Saying Goodbye to the Dog Days of Summer (Part 2)

Since the weather has continued to stay sunny and warm here in the GTA, I thought I would post the second part to the “End of Summer Party” series as soon as I had the chance lest Mother Nature decides we have had enough of a good thing. We also have a great giveaway for a copy of “Pillsbury Appetizers” at the end of the post, so don’t forget to sign up for email delivery and post a comment but more on that later!

As promised, I have chosen a few recipes that I can personally vouch for on their tastiness and are easily integrated into any menu.

I love deviled eggs, perfect for parties since they can be eaten without utensils and can be easily passed around without an elaborate set-up. Plus, I love anything that has an air of “retro”, especially when it comes to entertaining. I always think of cocktail parties in the 1960’s when I picture platters of deviled eggs being passed around by a well-dressed hostess!

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Deviled Eggs

7 hard-cooked eggs*

3 Tbsp. salad dressing or mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill weed

1 clove garlic, minced

5 dashes bottled hot pepper sauce

1/8 tsp. salt

6 cups torn Boston or Bibb lettuce

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium red sweet pepper, chopped

4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled

3 green onions, sliced

1 recipe Dill Vinaigrette

Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise and place yolks in a small bowl. Set whites aside. Mash yolks with fork and stir in salad dressing, dill weed, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Stuff egg white halves with yolk mixture. Set aside.

On a platter arrange lettuce, tomatoes, sweet pepper, bacon, and green onions. Arrange eggs on greens. Drizzle with Dill Vinaigrette. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Dill Vinaigrette-In a screw-top jar combine 1/3 cup olive oil or salad oil; 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed; 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard; 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/4 teaspoon salt; and1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce. Cover and shake well.

*To hard-cook eggs: In a large saucepan place eggs in a single layer. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Bring to rapid boiling over high heat. Remove from heat, cover. Let stand 15 minutes; drain. Cool and peel.

Over the summer, I recently came across a new twist on an old favorite, potato salad, at a friends house. My friend Giorgena S. does this delicious potato salad with a light dijon vinaigrette that is a tasty alternative to the traditional mayonnaise based dish.

Warm Potato Salad (2)

Potato Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

2lbs. small red or mixed potatoes, halved

1/4 cup (50 mL) extra-virgin olive oil OR cooked vegetable broth (the broth is more flavourful)

2 tbsp (25 mL) wine vinegar

1 tbsp (25 mL) white vinegar

1 tbsp (15 mL) dijon mustard

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

1/2 cup (125 mL) each diced celery and sweet green pepper

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh dill

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potatoes until tender, 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl; let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together olive oil/broth, vinegars, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes. Add celery and dill. Toss together.

Pork never gets the respect it deserves, I mean it is the “other white meat” and yet we don’t use it to its full potential as often as we should. Occasionaly, pork chops can turn out a little dry, especially if they have been sitting around for longer than 15 minutes (and maybe that is why they aren’t chosen as party fare that often). This version is topped off with a scrumptious corn-mango salsa which compensates for any dryness that might occur.

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Pork Chops with Corn-Mango Salsa

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. blackened steak seasoning

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 large onion, thinly sliced

6 boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 -inch thick

Corn-Mango Salsa

Steamed green and yellow beans (optional)

For marinade, in a resealable plastic bag, combine oil, steak seasoning, and garlic powder; mix well. Add onion; mix well. Add chops; seal bag and turn to coat chops. Marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.

Drain chops; discard marinade. For a charcoal grill, grill chops on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat for 14 to 18 minutes or until done (160 degrees F), turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place chops on grill rack over heat. Cover; grill as above.) Serve chops with Corn-Mango Salsa and, if desired, green and yellow beans.

Corn-Mango Salsa: Husk 2 ears fresh sweet corn and brush with olive oil, coating all sides. Grill corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat until kernels are tender and just begin to brown, turning often. Remove from grill; cool. Cut kernels from ears. In a bowl, combine corn kernels; 1 medium mango, seeded, peeled, and finely chopped; 1/2 cup finely chopped red sweet pepper; 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion; 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice; 2 tablespoons cooking oil; 2 tablespoons snipped fresh mint; 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro; and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss gently to mix.

This summer shortcake uses fruit that is totally in season and the combination of colours always says summer to me!

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Summer Shortcake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 2-inch pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing

Raw sugar or fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

2 pints blueberries

2 pints strawberries, hulled (small berries left whole, large berries halved lengthwise)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream

Make the biscuits: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add butter, and pulse until largest pieces are the size of peas. Add cream cheese, and pulse again until largest pieces are the size of peas. Add buttermilk, and pulse until dough comes together. Transfer to a bowl, and gently knead into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Divide dough in half. Working with one portion at a time on a lightly floured work surface, pat into a disk, then roll into a 10-inch round. Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Brush biscuits with buttermilk. Generously sprinkle raw or sanding sugar over tops and sides. Brush off sugar from parchment. Bake until dough has risen slightly and is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (if bottoms brown too quickly, reduce temperature to 400 degrees). Leave biscuits on sheets. Using a 2 1/2-inch star cutter, cut out (but do not remove) 7 stars from one biscuit while it is still warm. Let cool.

Using a paring knife, carefully remove star shapes. Reserve for snacking or another use. (Biscuits can be made up to 8 hours ahead; store on wire racks, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.)

Make the filling: Combine blueberries, strawberries, and 2 tablespoons sugar, and let macerate until juicy, 10 minutes.

Just before serving, beat cream to medium peaks with remaining tablespoon sugar and the vanilla.

Assemble the cake: Place uncut biscuit on a large plate. Spoon half the berries and their juices on top of biscuit, then spread the whipped cream over berries. Top with all but about 1/2 cup berries. (Make sure surface is even; it will support the top biscuit and prevent it from breaking.) Carefully place cutout biscuit on top. Fill star cutouts with reserved berries. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, uncovered, up to 3 hours.

I always like to have a seasonal drink on hand when I have people over. Even with my beverages, I like to coordinate them with whatever theme my get-together might have and I usually try to come up with at least one new drink that my guests can try. Summer makes me think of fruity seltzer based drinks, so when I came across this drink on another of my favourite blogs, The Party Dress I couldn’t wait to try it out.


Orange Spritzer

1 cup Campari

1 liter mineral water

2 cans frozen orange juice concentrate

orange slices

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice. Makes 12 servings.

And last but not least, we have a great giveaway for a copy of “Pillsbury Appetizers“. I have a copy of this book and it has helped me out of more than a few pinches when I needed to whip up something tasty. What a great way to get the ball rolling on your party menus! All you have to do is sign up for email delivery at the top right of the post and leave a comment below with your first name and last initial (just so I know how to get back to you). The winner will be announced on September 18!