Posted July 3, 2015

Simple Summer Recipes to Wow Your Party Guests


Summer Party

Patio season is upon us and if there’s anyone who knows how to prepare a tasty meal for the warm-weather months, it’s Chef Caprial Pence of the Bookstore Bar & Café in Seattle. Not only did Chef Pence win the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northwest, she’s got nine cookbooks and multiple TV shows under her belt — and she works in arguably the city with the best summertime weather.

Chef Caprial Pence

Chef Caprial Pence has the perfect menu for your next backyard party.

Since Chef Pence can’t make a special appearance in everyone’s backyard (unless you’re really lucky!), we asked her for a no-fuss menu of simple summer recipes that you can easily dish and serve while entertaining on the deck. You’ll get a chance to enjoy everyone’s company, and your guests will be wowed by your presentation of chilled tomato Parmesan soup, pork loin rubbed with herbes de Provence, grilled potatoes tossed with orange-saffron mayo, and a lemon tart for dessert. With a meal this sizzling, make sure there’s enough for seconds.

Chilled Tomato Parmesan Soup

Heirloom tomatoes

12 medium-size ripe tomatoes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, diced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
5 cups strong chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Core the tomatoes and place in a roasting pan. Add the olive oil, garlic and onion, and roast until the tomatoes are brown and the onions are tender (about 45 minutes). Once brown, place the tomatoes in a bowl and add the vinegar, stock, cheese and herbs, and purée. Strain the soup and season with salt and black pepper; serve cold. Serves: 6.

Herbes de Provence-Rubbed Pork Loin

Herbes de Provence

3 pounds pork loin
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
Zest 2 lemons
¼ cup honey

Place the pork loin in a non-reactive pan. Heavily salt and pepper the loin. Combine the herbes de Provence and lemon zest and rub on the loin. Drizzle with honey and let sit overnight.

When ready to grill, heat one side of the grill, leaving the other side cold. Remove the loin from the marinade and place on the cold side of the grill and cover. Cook the loin about 30 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Move over to the hot side and grill until brown; be careful not to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to rest 3-4 minutes. Slice and serve with fresh lemon. Serves: 6.

Grilled Potatoes Tossed With Orange-Saffron Mayo

Grilled potatoes

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Zest and juice 1 orange
Pinch of saffron
1 egg yolk
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked whole until tender
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make the mayo, place the vinegar, zest, juice, saffron, garlic and egg in the bowl of a food processor and mix. With the machine running slowly, add the oil and process until smooth. Season the mayo with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat grill until very hot. Gently cut the potatoes in half. Season the potatoes with salt and black pepper and toss with olive oil. Place cut side down on the grill and allow to sit until very crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the grill and toss with mayo; serve warm. Serves: 6.

Lemon Tart Topped With Peaches and Raspberries


1½ cups flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 pound cream cheese
⅔ cup sugar
Zest and juice 1 lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint fresh raspberries
3 peaches, peeled and diced

To prepare the crust, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and mix well. With the machine running, add the butter a bit at a time. Process the mixture until a dough forms on top of the blade. Press into a well-greased 9-inch flan pan with a removable bottom. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, then bake lightly lined with foil until the crust is golden brown. Cool completely.

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and mix until soft and creamy. Add the juice, zest and vanilla, and mix well. Spread into the cooled crust. Top with berries and peaches. Sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar and serve with softly whipped cream. Serves: 12.

Photos: Backyard Party – Monkey Business Images; Herbes de Provence – Christopher Paquette/Flickr; Potatoes – WoodleyWonderWorks/Flickr; Lemons – Decor8 Holly/Flickr


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