Contributed by Rich Schieferdecker What began as a book club of friends soon became a book club where no one did their reading, so we turned it into the next best thing, a gourmet club. Once a month we share a delicious dinner and, unlike with a book club, we don't have to do any homework, other than our share of the cooking. This month we got together for a garden party hosted by my friends Rich and Carolyn for a delightful Summer evening spent in their home and garden. Below are the recipes for the gastronomic delights we enjoyed and be sure to view pictures on our Flickr.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Thyme (from RecipeZaar.com)

Multiply by the number of servings needed

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 (5 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast

Directions

  1. Preheat grill or broiler.
  2. Combine olive oil and spices in a flat dish.
  3. Add chicken and coat both sides.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Grill or Broil chicken for 5-7 minutes, then turn and baste with remaining marinade.
  6. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes or until inside is no longer pink and serve.

Romaine Salad with Strawberries, Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Since you probably know how to make a salad, I'll just sketch out the particulars of this recipe here.

For the pecans:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil 2 baking sheets. Stir together 1 cup of pecans with 3 tblsp. maple syrup in a small bowl to coat and spread in a single layer on one of the oiled baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes until syrup bubbles. Quickly remove pecans from baking sheet and spread them on the second sheet and allow them to cool.

For the dressing (by Emeril Lagasse)

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  1. Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper until sugar and salt dissolve. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly.
  2. And finally, toss the Romaine with slices of strawberries, dressing, glazed pecans, and a few tablespoons of goat cheese.

Chilean White Peach Melba Sangria (Serves 8-10, from Sheila Lukins' Around the World)

  • 6 ripe white or golden peaches
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 bottle (75 ml) Chenin Blanc or other semi-dry white wine
  • 1 oz. Cointreau liqueur
  • 2 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • ice cubes
  • 6 fresh mint sprigs for garnish
  1. Peel, pit, and finely dice the peaches. Place the peaches and raspberries in a large glass pitcher. Pour in wine and Cointreau. Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Before serving, add the sparkling water. Serve in wineglasses over ice and garnish with mint sprigs.

Asparagus-New Potato Hash (Serves 8, from MyRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. small red potatoes
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup crumbled farmer's cheese
  • lemon slices for garnish

Directions

  1. Bring potatoes and salted water to cover to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 15 minutes or just until tender; drain well. Cool 15 minutes; cut into quarters.
  2. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Sauté shallots in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet 1 minute. Add asparagus, thyme, salt, pepper, and lemon juice; sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add potatoes, and sauté 3 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with cheese. Garnish, if desired.

Summer Fruit Jellies (Serves 6-8, from JamieOliver.com)

Ingredients

  • 4 beef gelatin leaves
  • 2 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 13 1/2 oz. Prosecco sparkling wine or champagne
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Fill whatever molds you are using (egg cups, cappuccino or espresso cups or tea cups or dariole moulds) three-quarters full of berries. Put them in the fridge to chill.
  2. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for a few minutes until soft. Pick them out of the water and shake any excess water off. Place them in a bowl and cover with 5 oz. hot (but not boiling) water and the sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  3. When the gelatin water has cooled to room temperature, add the Prosecco or Champagne, stir well and pour over the fruits in the chilled moulds. Return to the fridge to set.
  4. When the jellies are ready, dip the bottom of each one in a little hot water to melt it very slightly and then turn out on to a plate. Scatter with a few mint leaves before serving.