I have been spending a lot of time in the garden recently. So far I’ve harvested sour cherries, blueberries, asparagus, arugula, spinach, borage flowers, nasturtium flowers, squash blossoms and lots of herbs. My tomato plants have gotten past their awkward tween phase and have way outshot my 3 foot tomato cages. Little green tomato fruits have started forming on the spindly plants.
The true start of Summer is right around the corner. So when Camille Styles asked to feature me in their “Entertaining With” series, I decided that a gathering amongst the blueberry thicket was just the ticket! Any opportunity to drink cider amongst ripening fruit on a glorious Summer evening is one I’m going to take.
You can read a full interview about how I host gatherings and parties over on Camille Styles!
But here’s the behind the scenes scoop: I was very stressed about this dinner party. Not because it was a party in and of itself. But because I had to shoot it and show it to the internet! I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m pretty laissez fair about the state of my house / yard / aesthetic. I mean, I show you guys glimpses of my kitchen, which I style very intentionally. But the idea of taking a lens to the rest of my life? Nerve-wracking.
I was very lucky to have the help of some friends in making this party happen. My friends Charlie and Nina showed up early and helped wash veggies, arrange cheese boards, cook mushrooms and put together my fire pit. My friend Lauren not only shot 1/2 of the photos but also hauled ice, bought and hung string lights, and saved my butt by bringing citronella candles. Everyone else who attended was essential to the evening being awesome (thanks Logan, Laurel, Graham, Caitlin, Annie, Kyle and Annabeth).
I turned the deck my father-in-law installed within the blueberry thicket into a giant, low table. I threw some cushions and blankets on the earth around it for seating. I spread a simple runner over it and topped it with some potted plants and candles. I tried to keep it simple. I served a big bowl of cashew butter hummus with mary’s gone crackers, chips, olives and dolmas. And a giant version of my peach pico de gallo with avocado on the side. I set garden greens out so people could toss those in with the pico. I included an epic cheeseboard (three types of goat cheeses, harvest snaps, fresh snap peas, dates, homegrown sour cherries and some store-bought sweet cherries, dried cherries, pistachios, rainforest crisps, more mary’s gone crackers… the works). My friends (Charlie and Nina) brought shiitakes from their small culinary mushroom operation (it’s in their basement and yes it’s huge). They fried those up in tamari and olive oil for the table. And of course I had a big platter of berries, just because.
Oh, and about this cashew butter hummus. I whipped this together on a whim for the party and it got so much love from my guests I decided to post it! It’s wicked simple. You essentially just replace tahini with cashew butter. I think of it as hummus luxe. It’s super creamy and gets a flavor boost from the extra fat.
In the hummus recipe, you’ll probably note that I offer a couple of pro tips. #1 If you temper raw garlic with lemon juice, it mellows out the pungency. Super helpful if you’re pre-prepping hummus for a party. I learned this tip from Amanda of Heartbeet Kitchen. #2 I only add the olive oil in at the end. I only use top notch quality olive oil for hummus, so it’s kind of a shame to lose its flavor by blending it in. Instead I stir it in after blending and then drizzle it over top. That way you can really taste it in every bite. I learned that trick from Jamie Oliver.
How do you like to host parties at your place? What are your go-to party foods? Leave me a note in the comments!