Midsummer Festival Sample Menu

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal strawberries blueberries watermelon fruit plate

Summer is an amazing time of year, and creating a seasonally appropriate feast to celebrate it is a lot of fun. Many herbs can be cultivated throughout this season, so as far as the menu goes, herbs are in. Summer is also the time of the most sunlight (peaking with summer solstice), and consequently, the heat at times can seem relentless. With this in mind, cool and refreshing foods are the name of the game. I decided to go light, breezy, and meat-free for this one, and as always, I cook with gluten-sensitivity in mind though I don’t hear my guests complaining ;-) As with the other festivals, I challenged myself to create a five course meal with optional wine pairing. Here are my picks for this year’s summer fling… enjoy!

Menu In a Nutshell

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Course 1:

Cold Strawberry Soup

(optional pairing: dry champagne)

Course 2:

Honey Almond Cakes with Minty Iced Green Tea

(optional pairing: a light, sweet sake in the tea)

Course 3:

Spicy Cucumber and Blueberry Salad

(optional pairing: Pinot Gris)

Course 4:

Spaghetti with Pesto accompanied by sliced tomatoes, olive oil, and oregano

(optional pairing: Sauvignon Blanc)

Course 5:

Watermelon and Coconut Sorbet Parfaits

(optional pairing: Moscato d’Asti)

~

First Course: Soup

I first fell in love with this soup a few years back on my vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida as it was served in one of their restaurant buffets at the grand Floridian Resort and Spa. When I came home and sought out the recipe, I learned I was not alone! Many different versions of this soup are floating around the Internet, so I am not exactly sure whom to credit, but I plucked this one from The Blonde Diaries blog as it is identical to the one I have used several times before.

Wait ’til you try it!!!!!

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal strawberry soup

1900 Park Fare: Cold Strawberry Soup

Prep time: 10 min

  • 2.5 pounds frozen strawberries, thawed w/juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • fresh strawberries, for garnish.
  1. Mix strawberries, cream, sour cream, and yogurt in blender until smooth
  2. Add sugar, if desired
  3. Chill. Stir well before serving
  4. Garnish with fresh strawberries

Note: Substituting low-fat ingredients is not recommended as it inhibits proper blending and adversely affects the texture.

Optional Pairing:

Dry Champagne or bust ;-)

Second Course: Bread

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal honey almond bread muffin

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake:

(I chose to make these in muffin pans, but a cake pan would be fine too.)

Recipe courtesy of Eating Well Magazine:  March/April 2009

“Honey and almonds flavor this simple (and gluten-free) cake. It’s lovely for afternoon tea or a spring holiday dessert. Be careful not to overbeat the egg whites—they should be white and very foamy, but not at all stiff or able to hold peaks. If you beat them too much, the cake may sink in the middle as it cools.” ~ Eating Well

10 servings Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted (see Tip)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip), separated
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Topping
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Tip)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  2. Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (you will have about 13/4 cups ground). Beat 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (or use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.
  3. Beat 4 egg whites in another large bowl with the electric mixer (use clean beaters on a hand-held mixer or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until very foamy, white and doubled in volume, but not stiff enough to hold peaks, 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the type of mixer). Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool completely.
  5. If desired, remove the cake from the pan bottom by gently sliding a large, wide spatula between the cake and the parchment paper. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter. To serve, drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Nutrition

  • Per serving : 234 Calories; 14 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 8 g Mono; 85 mg Cholesterol; 22 g Carbohydrates; 8 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 208 mg Sodium; 54 mg Potassium

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

  • Exchanges: 1 1/2 carbohydrates (other), 3 fat

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Store the cooled cake airtight at room temperature for up to 1 day. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds just before serving. | Equipment: 9-inch springform pan, parchment paper
  • Tip: To toast whole almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. To toast sliced almonds, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Note: Eggs must be at room temperature for the proteins to unwind enough to support the cake’s crumb. Either set the eggs out on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge them in their shells in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes before using.

Accompaniment: Minty Iced Green Tea

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal Honey almond muffin and minty iced green tea

Recipe courtesy of Eating Well Magazine: July/August 2007

“Crisp and refreshing, you just may find yourself craving this beverage on a hot summer’s night.” ~ Eating Well

4 servings Active Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes (including chilling time)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 green tea bags
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups sake, divided
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, for garnish

Preparation

  1. Combine mint leaves, tea bags, honey and boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes; remove tea bags. Refrigerate until chilled. Divide among 4 large ice-filled glasses. Add 1/2 cup sake to each glass. Garnish with a stalk of lemongrass. Non-alcoholic variation: Omit the sake.

Nutrition

  • Per cocktail : 76 Calories; 0 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 0 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 11 g Carbohydrates; 1 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 11 mg Sodium; 67 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving

  • Exchanges: 1 other carbohydrate
  • Nutrition Note: Per mocktail: 37 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 11 mg sodium; 60 mg potassium.

Optional Pairing:

As mentioned earlier, the iced tea recipe above may be made with or without sake, a crisp, cool rice wine, so if you’d like to pair, simply include it! Sake can be paired with both like and unlike flavors, so the type of sake you use is a bit of a personal preference. I am recommending a sweeter sake to add sweetness to the tea and complement the sweetness of the honey cake.

Third Course: Salad

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal cucumber blueberry salad gluten free

Spicy Cucumber and Blueberry Salad

Recipe Courtesy of Every Day With Rachael Ray

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. english cucumbers, halved lengthwise
  • Salt
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs discarded, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 pt. blueberries
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. No.>1. Using a hand held slicer, slice the cucumbers into half-moons about 1/8 inch thick; season with salt.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the jalapeño, lime juice, garlic and cumin; whisk in the olive oil. Add the cucumbers, blueberries and cilantro and toss to coat.

Optional Pairing:

Pinot Gris

Fourth Course: Main

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal pasta pesto tomatoes

Spaghetti with Pesto

Pesto

The recipe for Pesto that I use comes from the cookbook In the Kitchen with Rosie on p. 57. I highly recommend this version. One of the things I love about it is the substitution of lemon juice for olive oil. This change makes the sauce lighter and tangier, both if which I love! If you choose not to purchase, recipes exist on line that do suggest this substitution though the recipes themselves are not identical. Here is one such version.

Spaghetti

I generally use organic, gluten free pasta made by bionaturæ. It is available in many stores as well as online. I find this to be a very tasty semolina pasta alternative. Certainly if gluten is of no concern, any pasta may be used.

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal sliced tomato platter

Accompaniment: Sliced Tomatoes with Olive Oil and Oregano

Nothing says summer like fresh, local vine ripened tomatoes. I remember as a child, picking them from my grandmother’s garden and eating them like apples! Yum! Simple tomato slices with a touch of olive oil, oregano, fresh ground pepper, and freshly shredded parmesan cheese are a perfect side here.

Optional Pairing:

Sauvignon Blanc

Fifth Course: Dessert

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal watermelon and coconut sorbet parfaits

Watermelon and Coconut Sorbet Parfaits

This amazing recipe is from Martha Stewart Living, July 2011 on p. 111. I was unable to find an online source for a similar one, but even in the absence of specific instructions, you can’t really go wrong experimenting with any combination of these ingredients!

Optional Pairing:

Moscato d’Asti

Holiday & Hearth Holiday and Hearth Lisa Novelline Lisa Anne Novelline author writer The Dance of Spring craft blog creative blog creativity decorator blog festival celebration Summer Solstice Litha Midsummer summer seasons nature blog berries menu meal full table set just before eating

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