Once the adults had each been poured a Sour Cherry Mojito, and were enjoying the cocktail along with wonderful conversation and light appetizers, the kids gathered at the table for pizza then scattered to the ends of the house and yard.
A fabulous local wine expert was present, and paired and poured the wines perfectly with each course. However, as lovely as the champagne was with the dessert, the evenings finale was ultimately provided by a group of students who happened to be walking by with musical instruments. We invited them in to play for those of us who remained at the table for a delightful end to the evening.
CHILLED CARROT SOUP
3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 tablespoon jarred chicken soup base
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine potatoes, carrots, leeks, chicken broth and chicken soup base in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Cool 10 minutes.
Puree vegetable mixture until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, whisk in half and half, salt and white pepper until blended. Let cool 1 hour, cover and chill 4 hours (I served it at room temperature and it was delicious).
Serve in chilled cups.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, February 2012
SPICY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH RHUBARB-CUCUMBER SALSA
1 jalapeño pepper, with seeds, stemmed
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch cubes rhubarb
1 cup 1/4-inch cubes unpeeled seeded cucumber
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 500F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Pulse jalapeño, garlic and green onions in food processor until finely chopped. Drizzle in soy sauce then olive oil, process until emulsion forms. Transfer sauce to a bowl.
Place chicken thighs, skin side up, on a work surface and slash each crosswise at 3/4-inch intervals down to the bone. Season lightly with salt. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush with sauce. Bake until skin is crisp and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F, about 20 to 25 minutes. Broil on high for an additional 2 to 3 minutes for crisper skin. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss rhubarb, cucumber, cilantro, honey and lime juice in a medium bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2012
SWEET TEA ICEBOX TART
2 tablespoons unsweetened instant iced tea mix
1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
gingersnap crust (recipe follows)
1 cup cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Heat oven to 350F. Stir together iced tea mix and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, orange zest, lime zest, orange juice, lemon juice and eggs, until blended. Place gingersnap crust on a baking sheet, pour in condensed milk mixture.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or just until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 4 hours. Remove tart from pan, and place on a serving dish.
Beat cream and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Place on top of tart, or beside plated pieces.
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Stir together all ingredients. Press mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, May 2011