Summer parties can come with a whole lot of expectations. When it starts to warm up, people move outside and begin throwing elaborate cookouts, preparing spectacular dishes for their guests. Faced with a grillmaster who puts your talents to shame, you might start to feel the heat. If you’re spending time with family, the embarrassment is even worse. At SWISCO, we’d never want you to crack under pressure, so we’d like to share these summer recipes. You can cook each dish separately, or combine them into one big holiday meal. See if you can use these recipes to blow the neighbors away at the next cook-out.
Kathleen: 5-Minute Macadamia Cheese and Vegan Crudité
Blog: Minimalist Baker
If you’re not familiar with the Minimalist Baker, this is a recipe that will reel you in. Dana has been blogging about her simple, plant-based food journey for nearly ten years. During that time, she’s focused on serving up recipes that require less than ten ingredients, or just one bowl, or less than thirty minutes to make. Her 5-Minute Macadamia Cheese and Vegan Crudité delivers on her simple, quick, and delicious standards.
This recipe is a complete home run for me because it’s a plant-based and better-for-you alternative to a charcuterie board. When I switched to a vegan diet, it left me with a cheese board-sized hole missing from my heart, and I needed to fill it. Nowadays, I pull this recipe out for every wine night, BBQ, or picnic that needs a little finger food. My tip to you: there’s barely any cooking time involved, so take a minute to focus on presentation. You can trick your friends and family into thinking you are a master chef.
Casey: Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs
Blog: Tastes Better From Scratch
When cooking for a holiday party or other large event, one of the most important steps you can take is picking an easy and diverse recipe. One of my go-to dishes is this recipe for pineapple BBQ meatballs. It may seem a little simple, but that’s my favorite thing about it. It’s so easy to adapt the recipe to different occasions.
If you need an appetizer, throwing these crockpot masterpieces onto Hawaiian rolls will satisfy anyone waiting for steak and chicken to come off the grill. You can also throw the meatballs on a plate and stab them with toothpicks to make an easy finger food. For a meal that will leave your attendees stuffed, you can make meatball subs on fresh rolls from a local bakery (or just the grocery store, if you’re in a pinch).
It’s tough to go wrong with this recipe. Just let the flavors can marry throughout the day. The hardest part is remembering to put your three ingredients in the crockpot in the morning.
Tom: Ghost Pepper Chili Hot Sauce and Crispy Baked Chicken Wing With Buffalo-Blue Cheese Sauce
Blog: Chili Pepper Madness
I have a fun story about ghost pepper sauce. Many years ago, I shared a house with a few buddies who threw a party pretty much every other weekend. One weekend, they asked me to make a batch of wings to keep everyone fed. Knowing that not everyone has the same masochistic tendencies as myself, I made sure to do three batches and vary the heat. The final result was one tin full of mild wings, one tin full of hot wings, and a third, private tin full of turn-your-tongue-into-magma wings.
Fast forward to the next morning to find four hung-over stooges sitting on the floor, watching basic cable. We were hungry and broke, our eyes too sensitive to face the harsh light of day. I reminded my pals that there were still a ton of wings left over from the party. “We may as well polish them off, right?” I said, “What could go wrong?”
In retrospect, I should have been the one to heat them up. They were my wings; they were my responsibility. Instead, one particular friend, perhaps still a little drunk, took it upon himself to toss what was left of all three tins into one big container. Nobody knew what he had done until he took one bite, screeched like a wounded animal, and rushed to the bathroom to rinse out his mouth. The others decided that perhaps wings were not part of a balanced breakfast, after all. With only one bite taken, we tossed the leftovers back in the fridge for braver souls than ours to face.
Ben: Marseille Bouillabaisse
Bouillabaisse is a strange bird. It’s a dish that’s most often made without a set recipe, in large batches. Julia Child recommended starting with an excellent soup base and using fresh fish, but it’s not that simple in the seaside resort town of Marseille. Restaurateurs feud over whose method is most authentic, and every family has a different take on the dish. The Michelin guide states that the essentials of authentic bouillabaisse are fresh fish (red scorpionfish is preferred, but good luck trying to track that down), fresh olive oil, and fantastic saffron.
Keep that in mind as you run through this recipe: as long as you establish the flavor of saffron and orange in your stock and use fresh fish, you can tweak the ingredients to your liking. I myself recommend putting some extra herbs in the stock, like thyme, whole peppercorns, basil, or marjoram. If you’re feeling lazy, wrap your herbs whole in cheesecloth and throw them in as a “bouquet garni.” If you run into trouble seasoning the broth, white wine can thin and brighten the stock to cover small mistakes. Finally, make sure to get your favorite fish into the pot. Personally, I would never, ever cook a seafood medley without sea scallops. As long as the seafood is lean, you can add anything.
Kara: Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream
Blog: What’s Gaby Cooking?
If there’s one thing that I find myself reaching for after a meal, it’s something to satisfy my sweet tooth. No matter how full I am or how fast the food coma is setting in, I absolutely must have a bit of sugar at the end of my meal. In this recipe, you get two of the best sweet treats of the summer: peaches and ice cream. Peach season runs from May to August, so get to your local farmer’s market as soon as you can.
There is nothing quite like ice cream on a warm summer night, and grilled fruit is probably the most underrated summer treat EVER. With that in mind, I highly suggest looking into different fruits to grill, as well. You will be amazed at some of the delicious recipes you can find. Just be sure that in the pursuit of a golden brown finish on your peaches, you don’t end up charring your fruit instead.
In this recipe, the peaches form a bowl for the ice cream, so it’s easy to plate. However, the best part about it (in my opinion) is that it isn’t too heavy. During the hotter months, a rich, molten lava cake—although delicious—isn’t necessarily what you crave after a full meal. Keeping things light in the summer is key. It’s always been important to me to try to balance taste with nutrition, but I never say no to something if I really want it. Although this recipe isn’t the healthiest, a little ice cream never hurt anybody, and it has fruit! Right away, I feel less guilty. Even though this dessert is sweet enough to satisfy my summer sugar craving, it’s fresh and light enough to eat all season long.
SWISCO.com Writing Team (from left): Casey, Kathleen, Kara, Ben, and Tom