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Our Editor's Summer Weekend Entertaining Strategy
Having friends and extended family stay over for a weekend away in the summer is one of my great pleasures of the season. I love those mealtime moments when someone pours a round of cold drinks, and grown-ups, kids, and grandparents gather on benches around a porch table set with help-yourself platters of simple, beautiful food. Of course, by now I’ve figured out the paradox that spontaneity in all areas of life requires some planning -- or at least the right arsenal of ingredients with which to improvise.
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Friday: The Shop
I pull up to the house, drop my bag in the entryway, change into flip-flops, and head straight for the farm stand. The haul from this visit (and one to the supermarket) will become the basis for a weekend of meals.
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The Shopping List
This is the time of year when I allow myself to reach for whatever catches my eye at the farm stand without the usual worry -- But what would I make with it? -- because you can’t go wrong with the summer building blocks of tomatoes, corn, sugar snap peas, and berries.
tomatoes • corn • green beans • sugar snap peas • lettuce • endive • potatoes • herbs • scallions • chiles • blackberries and blueberries • plums and peaches • cheese • eggs • chorizo • avocados • tortilla chips • shrimp • salmon fillets • steaks
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There is something nice about treating cocktails like you're out at a bar or restaurant, especially when a life with children revolves around the home. While my husband is a purist (martinis or beer), I'm a fan of anything with Lillet -- including cucumbers. If I'm feeling extra organized in the morning, I'll marinate shrimp so we have something festive to snack on with our cocktails. Afterward, we'll throw some steaks and ears of corn on the grill.
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While it's not hard to come up with delicious uses for summer tomatoes, there are always a few juicy ones that are a little too soft to slice and eat raw, or that you got for free at the farm stand because they had a few dings. I saute them to make a sauce for cooking eggs in the morning, or pasta later in the afternoon.
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Another summery, easy, and healthy breakfast option is this southwestern-style frittata. We used zucchini, corn, and jalapenos but this dish is a great vehicle for using up leftovers.
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Saturday: Grilled Salmon
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Sunday: Mexican Breakfast
I make a scramble of eggs, scallions, and corn (grilled, if any is left), then fold in tortilla chips. Top this with crumbles of cotija. I like jarred tomatillo salsa, but the dish works with just about any kind (and with leftover grilled chicken or sausage added to the eggs).
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Because guests usually leave late Sunday afternoon to beat the traffic, lunch tends to be the big meal of the day. This composed salad is made from leftover salmon; shrimp; and whatever raw, grilled, or blanched vegetables haven't been eaten. The beauty is, it doesn't matter if you have two shrimp or 10, half an avocado or two. Steak, chicken, or any fish works here. Use what you have -- the more varied it is in color and texture, the more impressive it will look. And remember, the goal is to empty the kitchen before everyone leaves!
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Sunday: Send-Off Dessert
A rustic galette makes you feel like a hero, though it's really one of the most forgiving desserts you could possibly put together. Any combination of stone fruit and berries tossed with sugar, butter, and a squeeze of lemon yields delicious results.
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Maple bread board, by Ed Wohl, in Medium, $115, simonpearce.com
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