host: lady drinks night, summer style
Summertime is notoriously wedding time, and that also means bachelor(ette)-ing time. With the Man and friends gone to the seaside for a dubious crabbing expedition, I found the perfect excuse to gather up their better lady halves for summer drinks and snacks, from the comfort of Brooklyn.
While I could have fun eating cardboard with these girls, I had an afternoon on my hands, which meant an excuse to make all my favorite summer party foods. The groundrules: no hot stove or oven usage (the only cooking must be of the chop and stir variety), drinks must be very, very cold and nothing could take more than 20 minutes to prep.
And so, the menu:
slushy drinks, two ways:
lemonade + gin
In the week leading up to the fiesta, I got it into my head that slushy drinks were a requirement and since it was all ladies, it was time to update that 21-year-old party girl classic lemonade + vodka. Attempt one was a failure -- too much gin meant not enough iciness and a mean juniper bite. Attempt two, however, was genius.
If you want to be fancy, juice lemons and make simple syrup. If you're like me, go to the bodega and buy a carton of decent lemonade (I went with Newman, because Paul is still the dreamiest man of all, RIP dear love.) Dump it into a large bowl. Toss in roughly a cup of gin -- note that you may want to do a taste test at this point as different gins will be more or less noticeable. Add the juice and zest of one lime.
Swirl together and pour into ziplock bags (normal ones -- just make sure they have a good seal). Stick in the freezer for at least 4 hours, though it should theoretically keep for a few weeks too. (I can't verify this given that household rules require us to finish all cocktails within 48 hours. Someone else will have to weigh in).
When ready to drink, take out the bag, and using a spoon or fork, flake off little bits of ice and throw them in the cup. Fill it up about half way, then top it off with champagne and throw in a few mint leaves.
watermelon + tequila
Variation two was a last minute inspiration when I realized my extremely excellent watermelon-cutting skills had left a rather lot of irregularly shaped but delicious bits at the end. I sliced them out, spent two minutes blending them to roughly a smooth liquid, and then tossed in tequila and the juice and zest of one lime, plus a tablespoon or two of grapefruit liquor for good measure. Follow instructions above for freezing + topping, and you have summer in a glass.
crudites + garlicky yogurt dip
for the dip:
After scouring several cookbooks, I realized I didn't have the patience or energy for anything elaborate, and in my heart of hearts, all I ever want is tangy, cool, garlicky dip. So I completely winged the following based on what was in the house. I highly recommend you do the same.
- greek yogurt: Two little containers or a quarter of a big one.
- garlic, finely diced: I used just one large clove since my garlic was ridiculously fresh and pungent. Dial up or down as you please.
- onion tops: Since I had fresh onions, I went with their giant green stalks, chopped fairly small. You can substitute any form of green onion or chive here as well.
- lemon: I like to over citrus just about everything so used over half a lemon (maybe a full?) plus zest.
- olive oil: Again, to taste, but a young olive oil adds both fat and a nice green freshness. Be generous.
- za'atar and marash chili flakes: Really you can add whatever you like here. Sumac would be awesome, as would simple red chili flakes if that's your thing.
- a touch of salt
Mix it all together and taste as you go. When serving, add a swirl of olive oil and extra flakes of whatever spice you choose. Store in fridge until serving.
for the crudites:
Crudites are a ridiculously fancy way to refer to vegetables and historically I have mocked their presence on menus. That is, until they suddenly sprouted up everywhere in NY this year and a winter-starved Freyan realized there is literally nothing nicer than a perfectly crisp piece of produce dunked into something salty and creamy and decadent. Such interactive eating! So healthy, yet satisfying! So colorful!
So: pick 3 - 5 vegetables of varying textures. If possible, blanch one or two. If you're courageous, turn on your oven and roast one. If you plan ahead (unlike me) pickling would be delightful.
In my case, I went to the farmer's market and ended up with a medley of cucumber, radishes, green beans (blanched), garlic scapes (blanched) and little carrots.
Pro tip: if you like a rustic look (slash a handle for extra dipping) leave leafy tops on root vegetables, though do be sure to scrub em good because nobody likes mud in their dip.
To add a bit of freshness, I went for a classic and incredibly easy watermelon salad. All it takes is:
- watermelon, chopped up bite-sized
- mint, roughly torn
- feta, I prefer chopped, but crumbled is fine
- a touch of olive oil
- depending on your feta, maybe a bit of salt
- if I had remembered, I would also have added a touch of heat with some form of chili, but alas.
You can chop the watermelon in advance, but I'd suggest adding the rest of the ingredients right before serving so they don't liquify. Loosely toss and you're done.
prosciutto + cheese, with honey
And lastly, every good ladiez night requires cheese. To keep it simple, I threw together baguette slices, some toasted and some plain, a pile of prosciutto, and a wedge of some form of fancy gouda, as recommended by the local cheesemonger. To add some fun and summer-sweetness, I paired it with my new can't-stop-obsessing honey from Westwind Orchard. Literally a five minute dish, and obviously the best.
Every solid night requires a sugary end, which in this case I kept as simple as can be. Ice cream (in this case, an incredible goat milk with dulce de leche gelato from Bklyn Larder) with layers of jam (Ayako & Family apricot, my second-favoritest obsession of the moment).
And with that, we sent a radish-waving selfie to the menfolk, because gentlemen, this is how it's done.