“Went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends …” There’s nothing quite like a summer garden party with friends. My yardstick — make it casually beautiful and insanely flavorful. This month, we invite you to sip away on a ruby-hued chilled cherry soup starter, as we take a garden stroll, sharing old memories, and playing our favorite songs.
Lavender Gin & Tonic
When our fragrant white garden lavender is in bloom, I look for any opportunity to show it off. Muddling the fragrant flower heads in some good gin makes for an intoxicating twist on the classic G&T.
2 ounces gin
1 teaspoon of
Juice of 1/2 a lime
4 to 5 ounces of Fever-Tree tonic water
Sprig of fresh lavender
Slice of lime
In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the gin, lavender flowers, and lime juice. Strain mixture into an ice-filled glass, and top with tonic water, a fresh lavender sprig, and a slice of lime.
Garden Lanterns + Clipped Blooms
For the garden party florals, I gathered lavender, dahlias, digitalis, and delphinium, all from our cutting garden. The blooms are loosely arranged in a worn wood bowl and rustic urn. Add a strand of vintage-looking Edison bulb string lights, a DIY hanging flower pomander and seagrass basket garden light swaying in the backyard breeze, and I’m in for an evening of casual summer entertaining under the stars.
Melon Caprese Cups with Yogurt Dressing
Makes 4 servings
Light and lovely, this sweet and savory salad combo is a great garden dish.
1 small honeydew melon
1 small cantaloupe
11/2 cups Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 fresh mozzarella balls (cherry-sized)
4 basil leaves
4 viola blooms
• Using melon baller, scoop out melon balls. (You will have extra!)
• Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, honey, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
• Divide the yogurt dressing into four glass cups.
• Top with melon and mozzarella.
• Add a leaf of fresh basil and edible viola bloom to each cup.
Chilled Cherry Soup
Makes 6 1/2-cup servings
Ruby red spiked and chilled, this stunning summer soup is the perfect garden party starter.
5 cups pitted fresh cherries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons cherry brandy
Boil the pitted cherries along with the lemon juice, spices, and sugar for about 8 minutes, then simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Pull the soup from the heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and then add the sour cream and the brandy. Purée the mixture in a food processor, or use an immersion blender directly in the pan. Chill and serve in bistro-style glassware with a plump, fresh cherry hanging on the rim.
Grilled Scallops + Blood Orange Triangles
Beautiful, flavorful, and made for summer garden party entertaining.
8 sea scallops
2 blood oranges (1 for juicing, 1 for grilling — see below)
Juice of 1/2 a blood orange
Splash of Cognac
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon each: chopped fresh rosemary and chives
1 blood orange sliced
into rounds and cut
Create a quick marinade with a nice drizzle of olive oil, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, and Cognac. Add the garlic and ½ teaspoon each of salt and ground cumin, along with the chopped herbs. Gently toss the scallops in the marinade. Thread the scallops and orange slices onto wood skewers. Grease the outdoor grill. Grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Lavender + Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Makes approximately 18 cookies
These not-too-sweet shortbread cookies
make a great garden party finisher.
11/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla-bean sugar
½ teaspoon culinary lavender
11/2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon orange water
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add sugars. Add lavender, flour, salt, zest, and orange water, and mix until combined. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch.
Using a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out the cookie rounds. Lightly press a mini fresh lavender stem onto the dough. Bake for 15 minutes until the cookies are a pale golden color. Cool on a wire rack.
Garden Guacamole + Pita Chips
Artful food — this is my kind of garden party side dish. Fresh guacamole loaded up with all kinds of garden goodness and then piled onto home-baked pita chips.
Juice of 1 lime
1 small, seeded jalapeno, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 garden chives, snipped
4 small romaine lettuce leaves
2 corn cobs (sprinkled with cumin, grilled kernels cut from the cob)
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon each: fresh chopped parsley, chopped thyme, chopped oregano
Salt & pepper
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
8, 4-inch pita flatbread rounds, cut into triangles and baked in a 350-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes
Make the Guacamole
Pit and mash the avocados in a molcajete. Add the lime juice, jalapeno, chopped garlic, and snipped chives. Salt and pepper to taste. Place the molcajete in the middle of a large bowl.
Make the Marinated Tomatoes
Mix together tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh chopped herbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Scoop tomatoes onto a romaine leaf. Do the same with the grilled corn, chopped bell peppers, and cucumbers. Layer in the pita chips, and dig in!