Because I don’t want to miss a single minute by the pool, on the golf course, or in the backyard, I prefer to make cocktails and appetizers as easy and fresh as possible. That means less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family.
The Sweet Corn Salsa, Tangy Herb Ranch Dip, and Tricolored Cherry Tomato Bruschetta become even tastier over time, so feel free to make these a day ahead. Be sure to also try the Watermelon Margarita. It’s a refreshing way to make use of a large, seedless melon. And if you have never had a Kentucky Mule, it’s time to saddle up! This is a bourbon lover’s dream come true on a hot summer night.
Relax and enjoy the longer days, fresh-market finds, and these easy-to-tote recipes. This is what summer is all about.
Sweet Corn Salsa
MAKES ABOUT 5 CUPS
6 ears sweet fresh corn, kernels removed
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
4 green onions
1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of one lime, plus extra slices for garnish
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Add corn, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the pot, and allow to cool.
Chop next 4 ingredients finely and uniformly (about the size of a corn kernel), and place in a medium-size bowl. Add red onion and cilantro. With a sharp knife, remove the kernels from the cob, and add to the vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over corn and vegetables, and toss to coat thoroughly. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The salsa is best made in advance and will keep for several days.
Serve with tortilla chips.
MAKES 2 TO 3 DRINKS
6 ounces fresh watermelon juice (from about 1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon cubes, blended and strained)
2 ounces blanco tequila
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces Cointreau (optional)
Salt for the rims (optional)
Garnish with a lime, nasturtium, or watermelon wedge
Place ice, watermelon juice, tequila, lime juice, and, if desired, Cointreau in a martini shaker. Shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds.
Salt the rims of the glasses, if desired, and pour mixture through the strainer of the shaker into the glasses. Garnish and serve immediately.
Tangy Herb Ranch Dip
MAKES 2 CUPS
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced, plus an extra sprig for garnish
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1/4 cup buttermilk
Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Shake to combine thoroughly. Adjust thickness consistency with more buttermilk if needed. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. This can be made a day or two in advance.
Garnish and serve with assorted fresh summer vegetables.
Real mayonnaise and sour cream, not light.
Tricolored Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS
2 pints tricolored cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for baguette
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 French baguette
In a medium-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, chopped basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine completely. Allow to sit for at least an hour either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. (I like to do it both ways, depending on if I want the tomatoes chilled.)
Before serving, slice the French baguette into 1⁄4-inch slices.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, nd drizzle with olive oil. Preheat broiler in oven, and then toast bread until golden brown. Serve tomato mixture on toasted bread, and garnish with fresh basil.
Learn from Leslie:
If there are any leftovers, which I doubt there will be, this makes a light, refreshing sauce over grilled fish or chicken.
For an added attraction spread a thin layer of creamy burrata on the toasted bread before adding the tomato mixture
MAKES 1 DRINK
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces ginger beer
1/2 ounce lime juice
Lime slices and fresh mint for garnish
Fill a copper cup or julep cup with ice. Add bourbon, ginger beer, and lime juice. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime slices and fresh mint.