Garden parties bring out beauty of spring

Published 10:13 am Thursday, May 30, 2019

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

The month of May brings abundant color in our gardens, and as one would expect, the calendar is full of parties that celebrate the arrival of flowers and capture the essence of spring.  The Friends of Reynolda Gardens were recently invited to an elegant soiree on the grounds as a thank you for the generous contributions and efforts that helped support their meadow, woods, greenhouses, and gardens throughout the year.

A delicious collection of garden party favorites was served in the greenhouse. Party-goers gathered at tables on the terrace; others formed intimate circles in chairs on the lush lawn, while some stood in groups chatting with cocktails in hand. There are few ways of ending a long day as enjoyable as sitting down with friends to enjoy delicious food or while strolling at your leisure through lovely gardens with a refreshing beverage.

Delicious summer savories on a garden party menu include grilled chicken on skewers dipped in peanut sauce, a chafing dish of hot artichoke dip with toasted pitas, and sophisticated sandwiches including smoked salmon pinwheels. For those who want something sweet, a tempting selection of bite-sized pastries filled with custard and topped with fresh berries will satisfy.   

Friends of Reynolda Gardens are committed to improving the community through volunteer efforts.

Communities benefit and grow stronger by those who generously devote their time and energy to help. Enjoy the annual party that everyone’s invited to attend – just by becoming a friend and contributing to help support a local garden treasure.   

SMOKED SALMON PINWHEELS

1 unsliced, whole loaf of wheat bread

1 lemon

6 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

1 Tbsp. fresh dill

8 oz. salmon slices

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh dill for garnish

Slice bread loaf along its length to form 8 slices. Cut off the crusts. Grate the lemon rind finely and add to butter. Spread each slice of bread with lemon butter. Arrange sliced salmon on top of the butter. Pepper on top. Roll up the bread in jelly-roll fashion. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, slice each roll into ½-inch slices. Garnish with dill.

PIMENTO FINGER SANDWICHES

½ lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese

4 oz. pimento pieces

12 oz. low-fat cottage cheese

½ tsp. hot sauce

1/8 cup mayonnaise (optional)

Whole wheat bread

In a food processor, combine cheddar cheese, pimento, cottage cheese, hot sauce, and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread on whole wheat bread with crusts removed. Cut into 1 ½ inch lengths or roll up.

MOZZARELLA STUFFED MUSHROOMS

16 oz. fresh mushrooms

1 Tbsp. salted butter

6 oz. herb seasoned stuffing mix

10 oz. cream of mushroom soup

½ cup (1 stick) melted salted butter

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Chop stems, and saute in 1 Tbsp.of butter. Prepare stuffing according to pkg. directions. Add mushroom stems and soup to stuffing. Dip mushroom caps in ½ cup melted butter, and arrange in a greased baking dish. Stuff mushrooms with prepared stuffing mix. Sprinkle cheese over stuffed mushrooms. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes and lightly browned. Serves 8

CRUDITES FOR DIPPING

Carrots

Cucumbers

Bell peppers

Asparagus

Green beans

Cut carrot, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, asparagus, and green beans in 4-inch sticks. Stand each vertically and separately in glass containers. Serve with lemon cream dip.

LEMON CREAM DIP

1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp. sour cream

¼ tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. sugar

1 pressed garlic clove

1 ½ tsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a mixer, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate

CUCUMBER CANAPES

8 oz. softened cream cheese

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. hot sauce

1-7oz. pkg. Italian dressing mix

1 thinly sliced cucumber

Fresh dill

Fresh white bread, refrigerated

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and Italian herbs in a processor, and process until smooth. Cut out rounds from cold bread and spread with mixture. Top each with cucumber slice  and garnish with fresh dill. Serve open-faced.

ELEGANT FRUIT PLATTER

1 peeled, seeded ripe cantaloupe

1 peeled, seeded, ripe green honeydew

2 peeled, seeded papayas

2 juiced limes

2 halved limes

2 ½ cups strawberries, blueberries, raspberries,

   blackberries

Prepare mellons, then cut into thin wedges. Prepare papaya, and cut into wedges. Then slice lengthwise. Sprinkle melon and papaya with lime juice of 2 limes. Then add mixed berries to the platter. Place 2 cut limes ona platter. Serve with a bowl of honey yogurt.

HONEY YOGURT

2 cups thick plain yogurt

1/3 cup honey

Put the yogurt in a bowl and drizzle with honey.

CHICKEN SATAY

4 boneless chicken breasts

Marinade

1 chopped onion

1 minced clove garlic

1-inch grated ginger root

3 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground coriander

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 ¼ cups coconut milk

1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp. lemon or lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cut uncooked meat into thin strips about 3 inches long. For marinade, in a bowl, combine onion, ginger, soy, chili powder, coriander, brown sugar, lemon juice, and oil. Mix well. Add the meat to marinade. Cover and marinate for 4 hours or overnight. Thread marinated meat onto presoaked wooden skewers. Place satays under the broiler and cook for 8-10 minutes while turning and brushing with marinade often until cooked. For the sauce, in a bowl, mix milk, peanut butter, fish sauce and lemon juice in a pan. Bring to a boil and cook on low for 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sauce in a bowl.

CHICKEN SALAD PARTY SANDWICH

1 cup white wine

3/4 cup golden raisins

3 lbs. boneless, cooked chicken

3 chopped ribs celery

2 chopped Granny Smith apples

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. curry powder

2 Tbsp. ground ginger

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

½ tsp. salt or more to taste

Whole wheat bread, crustless

In a saucepan, bring wine and raisins to a boil. Simmer on medium for 3 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a bowl, combine remaining wine, raisins, cooked chicken, celery, and apples. Add lemon juice, curry powder, and ginger and toss. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Spread on whole wheat bread with crusts removed. Cut into 1 ½ inch lengths or roll into horns.

HOT CREAMY ARTICHOKES WITH PITA POINTS

2 cup mayonnaise

2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. hot sauce

2-14 oz. cans finely chopped artichoke hearts

paprika

Grated mild cheddar cheese

In a mixer, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and hot sauce. Fold in artichoke hearts and mix well. Cover with grated cheddar and sprinkle entire top with paprika. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to a chafing dish and add more grated cheese. Cover and keep heated. Serve with pita chips for dipping. 16 servings

MINI PECAN TART

1 box refrigerated pie crust (2 sheets)

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

¼ cup honey

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 ¾ cups toasted, chopped pecans

Cut 2-inch rounds from the pastry and fill tartlet pan.  In a pot, combine sugars, honey, whipping cream, and grated orange peel over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken for 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans. Fill tartlet shells with mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until tartlets are done. Cool. Makes 16

CHERRY TARTLETS

1 pkg. refrigerated pie crust (2)

2 beaten egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

½ cup sour cherry jam

Cut 2-inch rounds from pastry and fill tartlet pan. In a pot, whisk beaten eggs and sugar. Whisk in flour and then milk. Add lemon zest. Bring to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool. Fill tartlet shells with 1 Tbsp.of the mixture. Top each with 2 tsp.of jam. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Sift powdered sugar on top. Makes 16.

FRESH MANGO TARTLETS

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup powdered sugar

¾ cup melted, salted butter

3 Tbsp. flaked coconut

2 peeled, pitted mangoes

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

14 oz. condensed milk

Blueberries and raspberries

For the crusts, mix flour, sugar, butter, and coconut in a bowl until it forms dough. Pinch off pieces and press each piece onto bottom and up sides of mini tartlet pan. Chill 30 minutes. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden. For the filling, puree mangoes with allspice and cinnamon in a processor.

In a pan, pour the lime juice in and sprinkle gelatin over the juice. Allow to stand 10 minutes for gelatin to soften. Stir over low heat 2 minutes or until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat. Whisk in condensed milk and mango puree. Fill tartlet shells with mixture. Chill 3 hours. Top with raspberries or blueberries. Makes 12.

JASMINE TEA

2 tsp. jasmine tea

3 cups boiling water

Ice cubes

2 pitted, sliced peaches

1 sliced lemon

Put the tea in a pitcher and add boiling water. Brew for 5 minutes and then strain. Allow to cool.  Fill a pitcher with ice cubes and add sliced peaches and lemon. Pour the tea over ice and fruit. Mix well and serve immediately.

WHITE WINE SPRITZER

1 bottle or 3 cups chilled white wine

4 cups chilled sparkling mineral water

4 cups frozen white grapes

Put the chilled wine, chilled mineral water and 2 cups frozen grapes in a large pitcher and mix well. Put a ¼ cup of frozen grapes in each glass and pour spritzer over them. Serves 8.