Easy Summer Show Stoppers
Whether you are entertaining guests or looking for a fun snack to make with your grandkids, summer ingredients are so colorful and fresh, it is easy to make a splash without a lot of effort. The important thing is you are getting together with family and friends both in the kitchen and around the table where memories are made, and the food just happens to be beautiful and delicious.
One of my favorite warm weather dishes that doubles as an elegant accessory to my tabletop scape and is perfect for a Fourth of July luncheon with friends, is this Caesar salad served in a Parmesan cup topped with edible flowers. Obviously, you can serve any salad in this delicious vessel, but my signature Caesar recipe is insanely good. A simple spinach salad with a citrus vinaigrette would be a great choice as well.
While the vessel is an impressive visual, it is the colorful tiny pansies that steal the show. They set such a happy mood as your guests arrive to a beautiful table where each place setting is adorned with a starter course that is a work of art. Edible flowers are not only reserved for entertaining, I throw them on to my salads all summer long because they add color, texture, and flavor. You can find them in the fresh herb section of your grocery store. Once you start picking them up, you will find yourself decorating all kinds of dishes with them, from cupcakes to Sunday morning pancakes.
Speaking of color, texture, and flavor, my mom shared this deviled strawberry recipe with me. It’s the perfect use for those deep-red strawberries on market shelves right now. Throw in a little nostalgia with the marshmallow fluff for flavor, topped with a sprinkle of chocolate and/or toasted coconut for texture. It is the full package, home run summer snack and/or dessert recipe. Apparently, my brother’s kids devoured them! I also love having another use for my deviled egg dish.
So have some fun with all the vibrant colors that come with summer produce, make some memories in the kitchen and around the table with friends and family, because we only get so many summers.
Summer Caesar Salad in a Parmesan Cup
1½ cups grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Place 6 quarter-cup mounds of Parmesan on the baking sheet and gently tap down until each mound is flat and 4½ to 5 inches in diameter.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Working quickly, one at a time, use a thin spatula to transfer a Parmesan disc to the top of a muffin cup. Gently place the small drinking glass on top of the Parmesan to mold it into the shape of the muffin cups. Repeat for each disc.
Let cool until firm, about 5 minutes.
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
12 flat anchovies, rinsed and patted dry
4 T. fresh lemon juice
4 T. mayonnaise
½ t. Kosher salt
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 T. water
3 heads Romaine, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 small package of edible flowers
In a blender, at high speed, combine garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and salt until smooth.
With motor running, add the oil in a slow stream and blend until emulsified. Add water and blend until all combined.
When ready to serve, dress the salad.
Fill Parmesan cups with Caesar salad, top with edible flowers, and enjoy.
1 pint of strawberries
½ cup cream cheese at room temperature
½ cup marshmallow fluff
Grated chocolate or toasted coconut for garnish
Using a paring knife, remove top of each strawberry, cut in half lengthwise and remove the core. Pat the insides dry with a paper towel and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff with an electric mixer on medium until fluffy, approximately 1 minute.
Using a piping bag or Ziploc bag with a corner snipped, pipe the filling into the strawberry halves.
Sprinkle grated chocolate or toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.