Take Advantage of Seasonal Produce for a Beautiful, Bountiful Buffet
Take advantage of seasonal produce for a beautiful, bountiful buffet relaxing and catching up…that's the best part about spending a long weekend with friends and family. But too often we end up snacking on junk foods and overindulging in heavy barbeque and sodas. This weekend, plan a gorgeous buffet with fresh and colorful choices that are delicious, elegant and will leave your guests feeling refreshed and ready to welcome the summer. Getting the kids involved makes the meal more appealing to them as well.
For inspiration, enjoy a trip to the farmer's market for a variety of organic, fresh vegetables for salads and kabobs. The farmers market in Malibu is one of a kind (and always, a great place to do some celeb sightings, if you have any out-of-towners visiting).
Look for all kinds of salad greens, berries, beets, and peppers. Take the time to speak with the vendors (also our stars) to ask about what's best right now and even have a taste. This time of year go for the stone fruits, just coming into season.
When you're planning your menu, start with a signature cocktail: Watermelon Martinis! I love martinis because you can add almost anything so they are always fresh and seasonal.
Pour it into a beautiful glass pitcher and it becomes part of your decor. This is such a refreshing choice that always makes it feels like summer!
Directions: Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool. In a food processor, puree the watermelon flesh. Add a little of the sugar syrup to sweeten to your taste.
Pour the pureed watermelon into 2 empty ice cube trays and freeze for min. 4 hrs. In blender combine frozen watermelon cubes, more simple syrup to taste, lemon juice, vodka, melon liqueur and blend until smooth. Pour into 8 frozen martini glasses and garnish with watermelon balls & slice of cucumber on a toothpick.
Main Course De-light
The main course doesn't need to be heavy to be wonderfully satisfying. Keep the dishes light and colorful. Grill Veggies first then Salmon and it will pick up delicious flavor from the veggies. My dear friend Karen Parcell, makes the most delicious grilled salmon ever. Here's her recipe:
Whisk together the mustards, honey, horseradish, mint and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before using. Can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated . Bring to room temperature before using. Brush both sides with the marinade with a bit left over to add before serving.
Heat the grill to high. Brush the grill with the oil. Place the salmon on the grill, skin side down, and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, about 3 minutes. I tented mine with tinfoil.
Karen's recipe, like her, will close any real-estate deal in the Palisades (Visit her website at karenparcell.bhhscalifornia.com)
This recipe came about when I arrived home after a long day of installing furniture in a client's home and was surprised by my daughter making me dinner! She whipped up some grilled veggies and added them all to a salad. Fantastic! Try it this Memorial Day Weekend and you too will love it.
2 bunch Asparagus - ends snapped off
4 Zucchini - cut into long 1" strips
2 large yellow onions - cut into 1" rings
2 basket of cherry tomatoes - cut in half
1 head of romaine lettuce - torn into bite size pieces
1 bunch of Arugula - stems torn off
6 oz feta cheese - crumbled (buy in a block as fresh as you can, from a cheese shop)
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ginger dressing (recipe to follow)
Turn grill on high. Thoroughly clean and dry all the veggies. Put asparagus, onion, and zucchini in a ziploc bag with olive oil less small amount for grilling. Add salt & pepper to veggies, just a pinch or two of each. Massage your veggies so they are well coated. Throw a small amount of water on grill to make sure grill is nice and hot. When grill sputters it is ready. Dip a paper towel in remaining oil and using tongs wipe the grill grates with oil. Lay the veggies sideways on grill to prevent them from falling thru grates. Let them get a nice char about 3 min per side for onions, and zucchini and a bit less for asparagus. Remove and let cool.
A big bowl is important for not only presentation but allows you room to toss the salad, making sure each piece is well coated with dressing. Add all the ingredients except the cheese. Add the dressing slowly about 2 oz at a time, gently toss the salad. Get some air into it so every piece has that delicious flavor. Crumble feta cheese on top before serving and a couple turns of fresh, cracked, black pepper.
Makes about 9 oz
1 cup of good olive oil
1/2 cup of rice vinegar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of grated ginger( best to buy to already done in a sauce at any market - I love the Culinary District brand from Surfas here in LA)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1tsp of crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp blk pepper
Add all ingredients into a bowl and whisk well. Can stay at room temp for 4 hours or in fridge for a month.
Fun & Healthy for the Kids
For the younger guests, create a special kabob assembly line. When children are involved in the choices, they tend to be more willing to try a variety of foods. Offer cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken sausage chunks (throw those on grill after veggies and on side of salmon), and yellow or orange peppers to make an inviting activity that ends in a healthy meal! There may be a need for some dipping sauce so pour a bit of ranch dressing in individual bowls for bright flavor (make it fresh with mayo and the ranch dressing packets, it tastes so much better).
Add a basket of fresh, crusty bread and you are set.
For a sweet yet sophisticated ending, create a berry parfait buffet. With some charming glass dishes and a variety of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, along with some fresh whipped cream or vanilla yogurt, guests can create their own layered treat. Wine glasses or mason jars are lovely if you don't have dessert bowls, and clear plastic cups are great for the kids (we suggest our Govino plastic wine glasses). Add some granola, chocolate chips or crushed nuts for a sweet, crunchy garnish.
And really, when it's dessert, don't we all love a "make your own" treat? And even better that this one is actually so good for you!