The Easy Breezy Summery Menu
antipasti appetizers, Toikkas and wine

Written by Hairee Lee For this Dinner Series event, I can really only offer you the menu rather than complete recipes. Most of it was either purchased in stores or secret. Still it's a great lineup, something anyone can adapt for their own summer dinner party.

For more pictures of the dinner go to our album on Flikr.

Plus, when the weather gets a hot as it was for this garden dinner party, you want to keep things as simple as possible and as far away from the stove. Because, let's face it, no one wants to sit and eat with a sweaty, exhausted host or hostess. It makes me feel guilty and guilt makes it harder to taste or swallow. And there that awful but true weariness of catching a whiff of body odor that could put you right off eating anything.

Page, the cook and hostess, understands this. She put together a spectacular meal while looking fabulous and without breaking a sweat.

Antipasti Platter Serves 6


  • 2-4 different antipasti. Page kept things simple to start. And at room temperature. The selection of three antipasti were sundried red peppers in olive oil, artichoke spread, and olive medley. I love these flavors. Page got these at Whole Foods, but most middle (Stop and Shop) to high range supermarkets (e.g. Pemberton Farms) these days offers a antipasti bar, if not an olives bar, if not jarred antipasti on the shelf. Just choose 2-4 of your favorite to make a really easy serve-yourself appetizer.
  • Crackers


  1. Place anitpasti in serving platter or bowls.
  2. Place crackers in serving platter or bowls.
  3. Serve.

Caprese Salad Serves 6

I've had this salad more times I can remember, but I always enjoy it. It's fresh and full of flavor. And plus I could munch on fresh mozzarella every day of the week. The addition of Page's super luxurious balsmic vinegar, the kind that is so thick it pours out like syrup and costs $50 for an ounce, made this one really special.


  • 4-6 ripe tomatoes. Because this salad feature the tomato rather than as a garnish, get the best you can get your hands on. The fresher the better.
  • 2-3 balls of fresh mozzarella. Same goes for this as with the tomato. Fresh fresh fresh.
  • Basil, chiffonade


  1. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Do the same with the mozzarella.
  2. Arrange slices in alternating order to make it look visually appealing.
  3. Sprinkle chiffonade basil, which just means cut into thin ribbons, over the tomato and mozzarella.
  4. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Seasonal Vegetables Serves 6-8

So this recipe is one that Page got from an Israeli cookbook she's had with her for a while. I have no idea how she made it but there are plenty of recipes out there on the web. Like this one from Bobby Flay on the Food Network.

I can't promise it'll be as tasty as the one Page made. Her couscous salad was the highlight of the meal for me and I'm not a couscous lover either. It was so perfectly seasoned and the vegetables had just the right amount of bite and freshness.

Grilled Salmon Serves 8

Jim's trick to the perfectly grilled salmon fillets is to brush the fish with mayonnaise. Sounds totally weird, but it totally works. The fish doesn't stick to the grill and the mayonnaise flavor is gone by the time the grilling is done.


  • 6-8 salmon filets
  • mayonnaise


  1. Heat up charcoal grill.
  2. Place fillets on skin side. Leave for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn over fillets and let cook for another 5 mintues. Then serve with lemon wedges.

And this is what the main course looked like all put together.

Apple Pear Cranberry with Brown Sugar Walnut Topping à la Mode. Serves 6

This pie was from Petsi Pies and served with a scoop or two of Edy's vanilla ice cream. The pie has a tartness from the cranberry that makes the apple taste applier. And who can say no to ice cream, especially when it's eighty-five degrees outside? This was one fabulous pie.