SUMMER DE-LIGHT: A Lighter Approach to Backyard Entertaining

Chilling out in the summer takes on new meaning when you incorporate cold soups, crisp summery salads and cool cocktails into your entertaining repertoire. With a little creativity and willingness to experiment, you can transform summer entertaining from the routine of burgers and hot dogs to a refreshingly elegant affair. We’ve created some chilled summer soups and eye-catching summer salads, that can be prepared in advance of your guests’ arrival. In the case of our summer soups, all you have to do is grab a carafe from the fridge and set it out along with some bowls or glasses. Summer entertaining was never so easy!

LIQUID COLD: SUMMER SOUPS

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Gazpacho

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
  • Total Time: More than 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled tomato juice
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/ 2 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small English cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 cup homemade croutons
  • 4 to 6 sprigs parsley, for garnish. 

Directions
Combine tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, tomato juice, water, vinegar, olive oil, sugar and cayenne in a large bowl. Place in a blender and purée. Once all the ingredients are puréed, adjust seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water or tomato juice. It should have a smooth, but not thick texture. Add the diced pepper, cucumber and celery. Transfer the soup to a serving vessel such as a carafe or juice pitcher. Keep in a refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. To serve, pour into chilled glasses and garnish with homemade croutons and sprigs of parsley.

Serve with:  Sea Glass Sauvignon Blanc, California, $16.99

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Chilled Melon and Shrimp Soup

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
  • Total Time: More than 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 3/ 4 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch each salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp canola oil 

Directions

Combine melon, 1/2 cup mint, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and water in a blender. Purée until smooth. Pass through a sieve, pushing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Finely chop remaining mint and add to a bowl with shrimp, lime zest, lime juice, garlic and pinch of salt and pepper. Place canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté shrimp until cooked through; about 4 to 5 minutes. Let shrimp cool and then skewer. Fill glasses with chilled soup and garnish with skewered shrimp.

Serve with: Martin Codax Albarino, Spain, $21.99

 

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COOL AS A CUCUMBER COCKTAILS AND MOCKTAILS

It’s Cucumber Thyme

  • 1-inch piece of cucumber, chopped
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1/2 fl oz thyme simple syrup*
  • 1 1/2 fl oz gin
  • Tonic water
  • Cucumber ribbon

Directions: Place cucumber and 2 lime wedges in a cocktail glass; muddle to extract juices. Fill with ice, simple syrup and gin. Stir until well chilled. Double strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with tonic water and garnish with a ribbon of cucumber.

Cucumber Mint Fizz

  • 1-inch piece cucumber, chopped
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • 1/2 fl oz ginger syrup **
  • 1 1/4 fl oz vodka
  • 1/ 4 fl oz St. Germain
  • Elderflower Liqueur
  • Club soda
  • Cucumber ribbon, for garnish

Directions: Place cucumber, mint and lemon wedges in a cocktail glass; muddle to extract juices. Fill with ice, ginger syrup, gin and St. Germain Elderfl ower Liqueur. Stir until well chilled. Double strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a cucumber ribbon.

* To make thyme simple syrup, place 2 to 3 sprigs thyme, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a pot. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil. When sugar dissolves, remove from heat and let cool. Strain to remove thyme.

** To make ginger simple syrup, place 3 slices ginger, 1 Thai chili, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a pot.  Place over high heat. Bring to a boil. When sugar dissolves, remove from heat and let cool. Strain to remove ginger and chili.

MOCK IT UP
Converting these cocktails to mocktails is as simple as not incorporating the alcohol. To keep the drinks flavourful and balanced, simply increase the amount of citrus from 2 wedges to 3, and increase the simple syrup from 1/2 fluid ounce to 1 fluid ounce.

ADD LAYERS TO SUMMER

You don’t have to bundle up this summer, but consider adding some layers. The layered salad hit its pinnacle of popularity in the 1970s, but like they say, “everything old is new again.” These cleverly presented salads will add a lot of visual interest to your next backyard dinner party. So add some layers  it’s summer, after all!.

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Layered Pepper Salad

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
  • Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper, seeds removed, finely sliced
  • 1 orange pepper, seeds removed, finely sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup Spanish-style chorizo, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Divide peppers and tomatoes amongst 6 glasses. Top each with equal amounts of chorizo. Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by placing garlic, vinegar, capers and smoked paprika in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Spoon vinaigrette over salads and serve.

Serve with: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $21.99

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Southwestern Layered Chicken Salad

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
  • Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 3 ears corn, steamed, grilled, kernels removed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup queso fresco (or feta), crumbled
  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 limes, zest, juice
  • 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

Divide shredded lettuce amongst 4 to 6 glasses. Top each glass with black beans, corns, tomatoes and cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Meanwhile, make a dressing by combining mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, hot sauce, cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. When ready to serve, top each salad with chicken slices, spoon equal amounts of the dressing on top of each of the salads and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Serve with: Les Jamelles Selection Spéciale Chardonnay Viognier, France, $21.99

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Layered Fruit Salad

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
  • Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mint, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup melon balls
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled, halved
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream

Directions
Make a mint syrup by combining sugar and water in a pot. Bring to a boil. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add mint. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and refrigerate until ready to use. Place fruit in individual bowls. Add equal amounts of the mint syrup to each and toss. Place a layer of melon balls and strawberries in glasses. Top each with equal amounts of the whipped cream, then add a layer of blueberries and raspberries. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Serve with: Nova 7 By Benjamin Bridge, Nova Scotia, $24.99

3 SPARKLING WINES FOR SUMMER ENTERTAINING 

Crémant
France’s contribution to the sparkling wine world goes beyond Champagne. Crémant is the term used for sparklers made using the Traditional Method but outside Champagne. Typically bottled at less pressure than their Champagne equivalents, many crémant boast a soft, approachable palate. Nova Scotia’s own Blomidon Estate makes a great value version that’s perfect for summer sipping or an accompaniment to a platter of local seafood.

Cava
Spain’s sparkling gift to the world is fresh and exuberant. Although made using the Traditional Method, less aging requirements means Spanish sparklers are less yeasty and bread-like in character. A great match to summer-inspired tapas dishes such as melon wrapped in ham and simple seafood hors d’oeuvres.

Prosecco
Italy’s most popular sparklers boast pear, apple and citrus flavours. Most Prosecco are less dry  compared to their French neighbours and Spanish counterparts. No food required. Prosecco can be enjoyed on their own, and even make great cocktails. Try mixing your favourite Prosecco and with your favourite fruit juice for a sparkling summer cocktail.

Occasions Recommends

  • Blomidon Estate Crémant, Nova Scotia, $24.99
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava, Spain, $16.29
  • La Marca Prosecco, Italy, $20.99

FRUITY BREWS

If you want to add a little fruit flavour to your glass, it doesn’t have to be in the form of berries. Brewers have long used fresh fruit to enhance their beers. Believe it or not, many fruit beers are drier than you might expect. The fruit is used to complement and accentuate the character of the base beer, not to overwhelm or dominate it.

Some can be quite tangy, as is the case of Radler, which is flavoured with grapefruit juice, while others can have a pleasantly fragrant aroma and fruity taste profile. Many brewers use wheat ale, itself a naturally fruity style with a tart edge, as their base, as the combination is naturally harmonious. Fruit beers are great summer brews. Serve tarter styles with shellfish and salads and sweeter, fruitier styles with light, fruit-based desserts and mild cheeses.

Occasions Recommends

  • St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale, 473 ml, $3.49
  • Garrison Raspberry Wheat Ale, 6 x 341 ml, $13.49
  • Früli Strawberry Ale, 330 ml, $3.99
  • Moosehead Light Raspberry Radler, 6 x 341 ml, $13.99

 

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