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!
2 ounces Finlandia Vodka
½ ounce simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar)
2 basil leaves
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Note: For a smoky flavor try grilling the bread.
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
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.
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
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.