A Very Cherry Birthday Party

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower and Anthony Lunsmann
Photography by Cedric Smith

When one of the coolest chicks in the land (I’m talking about you Autumn Van Gunten) is turning 40 and her even cooler boyfriend (Yep, that’s you Cedric Smith) asks you to cater a little surprise dinner party for her and her closest friends, you scream HELL YES!

Inspired by the juicy ruby colored fruit of the season, I used cherries to inform the table and the menu spectacle for this very special event.

The result, like Autumn, a total cherry bomb!!!

The menu on a chalkboard made of a vintage vanity mirror
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Greens, roses, fresh cherries and vintage milk glass ran down the middle of the farm tables as a centerpiece. 
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The birthday girl, Autumn, in blue and feeling happy surrounded by her dearest friends including her best friend who flew in from Ohio for the surprise! 
Me…explaining the menu and looking tired! 🙂 
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First Course (sat on the table for guests to pour themselves):
Southern Peanut Soup 

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Second Course:
Salad of Pea Shoots, Avocado and Watermelon

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Tablescape Ingredients: Fresh rosemary, eucalyptus, fresh cherries, pink roses, garden greens, vintage glassware, mix of flatware, torn french fabric napkins, mix and match plates, vintage milk glass, glass cloches and burlap. 
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Main Course:
Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fried Potatoes, Cherry Salsa, Handmade Charred Tortillas
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Happy 40th Birthday Autumn!

Cherry Watermelon Wedge Salad

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Teresa Earnest
Assisted by David Dempsey

When my son was young, he called a watermelon wedge diced in the rind “fancy melon”. In toddler Jenga fashion, his tiny fingers would strategically pull out the diced pieces from the rind bringing on contagious juicy giggles.

With a few simple cuts, the humble watermelon wedge will instantly become “fancy” in the eyes of any guests at your table. And, topped with this simple fruit salsa, salty feta and crunchy pistachios…it’s extra fancy.
Summer Salads, Watermelon Salad, Cherry Salsa, Summer Entertaining
Cherry Watermelon Wedge Salad
ripe melon, cherry salsa, feta, pistachios, lime finish
Serves 4

What you need:
4 watermelon wedges (about 6-8 inches long and 3-4 inches wide at the rind)
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (feel free to sub any fruit here, it all works!)
¼ jalapeno, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 juicy lime
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
Olive oil for drizzling

What to do:
1. Prepare cherry salsa: Cut the lime in half. Cut one half into wedges and set aside for serving. In a small bowl, stir together the cherries, jalapeno, cilantro and juice of ½ lime. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Prepare watermelon: The way these wedges are diced in the rind and served from it, is what   makes this summer salad a show stopper! Working with one wedge at a time, start your cuts from the peak of the watermelon wedge, make vertical slices 1-inch wide just down to the rind (don’t cut through the rind). Next, with your knife at a 45-degree angle, make horizontal cuts about 1-inch wide on one side of the wedge working from the peak to the rind without slicing through the rind. Spin to the other side of the wedge and repeat the process. Finally, run your knife along the rind of the wedge.
To Serve: Place one watermelon wedge on each plate pulling out a few of the pieces of melon slightly to give a “shelf” for the salsa to land on. Spoon salsa over each wedge. Top each with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with a pinch of salt. Serve with a lime wedge on the side.
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Dad Dogs!

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Every dog and every dad has his day. Check out the fun I had creating the perfect hot dog topping for every dad persona and up your hot dog game this summer!

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The Athletic Dad:
grilled turkey hot dog, spicy mustard, sliced avocado, fresh basil leaves, sliced tomato, drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt on a whole wheat bun.
Hot Dogs, Summer Food, Libbie Summers

The Drinker Dad: 
beer steamed 100% beef hotdog, whole grain mustard, onions and kraut on a pretzel roll. 
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The Absentee Dad:
plain hot dog, white bun and no condiments. 

My Two Dads:
grilled turkey hot dog, sir kensington’s chipotle mayo, edible flowers, herbs and a brioche bun. 
Hot Dogs, Food Styling, Summer Foods, a food-inspired life, Libbie summers

The Professor Dad (my dad) (top dog in photo and in life): 
steamed Vienna Beef® hot dog, mustard, relish, onion, tomato, sport pepper and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.
Fancy Hot Dogs, Libbie Summers, Summer Food, Grilling Food, Food Styling,

4 Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Ideas

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Low Calorie, Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Bacon Lovers!! A breakfast in bed idea for every mother out there. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Rubbed Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Sweet Strawberry Mashed Potatoes

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong for Savannah Magazine
Hosted at Grove Point Plantation
Assisted by David Dempsey, Candace Brower, Anthony Lunnsman
Benefiting The Fresh Air Home

My secret to the best beef tenderloin in the world involves pork!

Rubbed Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Sweet Strawberry Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 (3-pound) tenderloin of beef, trimmed and tied
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sweet Strawberry Mashed Potatoes (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prep the tenderloin by rubbing the outside of it with the bacon fat and seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Bring a large oven-proof skillet to blazing hot oven high heat. Add the tenderloin and sear all sides until a rich brown. Then place the skillet in the preheated oven and cook until the temperature resisters 130°F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest part. Remove the tenderloin from the oven to rest.
To make the balsamic drizzle: remove tenderloin to a cutting board and place the skillet with the renderings over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens.
To serve, slice the tenderloin and serve alongside Sweet Strawberry Mashed Potatoes. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

 

Sweet Strawberry Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped white chocolate
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup strawberries, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the 1 teaspoon salt to the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream and butter just until the butter has melted. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the hot cream mixture and the white chocolate. Using a potato masher, mash the potato mixture to your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the strawberries and thyme.

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