I am approaching the date of my jubilee year. I am exaggerating a bit, a Jubilee is any 25th-year celebration and I am not there yet, but I am calling it so because it is a tremendous year for me, and also, why not? It sounds great.
I have been thinking a lot about aging, growing older, friends and family, but mainly about how I want to spend the next 10 to 15 years or so… I know, I know, we make plans and God laughs but I do think that a bit of thought and planning is essential. Not boring you with details though…
And so, while I ponder my future, summer is happening with all of its crises, dramas, and storms. To celebrate, as I must, with any excuse at all, here is the menu for an easy, cool, wonderful, and delicious summer soiree.
Summer menus are based on two very important aspects, fresh seasonal ingredients and very little time in the kitchen. It is more about preparing and chopping and dicing rather than time spent over the stove. I can boil for a few minutes, but that is about it. Summer produce is so flavorful and colorful that little is needed to bring out its sensational aromas.
I welcomed friends with pink lemonade & vodka, and pass around scallion pancakes with smoked salmon, and a lovely tin of caviar, a gift from one of the guests….
One-course dinners make my life much easier both in the kitchen and in the cleaning department and as the group grew in numbers, I decided to serve spicy shrimp and andouille sausages, tomato & peach salad on a bed of lemon hummus, baby potato salad with lots of garlic and fresh herbs, and a hearty green salad. Dessert was berries with a dollop of maple syrup yogurt.
I have to say that I have been on a super strict allergy discovery diet and am not able to eat dairy, grains, or sugar. With just a couple of exceptions, this menu worked for my regime. (I didn’t eat the scallion pancakes, sausages or yogurt)
The table is set in bright colors to ease the heat… and I am using huge place cards so we can all see our names…. oh! the charm of aging….
The day before: I laid the table and did the flowers. Planned the sitting arrangement and wrote the place cards. I did the grocery shopping and liquor run.
In the morning: made the potato salad (leaving the fresh herbs to be added last minute), cooked the sausages (left them in the pan to finish later) made the hummus and the maple syrup yogurt so they can all chill in the fridge. This took about 30 minutes.
1 hour before: made salad dressing, chopped and seasoned the tomatoes, mixed the berries with orange juice and put them in a decorative bowl, and organized the bar with ice and lemon/lime wedges. That took about 10 minutes….
1/2 hour before: cooked the scallion pancakes, prepared the caviar on a bed of ice, made the tomato salad & hummus dish and dressed the potato salad with the herbs. And lit the candles. This took about 15 minutes….
Friends arrive. Made a few cocktails…. passed the hors d’oeuvres.
Just before serving: Cooked the shrimp with the sausages, dressed the green salad, and arranged all the platters on the buffet. Dinner is ready!
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