Tidewater Kitchen - June 2008

Summer Solstice Party

by

Pamela Meredith-Doyle

   Solstice means either of the two times a year when the sun is at the greatest distance from the celestial equator: summer solstice is about June 21 and winter solstice is about December 22. Enjoy summer’s solstice and its warm weather with these cool beverages. Any of these popular drinks can be given a special twist with these flavorful ideas. Fruit juices make each recipe uniquely delicious! Welcome the season with these doable, yet impressive menus.
    To me, an outdoor supper is the way to celebrate the first pleasures of summer. Start with any of these delicious appetizers, then fire up the grill to prepare your spicy rubbed chicken and fabulous side dish of grilled vegetables. Creamy cole slaw is the perfect accompaniment to these savory items. Last but not least, spice cake with seasonal blackberries will bring lots of applause!

PINEAPPLE RUM SLUSH
6 servings
3 cups pineapple juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 large lemons)
¾ cup golden or dark rum
¾ cup water
½ cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic pitcher; cover and freeze at least 4 hours or until slushy.
Note: Substitute orange juice for a non-alcoholic beverage.

DELICIOUS MARGARITAS
1 (6 oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
2-3 T. powdered lemonade (pink or yellow)
1 cup gold tequila
½ cup Triple Sec or Cointreau
¼ cup Grand Marnier (optional, but a great touch)
5-6 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy!

BANANA PIÑA COLADAS
Everyone loves piña coladas, so why not throw some bananas into the mix. This recipe makes 10 servings.

3 12-oz. cans evaporate milk
3 8-oz. cans unsweetened pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
3 large ripe bananas, sliced
4 cups ice cubes
1½ cups refrigerated pineapple-orange-banana juice blend
1 cup golden rum (leave this out for non-alcoholic and substitute 1½ t. rum extract)
1½ t. coconut extract

Puree ingredients together in blender - in 3 batches. Transfer to pitcher and serve.

WHITE WINE COOLER
1 orange
1 (750 ml) bottle chilled white wine such as Riesling or whatever’s your favorite
1 15-oz. can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
½ cup orange-flavored liquer (Cointreau)
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup sugar

Slice orange and set aside. Add wine, peaches and their syrup, liquer, orange juice and sugar to a large pitcher, stirring to combine. Add orange slices to the pitcher. cover tightly and refrigerate for one hour. Pour into 6 wine glasses and serve immediately.

SASSY but HAPPY SANGRIA
3 cups chianti or other fruity red wine
1 cup brandy
¼ cup orange-flavored liquer
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced (optional)
1 lemon, sliced (optional)
1 apple, cored and diced
8 fresh raspberries
2 cups club soda, chilled

Combine all ingredients except the club soda in a large pticher. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 hours to let the flavors meld. Pour ¾ cup sangria mixture into each of 8 wine glasses, dividing fruit equally. Top each glass with ¼ cup club soda. Serve immediately.

LIME BEER BEVERAGE
1 (6-pack) light beer
1 can frozen limeade
1 lime, sliced in half
salt or sugar to rim glass

Pour beer into large pitcher. Add still frozen limeade and stir to combine. (Stirring with a metal spoon reduces foam).
Allow the foam to settle. Squeeze half a lime into the pitcher. Thinly slice the other lime half and place into the pitcher for garnish. Pour into chilled glasses and serve cold.
I also love to dip the edge of the glass in liquid and rim with salt or sugar.

SHRIMP with BLUE CHEESE and CELERY
Serves 10-12 (appetizers)

For blue cheese dip:
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
2 t. fresh lemon juice
¾ cup heavy cream
1 bunch celery, cut into sticks

For shrimp sauce:
3 T. minced garlic
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup medium-dry sherry
2 to 4 T. hot sauce
2 T. fresh lime juice

For shrimp:
3 lb. large (16-20 count) shrimp, in shells
2 T. kosher salt
2 T. cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil

Dip - Puree blue cheese, oil and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the cream. Serve dip with celery.
Sauce - Stir together sauce ingredients.
Shrimp - To devein you will need a shrimp deveiner, a knife-like kitchen tool made specifically for deveining shrimp with their shells on. This can be purchased at any kitchen supply store.
Start by holding the shrimp backside up, and place the deveiner under the tip of the shell. Gently slide the deveiner up the back of the shrimp, towards the tail. The deveiner has a serrated edge that the vein will adhere to, while cutting the shell with its sharp upper edge.
Toss shrimp with kosher salt and cracked pepper to coat.
Heat 2 T. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook shrimp in batches, avoiding over-crowding in the pan. Cook shrimp until just cookd through, about 3 minute per side, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to a large bowl as cooked.
Add shrimp sauce to shrimp and toss well to coat.

Notes:
*Shrimp may be served hot or at room temperature.
*Blue-cheese dip can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

GORGONZOLA TRUFFLES
Makes 6 appetizer servings
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 4-oz. container crumbled gorgonzola cheese
2 t. finely grated onion
½ t. Worcestershire sauce
¼ t. black pepper
½ cup cooked and crumbled turkey bacon (this is my favorite)
Apple and pear slices
Grapes

Beat the first five ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover tightly and chill at least 1 hour or until firm. (Can chill for up to 3 days).
Roll cheese mixture into ¾-inch round balls. Roll each ball in bacon. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. If chilled, let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with apple and pear slices and grapes.

MARINATED MOZZARELLA
Makes about 4 cups
3 8-oz. blocks mozzarella cheese
1 8.5-oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and halved
½ cup olive oil
3 T. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 t. garlic, smashed
1 t. onion, grated
½ t. dried oregano
½ t. Italian seasoning
¼ t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground pepper
Garnish: flat-leaf parsley sprigs or fresh rosemary stems

Cut blocks of cheese into 1-inch cubes. Arrange cheese cubes and tomato halves in an 8-inch square baking dish.
Whisk together ½ cup olive oil, chopped parsley and next 6 ingredients and pour evenly over cheese cubes. Cover and chill at least 8 or up to 24 hours. Transfer mixture to a serving plate. Garnish with fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs or spear tomato halves and cheese cubes with short rosemary stems. Drizzle with marinade.

BEEF and ASPARAGUS WRAPS
16 asparagus spears
1 4-oz. package garlic and herb spreadable cheese
2 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
8 thin slices deli roast beef, halved
1 red bell pepper, cut into 16 strips
16 fresh chives (optional)

Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus tips into 3 ½-inch pieces, reserving any remaining end portions for another use.
Cook asparagus in boiling water to cover for 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Plunge tips into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain tips and pat dry with paper towels.
Spoon cheese into a 1-quart zip-top freezer bag. Do not seal. Snip one corner of the bag to make a small hole and pipe cheese down the center of each lettuce leaf. Arrange one roast beef slice, one asparagus spear and one bell pepper strip in each lettuce leaf. Wrap the sides of lettuce around the roast beef and vegetables and tie bundles with chives. This makes about 16 bundles or 8 appetizer servings.

SOUR CREAM DIP
2/3 cup sour cream
2 T. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 T. lemon juice

Lightly mix together all ingredients. You do not want to over-stir as the dip may become runny. This can be prepared the day before the party and kept in the fridge. This is awesome with potato chips.

GUACAMOLE
2 ripe avocados, cut in half and chopped
1 T. mayonnaise
1 t. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 T. sour cream
1 T. lime juice and some zest

Put the avocado, mayonnaise and cilantro in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Turn into a serving bowl and stir in the sour cream and lime juice. Push the avocado pits into the mixture to prevent discoloration - remove before serving. This will keep in the fridge for up to a day.

HUMMUS
1 15-oz. can organic chickpeas, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup light tahini paste
2 T. light olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 T. boiling water
Sea salt to taste

Put the chickpeas and lemon juice in a blender and work to a smooth puree. Add the tahini paste, olive oil and garlic and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the boiling water.
The consistency should be fairly loose and light. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, spoon into bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil.
This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and is great with veggies or pita bread cut into wedges.

TOMATO SALSA
11 oz. (about 2-3 medium) very ripe tomatoes
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (optional)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. chopped fresh basil leaves or cilantro (whichever you prefer)
Black pepper to taste

Quarter and core the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Finely chop the tomatoes and put inot a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and combine. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

SPICE-RUBBED CHICKEN and VEGETABLE TACOS with CILANTRO SLAW and CHIPOTLE CREAM
1½ cups sour cream
1 T. chopped canned chipotle chiles
2 T. (packed) brown sugar
1 T. smoked hot paprika
2¼ t. chili powder
1½ t. coarse kosher salt
1½ t. garlic powder
1½ t. onion powder
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into ¾-inch-thick strips
2 T. canola oil
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken breast halves, each halved horizontally
12 5- to 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro Slaw
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges

Slaw:
12 oz. pkg. shredded three-color coleslaw mix (about 7 cups)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. canola oil
3 T. fresh lime juice
½ t. coarse kosher salt
½ t. ground black pepper

Place coleslaw mix and cilantro in large bowl. Whisk canola oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend. Add to cabbage mixture; toss to coat.

Chicken:
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Whisk sour cream and chipotle chiles in small bowl; season with salt. Whisk brown sugar and next five ingredients in another small bowl to blend for spice rub.
Place zucchini and bell pepper on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with canola oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle spice rub over both sides of vegetables and chicken.
Place chicken and vegetables on barbecue. Grill until vegetables are tender and browned in spots and chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to work surface; cut chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Cut vegetables crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Place chicken and vegetables in large bowl; toss to blend.
Place chicken and vegetables, chipotle cream, tortillas, slaw and lime wedges on table. Allow guests to assemble their own soft tacos.
You can serve the tortillas warm or at room temperature. I like to wrap the tortillas in foil and then place them on the grill to warm them.

YUMMY BURGERS with a SURPRISE INSIDE
Makes 8 burgers
Kids will enjoy helping make these burgers - let them squelch the mixture into patties and hide a piece of cheese in the center. The burgers can be made frozen well ahead of time - just remember to defrost them well before cooking.

18 oz. ground beef
2 t. tomato ketchup
1 T. teriyaki sauce
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz. cheddar cheese cut into 8 small pieces
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for brushing
8 small part-baked bread rolls
8 romaine lettuce leaves

Mix together the beef, sauces, scallions and egg in a large bowl. With damp hands, divide the mixture into 8 balls and then shape into flat patties.
Insert a piece of cheese in the center of each patty. Wrap the meat around the cheese and shape into a burger. Place on a lightly floured plate and chill for 30 minutes.
Brush the burgers with oil and cook on a cast-iron grill pan or under a hot broiler for 5-8 minutes per side. Meanwhile, bake the rolls according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Split them in half and top the bottoms with the cooked burgers, tomato salsa and a lettuce leaf.
If you are cooking on a barbecue, place the burgers on a lightly oiled barbecue grill over medium heat so they do not burn on the outside before being cooked through. Cook for 5-8 minutes per side.

CARAMEL POPCORN
Who doesn’t love caramel popcorn? This is a hit with all.

Cooking spray
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup light-colored corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1 T. light molasses
1½ t. vanilla extract
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
12 cups popcorn (popped without salt or fat)

Preheat oven to 250°. Coat a jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and molasses in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, baking soda and salt. Place popcorn in a large bowl and pour sugar mixture ove rpopcorn in a steady stream, stirring to coat.
Spread popcorn mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven; stir to break up any large clumps. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

SPICE CAKE with BLACKBERRIES and CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. ground allspice
¼ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
Filling:
3 ½-pint baskets blackberries
¼ cup sugar
Frosting:
1½ 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar (about 1¼ lbs.)
2 T. sour cream
1 t. vanilla extract

2 cups of your favorite preserves - I like Trader Joe’s Raspberry Preserves
Fresh berries for garnish

Cake - Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour 9-inch spring-form pan with 2¾-inch-high sides. Sift first seven ingredients into small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in egg yolks. Beat in flour mixture in three additions alternately with sour cream in two additions. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter in two additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides; release pan sides. Cool cake completely on rack.
Frosting - Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar, then sour cream and vanilla.
Cut cake horizontally into three equal layers. Place bottom layer, cut side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over. Spread half of filling (about ¾ cup) over frosting, leaving ¼-inch plain border at edge. Top with second cake layer and 1 cup frosting, then remaining filling. Top with third cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until frosting sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely; keep chilled until 1 hour before serving.) Garnish cake with 1/2 pint berries or some preserves on top.