Spices & Delicacies:this summer, Cool down with some cool recipes

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During summer-time, we seek stuff that cools our internal system and helps maintain balance. Besides food that keep us cool, cooling spices are also equally essential in summer.

Summer Spices
Mint: Mint is a cooling spice that adds zest to our food with its fresh aroma, whether in salad, lemonade, or our achar. Its fresh scent is appetizing to our senses.

Turmeric: Known for its healing property (anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, blood purifier, liver cleaner), It brightens the dish and is indispensable in our spice cabinets.

Fresh Basil: An easy to grow herb, it is used in curries, salads, soup, sauce, etc. It is an important cooling spice with antioxidant properties.

Cumin: As seeds or in powdered form, they aid digestion. It is mostly used for curry dishes and vegetable stews, and is used as an important spice to our cooking.

Cardamom: Cardamom, with its fresh smell, can be a good addition to tea, yogurt, and other dishes. It also helps in digestion.

Oregano: Used mainly in Italian dishes like spaghetti and pizzas, it is also commonly used in salad dressings or to enhance the flavor of dishes like soup or pasta sauce.

Parsley: This fresh mild herb can be used in salads, vegetable dishes, and soups and garnishing.

Coriander: Coriander seed is used alongside cumin and turmeric while coriander herb is used for garnishing most of our dishes. It helps subside the spicy flavor in foods. It can be easily grown even in our pots and its health benefits are numerous.

To reduce the effects of scorching heat, we tend to indulge ourselves in food that is cool yet appetizing. Here are some dishes that are surprisingly cool:

Traditional Spanish Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup)

Ingredients
2 cups cubed crustless day-old bread
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably beefsteak, seeded
1 four-inch piece cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 one-inch-thick slice green bell pepper
2 teaspoons grape vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup cold water, plus more for soaking
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup torn rustic bread
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
Make the gazpacho: Cover bread with cold water, and let soak for 15 minutes.
Transfer garlic to a blender. Squeeze excess liquid from bread and transfer bread to blender. Add 2 teaspoons salt, the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and vinegars. Puree until smooth. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until the texture is smooth. Blend in cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate gazpacho until chilled, at least 3 hours.
Make the croutons: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bread and fry, tossing constantly until it is pale gold and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bread to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide chilled gazpacho among 6 bowls. Drizzle with oil, and top with croutons just before serving.

Ice cream Sandwich

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted) plus little more for pan, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 pints ice cream (any flavor), softened.

For garnishing: Finely crushed peppermint candies, finely chopped or grated bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped toasted pecans, toasted sweetened coconut flakes, crushed cookies.

Directions
Preheat oven to 3500. Butter a 15-by-10-inch baking pan; line with baking sheet, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two shorter sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until combined; whisk in egg, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add flour and cocoa, and mix until just smooth. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Bake until cake is dry to the touch and edges begin to pull away from the sides. 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface. With a knife, halve crosswise. Place one half of cake, flat side down, on a large piece of plastic wrap. Spread with ice cream, and then top with remaining half of cake, flat side up. Return ice cream sandwich to baking pan, and wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Unwrap sandwich; using a knife, cut into 8 rectangles, wiping off blade between each cut.

Garnish the sandwiches with your chosen garnish and set it next to your workspace. Press some of the garnish onto some or all of the sides of the sandwich. Set the sandwiches back on the baking sheet and return to the freezer immediately. (If your kitchen is warm, keep the sandwiches in the freezer and garnish one at a time.) Once the sandwiches are hard, wrap them individually in plastic and store in the freezer. Serve ice cream sandwiches immediately as soon as you take out of the freezer.

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