We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring peaches.
It’s August? Uh, when did that happen? We may still be sweating, but it’s back to the daily grind we go — back to the soccer practices, school buses and other non-summer activities. But before we peel out of the driveway and embark on our inaugural back-to-school shopping journeys, there’s something to be said for enjoying August for what it is, rather than that awkward gap between summer bliss and getting back to the grind.
If you ask me, August means one thing: peaches. It means soaking up these last lovely moments of summer with a juicy peach at the peak of ripeness. Now, as the velvet-clad orbs hang from the limbs of Georgia trees, there’s no better time to bring a few home.
With peach iced tea, peach pie and peach cobbler ranking high on the fruit’s roster, it’s no surprise that the bulk of peachy dishes tag along to the fruit’s sweetness. Well, this August, we’re all about bringing peaches to the dinner table because, trust me, peaches aren’t just made for dessert.
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Each night, you set your table with the expected: plates, glasses, utensils and maybe a few napkins if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. You need them; they bring food and drink to your lips in a socially acceptable, functional way. But this lineup is as zero-frills as it gets, and sometimes your table might require a little something extra. When entertaining the masses or just enjoying the ambiance of your own dinner table, going for a range of unique table toppers is undoubtedly a must.
But what should grace the top of your table? Entertainers of the world: Avert your gaze to Food Network Magazine‘s master list of stellar tabletop ideas, all fit for summer. Ranging from green, reusable party goods to custom napkins, this list ensures that your table goes from undeniably sparse to thoughtfully filled.
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Most of the sweet cherries grown in the United States are this large wine-colored variety. Their intense flavor and firm, crisp texture make them the ultimate all-purpose cherry, great for snacking or baking. They’re usually available from May to August.
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You’ve juiced the lemons for your lemonade and into the trash the peels go. If you’re a lover of all things DIY, you know a DIY tabletop opportunity was just missed. This summer, as you’re setting the table for your next summer-lovin’ soiree, keep in mind that the freshest tabletop ideas may be as close as your kitchen counter.
Instead of stacking the table high with pricey candlestick holders, high-maintenance flower arrangements, you name it, use something that’s already in your kitchen: vibrant, colorful fruit. With some ingenuity and bare-bones expertise, you can transform a rind, peel or even the fruit itself into a stellar centerpiece.
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We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring tomatoes.
Come August, tomatoes — heirloom, beefsteak, cherry and more — hit their peak. Plump and juicy, they scream summer with their sweet, slightly acidic flesh and bright hues. Perfect for summer salads, there’s arguably no combination more classic than a simple caprese brimming with ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil. But, tomatoes’ versatility far surpasses the realm of summer salads. In fact, they’re fantastic in soups, pies, pastas and sides. Just give one (or more!) of these easy cooked tomato recipes a try.
If you plan on planting your very own tomato patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tricks like mulching tomato plants heavily with hay or leaves, and tips like pulling off stem tops to prevent puncturing fruit when stacking. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, noticeably fragrant and richly colored tomatoes that are free of blemishes. Store them at room temperature and use them within a few days.
Hosting a casual garden party? Pass around Rachael’s Roasted Tomato Bruschetta for a simple hors d’oeuvre. Ina’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Roasted Tomato Caprese make for a sweet start to any meal. Food Network Magazine’s Heirloom Tomato Pie (pictured above) serves as a bright main that needs nothing more than a leafy green salad in accompaniment.
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Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Guacamole is definitely a top 10 crowd-pleaser, so we decided to mix it up and add four more ways to keep the party going.
First, start with the classic version
Though back-to-school commercials are already flashing on our television screens and Halloween candy has somehow landed on store shelves, there’s still plenty of summer left to be enjoyed and more than enough time to plan a summer party. Whether you’re hosting a casual cookout for friends and family or organizing a neighborhood-wide barbecue, you’ll want to serve a selection of easy-to-eat appetizers and pre-dinner snacks at your get-together. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite party-perfect appetizers below, and serve them up at your next backyard bash.
Instead of reaching for tired carrots and ranch dressing, prepare a platter of Food Network Magazine‘s Crudite With Infused Olive Oil and Balsamic (pictured above). A fancy name for raw vegetables that have been cut for simple munching, crudités make the ultimate party appetizer since they involve zero cooking. They can be served with straight-from-the-bottle olive oil and vinegar, though this recipe takes those classic pairings one step further by infusing the oil and balsamic. Over low heat, fragrant fresh herbs and garlic are steeped in olive oil, while brown sugar, red pepper flakes and light citrus zest are warmed in balsamic. Once cool, serve both the olive oil and vinegar in shallow bowls for easy, delicious dunking.
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One of the most stressful parts of planning a party is deciding how much food to buy and make. You don’t want the food to run out too quickly and have lingering hungry guests, but you also don’t want your fridge to be teeming with leftovers. We took popular summer parties — like a barbecue or a cocktail hour — and broke them down into every element to help you determine, from drinks to condiments, exactly how much of everything you need to buy for the perfect shindig.
Rules to Plan By
Each adult will consume 1 pound of food total; children, about 1/2 pound. The more options you have, the less you need of each; decrease the main course portion sizes by 1 to 2 ounces if served on a buffet.
Guests will always eat — and drink — more at night than during the day.
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In many homes, jarred salsas are a must-have refrigerator staple — they’re convenient, tasty and an easy pre-dinner party snack. But they’re also expensive and laden with sodium and preservatives. This week, instead of reaching for grocery-store salsa, prepare a batch of the homemade variety instead. From-scratch salsas are more flavorful and just as easy to make, plus they boast the best of summer’s bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Check out Food Network’s top five homemade salsa recipes below and serve them as an appetizer with tortilla chips, atop simply grilled chicken or seafood, or with authentic Mexican tacos , burritos and more.
5. Grilled Corn Salsa – To prepare this five-star salsa (pictured above), grill in-season corn and tomatoes until tender and cooked, then finish with onions, a drizzle of vinegar and fresh basil.
4. Salsa Fresca – Before serving, Tyler lets his cilantro-laced salsa stand for 15 minutes, so that its light, bright flavors can marry.
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Summer centerpieces are a great way to add simple elegance to your table. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just sitting down with your family for a meal, the perfect centerpiece can do a lot to enhance the whole experience. Plus, finding table decorations doesn’t necessarily require breaking the bank. There are plenty of ways to create amazing centerpieces using items you can probably find around the house. Here are a few of Food Network’s favorite ideas for tasteful and effortless summer decor.
If you live near the beach, search for different-shaped shells (this is a great activity to do with the kids) and place them in a nautical-themed pot in the center of your table. If you are far from a beach and no one in your family is a shell collector, shells are inexpensive to buy at craft or design stores. For an added touch, try gluing individual shells on each of your napkin holders.
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