Tag Archives: summer entertaining

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Lemon Curd Dresses Up Simple Summer Desserts

Just as jewelry accessorizes outfits, condiments can accessorize recipes. Around this time of summer when blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are abundant, a jar of lemon curd stashed in the fridge is the key to instantly dressing up quick and appealing fruit desserts.

Rich and tart lemon curd is the perfect foil for fresh and juicy berries, particularly blueberries. You can make up a batch using our favorite recipe below, or just buy a jar from the store. Once you have lemon curd on hand, you’ll keep discovering new uses for it. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Serve it with freshly baked scones or biscuits.
  • Whip heavy cream and fold in lemon curd; use as a filling for tarts, as in this recipe, or serve it in small dishes with berries and shortbread or wafer cookies on the side.
  • Swirl it into the filling of your favorite cheesecake recipe right before baking.
  • Layer it with whipped cream or yogurt and fruit for a classic fool.
  • Use dabs of it as a filling for thumbprint cookies.

We’re currently adoring these impressive but easy no-bake lemon-ginger ice cream sandwiches. Crisp and spicy ginger cookies soften in the freezer and provide a contrast to a smooth filling of lemon curd folded with premium ice cream. The flavor is decadent, but the portion size is perfect for when you want a satisfyingly cool and sweet nibble.

plated frozen sandwiches

These summertime faves are sweet and satisfying.

Easy Lemon-Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches
From Linda Faus, former test kitchen director for The Oregonian

Makes small 16 sandwiches

These cool and refreshing four-bite treats hit the spot. They make a wonderful sweet midday snack or light dessert.

  • 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, storebought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • 32 thin, crisp ginger cookies

In a medium bowl, beat the ice cream briskly with a sturdy wooden spoon until it is smooth. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes to firm.

sandwiches in tray to freeze

Be sure to freeze your sandwiches at least three hours before serving.

Lay 16 cookies, bottom-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a small ice cream scoop, dole about 2 tablespoons of the ice cream mixture onto each cookie and top with the remaining 16 cookies, pressing to flatten slightly.

Clear out a space in the freezer where the sheet will lay flat. Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. To freeze longer, wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place carefully in a plastic freezer bag. Use within 2 weeks.

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You’ll love finding scrumptious new uses for this lemon curd recipe!

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Lynne Sampson for The Oregonian

Makes 1⅔ cups

It takes time to make lemon curd, but it can feel meditative to stand at the stove and stir. If you don’t anticipate using all of the lemon curd within a month, simply freeze half to use later.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons butter

In a medium stainless steel, nonstick, or enameled saucepan, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar with a whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. The mixture will slowly turn more opaque and the spatula will start to make visible swaths through the mixture, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring until the curd is as thick as sour cream and coats the spatula, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts and the curd is smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a crust from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours before using. Store the lemon curd tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

by Sara Bir

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Discover Aperitifs, the Summertime Answer to Cocktails

The calendar doesn’t agree, but according to the unseasonably early heat wave last week here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, summer has arrived. With our deck furniture recently hosed off and a our café glasses brought out from storage, we were prepared to cool off with a relaxing aperitif on the porch.

Aperitifs are a category of drinks as well as a tradition throughout the Mediterranean, yes, but they’re also a state of mind. “L’apéritif is both a beverage and a social activity,” writes author Georgeanne Brennan in her book Aperitif: Stylish Drinks & Recipes for the Cocktail Hour. “The beverages are rarely strong spirits and the accompanying food never satiates, as the purpose is to pique the appetite.” Unlike the offerings seen in the America’s currently booming cocktail scene, aperitifs are light on the booze, usually only contain a few simple components and are intended to stimulate the palate rather than bludgeon it. In fact, aperitifs don’t even need to contain alcohol  a simple lemonade (or citron pressé, in fancy French terms) could count. It’s all about context.

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Summertime refreshment and boho chic jewelry? Yes, please!

Aperitifs are all about transitioning from the busiest part of the day to the more relaxed, carefree time after the workday ends. Add some sun, casual company and a salty snack or two, and you have an occasion to reconnect with friends and enjoy the pleasures of the season. Sometimes, though, savoring an aperitif solo is also enjoyable. It’s the time you take for yourself to assess how the day went and what the remainder of the day holds…or to simply sit and think about nothing at all.

Your house aperitif could be anything from a glass of white or rosé wine, to a booch ‘n’ hooch, to a cooling beer cocktail…or our all-time favorite, Lillet Blanc. In France, aromatized and fortified wines served deeply chilled are common aperitifs, and the Bordeaux-produced Lillet (established in 1872) is a classic. It’s a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignoin Blanc wines flavored with orange and lemon brandies and a hint of quinine. It’s sweet and citrusy, but not cloying.

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A delicious drink and fabulous jewelry are a beautiful solution to a hot summer day.

The manufacturer recommends serving it straight, very cold, but we prefer it over lots of cracked ice and garnished with an orange slice to accentuate its sunny appeal. Another popular variation cuts the Lillet Blanc with club soda or sparkling water and lime.

If you’d like a little nibble with your aperitif, think light and crunchy. Salted almonds, a fresh crudite platter, marinated mushrooms, black and green olives, spicy popcorn, or hard or soft cheeses with crackers are easy to throw together and won’t spoil your dinner — unless you’re content to make the whole aperitif experience your evening meal. In which case, snack away!

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This breezy take on the traditional cocktail hour is gloriously light and refreshing.

Now that warm (or hot) weather is here, you don’t have to stick with the heavy-handed cocktail hour with its heavy appetizers and palate-wrecking liquors. An aperitif allows you to add some levity to your summer days. It’s a ritual that may sound frivolous at first, but you’ll soon find it’s the stuff of life, setting the tone for all that follows.

by Sara Bir

 

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Beat the Heat with Fun and Flirty Beer Cocktails

Beer cocktail with Heirloom Finds Jewelry's Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

Beer cocktail, First Blush, styled alongside the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

They call these the dog days of summer. If sunny seasonal fatigue sets in, there’s no need to let it bring you down.  Liven things up with elegant and easy beer cocktails. They’re ideal for unwinding in sticky weather, and they won’t slow you down because they dilute beer with refreshing, hydrating beverages. (Translation: You can enjoy a few and not get wasted.)

Though creative possibilities have made beer cocktails all the rage with cutting-edge mixologists, ours are straightforward and simple, requiring only a few ingredients. The better to get you sipping!

When you mix citrus and beer, you really can’t lose. In Britain there’s the Shandy, a 50-50 mixture of fizzy lemonade and ale or lager. Similar drinks go by Panaché in France and Radler in Germany. We like to skip the carbonated stuff and use freshly squeezed lemonade instead. It pairs splendidly with a crisp pilsner (psst: it doesn’t even have to be a fancy one).

The michelada, a Mexican classic which adds spicy heat to pilsner beer and lime, fights fire with fire. On a hot day, a hint of chilies and salt cool down a weary traveler.

Keep a wide berth from the recent spate of canned, ready-to-drink Shandys and Micheladas. They are to beer cocktails what Tang is to orange juice. The biggest key to successful beer cocktails is to mix them yourself, at home, with fresh ingredients (for instance, use real lemonade, not Crystal Light).

We created a beer cocktail just for Heirloom Finds—the First Blush, naturally. It’s fruity, not too sweet, and gorgeous to look at. Of course.

Beer cocktail in a pitcher named after Heirloom Finds Jewelry's blog, First Blush.

Garnet-hued beer cocktail named after the blog, First Blush.

The First Blush Beer Cocktail

Instead of citrus, we rely on the tart zip of dried hibiscus blossoms. Since they’re not easy to find, we brewed a batch of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea, which you can get at nearly any grocery store (the zing comes from hibiscus) and chilled it. Mix away for a garnet-hued drink to let you savor the last weeks of summer in comfort and contentment.

4 bags Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Tea
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
Bottles or cans of decent Pilsner beer (we like Full Sail Session Premium Lager or Yuengling Traditional Lager)
Lime wedges, for serving

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep for six minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add the sugar and two cups of cold water and refrigerate until chilled.

To serve, pour one part herbal tea to one part beer in a glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Offer the remaining beer in the can or bottle along with the drink so guests can top off and adjust as they like.

Beer cocktail styled with Heirloom Finds Turquoise Beaded Fringe Necklace and a butterfly.

Even the butterflies love the cocktail and the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace!

…and here’s a more sweet-tart option for those of you who have access to dried hibiscus.

First Blush Hibiscus Blossom

Popular in Latin American and the Caribbean, drinks made with hibiscus flowers are tangy, colorful, and invigorating. Dried hibiscus (called “sorrel” in Jamaica) is available in natural foods stores and Latin American markets. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup dried hibiscus, remove from heat, and let steep for four hours. Strain, add sugar to taste (we recommend about half a cup) and chill. To prepare a drink, mix one part hibiscus drink to two parts light-bodied pilsner. Garnish with a lime wedge.

By Sara Bir

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