We may have a few more weeks of trench coats and umbrellas to deal with, but tonight we'll be serving summer for dinner, thanks to Katie Lee's new cookbook, Endless Summer ($18; amazon.com). The book is the third for Lee, who also co-hosts The Food Network's The Kitchen, and is definitely our favorite. Maybe it's because we just made it through a harsh New York winter, but cracking open Endless Summer feels like throwing open the windows and letting the sunshine pour in.
"Doesn't the smell of the grill just instantly make you think of summer?" —@KatieLeeKitchen
The cookbook is an ode to the season—especially in her adopted seaside town. "For me, there is no greater place to be in the summer than the Hamptons," Lee writes in the book's introduction. "The area is special all year long, but summer is my ultimate."
Lee filled her book with summertime staples that are so redolent of the season that you can almost feel the sea salt drying on your skin as you page through them. Lobster reubens, tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo, pizza straight from the grill, blueberry daiquiris, watermelon lemonade popsicles—we're ready to slather on the sunscreen, light up the grill, and dip our toes into Lee's Endless Summer.
Read on for our interview with Lee and for her satisfyingly delicious Chinese Chicken Salad recipe.
What meal instantly evokes "summer" to you?Doesn't the smell of the grill just instantly make you think summer? I like a simple summer supper, with grilled meat and veggies. One of my favorites is my recipe for grilled hangar steaks with jalapeño butter, corn on the cob (I dress mine up with a slathering of homemade green goddess dressing and grated Parmesan), sliced tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and a big green salad. For dessert, my peach blueberry skillet cobbler.
What food trend are you currently embracing?I'm trying to embrace matcha powder. It's so healthy but I don't love the flavor, so I am trying to learn to like it. Maybe it's an acquired taste? I made cookies on "The Kitchen" with matcha icing and I'm actually drinking the tea as I do this interview.
What's your favorite breakfast recipe to serve weekend guests you're hosting?My friends are obsessed with my blender pancakes. They are so insanely easy and delicious. It's just one cup oats, one cup cottage cheese, and two eggs in the blender. I pour it right from the blender onto the griddle. I like serving them with mixed berries and I make a big pot of coffee to fuel a long "coffee talk" session.
What's the first sign of "summer's here!" in the Hamptons?Traffic! When Route 27 is bumper to bumper and horns start honking, I know it's summer. There is a year round community in the Hamptons, but for the most part, it is a summer vacation town. I don't necessarily mind the crowds though, it's kind of fun watching everything come back to life and the excitement of summer arriving. All of the farm stands re-open and there is a buzz in the air.
What do you like to wear when you cook?I am all about comfort in the kitchen when I am cooking. Honestly, I'm usually in a T-shirt and cutoffs or sweatpants and sneakers, since I am standing up for long periods of time. If I am entertaining, I get as much done in advance as possible and then allow myself an hour before guests arrive to get ready. I don't wear white or light colors that would show if a sauce splashed and no bell sleeves that might get in the way. I usually steer clear of teetering high heels and opt for a wedge instead. I always say that I like my fashion like my food—casual, comfortable, and a touch of couture.
Katie Lee's Chinese Chicken Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
Chef's Note: "The dressing for this salad makes me think of a restaurant that I worked at in college, Kona Bistro, in Oxford, Ohio. We served what we called a Thai chicken salad, but the dressing was made with hoisin sauce, which is Chinese, so go figure. I make this version (which takes inspiration for Wolfgang Puck’s ultimate Chinese chicken salad) on hot summer days, and its crunchy vegetables are so satisfying and hydrating in the heat."
For the Salad:
Breast meat of 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken½ small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise½ small head iceberg lettuce, shredded1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise2 cups (about 4 ounces) bean sprouts1 (8-ounce/227-g) can sliced water chestnuts, coarsely chopped6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced½ cup (30 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves1 cup (55 g) crispy chow mein noodles½ cup (75 g) roasted unsalted soybeans or peanuts1 large navel orangeSalt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Dressing:
2 tbsp fresh orange juice2 tbsp hoisin sauce2 tbsp rice vinegar1 small clove garlic, grated1 tsp grated peeled ginger3 tbsp vegetable oilSalt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad:
1. Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat with a fork.2. In a large bowl, toss the chicken, cabbage, lettuce, red pepper, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, scallions, cilantro, chow mein noodles, and peanuts together.3. With a sharp knife, cut the peel from the orange, cut the segments away from the membrane, coarsely chop them, and add them to the bowl.4. Squeeze the membrane over a small bowl and reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice for the dressing.
For the Dressing:
1. In a small bowl, whisk the reserved orange juice, hoisin sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger together. While whisking, slowly add the oil and whisk until emulsified and thick; season with salt and pepper to taste.2. Pour the dressing over the salad, season with salt and pepper, and toss just before serving.