Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer's Bounty Dinner Party Menu

It's nearing the end of summer 
and while that makes me sad, 
the bounty of summer is at its peak.
Red, ripe tomatoes, watermelon, corn,
the flavors of the summer 
are grown in abundance in the Midwest.

Here's a menu for a 
Summer's Bounty Dinner Party,
thanks to some recipes from my friend, Nina.
Nina is one of those fabulous cooks
who always seem to be way ahead of the curve.  
She served this menu at a dinner party a few years ago,
before I had ever heard of using watermelon in a salad!
I make it now, every summer
with gorgeous red tomatoes and sweet watermelon.
It's the most delicious combination 
-wonderfully refreshing.
And the flank steak that accompanies it 
is terrific, too, with an unusual marinade
containing onions and marmalade!
I added Nina's  recipe for gougeres to the menu 
after having enjoyed them recently 
on our trip to Napa Valley.  
You can read about it here.

Another wonderful thing about this time of year 
is that my gardening friends have lots of fresh veggies to share.
The tomatoes, basil and zinnias are from my friend Anna's garden.
Thanks, Anna!

This menu makes a memorable meal. 
I made this dinner last night for a special family meal.
It's good enough for company
and friends you want to delight.
Thanks, Nina!

The Menu:
Tomato Watermelon Salad with Feta and Almonds
Fresh Corn on the Cob
Marinated Flank Steak 
Herbed Gougeres

The Recipes:

Tomato Watermelon Salad
with Feta and Sliced Almonds

8 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks
3 lbs tomatoes (about 6 cups) cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks
1 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse Kosher salt 
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
6 cups fresh Arugula
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Combine chopped melon and tomatoes in a large bowl.
Sprinkle with salt and toss to blend.
Let stand 15 minutes.
Add 4 Tbsp of the olive oil, vinegar and herbs to the melon mixture.
Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired.
Toss arugula in a medium bowl with the remaining Tbsp of olive oil.
Divide arugula among plates 
and top with melon mixture.
Sprinkle with Feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve.

Marinated Flank Steak

1 flank steak, lightly scored
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp marmalade, chutney or apricot jam
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Several thin slices of onion

Mix marinade ingredients together and pour over meat.
Marinate at least 4 hours, turning several times.

Broil or grill 6 minutes on each side.  
Cut meat into thin slices, on a slant against the grain.
Pour any juice on the meat and serve.

Corn on the Cob
(My own personal, super gourmet recipe)

Shuck corn.
Place in large pot covered with salted water. 
Bring water to boil. 
Turn burner off, leaving corn in the pot on the burner
for about ten minutes.
Serve with lots of butter 
when everything else is ready!

Herbed Gougeres

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
1 cup flour
5 eggs
2 Tbsp cold milk
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, rind removed and grated
2 green onions, minced
1 Tbsp fresh dillweed
Pinch of parsley

Position rack in center of oven.  
Preheat oven to 400*
Butter 2 baking sheets.
Combine water, 1/3 cup milk, butter,  1 tsp salt, nutmeg and pepper 
in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat,
making sure the butter is completely melted.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in flour 
using wooden spoon until all flour is absorbed 
and mixture leaves sides of pan.  
Return to medium heat for two minutes to cook flour.

Transfer to mixing bowl or food processor.
Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time until mixture is thick and smooth.
Add milk and mix thoroughly.
Blend in cheese, onion, dill and parsley.
Batter should hold shape on a spoon.
Lightly sprinkle buttered baking sheets with water, shaking off excess.
Spoon batter into pastry bag fitted with 3/4 tube.
Pipe 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" mounds on baking sheet, 
 drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the sheet, 
leaving about 1/2" between each one.
Combine remaining egg and 1/4 tsp salt and blend well.
Brush over tops of gougeres, being careful not to drip on baking sheet 
or rising will be impaired.  

Bake until well browned, about 20 - 25 minutes.  
Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks.
Note: When cool, these can be frozen in airtight bags.  
Reheat 10 minutes in 300 * oven.
(Do not preheat oven)

Mr. Grand grills the meat....

And dinner is ready to serve!


We kept the lights in our Serviceberry tree 
and they look so nice as the sun sets.

 Bon Appetit!

Linking to:
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
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  1. Oh Boy ! so delicious looking.....and great recipes......always enjoy your blogs Erin! a.c.

  2. Erin, you are making my mouth water. What a delightful family meal. You certainly make every day moments special in every single way.

  3. That all looks so delicious!!! It looks like a romantic place to eat as well-can I come visit!!!
    The paint you asked about is a Behr paint called Marina Life.

    Take care,

  4. I'm visiting today from Brenda's Cozy Little House blog.
    Your meal looks soooo good, your table setting is beautiful, love the lights in your tree and Mr. Grand looks like he's a good cook..
    I'm sorry to see the good food that summertime produces too. I do love Fall though.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Charlotte in Va.

  5. I meant to say that I'm sorry to see the good food that comes with summer not be as plentiful after the warm weather has come and gone. We just have to enjoy it all while it's available.

  6. Erin, I love the amazing craft ideas on your Pinterest board.. There are so many talented "gals" out there.. I really want to try my hand at some of the ideas.. Charlotte

  7. Hi Erin, just popped over from Cozy Little House. Your dinner looks to die for. And, isn't that midwest corn just the best!!

    Since you have good tomatoes right now, try Paula Deen's recipe for tomato pie. You won't be sorry.

  8. Hi Erin. I came over upon Brenda's recommendation, and have had the best time visiting! I went all the way back to March on your blog.....and delightfully revisited Italy with you! I went a few years ago for 3 weeks with my Mom. We visited many of the same places you mentioned! I went back to Ireland with you and your family.....that is someplace I long to see. I enjoyed seeing the transformation of your cottage, and friends weddings, and delicious meals....and fun antiques. I will be back!
    XO Kris

  9. Erin, oh this meal looks amazing! Thank you so much for visiting me today, now following you :)



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Thank you so much!