By Vera Stewart | Photo by Amy J. Owen
Sing the South with Summer Appetizers
The aromas, textures, colors and tastes of summer are the BEST! In thinking about cooling off, maybe by the pool or under a shaded structure, having something delicious and attractive to offer a guest is a pleasant surprise. While all of our summer fruits and vegetables are so readily available, it’s appropriate and impressive to showcase them at their best. Adapting an unusual twist to those foods can be interesting as well as delicious and can also create some attractive gift ideas to be accompanied with a recipe at holiday time.
My love of pottery truly interprets well in the presentation of all of our Southern favorites and also offers an interesting contrast as well as great story lines of the artists, locations of purchase and multiple uses. Using different areas of the yard creates an opportunity in the summer to show-off the outdoor features when they are at their best.
A serving tip for Summer: Use frozen gel packs under your platters with a quilt or burlap to conceal and insure the freshness of your dishes throughout the 2-3 hours they are displayed.
Fresh Peach Sorbet
Makes 1 qt.
2 lbs. ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup warm water
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vodka, peach schnapps or orange liqueur
Process peaches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl.
Stir together warm water, sugar, and vodka in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir into peach puree. Cover and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours.
Pour into 1 ½ – qt. electric ice-cream maker, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm enough to scoop.
Fresh Blueberry Salsa
Makes about 3 ½ cups
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh blueberries
1 cup whole fresh blueberries
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
⅓ cup diced red bell pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. Packed brown sugar (optional)
Serve with: flour tortilla chips or cinnamon-sugar pita chips
Toss together chopped blueberries, whole blueberries, lemon juice, cilantro, jalapeños, bell pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in brown sugar, if desired. Let stand 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours. Serve with chips or crisps.
Fig and Blue Cheese Bruschetta
Makes 12 servings
36 (¼-inch-thick) French baguette slices
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup (oz.) crumbled blue cheese
¾ cup fig preserves
Garnish: Fresh rosemary
Broil French baguette slices on a baking sheet 3 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly toasted.
Remove the baking sheet, and reduce oven temperature to 350℉.
Stir together cream cheese and blue cheese in a small bowl until well-blended. Spread a heaping ½ tsp. cream cheese mixture onto each baguette slice. Top each with 1 tsp. fig preserves.
Bake in the center of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until hot.
Note: If Blue cheese isn’t your thing, replace the blue cheese and cream cheese mixture with 5 oz. of trimmed Brie cheese.
Corn and Crab Fritters with Criolla Rémolulade Sauce
Makes 2 dozen
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Creole mustard
¼ cup chopped sweet pickles
2 Tbsp. capers, well drained
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
2 tsp. anchovy paste
2 tsp. Old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. Paprika
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 ½ cups thawed whole corn kernels
⅓ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat, drained and picked through
Lemon wedges (optional)
To prepare the sauce, stir together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
To prepare the fritters, preheat oven to 225℉.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Stir in corn, bell pepper, and onions; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
Wish together eggs, ricotta, buttermilk, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Pour into cornmeal mixture. Stir only until blended.
Stir in corn mixture, Fold in crab. Shape ¼ cupsful into patties
Pour oil to depth of ¼ inch in a heavy skillet. Heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook fritters 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels. (Keep fried fritters warm in the oven up to 15 minutes.) Serve hot with rémoulade and lemon wedges, if desired.
Chicks in a Blanket with Spicy Mustard Sauce
Makes 8 servings
Spicy Mustard Sauce
½ cup honey mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
(8-oz.) can refrigerated crescent rolls
24 mini smoked chicken-and-apple sausages (12 oz.)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds (optional)
To prepare sauce, stir together honey mustard, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper, and black pepper in a small bowl. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 12 hours.
To prepare rolls, preheat the oven to 375℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unroll crescent dough; separate along perforations into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into 3 long triangles to form a total of 24.
Place 1 sausage link on the wide end of each triangle, roll up dough around sausages starting at wide end. Place the point-side down on the baking sheet.
Brush tops of rolls with egg yolk. If desired, stir together sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and fennel seeds, and sprinkle over rolls.
Bake at 375℉ for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with Spicy Mustard Sauce.
Saltine Cracker Candy
Makes 8 to 10 servings
24 saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
12 oz. milk chocolate morsels
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 325℉. Line the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Arrange crackers in a single layer in the pan.
Microwave butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe glass bowl on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour butter mixture over crackers.
Bake at 325℉ for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from the oven, sprinkle chocolate over the surface. Sprinkle evenly with pecans.
Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch squares or break into pieces. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Appears in the July 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.