken

When the temperatures soar, a light entree is the best way to beat the heat. Grilled or fried chicken served cold is a perfect choice, especially if your family is on an unpredictable schedule. To spice it up a bit, try a mustard and tarragon marinade, or go for a citrus-based marinade with lime and cilantro. Keeping it cool on warm, humid summer evenings doesn't mean sacrificing flavor.

4: Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches (BLTs)

We love BLT sandwiches. They're a celebration of salty, smoky and garden fresh flavors all rolled into one. The classic summer BLT relies on very flavorful ingredients, so make sure you have quality bacon and a great tomato going in. I’ve explained before how to make your own bacon like we do here at the restaurant but if you don’t want to wait 5 days for your sandwich then do splurge the little extra on quality bacon.

Seriously, this summer sandwich is even worth growing your own tomatoes for. Another hint: Use thick sliced bacon and potato bread or brioche. Delish.

3: Fresh Fruit

Feasting on sun-kissed fruits served at their peak of freshness is one of the perks of summer dining. You may love chilled half crescents of watermelon, chocolate dipped strawberries, fresh picked blackberries or those first-of-the-season cherries. Whatever your fruit fix of choice happens to be, wash it thoroughly in cold water before you indulge.

2: Fair Food

Although we don’t really have this here in Grand Bahama, if you happen to be traveling through the USA during the summer holidays make sure to pay a visit to a southern county fair.

Come on now, we all have at least one guilty summer food pleasure. An informal poll revealed that county fair food takes the prize for bad-for-you options that are worth the occasional lapse in judgment.

Maybe you have a soft spot in your heart for elephant ears, funnel cakes, pulled pork sandwiches, corn dogs or cheese fries. Does something more exotic stir your taste buds? How about deep-fried Twinkies, or battered and fried butter -- yes, butter. If you must, you must. We won't tell.

1: Corn on the Cob

Before moving back to the Bahamas, we lived in a small agricultural town outside of Toronto. We were fortunate enough to have farms all around to buy some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and without a doubt, the best of these was fresh-off-the stock, sweet corn. Glistening, sweet and fresh, corn on the cob is a side dish worthy of its place on a paper plate. Save a spot for it on your grill this season. Or, be daring and cook it nestled in the coals with the husks still on. Whatever cooking method you choose, corn on the cob slathered in butter is as close as you'll ever get to tasting sunshine in its own convenient carrying case.

So there you have it. My top 10 favorite summer food splurges. I’m sure you have your own favorites and I hope this makes you think back to great childhood memories of summer foods! Remember, there’s more to good food than cooking and eating.

Tim Tibbitts is the chef and owner of Flying Fish Modern Seafood in Freeport Bahamas. Flying Fish is the #1 rated restaurant in the Bahamas on tripadvisor.com. You can see what Flying Fish is all about at www.flyingfishbahamas.com or www.facebook.com/flyingfishmodernseafood and follow Tim on twitter @flyingfishfreep

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Food for Thought - Tim Tibbitts
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