I wanted to host a garden inspired patio party to celebrate our new home and welcome summer with my closest girl friends. Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy fresh produce and herbs from your own garden or your local farmers market so I wanted to create a meal inspired by the seasons freshest ingredients.
A Garden Inspired Menu:
We had such an amazing time relaxing outside and enjoying all the food...boy was there a lot of it!
And here is the best part...all of the recipes! The best part about this menu is that most of the dishes can be prepared ahead of time, which is a key ingredient to a laid back summer patio party.
Limoncello Blueberry Coolers
Mix the cocktail the morning of the party and let chill in the fridge.
Here is the link to Giada's recipe. I added about 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and more sparking water to taste to my cocktail to give it a little less punch.
Spiked Watermelon Pops
These can be prepared days in advance if you'd like. They are so easy to make too.
Here is the link to Giada's recipe. She is clearly my go to girl for tasty cocktails!
Summer Vegetable Tart
Prepare the morning of the party. When ready to serve heat in the oven at 350 degrees until warm.
1 Store Bought Pre-made pie crust
Cornmeal for dusting
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 medium fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise into strips
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 egg and a tablespoon water (egg wash)
Lay out sliced veggies on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes to draw out the moisture from the veggies. After 30 minutes, pat the veggies dry with paper towels. You don't want soggy veggies on your fresh summer tart! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay out the prepared pie crust and sprinkle with some cornmeal (this will help to make the dough stronger). Spread goat cheese mixture over the center of the tart leaving a 1 inch edge. Add the veggies and drizzle with some olive oil. Fold the sides of the tart up and over the filling, pinching the folds together with egg wash, until all the sides are folded up. Bake for about 40 minutes until the tart is golden brown and the veggies are cooked through.
Fresh Potato, Tomato, Grilled Corn and Basil Salad
Prepare the salad the day before the party.
Here is the link to Dave Lieberman's recipe. Note: Instead of boiling the corn I grilled mine.
Grilled Clams with Basil Breadcrumbs
Grilled Summer Lobster with Lemon Herb Butter
1 stick butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
Grill lobster tails until they turn red and start to curl up. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the remaining ingredients until butter becomes melted.
Strawberry Lavender Ice Cream
Prepare the ice cream 2 days ahead of time for the best results.
1 pint fresh strawberries
30 fresh lavender buds with flowers removed
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, mixing well. Stir in milk and vanilla and mix. Add strawberries and lavender and mix. Gently stir in whipping cream just until combined. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Little Lemon Souffles
Of course this menu would not have been nearly as delicious without using the freshest ingredients. Here are some tips for picking out the best seasonal ingredients at your local farmers market:
Pick basil that is bright green and has no signs of wilting or bruising.
Look for small squash that is firm and free of blemishes.
There is nothing like the taste of tomatoes from your own garden or farmers market! The best tomatoes should be vine ripened, smell fresh, and be a deep color red.
Choose corn with husks that are bright green in color. Grab a piece of the husk and pull it a little to see the kernels inside. They should be plump, firm, and full of color.
Always choose locally grown strawberries, they will be sweeter and juicier. Pick the plumpest and most fragrant berries.
I am so happy that my first dinner party was a great success, and I will look forward to the next time!