The ice has thawed, the snow has melted and now it’s time to celebrate a new season. Higher temperatures call for a lively color palette of sky blues and sunny yellows paired with patterned dishware and beautiful blooms. Ditch the soups and stews for a garden-fresh menu that’s as refreshing as it is filling, and don’t forget the citrus cocktails. Once guests are seated, the food is served and the conversation starts flowing, those winter blues will be long gone.
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Rosemary, grapefruit & vodka cocktail
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup water
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and stalks discarded
In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil while stirring. Turn down heat and allow to simmer for 3 minutes with lid on. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to steep for 5 more minutes before staining through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the rosemary leaves and allow the syrup to cool before transferring to a sealed bottle or jar. Syrup will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container, stored in a cool, dark place.
11/2 ounces vodka
1/2 cup freshly sqeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 ounce rosemary syrup
In a shaker, combine vodka, grapefruit juice and rosemary syrup. Shake vigorously with a large scoop of ice until the shaker feels ice-cold. Pour cocktail through a strainer into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with fresh rosemary and pink grapefruit slices.
Spring salad with red wine vinaigrette
Red wine vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until very well-combined, about 3-5 minutes.Alternately, you can add all the ingredients to a Mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake vigorously until well-combined.
8 cups spring mix salad greens
3-4 radishes, sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
3 scallions, diced
2 handfuls of snow peas
Salt and pepper
Submerge snow peas in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse with ice-cold water. Drain again and reserve.
Just before serving, toss greens, radishes, strawberries, blueberries, scallions, and blanched snow peas in a large bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among plates and drizzle with dressing. Top with edible flowers.
Risotto and salmon with savory cream sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh baby peas
1/2 cup shredded Fontino cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon snipped chives
Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and rice, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth; bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put cream in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until just barely thickened. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the mustard, the cayenne, and the lemon zest. Beat again until soft peaks form, but don’t let the cream get too stiff. Taste and adjust seasoning.
During last 10 minutes of rice cooking time, stir in asparagus.
Season salmon generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter begins to foam, add salmon pieces and reduce heat slightly. Cook gently on one side for about 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook one minute more. Turn off heat and let rest for 2 minutes. Salmon should be cooked through but moist. Be careful not to overcook.
Stir peas into rice during last 3 minutes of cooking time. Stir in cheeses; taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Mound 2/3 cup risotto on plate. Arrange fillets on risotto and spoon savory whipped cream over each serving. Garnish with chives.