Celebrate Summer


Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy it with fresh foods and beverages of the season.  Farmers’ markets are in full-swing and well-stocked with a bounty of local ingredients and the freshest of everything.  Enjoy these summer sippers and light dishes that will help beat the heat.  Start with my Basil-Strawberry Smash, a refreshing combination of two great ingredients with a splash of vodka.  The Tropical Jack is perfect poolside, at the lake or on the patio.  Tequila is always a treat in the heat so try my Big Blue Agave – the color will remind you of the ocean.  With fresh tomatoes and basil in season there is nothing better than Bruschetta.  For something a little different try Mango Shrimp Salsa as an appetizer served in a chilled martini glass or as a dip with tortilla chips.  Another great appetizer is Grilled Guacamole, the grill adds a slightly smoky flavor which is wonderful on its own or as part of a build-your-own fajita or taco bar.  Cheers!

Basil-Strawberry Smash

2 ounces Finlandia Vodka

½ ounce simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar)

3 strawberries

2 basil leaves

Club soda

In a rocks glass, muddle the basil and strawberries with the simple syrup.  Fill with ice, then add the vodka and top with club soda.  Stir and enjoy.

DJD_3947 - Tropical Jack


Tropical Jack

In a shaker with ice, add:

1½ ounces Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

2 ounces pineapple juice

1 ounce orange juice

Give this one a good shake to create a pineapple foam.

Pour into rocks glass and garnish with pineapple wedge.


DJD_2289 Tequila - Big Blue AgaveBig Blue Agave

In a rocks glass with ice, add:

1½ ounces Herradura Anejo tequila

3 ounces lemonade

½ ounce blue Curacao

Stir and garnish with an orange peel.




BruschettaDJD_3186 - Bruschetta

1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more, as needed

2 cloves garlic, halved, plus 2 more, minced

4 ounces goat cheese, softened

6 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped

Kosher salt

Black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced



Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil. Bake the bread until toasted, about 4 minutes per side. While still warm, rub cut sides of garlic over one side of the toast then top with a smear of goat cheese.

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, minced garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Top each toast with the tomato mixture, capers and basil.

Serves 6-8

Note:  For a smoky flavor try grilling the bread.


Grilled GuacamoleDJD_2364 Tequila - Grilled Guacamole
4 avocados, ripe but firm, halved, pit removed
Olive oil
½ lime, juiced
Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Tortilla chips

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.  Lightly brush each avocado half with oil.  Grill, cut-side-down, until marks appear and they are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Take off the grill and let cool slightly.

Scoop out the insides into a bowl and mash with a fork.  Stir in the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add onion, cilantro and hot sauce, if you wish.

Serve immediately with chips.

Serves 4–6


Mango Shrimp Salsa 1Mango Shrimp Salsa

1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced

1 red pepper, seeded, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded, diced

¼ cup red onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

½ pound cooked shrimp, chopped

1/8 cup fresh orange juice

1/8 cup fresh lime juice

Kosher salt

Black pepper

In a bowl, combine the mango, red pepper, jalapeño, onion, garlic, cilantro and shrimp. Stir in the orange and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 6-8