A table set for a backyard dinner

Summer Menu

Fennel, Orange & Red Currant Salad

Grilled Chicken Thighs

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar

Lemongrass Champagne Mojito

Fennel, Orange & Red Currant Salad

Place the currants in a bowl and pour in a little of the vinegar syrup to reconstitute.

Supreme the oranges:
Using a sharp knife cut off the top and bottom of the oranges until the flesh is exposed. Next, run the knife down the sides, removing the peel and pith (the white part), exposing all of the flesh. Once the peel has been entirely removed, use the segments as a guide, cutting the segments out of the orange leaving the membrane between them.

 

Prepare the fennel salad:
Remove the root end and tops of the fennel bulbs. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, carefully slice the fennel bulbs as thinly as possible. Place the fennel slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss gently. Marinate at room temperature for ½ an hour to several hours.

 

Service:

When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to remove the currants from the vinegar, reserving the remainder. Mound ¼ of the fennel in a bowl or salad plate, and arrange the orange segments in a circle around the plate. Mound a tablespoon of the currants in the center of the salad, and drizzle the remaining vinegar syrup over the salad. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

ingredients for orange fennel salad

INGREDIENTS                  4 Servings

2 large fennel bulbs, sliced very thin
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large oranges, supremed
4 tablespooons red currants
Salt and pepper
Fig (or other fruit-flavored) vinegar, reduced on the stovetop until just slightly thickened, then cooled.
Parsley sprigs, for garnish.

Crispy fennel makes for a great salad.  The licorice taste is a great pairing with the sweetness of the oranges and the tangy sourness of red currants. 

fennel orange currant salad

Tip for Grilling Chicken Thighs

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Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar

ingredients for grilled peaches with cinnamon sugar

INGREDIENTS                  4 Servings

4 ripe peaches, pitted and halved
1 14 oz. can coconut milk, unsweetened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups sugar, course ground
Mint sprigs, for garnish
Cinnamon or vanilla ice cream

Chef’s Note: As peach season approaches, numerous varieties might be available. Within those myriad varieties exists a subdivision: freestone peaches. This simply means that their pit comes out easily when the peach is cut in half or when segments are removed. In the case of the non-freestones, the flesh could stubbornly stick to the pit. While there is no flavor difference, it may be easier to get perfect halves when using freestone peaches.

Heat a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat, or preheat an outdoor grill.

Clean and dry the peaches, and cut in half, removing the stones. Shake the coconut milk well to emulsify the liquid and then open the can, pouring it into a shallow, wide dish. Mix the sugar and cinnamon well, and pour into another shallow dish.

Dip the cut side of each peach half first in coconut milk, then in the sugar mixture, and shake off any excess sugar. Arrange the peaches on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned on both sides (longer on the flat side than then round side), about 15 minutes total.

 

To create cross hatched grill marks, rotate the peach halves a little while still grilling on the cut side, after about 4-6 minutes.

Service

Transfer the peach halves to plates or a platter for serving and garnish with mint sprigs. Alternatively, you may serve them in bowls over ice cream, 2 halves per serving.

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Lemongrass Champagne Mojito

ingredients for Lemongrass Champagne Mojito

Ingredients             1 serving

1 1/2 ounces of white rum
1 ounce of lemongrass vanilla syrup
3 1/3 ounces of Champagne
4 wedges of fresh large lime
2 stalks of fresh spearmint
6 ounces of crushed ice

For the lemongrass vanilla syrup:
7 ounces of raw cane sugar
7 ounces of spring water
7 stalks of lemongrass
1 organic bourbon vanilla pod

Total: about 6 ounces per serving

Equipment

Muddler
Pot
Utility knife and chopping board
Bar spoon
Funnel
Sieve
Glass bottle
Crushed ice machine or a very good blender
Collins glass (9-12 ounces) with a thick sturdy base, for service

Preparation

Chill the glassware and Champagne until ready for use.

Prepare the lemongrass cane sugar syrup:
Peel off the first outer layer of the lemongrass, and rinse thoroughly. Cut off 1/3 of an inch at the base, and then use only the white bottom 1/3 of the stalk (the most aromatic part of the bulb). Cut into thin slices, and keep aside the upper sections of the stalks for decorating the straws.

Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add lemongrass slices, stirring occasionally over medium to low heat for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla pod that has been sliced down the middle, cover the pot and allow further infusion for another 45-60 minutes. Once cooled, using a funnel and sieve, strain the mixture into the glass bottle, leaving in the vanilla pod. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Prepare the cocktail:
From the remaining lemongrass stalks, make a vertical slit along the length of each and peel off the first few layers, keeping the form as intact as possible. Wrap stalks around the plastic straws of each drink (it’s preferable to use straws of a similar hue to the lemongrass). This serves as an interesting ‘functional’ garnish.

Rinse the spearmint and lime. For the former, use the top four leaves together with the tiniest branches, and only the leaves for the rest of the stalk. Cut the lime across the segments (not from stem to stem), and cut each half into four wedges.

Place the lime, spearmint and lemongrass syrup into the Collins glass. With the flat side of the muddler placed into the base, apply downward pressure using the inside of your palm. Muddle until most solid ingredients are well broken up, followed by adding the rum. At this point, prepare the crushed ice and add it into the Collins glass. Stir with the bar spoon until the glass feels well chilled. Top up with champagne, stir a bit, add the straw and pile some of the crushed ice on top. Additional spearmint garnish is an option.

Serve immediately.