Of all the glories Minnesota has to offer—the arts, the lakes, the outdoor activities—it’s summer that we celebrate most. We slip on shorts, fire up the grill, and dash out into the garden at the first sign of green—and that’s in early April. Now, in the full throes of the season, it’s time to savor the things we longed for all winter: a crisp summer ale, some just-picked tomatoes, perhaps even a touch of sunburn. Here’s an idea: Call some friends, chill the drinks, and set the table for an al fresco celebration. Outdoor entertaining is easier than you think: Simple preparations can yield stunning results. No sweat.
A great party begins with the setting. Find a way to focus your guests’ attention on the lushest part of your yard. There’s no reason to limit the action to the deck or patio when you can set up a table under a tree or spread a blanket on the lawn for a picnic. Add elegance at night by lining steps and walkways with candles placed in hurricane vases (try beeswax or clean-burning soy varieties). In the evening, consider citronella to ward of pesky mosquitoes. When it comes to setting the table, think festive, not formal. Incorporate elements that play off the natural setting—casual cotton linens, wooden platters. Herbs potted in decorative vessels can be a refreshing alternative to cut flowers. Also, skip the disposable cups and plates; your guest will feel more at home with actual plates, silver, and bar ware in hand.
Burgers and brats are fine for tailgating. But a special gathering of friends requires something more. For some light fare that makes the most of summer’s bounty, we turned to Minneapolis-based chef Philip Dorwart, of Create Catering. The recipes he provided (you’ll find them on the following pages and also on our website) are flavorful variations on old favorites: a BLT made with walleye, potato chips spiked with smoked paprika. The results are more complex, and guaranteed to impress your guests.
When company comes over, upgrade the drinks selection with locally made microbrews, mint-infused iced tea, or a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade. Can’t decide what wine to serve with dinner? Wines that match up well with grilled foods do have a tough row to hoe: They’ve got to be gutsy enough to handle the smoky flavors and spicy sauces that go along with grilling. Then again, you don’t want to find yourself battling with some brawny monster of a wine. Fruity flavors are good summertime standards; just steer clear of anything that makes you feel like you’re chewing on grape skins.
Seasonal, organic ingredients shine in these unfussy recipes from chef Philip Dorwart. For recipes for sparkling lemonade and chopped vegetable salad with pink-peppercorn vinaigrette visit mnmo.com.
Grilled Walleye BLT
2 medium-sized tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of arugula (or other bitter green)
1 ripe avocado, sliced
8 strips thick-cut bacon
1 loaf brioche or challah
1 pound walleye
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, juiced
Wash and dry arugula. Slice tomatoes and avocado. Prepare red-chili mayonnaise (recipe follows). Cook bacon till crisp; set aside.
Heat grill to medium-high. Brush walleye with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish until cooked evenly, about 3 minutes per side.
Remove fish from the grill and drizzle with lemon juice. Slather brioche with mayo and assemble sandwiches.
1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
juice of one-half lemon zest of one-half lemon, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon sriracha or sambal sauce
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk.
Homemade Potato Chips with Smoked Paprika
4 medium Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes
3 cups canola or peanut oil
Peel and slice potatoes into 1/16–inch thick slices with mandoline or other handheld slicer. Pre-heat oil to 360 degrees in a large pot. While the oil is heating, rinse potatoes with cold water to remove some of the starch; dry potatoes on paper towels. Fry potatoes in small batches until golden brown (about 2 minutes), remove with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towel. Season with salt and a dusting of smoked paprika. Serve while warm.
Photo by Jeff Johnson
Photo by Jeff Johnson
Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries and Cream
Serves 8 to 10
1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup Pastureland unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup superfine or castor sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
2 tablespoons butter
1 pint strawberries
1 pint Cedar Summit cream
Preheat oven to 365 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Butter a 9x5x3–inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Repeat.
Beat butter with electric mixer until creamy and smooth. Slowly add sugar, beating continuously on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Batter will look curdled. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and orange zest, and beat until blended.
Add flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Pour batter into buttered pan and smooth top. Tap filled pan lightly on counter to settle.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and allow to cool. To serve, cut loaf into thick slices, sauté each piece in melted butter until golden brown, and top with fresh strawberries and cream.
At last, your search for a summer wine is over. Surdyk’s wine consultant Roger Clark suggests some good tablemates for backyard barbecues. Most of them can be had for under $15.
Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2005 ($16) A full-bodied red wine with cigar-box aromas “emphasizing the elegant style of the grape,” it’s a perfect partner for a grilled steak.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier 2007 ($12) This odd-couple white wine has enough fruit to stand up to barbecued chicken, grilled halibut with pineapple or mango salsa, and “just about anything else you could put in a picnic.”
A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris 2006 ($14) With “more body than Italian versions” of this varietal (a.k.a. Pinot Grigio), this white wine could be served with another Oregon delicacy—grilled salmon.
Christian Drouin Cidre Pays d’Auge ($10) Clark himself wonders why he doesn’t drink bubbly cider more often, since it goes so well with so many different foods. Try this with grilled pork chops or tenderloin.
Cool off with these local brews, available all season long. Find them at most major liquor stores.
A light-flavored beer with a sweet, hop aroma and slightly dry finish.
Surly Cynic Ale
A refreshing, copper-hued ale with a spicy flavor and apricot–peach aroma.
Summit Scandia Ale
A Belgian-style ale with spicy notes of cardamom, coriander, and orange.
Photo by Jeff Johnson
Photo by Jeff Johnson
Don’t sweat the cheese plate. Let these local purveyors create a stunning spread for you.
An Italian selection includes Tuscan Pecorino, Taleggio, and Gorgonzola. 2308 W. 50th St., Minneapolis, 612-925-3113, broders.com
Try the chèvre, topped with a dried fruit, pine nuts, thyme, olive oil, and honey. 4351 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-925-3252, cafe44.com
All-natural artisan Gouda is the specialty at this family-run farm. 16440 Lake Blvd., Center City, 651-257-1566, theeichtensbistro.com
Premiere Cheese Market
Gourmet trays made to order from a global selection of cheeses. 5013 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-436-5590, premiercheesemarket.com
Choose from an astounding selection of varieties and textures. 303 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-379-9757, surdyks.com
Summer desserts taste best when they’re fresh and fruity. These don’t require turning on the oven.
Top the enormous, cloud-like meringues with berries and whipped cream. 2928 W. 66th St., Richfield, 612-861-7570; 331 Broadway Ave., Wayzata, 952-345-6100, patricksbakerycafe.com
A Piece of Cake
Pile a platter high with classic lemon, Nut Goody, or seven-layer bars, to name a few. 485 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-846-0016, apieceofcakebakery.net
Try the pretty Fraisier, a layered delight of sponge cake, mousseline cream, fresh strawberries, and marzipan. 816 W. 46th St., Minneapolis, 612-822-1119, rusticabakery.com
Letterbox’s Cupcake Saturday
Kids and adults alike will love cupcakes flavors like raspberry lemonade, Key lime, and strawberry coconut. Available Saturdays only. 2741 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-870-4529, letterboxcreative.com
Turtle Bread Company
A slice of pie is always nice. Choose from fresh fruit varieties, lemon meringue, and Key lime. 3421 W. 44th St., Minneapolis, 612-924-6013, 4762 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-823-7333, turtlebread.com
Chefs Philip and Desiree Dorwart have more than 25 years of experience in fine dining. Their company, Create Catering, is committed to using local, organic, and sustainable foods, and offers customized menus for small and large events, cooking classes, and private dining. 1121 Jackson St. NE #145, Minneapolis, 612-331-3310, createcaters.com
Where to Buy
(Page 112 & 113) On Renee: Jean Paul Gaultier sweater, $820, and skirt, $665, both from Macy’s, Minneapolis; Casadei sandals, $750 @ Macy’s; Sarah Briggs gold and turquoise earrings, $95 @ Stephanie’s, St. Paul. On Sugie: Issey Miyake top, $580, and skirt, $795, both from Macy’s; Giuseppe Zanotti sandals, $595 @ Macy’s; silver cuff, stylist’s own. On Sara: Missoni caftan, $1,435 @ Macy’s; Paper jeans $132 @ Stephanie’s; Sergio Rossi sandals, $545 @ Macy’s; Badgley Mischka gold cuff, $225 @ Macy’s. On Adrianne: DKNY sweater, $199 @ Macy’s; Thakoon skirt, $1,520 @ Intoto, Minneapolis; Liz Palacios gold earrings, $65 @ Macy’s; Sergio Rossi sandals, $650 @ Macy’s. On Fred: Boss sweater, $95, Hickey pants, $248, and Kenneth Cole sandals, $125, all from Macy’s. On Marco: Boss shirt, $145, and pants, $125, and Ecco moccasins, $150, all from Macy’s.
(Page 114) On Ricco: 120% Lino shirt, $255 @ Intoto; Boss jacket, $295 @ Macy’s; Citizen’s of humanity jeans, $209 @ intoto; allen edmonds shoes, $250 @ macy’s. tableware: Flyte chargers, $25 each; Flyte rectangular plate, $22; Recline dishes, $98/set; Steve glassware, $2 each, all @ Crate & Barrel.