Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden Party Cocktail & Appetizers

It wedding season yet again. You know what that means- Bridal showers! This Saturday we toasted a good friend whose wedding I will be in (a first) with a beautiful backyard gathering with a Farmer's Market theme. Organized by her sister, the maid of honor and a fabulous cook and cake decorator, with the site and decor by none other than the fabulously crafty Ana of When Creativity Knocks this event was first class all the way. I was recruited for my cocktail "expertise" and to help with a few of the appetizers for the day. For the drink I really wanted to play on summer flavors and warm weather so I came up with a Fresh Strawberry Sparkling Lemonade with Basil infused Vodka. This was my first attempt at infusing Vodka and after experiencing how easy it is I can't wait to start creating more unique flavors. It does take some for-planning (you are going to need about a week) but it is worth it to create unique flavors for your guests.

This cocktail comes together in 3 stages- for the Vodka you are going to need an airtight container that holds the quantity you will need or desire. A lot of bloggers suggested mason jars but I wasn't quite sure where to get one that could hold the quantity I wanted (about a liter). I found my container at a restaurant supply store and it worked great. You may only desire to make a few cups for a few friends in which case go for a smaller container. It really doesn't get any simpler than this:
  1. In the container put 2-3 large sprigs of rinsed basil (15 - 20 large leaves stem on)
  2. Pour in the liter of vodka
  3. Make sure the top is sealed on tight
  4. Store in a cool dark pace (like your closet) for 4 - 7 days, giving it a good shake once a day to make sure the flavors are incorporating
  5. Strain through a coffee filter (lining a colander is probably easiest) and you are ready to get you cocktail on!

 The next interactive portion of our cocktail making is the strawberry puree. I went with frozen strawberries vs fresh because once they thaw they have a much softer texture and have begun to get juicy.
 In a large pot add 1/4 cup of sugar for each bag of thawed strawberries. Over medium heat bring to a simmer stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Once cool using an Immersion (Stick) Blender (if you have one, if not regular blender is fine you will probably just have to do it in batches) puree to a nice thick slightly chunky texture.

The ratio for the cocktail is as follows- (1) bag of strawberries for every (2) 750mL bottles of sparkling Lemonade (Trader Joe's and Safeway have their own brands, you can usually find Lorina a wonderful brand at most grocery stores). To that you add 2 1/2 cups of your Vodka. Serves 8-10. Stir and serve over ice!

With a tasty summer beverage in hand you need some tasty summer snacks! The Maid of Honor did a fabulous job cultivating the menu, these were the two recipes I was asked to make and I highly recommend them for your next Garden Party!

I'm a lover of dips in general and I certainly eat my fair share of Hummus. This a great way to change it up with some fresh summer flavors. Serve with Pita Chips or even other veggies to dip or spread on crostini!

The recipe is Courtesy of Parties That Cook:

3 1/2 cups frozen peas, cooked and cooled
1 cup fresh ricotta
5 mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Everything you need can be found at Trader Joe's! 

Place peas, ricotta, mint, and kosher salt in bowl of food processor and pulse to create a thick, chunky dip. Transfer mixture to center of a serving platter and shape into a mound. Nestle pita chips around dip to make a flower (with dip being in center and triangles pointing out). Garnish center of dip with mint sprig.

 Call it a fritter, latkes, or pancake these fried zucchini wonders are a perfect taste of summer topped with some sour cream and smoked salmon!

Recipe Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine


1 pound zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated in processor
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil (for frying)
1/3 cup (about) sour cream
2 ounces  smoked salmon, broken into 1x1/2-inch pieces  

  1. Place zucchini in colander set over bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Place small plate atop zucchini to weigh down. Let stand 30 minutes to drain.
  2. Squeeze zucchini as dry as possible in kitchen towel. Transfer zucchini to medium bowl. Stir in flour, Parmesan, and shallot, then stir in beaten egg mixture and pepper.
  3. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush large nonstick skillet with enough oil to coat; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop zucchini mixture into skillet by scant 1 tablespoonfuls, spacing apart. Using spatula, flatten cakes to 2-inch rounds. Cook until golden on bottom, brushing skillet with more oil as needed between batches, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to prepared baking sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then cover and chill. Rewarm uncovered in 325°F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Place warm zucchini cakes on platter. Top each with small dollop of sour cream and piece of smoked salmon & serve

1 comment:

  1. Wow,you have the perfect match for the cocktail. This is really great. Thanks for the post.