Relaxed Summertime Dinner Party Menu

By Susan Neal, Studio 5 Contributor

Prosciutto & Melon Kisses
Seasonal melons wrapped with thin slices of Italian Prosciutto and tied with chives.

A little amuse bouche (French for making the mouth happy!) to pop into the mouth, no utensils necessary! The combination of salty and sweet is a perfect way to wake up the taste buds. Serve these before the meal even starts. Can be prepared 1 hour before dinner. Store in fridge on a piece of folded paper towel, not covered.

1 ripe melon (Cantaloupe, Honeydew etc…)
12 slices of thinly sliced Prosciutto
12(or more) chive stems, cut in half

Lay slice of Prosciutto on cutting board. Cut in half. Scoop (approx. 1″) melon in balls, making sure one end is flat so it can stand up straight). Place melon ball on top of Prosciutto half-slice. Carefully bring ends up around melon and pinch or twice to keep in place. Tie a piece of chive around top. Chill in Refrigerator until ready to serve.

Fresh Garden Tomato Salad
Thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, Chevre and sundried tomato balsamic vinaigrette

This salad goes together very quickly if you mis en place (put in place) everything you need ahead of time. The color and flavor is outstanding, especially if you use ripe garden tomatoes!

Collection of fresh garden tomatoes (heirlooms are great for color & taste), approx. 1 per person
Large bunch of fresh basil
1 pkg Chevre (creamy goat cheese)
Red Onion
Pepitos (roasted pumpkin seeds) or other kind of roasted nut
Chive oil
Salt & Pepper

Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Viniagrette
1 ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
½ cup Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper

Make vinaigrette ahead of time, as many as several days. Combine Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper in blender. Add water to thin if necessary, as it will thicken in the fridge.

Optional: Chive Oil. Simply blend ½ cup good quality olive oil with a bunch of chives until smooth and green. Place in squeeze bottle.

Slice red onions very thinly and marinate in a little bit of white wine vinegar and a little bit of salt for approx. 1/2 hour. This will take some of the bitterness out of the onions. You can also slice your tomatoes ahead of time (not more than 1 hour), but be careful not to bruise. Cover and refrigerate. Use a very sharp knife to cut tomatoes.

To assemble, spoon a generous amount of vinaigrette and arrange slices of tomatoes on plate. Sprinkle cheese, onions, Pepitas and basil leaves on top of tomatoes. Squeeze a few drops of chive oil over plate.

Creamy Salmon & Shrimp
Pan fried salmon and butter-poached shrimp over celery root/potato mash with a creamy, savory sauce

A comforting, yet savory dish. Try mashing your potatoes with half celery root or parsnips but some added flavor. These can be made an hour ahead of time and kept warm in oven. Prepare your veggies ahead of time by tossing with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper and roasting 15-20 minutes before you’re ready to eat.

6 small salmon filets
2 Tbsp. Olive oil & 1 Tbsp. Butter

Small bunch Green onions, chopped finely
4 cloves Garlic, chopped finely
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups fresh diced tomatoes (approx. 3 med.) or 1 8 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups White wine or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups Heavy cream
Your favorite fish seasoning, salt & pepper
Flat leaf parley or dill.
18 medium or large shrimp, cleaned
1/4 to ½ cup butter to poach

Coat your salmon filets with seasoning. Heat butter and oil in large skillet and cook salmon on med-high heat until nicely browned on each side, approx. 10 minutes. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Remove from pan and place in heat-safe dish, covered with foil in warm oven.

Create sauce by adding garlic and green onions to drippings in pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on med-high to soften. Add flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Finish by adding wine (or broth) and cream. Let simmer approx. 8-10 minutes until reduced and thickened.

To poach shrimp, melt butter in pan on med. Heat. Add shrimp and cook until done, approx. 5 minutes. This is a slow poach method of cooking shrimp. The shrimp should be done by the time the sauce is ready.

Plate by adding potato/celery root mash to center of plate. Lay salmon filet on top and a bit to the side. Lay 3 shrimp on top of salmon and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or dill.

Tip: Depending on how thick your salmon filets are, depends on how long they’ll need to finish cooking in the oven. Generally it takes 10 minutes per inch of fish to cook and since most salmon filets are about 1″, you’ll most likely cook the salmon through in the pan. To be sure however, use a fork to peek into the middle of the thickest filet to check for doneness. If it’s done, you can keep fish warm without drying in a 200F oven and covered with foil. If it needs a bit more cooking leave in the oven for 20 minutes at 200F.

Heisse Leibe
A staple in German cafes; Hot raspberry sauce over vanilla ice cream

A very simple, but elegant way to end a meal. The contrast between the hot and cold, sweet and sour is heavenly…or literally translated, “hot love”.

Good quality vanilla ice cream
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 packages (or 24 oz.) frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
½ cup super fine sugar
Whipped cream
Specialty cookies

Scoop ice cream into nice round scoops and freeze solidly on cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Or, you can just scoop into bowl, just make sure it’s really cold as it will melt very fast with the hot raspberries.

Place frozen raspberries into pan and warm gently. Add lemon juice and sugar and cook on medium heat until sugar has dissolved and sauce has thickened, approx. 10min. Keep warm. This is not a particularly thick sauce. If you like a sweeter fruit, add more sugar, but the point is to have a more sour sauce to contrast with the sweet ice cream.

If sauce is too seedy for you, strain to remove.

To serve, spoon approx. ¼ to ½ cup into bottom of bowl. Right before serving, place frozen ice cream scoop in center of raspberry sauce. Top with whipped cream, a few fresh raspberries and cookies.

For more great recipes, ideas and inspiration check out You will also find more information about Sue’s monthly Studio 5 sneak-peek. Guess what her monthly segment is for a chance to win!

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