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.
Summer Salads, Watermelon Salad, Cherry Salsa, Summer Entertaining, Fancy Salad
Event Design, Party Design, Magnolias, Watermelon, A food-inspired life,

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.

Strawberries, Spring, Dinner Party, Flowers, Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life

Wild Arugula Salad with Garlic Croutons, Shaved Parmesan, and Caramelized Lemon

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

I could just eat a bowl of the croutons with dressing, but adding greens makes me feel better about myself. My go to summer salad.

Wild Arugula Salad with Garlic Croutons, Shaved Parmesan, and Caramelized Lemon
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large piece of ciabatta with crust
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 lemon
6 ounces arugula (preferably wild, about 10 cups packed)
3 ounces aged Parmesan cheese, shaved into strips with vegetable peeler

 

Make Croutons:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rub crust of bread with garlic clove and tear bread into medium-sized chunks. Place bread on baking sheet and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and a heavy sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and bake until golden and crisp (about 10 minutes). Cool and set aside.

Caramelize Lemon:
Cut lemon in half and place flesh side down in a skillet over high heat. Cook until caramelized on the bottom.

Make Salad:
In a large mixing bowl, add arugula. Toss with juice from lemon and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 of the croutons and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and toss.

To Serve:
Transfer the salad to individual bowls or a serving bowl and add remaining Parmesan cheese and croutons over top.

Strawberries, Spring, Dinner Party, Flowers, Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life

Sweet Pea Soup

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

When the spring peas make an appearance, my go to dish to make is this soup. Really, there is no soup easier, more beautiful and more delicious. The strawberry garnish is everything!

Sweet Pea Soup
Serves 6

What you need:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts), roughly chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Pea shoots for garnish (optional)
Sliced strawberries for garnish (optional)
Chopped chives for garnish (optional)

What to do:
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter, leeks and onion. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent and leeks are tender (about 5-10 minutes). Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the peas and honey, then cook for 3 minutes, until the peas are tender. Remove from heat and add the mint. Salt and pepper to taste.

Working in batches, place 1 cup of the soup in a blender, place the lid on top and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the vent hole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed.

Just before serving, warm soup over low heat and stir in yogurt. Spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with pea shoots, sliced strawberries and chopped chives.

Strawberries, Spring, Dinner Party, Flowers, Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life

Grove Point dinner by Libbie Summers, Spring, Strawberries

Kool-Aid Pickles

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

If you have ever stopped at a roadside market along a Southern highway, these pickles are no stranger to you. Pickles floating in jars of a brightly colored brine are normally lined up at the cash register. These Kool-Aid pickles may seem odd at first, but once you bite into one you’ll appreciate the sweet and sour flavors. Let me just warn you, because no one warned me, your fingers may just turn the color of the pickle you’re eating!

Red Kool-Aid Pickles
yields 1 (90-ounce) jar

What you need:
1 (90-ounce) jar of whole dill pickles
4 packets Kool-Aid (I prefer cherry—it’s just how I roll)
2 cups sugar

What to do:
Drain the juice from the pickle jar and discard, leaving the pickles inside.

In a medium pitcher, combine the Kool-Aid, sugar, and 4 cups water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour enough of the Kool-Aid mixture over the pickles in the jar to completely cover them. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks before eating.
pickles, Kool Aid, Southern Foods, Sweet and Vicious Cookbook, Libbie Summers,

 

 

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