Hot Summer Nights

Set the Summer Scene

We pulled these lovely succulents in iron urns right off of the garden ledges and plopped them on the table. Succulents, sea glass beads, and a hint of hotel silver adorn the antique French ironstone plates, while a vintage floral tin spills over with beautiful blooms. Add mood lighting with hobnail jars of candles, and add a touch of texture with rope knots. A game of bocce ball awaits …

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

4 servings

You must try this rustic, grilled, golden, juicy, and crispy whole chicken! A cast-iron griddle is this barbecue gal’s new best friend. So simple, and what a presentation. Removing the backbone and flattening the chicken create a quicker, crispier result. (Ask your local butcher to help you out!)


1 spatchcock chicken, rinsed and dried

Fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves

1 lemon



Lightly slather the chicken with olive oil, and then brush with a paste of:

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Zest of half a lemon

1 teaspoon salt 

Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours before grilling.

Fire up the grill to high heat. Place the flattened, spatchcock chicken on a cast-iron griddle on a bed of three to four sprigs of fresh rosemary and four slices of lemon. Season liberally with salt. Put the grill pan on the grate. Turn off the direct heat under the chicken, leaving the side burners on medium-high heat. Close the lid, and grill for approximately 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear.

Checkerboard Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Salad 

Cut the watermelon, cucumber, and feta cheese into same-size cubes, and create the checkerboard pattern on a small platter. You

 also can add cubed avocado. Lightly drizzle the dish with some good olive oil and balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. 

Roasted Olives with Rosemary and Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

These herb-infused roasted olives are a quick and easy accompaniment to any cocktail. In a cast iron pan, toss the olives in a bit of olive oil, add garden herbs like chopped rosemary, parsley and oregano, plus a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the olives begin to wrinkle and sizzle. Remove pan from the oven, cool and serve alongside sliced baguette for mopping.

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower with Parsley Pesto

4 servings

It’s a healthier and tasty take on mashed potatoes. The pesto adds incredible flavor and color to this simple side dish.


1 head of cauliflower, cut
into florets

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons crème fraîche 

1/3 cup freshly grated
Parmesan cheese

Salt and white pepper 


Boil the cauliflower florets in well-salted water until tender. Drain and cover. Melt the butter in a pan. Quickly sauté the garlic. Pulse the cauliflower and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Return the pureed cauliflower to the pan on medium-low heat. Whisk in the crème fraîche and Parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a serving dish, and pipe on a generous drizzle of garden parsley pesto with toasted walnuts and cheese.

Parsley Pesto

Makes ½ cup


½ cup toasted walnuts

1 cup Italian parsley, rinsed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup olive oil


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 8 minutes, tossing the walnuts occasionally. Place all of the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, and pulse until combined into a thick paste. With the machine running, add the olive oil until the mixture is combined. Spoon into a piping bag. Pipe onto the mashed cauliflower. 

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with White Peaches

4 servings

Make the panna cotta the night before, and add fresh sliced white peaches, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a sprig of mint just before serving.


2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup vanilla-bean sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ of a vanilla bean, scraped

2 teaspoons powdered
unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

2 white peaches

Balsamic vinegar

Fresh mint


In a medium stove-top pan, heat and steam the cream, sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds on medium heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.  

Meanwhile, in a second small pan, sprinkle the gelatin over the 3 tablespoons of water, and allow to sit for a minute. Gently warm the mixture on the stove until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. 

Remove the cream from the stove, and stir in the gelatin.

Spoon the panna cotta into four brandy bowls, set on an angle. Cover each glass, and chill for at least four hours or overnight. Right the glass. Slice up two peaches, and carefully place them in the bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if you like … and garnish with a nice sprig of fresh mint.

Empress 1908 Gin & Tonic

It’s made from Empress 1908 Gin, inspired by the tea service at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. Butterfly Pea blossoms (plus other natural botanicals) create the incredible and all-natural jewel-tone color.


1 extra-large ice cube

2 ounces Empress 1908 Gin

4 ounces tonic water

Splash of sparkling cucumber water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 sliced lime and wedge for garnishing


Place the large cube in a glass. Add the gin, tonic water, cucumber water, and lime juice. Stir and garnish. Cheers!

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