It might not be blazing hot yet, but we’re already getting those invitations that come with a big responsibility — deciding what to bring along.
Every year around this time I start stacking the war chest with ideas and recipes that are perfect for summer parties and, because the bar is pretty high these days with the number of great cooks out there, they have to be good ones.
Herbed potato salad
Our family potato salad with diced onion and apple and peas and carrots will always be the favourite at our get-togethers, but sometimes you need a little something extra.
This version is bumped to the max with fresh herbs and a hit of lemon. Low-fat mayonnaise and light sour cream work perfectly here, although they can water down the result, especially if the salad is sitting in the fridge for a bit.
You will get a scoop each for about eight people, which is perfect if there are several side dishes on offer, but this recipe doubles or triples easily for a crowd.
2-1/2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (peeled or unpeeled, as you prefer)
1 tsp. salt, divided
2 tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 green onions, white and green part, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 medium dill pickle, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. each fresh mint leaves and fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Add half the salt, lower heat, cover and simmer until tender. Drain and sprinkle vinegar over the potatoes; toss to coat well. Place in a large glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap but poke a few holes through so it is not air tight. Refrigerate until cold.
Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Stir in onion, celery. pickle, garlic, remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt and pepper and refrigerate half an hour or so.
Stir potatoes into dressing and chill until ready to serve. Stir in parsley, mint, dill and thyme just before you put it out on the table. If it’s going to sit for any length of time, consider putting the serving bowl in a larger bowl or pan filled with ice.
The shredded broccoli slaw available in grocery stores the past few years is a pretty good deal and a delicious alternative to all-cabbage slaw.
This recipe has a nice kick without overdoing it and holds up well to waiting for dinner. If you are barbecuing burgers or making pulled pork sandwiches, this is the slaw to mound on top. This amount will serve eight or more as a side but more still as a burger topping.
1 large bag (about 12 oz.) broccoli slaw
1 small bag (about 6 oz.) shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet gherkins
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or salad dressing if you prefer)
1 tbsp. hot grainy mustard
1 tbsp. liquid honey
1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. sriracha or other hot pepper sauce (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
Combine broccoli slaw, cabbage, red pepper, red onion and pickles. Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and sriracha. Toss with vegetables to coat thoroughly. Fry almonds in butter until toasty brown and fragrant and stir into slaw.
Frozen Piña Colada slushies
You can make a kid-friendly version of this recipe by leaving out the rum. This isn’t a light drink or a light dessert, but if you serve it as a two-for-one it’s a fabulous way to end a meal and chart a sensible course for the rest of your evening.
For the frozen pineapple, use fresh chunks or drained canned tidbits. Dry on paper towels and lay them in a single layer on a large plate; freeze solid.
You can do this many days ahead and put the pineapple, once frozen, into a zipper bag. They will keep a long time.
This one will sneak up and set you right on your behind, so watch out how much you drink. These quantities result in 6 modest servings or 4 immodest ones.
6 oz. white rum
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups frozen pineapple
4 oz. canned coconut cream (sweetened coconut milk)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 to 2 cups ice cubes
Put the works in a large blender and blend until smooth. If it all won’t fit at once puree the pineapple juice and frozen pineapple together, then the coconut cream, whipping cream and ice cubes. Combine in a large pitcher and stir in the rum. Serve right away, preferably in big summery glasses.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in
St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o
The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.