A Midsummer Night Dinner Party

July 9, 2020

As social distancing and limited exposure to people not in your nuclear circle (like people with whom you share a home) continue, I am thinking about dinner parties and other fun food gatherings, like cooking classes.

It seems like decades ago, in a different world, where we all crowded around a table laden with fresh seasonal dishes that we had cooked together and enjoyed together, everyone talking over each other, sharing opinions on everything from art to politics to trips we have taken and will take with great music and silly jokes as the background of the rich tapestry we knew as daily life.

It feels like a lifetime since I have stood in front of a smiling and eager class of people wanting to live their best lives and laying the foundation of that life on the food they choose. Skillets sizzled and soups simmered, the air perfumed with the aromas of well-cooked natural foods coming together to create the feast we would enjoy together at the end of class; the questions and the laughter two of the most important ingredients that made for the most delicious experience.

Now, in this parallel universe, I create mini-dinner parties at home each and every night, for my husband and me. Together we have worked to keep our business intact and continue our mission of helping people to make the healthiest choices they can. We shoot videos in our kitchen; post recipes and blogs and write e-newsletters to stay connected to people who love what we do and who drive my mission, my purpose in life.

The good news is that it’s summer so we have more opportunities to be together outdoors with those we love to enjoy the best that summer has to offer.

Peaches are my favorite summer food and while any perfect ones that make their way into my kitchen get eaten almost immediately; their delicate, fuzzy skin housing tender, juicy fruit takes my breath away. You savor each bite knowing that won’t see many of these perfectly ripe fruit.

Good, but not perfect peaches become cobblers and my new favorite recipe for a tender Summer Peach Cake. https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/summer-peach-cake Based on an Italian fruit “torta,” this cake is easy to make and really does the job of celebrating summer fruit like no other recipe in my repertoire.

I think I would throw in the towel for good if basil wasn’t a part of these warm days. Truly. The scent of summer, when I bring it into my kitchen, it’s as though the long days on the terrace or by the pool or at the beach will never end. I use it in so many dishes, from soups to salads but nothing beats pesto so my summer go-to recipe is a pasta dish that always leaves us wanting more: https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/pasta-pesto-potatoes-and-greens

Cherry tomatoes are Mother Nature’s greatest summer gift when it comes to tomatoes. Sure we all love slicing tomatoes marinated in olive oil and vinegar and we wouldn’t can any other tomato than San Marzano, but cherry tomatoes seem tiny and delicate but are almost insolent in their bold sweetness. Great in salads, my favorite way to serve cherry tomatoes is either pan or oven roasted. https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/marinated-couscous-pan-roasted-tomatoes is a dish that shows off the sweetness of cherry tomatoes like nothing else I cook.

Oh, and cherries! Have you tasted the cherries this year? Maybe it’s months of isolation but I think the cherries have never tasted better. Right out of the fridge or in this super easy pie https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/cherry-crumble-pie that I usually make as mini-tarts, cherries are the stars of summer.

Whether it’s just you or you and your partner or you and your family, let this summer shimmer a little for you, even if you’re just in your own back yard. I think we’ve earned it.