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Summer Garden Dinner Party

Well, it's time to kick things up a notch and throw a few parties. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be sharing some of our favorite party menus with you. In fact, these will be long-form episodes that will include up to 6-8 recipes for the perfect party. First up, the Summer Dinner Party!

Cooking Recipe

Fig & Almond Tart with Homemade Whipped Cream

Serves 8

For Crust:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice water
1 ¼ cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Almond extract
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed

For Filling:
7 ounces almond paste
¼ c sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 tsp Almond extract
1/3 flour
6 fresh Black Mission figs,
¼ sliced almonds

For whipped cream:
2 tbsp powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl of a food processor combine flour, salt and sugar and pulse until combined. And butter cubes a few at a time, pulsing quickly until dough resembles a coarse meal. Beat egg together with water. Add egg mixture, slowly, pulsing just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a ball and then pat down into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or pop in the freezer for 10)

Meanwhile, beat together almond paste, sugar and salt in a mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, then almond extract, scraping down the bowl. Add flour and mix on low until just combined.

Roll out dough onto a floured surface until about ¼ inch. Transfer to a removable bottom, non-stick tart shell and fit into pan. It’s okay if it falls apart, just press it into pan, making sure the dough feels evenly distributed. Trim top edge of dough so that it is flush with the pan’s rim. This will give you a nice finished edge once the tart is baked. Place tart in the freezer for 10 mins to firm up before adding filling.

Pour filling into pan.

Slice figs in half and arrange in a circle around tart, as well as place a few in the middle. Top with sliced almonds. Bake at 350 for 40-45mins just until browned and a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool. Remove tart from tin and dust with powdered sugar before serving. Serve with homemade whipped cream.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Parsley
Serves 8
16 oz Israeli Cous Cous
1 red onion
¼ c Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cups sugar snap peas
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Cook cous cous according to package instructions.
Sautee red onion on medium-high heat in olive oil until soft and slightly caramelized.
Boil water and “blanch” snap peas for 2 minutes.  Then transfer them quickly to an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve their color. 

Allow cous cous, onions and peas to cool. Once completely cooled, combine and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Moments before serving, toss with remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and add fresh parsley.

Grilled Herb & Lemon Chicken
Serves 8
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
9 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped rosemary
7 lemons (3 for zesting)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
few dashes of Worstershire sauce
To mix marinade whisk mustard and vinegar in a 9 x13 Pyrex casserole.
Slowly add oil to emulsify.  Add garlic, herbs, zest of 3 lemons, salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Let marinate for 30 mins.
Slice remaining 4 lemons in half. 
Grill chicken 5-7 minutes each side until cooked through.  During the last 4 minutes grill lemons, cut side down, until nicely charred.
Serve on platter, garnished with grilled lemons, fresh thyme and rosemary.
Serve with a chilled Rose wine.

Grilled Italian Garden Salad with Fresh Burrata

Serves 8 as a first course

1 Eggplant
4 Zucchini
½ c Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp grapeseed oil
Pinch of Herbs de Provence
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp fresh Basil
3 large balls of burrata cheese


Slice eggplant into ¼ inch rounds and brush both sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Slice zucchini length wise into ¼ inch slices, brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill on medium-high grill until nice grill marks appear on both sides. Remove from grill and set aside to rest at room temperature.

To make vinaigrette, combine mustard and vinegar and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle oil and mix until emulsified, 1 tbsp at a time. Add Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper to taste.

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, toss with the vinaigrette. Add chopped basil.

To serve: arrange eggplant around a large rectangular platter. Add zucchini slices just below eggplant, so eggplant is still visible.

Place 3 balls of burrata cheese side by side in the center of the platter. Pour cherry tomato mixture on top. Drizzle the eggplant and zucchini with oil and garnish with chopped parsley. Top cherry tomato salad with a spring of fresh basil.

Cucumber, Salmon, Summer Cups

Makes 12-16 pieces (depending on size of cucumber!)

1 cup of Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
6 oz smoked salmon


Peel cucumber length-wise (every ¼ inch) to create stripes.
Slice off ends.
Slice ½ rounds.
Scoop out flesh with the small side of a melon baller, being careful not to cut all the way through to the other side.
Reserve cucumber flesh.
Chop cucumber flesh and add to small bowl.
Add yogurt, garlic, capers, 1 tbsp chives, pepper and a pinch of salt.
Cut 1 inch square of salmon, nestle into cucumber cup, top with ½ teaspoon of yogurt mixture, top with chives.

The Lemon Balm

Makes 1 serving

1 oz Vodka
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Agave Syrup
½ cup sparkling water
2 sprigs of thyme


Add lemon juice and agave syrup in a short glass.
Stir until combined.
Add vodka, and ice.
Top with sparkling water, garnish with thyme sprigs.

Radishes, Sea Salt & Butter

Serves 8

1 bunch of radishes
¼ of butter, softened
1 baguette
2 tbsp fleur de sel


Slice bread on the bias and place on a cutting board.
Thinly slice radishes and place in a bowl on the cutting board, surround with plate of butter and dish of salt.
Spread butter on bread, top with salt and radishes.

Summer Garden Dinner Party


Suzie R.
I just wanted to say thank you for your site. I discovered it via Anna Olson, my baking mentor. Finding high quality cooking videos that really teach you about food and techniques is such a challenge and yours are amazing. I can't wait to do some recipe testing and love that it is so easy to email yourself the recipes!
Suzie R.
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