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Simple, refreshing recipes for hot summer days from 'America's Test Kitchen'

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

This summer has been hot. And with the Fourth of July just around the corner, we're looking for some chilly recipes to help us cool on down. That means stepping away from the grill or the oven and cracking open the freezer. Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster are here to help. They host "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS and join us now not far from "America's Test Kitchen" headquarters in Boston. Welcome to you both.

JULIA COLLIN DAVISON: Hi there.

BRIDGET LANCASTER: Thank you for having us.

RASCOE: So to start off, what are your essential summer ingredients?

DAVISON: Two ingredients - one, fresh berries because they never taste as good up here, you know, in the Northeast, at least, as they do during the summer. So strawberries, raspberries, blueberries - always have something because at the very least, you could just pour a little fresh cream over that and call it a day. Serve it with a cookie, and you're done.

RASCOE: OK. So get the whipped cream and a cookie and some berries, and...

DAVISON: That's it.

RASCOE: Fourth of July - happy (laughter).

DAVISON: That's it. Nice and easy. You could use Reddi-wip.

RASCOE: OK.

DAVISON: I have nothing against Reddi-wip...

RASCOE: OK.

DAVISON: ...Or, you know, just a little heavy cream. You don't even need to whip it. Just drizzle it over.

RASCOE: OK.

DAVISON: Oh, and serve it with a biscotti. Yeah.

RASCOE: OK.

DAVISON: So that's one. The other is coconut milk because you can do so much with it. I love making popsicles, and it's a really short recipe. It's a little bit of salt. It's a little bit of flaked coconut. I use the unsweetened stuff, but you could use the sweetened stuff if you want to. A little vanilla, little honey and coconut milk. And we have exact recipes for this, but those are the basic ingredients. Sometimes, I add a little cinnamon or ground clove - gives it that horchata-like taste. Mix it up, put it in a popsicle mold, call it a day.

RASCOE: So, Bridget, what is your go-to recipe that you kind of keep at the ready?

LANCASTER: You know, when summer comes - I've got two kids. When they've got all their friends over or even when I've got friends over, it's - you can set up kind of, like, a last-minute ice cream party and you can have out, you know, your toasted coconut and your chocolate chips and your chocolate syrup and things like that. But I think the other thing - the - my other two big summer ingredients - one is - well, is booze because...

RASCOE: Yeah, yeah, yeah - need a lot of that.

DAVISON: (Laughter).

LANCASTER: Booze makes ice cream better...

DAVISON: Ingredient.

LANCASTER: ...In terms of adult desserts. That is for sure. And then the other thing I like to have is - I actually love to have pound cake because I think pound cake, little whipped cream and some fresh berries, like what Julia is saying. And I don't even mind it if people break out the Sara Lee.

RASCOE: OK.

LANCASTER: It's better if you make it yourself. But, you know, do what you got to do - especially on a hot day.

RASCOE: We mentioned drinks. Do you have any recommendations for drinks to kind of spice things up or, you know, cool things down for your summer event?

LANCASTER: Well, I got to tell you, a nice big pitcher of sangria is always a good idea, you know? And you can switch out the wine, you know, as long as it's a really - a wine that's really nice chilled. So a light red or a white or a really beautiful rose with berries in it is just spectacular. And I think that's one of the easiest ways to be a winner, especially because it gets better if it sits for a day in the fridge. It's just fantastic.

RASCOE: And so - and do you avoid super spicy on a hot summer day, or do you lean into it?

DAVISON: Oh, I lean into it. I mean, if it helps you cool down because you're a little hot around the collar or sweating, that's all good.

LANCASTER: That is true. And if it's spicy enough and you sweat enough, you don't have to go to the gym.

RASCOE: No (laughter).

DAVISON: Yes. That's proven fact, right, Bridget?

LANCASTER: Proven. Proven.

RASCOE: Are there things that you avoid, though?

DAVISON: Yeah. You know, what I really don't like are super fatty things. You know, I love potato salad, but sometimes, if it's really rich and it's out in the heat, you know, it can't hang out for very long. And most people think it's the mayonnaise that goes bad, but it's not. It's actually the simple starches. So it's the potatoes and the macaroni if it's a macaroni salad. So if you do want to put them - you know, put it in a tray of ice or a bowl of ice to help keep it cold.

LANCASTER: Yeah, I would say the one "fatty," quote, unquote, food that I absolutely crave in the summer is fried food. I love fried clams, and I love fried chicken, and I love anything fried 'cause it - to me, it's just - it means that you're outside and you're - maybe you're by the water, and you're eating the - you know, it's almost like being at a carnival or something...

RASCOE: Yeah.

LANCASTER: ...But the food's a lot better. As far as foods to avoid, I think the really heavy foods - the big beef roasts or anything...

RASCOE: Yes.

LANCASTER: ...On the grill.

RASCOE: Like a lasagna or something (laughter).

LANCASTER: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. That is why we have autumn...

RASCOE: Yeah. OK. Yes.

LANCASTER: ...You know?

(LAUGHTER)

LANCASTER: I think that's exactly it, you know? Like, get me past the bathing suit season...

RASCOE: Yeah.

LANCASTER: ...Maybe I'll look at a lasagna.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: That's Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison, hosts of "America's Test Kitchen." Thank you both for joining us.

LANCASTER: Our complete pleasure. Thank you so much, and happy summer.

DAVISON: So nice talking with you, Ayesha. Have a good one.

(SOUNDBITE OF DJANGO REINHARDT ET AL.'S "CHICAGO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and the Saturday episodes of Up First. As host of the morning news magazine, she interviews news makers, entertainers, politicians and more about the stories that everyone is talking about or that everyone should be talking about.
Lennon Sherburne