This post was created in partnership with Naked Juice. All opinions are my own.
In the summer, we left Hawaii. We packed suitcases and blew up inflatable neck pillows and got on planes and went places that looked nothing like Maui. The air smelled different everywhere. The trees captured a different light. In Sacramento, with my father’s family, I smelled hot plums on asphalt, juice corroding into sugar. In Indiana, where my mother’s family lived, we ate tantalizingly white veggie lasagnas, drenched with unidentifiable cheese. During these summers, I discovered fireflies. I picnicked outside in twilight. I learned about my ancestors.
Bob (or Robert, if we’re being formal), my mother’s father, was an entrepreneur and an environmentalist. He owned the first department store in South Bend, Indiana, replete with furs and perfume fountains. He tended to an orchid collection. He fished the St. Joseph River. And, in the years before he died, he established a performing arts center that became home to the annual Firefly Festival. I met him just once, when I was six months old. He and my Grandma Florie gathered everyone in the family on the Big Island as they made their way west to Japan.
What happens to you when you whisper the words holiday canapé to yourself? In my mind, this gallant suggestion of syllables transforms me into someone wearing lace and silk, someone with perfectly coiffed (yes, coiffed) hair, someone gliding in and out of velvet-appointed drawing rooms with crystal champagne glass in hand, someone who knows just how to be. These baked brie, rosemary, and caramelized pear canapés are the fast, easy, and effortlessly elegant embodiment of that crystalline fantasy.
Except that they take less than 20 minutes to prepare and don’t require lace, silk, hair coiffing, velvet drawing rooms, crystal, or champagne—though I’ll admit, these would be pretty perfect with a glass of bubbly. Made on Flatout Flatbread’s Rosemary & Olive Oil Artisan thin-crust flatbread, these adorable bites will transform your party menu in an instant: Flatout canapé perfection.
A summer party isn’t complete without a tall glass of lemonade. Use these tips to create a lemonade beverage station for your guests. Friends of every age will enjoy using fresh fruits, sweeteners and other flavors to create a lemonade drink all their own.
Making your own lemonade is easy. To make one liter combine 1 ½ cups fresh Paramount Citrus lemon juice, 3 cups water and ½ to ¾ cup sugar in a blender. Pulse until everything is well blended. You can also make simple syrup and use it to sweeten the lemonade instead of granulated sugar. Heat equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add it to the lemon juice and water based on your desired sweetness. Make a traditional lemonade for your station, but also consider including varieties with fresh orange or lime juice added.
Keep It Cool
Your ice bucket doesn’t need to be fancy. A vintage baking tin or bowl helps to keep the ice cold while giving a rustic touch to your spread. An inexpensive sand or garden shovel adds a summery touch when used as an ice scoop.
Clear glasses will allow guests to show off their pretty lemonade creations. Colorful straws also add to the festivities. Be sure to include spoons and tooth picks for stirring up drinks and building garnishes.
Sweeten Things Up
Some like tart lemonade, while others want it sugary sweet. Pick a moderate sweetness level for your pitcher of lemonade and provide raw sugar, white sugar or a bottle of simple syrup so guests can make a sweeter drink if they wish.
Garnish With Fruit
The garnishes are the fun part of the drink station, and just about anything goes. Slices and wedges of lemons and limes are a must, but also consider blueberries, chopped strawberries or blackberries. Even diced melon or fresh herbs can help your guests make fun drink creations.
Spike Your Station
An adults-only section allows your guests to turn their lemonade into delicious cocktails. Gin and vodka always pair well with citrus, but mix things up with some unexpected additions like cherry brandy, amaretto or coconut rum, too.
Last week, Beau and Matt (from Probably This) drove all the way from New Orleans to Los Angeles, and the best welcome Alana (from Fix Feast Flair) and I could think to give them was a mezze party. We’d been threatening to do it for months, fantasizing about the various hummuses and fetas and baba ganoushes, the pungent colors, those miraculous plates of food where everything just tastes good together. And then Beau and Matt announced their impending arrival, and Alana and I decided it was now or never. Luckily, the boys agreed to help us make our mezze dreams come true.
In true LA fashion, I welcomed Matt and Beau with flaming margaritas and a mariachi band on the night of their arrival. I’d like to take responsibility for either or both of these kitschy wins, but alas, I am not that skilled (nor that culturally appropriative). I left it up to the magic of my neighborhood Mexican dive to set the scene for the moment when I’d finally get to squeeze these two lovebirds who have filled my internet and my heart with such sweet inspiration, humor, and friendship over the past year.
4 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
Zest of an orange or 1/2 t extract
1 c flour sifted
½ c sugar
¼ c water
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Print out self-made fortunes, write them, copy someone else’s, whatever. Cut them out.
Beat egg whites until foamy but NOT to a peak. Just nice and bubbly. Add sugar and beat. Add sifted flour and whisk. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. You want a runny batter that spreads very easily.
On a silpat on a half sheet pan, drop 6 to 8 dollops of batter about 2 inches apart. Whatever you are comfortable with because you have to move fast. If you don’t, the cookies won’t form because they will harden. Smooth out with the back of a spoon and make as even as possible. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes until edges start browning.
Pull out immediately, put in fortune and fold like a taco pressing the open end. Fold closed end over the edge of a cup and pull the corners down. Put in a muffin tin to keep to form. Repeat. This recipe should make 24-30 fortune cookies.
You can use multiple pans or use one. However, if you’re only using one, be sure to let it cool first. Putting batter on a hot pan will start cooking them before you want them to be cooked.
If you don’t have a silpat, get one. It’s amazing what you can use them for.
Last but not least, turn the oven down to 200 F. Once the oven reaches 200 F place the muffin tin with the cookies in the oven. Bake about 25 minutes until partially hardened. It should harden more when cooling down. If you don’t do this, you will have soft seemingly stale cookies.
When I finally made it home—my Maui home, my Ulupalakua home, my home in the middle of nowhere on the slopes of Haleakala—I completely collapsed. I stopped answering texts. And phone calls. And emails. I cooked for the first time in two weeks. I cooked without documenting, without a recipe, without a plan. I cooked because I wanted to. And then I slept. I slept long and hard and when I woke up I was almost more exhausted than the night before. I cancelled all my plans to see old friends and I laid on the couch and watched Fifty Shades of Gray and cried in my exhausted, jet-lagged, premenstrual state. It was glorious. I napped dreamlessly and I only woke up when Susan came home. Hours of sleep later, I began to feel something like human again.
I walked outside, barefoot, to the place we once said had the strongest concentration of plant spirits. I stood in this fluttering vortex of green leaves and sunlight and shadows and insects and spirits seen and unseen and I let everything fall away, slough off like dead skin cells in a fierce Korean spa scrub.
Read more and get the recipe from Kristan Raines’ new book On Toasthere!