Sip Away for a Garden Get-Together

“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.

Ingredients

2 ounces gin

1 teaspoon of
lavender flowers

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Ice

4 to 5 ounces of Fever-Tree tonic water

Sprig of fresh lavender

Slice of lime

Method

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

  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.

Ingredients

5 cups pitted fresh cherries 

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 teaspoons cardamom

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons
vanilla sugar

1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons cherry brandy

Method

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.

Ingredients

8 sea scallops

Olive oil

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

Salt

Cumin

1 teaspoon each: chopped fresh rosemary and chives

1 blood orange sliced
into rounds and cut
into triangles

Method

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.

Ingredients

11/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla-bean sugar

½ teaspoon culinary lavender
flowers, chopped 

11/2 cups flour 

½ teaspoon salt

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 teaspoon orange water

Method

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.

Ingredients

4 avocados

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!

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