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Ask My Friend Maillard

It's September [already!?], but it's also Virginia. We all know there will be several more days this year when using the stove/oven will be unimaginable for fear of making the temperature inside our houses as unbearable as it is outside. So here are my final tips to “Beat the Heat” this summer.

The Question: “How can I create the carb-based meals that my little ones love without overheating at the stove?”


The Answer: Bulgur, couscous, rice noodles etc...

There are many products you can use as a carb-y base for summer meals that require only boiling water poured over them in a bowl to hydrate them. So you can go “instant” without the sometimes questionable ingredients usually associated with foodstuffs labeled as instant. Bulgur, couscous, rice noodles and frozen noodles are all incredibly versatile and require only a kettle; if you have an electric one even better, NOT an open vat of boiling water adding to the humidity. Some brands do instruct you to use the stovetop but all it takes is a little time reading labels in the store to find what you’re looking for. My mom and I learned this past winter (during an intense kitchen remodel) that any noodle that instructs you to cook in boiling water for any time between 1-5 minutes can be hydrated by pouring boiling water over them, covering the bowl, and waiting. 30 second intervals in the microwave can be added if the boiling water and steam still leave something too al dente for your taste. 

So to close out my “beat the heat” series, I’ve got several meal ideas using “instant” products. Mix and match these ideas to find your family’s new warm-weather go-to.


Miso/Ramen (or any broth-y soup):

I instantly fell in love with the frozen soba and lo mein noodles when Wegmans introduced them a year or so ago. They are the perfect texture and so quick to prepare. Instead of stir frying with them, you can also toss with one of any number of premade or blender sauces and grilled veggies and/or proteins, but they are also great in ramen or miso broth (two things that also only require some hot water to dissolve the paste). Throw in fresh cherry tomatoes and herbs and you’ve got a fast, light meal ready to go. There are plenty of paste versions of chicken and beef broth too if you wanted to use one of the other instant carb options for a more European style soup. 


Grilling for sauces:

One of my favorite things about grilling is how the flames intensify the sugars and flavor of fruits and veggies. Grill any vegetable and blend it with some aromatics (also try beans or yogurt) and you’ve got a great sauce or dip. Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are the popular pick for this and they are all plentiful at both the farmers market and grocery store this time of year... but sweet potato season is beginning. Try grilling slices of sweet potatoes then pureeing them with garlic, sesame oil and this year's fad asian condiment, gochugang, for a flavorful korean-hummus-esque spread that would be great with steak or a store-bought rotisserie chicken over bulgur. You could use any of the instant carbs for that matter, but I think the nutty-ness of bulgur makes it the best pairing for grilled flavors.


Made in the Morning: 

As summer comes to a close the nights are getting cooler and less humid *knocks on wood* so braising or roasting in the morning then reheating at dinner time is a great way to cook what you already know how to cook and still leave the oven off on hot afternoons.Braised meats only get better with 8 hours of sitting in their flavorful juice. Then all you need to do in the muggy evening is toss a salad and quickly hydrate some couscous. Israeli, sometimes called pearl, is my favorite; the bits of pasta are larger so they have a more distinct texture. You can take it a step further by waking up early one day and cooking proteins and veggies for several meals at once, then the only dinner-related thing you need to worry about all week is what to microwave on which night (or call a personal chef service like mine and the diciding and warming up is the only actual work you will have to do)!


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About Joanna

blogger joanna2

I am a young entrepreneur who loves to solve problems; from the daily crossword to a client's cooking conundrum. Passion for soccer, architecture, travel, and experimenting with cooking techniques (mostly) define my life. My company, My Friend Maillard, is a personal chef service designed to help clients who don't have the time or inclination to cook at home. I approached Fredericksburg Parent to host this blog so I could also help local families find answers for their seemingly intractable food and cooking related problems.

Did your teenager just decide to go vegan? Do you want to know why your cakes always collapse in the center? Do you want to know how to get chicken skin really crispy? Just Ask My Friend Maillard. Make your queries as specific or as weird as you like and submit them anytime through Twitter, on Facebook, or via email to myfriendmaillard (at) Can't wait to hear from you!

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From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.