Homemade Summer

It's a Summer Solstice Party - Homemade Summer Style

  As I began this, it was Monday June 24 and it was a true heat wave. While the mercury dropped some 30 degrees, it's inching back up again and we're looking for light and easy food for friends and family.

Welcome to our virtual potluck, a wrap up of a Homemade Summer Solstice posts from all over: Holland to Oakland to Atlanta to Boston - and Japan! We're cooking from Yvette Van Boven's lovely and inviting book: Homemade Summer. Nearly every page of this book entices and engages. We either feel that we are, or know that we should be, in THAT photo, at THAT table. Thanks to Oof Verschuren's photography, I'm pining daily for summer picnics in Provençe!

These are unfussy, easy recipes that deliver and beckon us to play, to relax, to eat and drink. We're not the only ones to take notice of this fine book. The New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Boston Globe, Providence Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Huffington Post - just to name a few.

Homemade Summer

I got the inspiration for a solstice-themed event from the indomitable Tammy Donroe author of Food on the Food. Tammy's blog is one I've read with both tears and laughter, always skewed more to the latter. Can't wait for her book this fall. (Winter desserts? Yes please!) Tammy hosted a giveaway of Homemade Summer and also made these lovely crab cakes to bring to our virtual potluck.










Since my good friend Denise lives on the other side of the country, our visits are too few and too far between. But we always seem to pick up as if we'd just had coffee the day before. I wish we lived closer but given her considerable talents in the kitchen, my hips are grateful for the distance. Still, I'd walk a few more miles if meant we could dine together more often.

For now, we will have to make do with occasional stolen moments during family visits and an online conversation that winds its way through the hills and valleys of our lives. She's one of those friends you can always count on and I think the first to say yes to this invitation, even though she was only hours back from vacation. Now that's a trouper!

Check out her award-winning blog. She cooks, shoots, writes and eats accompanied by that delicious character she shares her life with: Laudalino - they inspire us at ChezUs.com.









You know of my love for Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. I even started the hashtag #Grainiacs because we have some momentum going with this grain thing owing in large measure to Maria. Her book is selling like whole grain hotcakes, as we knew it would. And even though Maria is at work on book number 2 (YAY!) she took the time to join our picnic, too.

Let's celebrate her success with this lovely Cava Sangria, and let's toast her mother who taught her the value of delicious homemade food.

Cava OPT









The lovely (and lately glowing even more than usual) Shelby shares a beautiful post on the Strawberry Shortcake. I'm dying to try it now. Shelby is a food blogger, lover of Boston and New England, and works for a small indie publisher, Union Park Press. She's a fan of wine, beer and cheese and shared a beautiful sneak preview of a soon-to-come book you'll definitely be hearing more about here.









A Dutch cookbook reviewer and blogger joined us, too! I'm so glad to see this Carrot Pie with Apple and Goat Cheese. You can find her on Twitter @DutchCookery.

carrot pie OPT









Peripatetic writer, travel host Gwen Pratesi (AKA Bunky) writes BunkyCooks and has transitioned from blogging to culinary travel and events. Alighting home in Atlanta between a Boston visit and her next trip, Gwen whipped up a lovely Mediterranean Salad with Spelt, Eggplant, Zucchini and Marinated Feta.












Author Jane Ward (Hunger, The Mosaic Artist) joins our virtual potluck with this beautiful Eggplant Tatin. Jane writes for Eagle-Tribune papers, is at work on her third novel and is a contributing writer for Local in Season. As well, you can now find Jane in videos for the AllFood.com

pie peek_OPT









Finally, I was intent on making these Fig Negroni Ice Pops from the moment I first laid eyes on this book. Negronis are one of my favorite drinks. This recipe is typical Yvette: familiar with an intriguing twist. I forgot about following directions and the importance of ratios of alcohol and freezing, but please do not let my refusal to follow instructions dissuade you from trying these. They are just delicious - promise.

plan b pop glass_3












And here's a late entry from Japan - Thanks Tomomi! Or Domo Arigato Gozaimasu! Pink Grapefruit Tart.

Grapefruit OPT








Penny Cherubino, publisher of BostonZest also loves Homemade Summer!

Negroni Fig Ice Pops - Homemade Summer Treats for Grown Ups

  There's a whole summer menu on Powells.com written, drawn, crafted by the multi-talented Yvette Van Boven. We begin with cocktails, here, an aperitif made with Aperol and bubbles..












You can create any menu you please, follow the one Yvette posted on Powell's or try ours here: It's a Summer Solstice Party - Homemade Summer Style.

I like a meal with bookends, so my contribution to this party is Negroni Fig Ice Pops.

Ice Pop Molds, Red White Blue

Plus I have these cool Ice Pop Molds I wanted to use!


Negronis are one of my favorite cocktails: gin, Campari, sweet vermouth - what's not to love? (try some Burlesque Bitters in your next one, or Orange Bitters, you'll thank me later). When I saw the recipe for popsicles that added figs to the mix, well, I was hooked. (just check the site header...) This is one of the hallmarks of Yvette's recipes, they're straightforward and yet always have a little surprise, a little something different. Figs complement the Negroni flavors beautifully.

2figs_opt Two figs ready for the party







Negroni Fig Ice Pops

Makes 4-6 pops

  • 1/2 C + 2 TBSP (150 ml) red (sweet) vermouth
  • 2 1/2 TBSP (40 ml) gin
  • 1/2 C (125 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 fresh figs
  • 1/3 C (75 ml) golden syrup or clover honey


Put everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour through sieve into a bowl with spout and then pour into molds.

Place in freezer and push wooden spoons in after two hours.

Freeze for at least another four hours, but ideally for 1 day.

Run the ice pops under hot running water for 3 seconds to unmold them.


While the ice pops were freezing, I set up the photo cube and shot, planning to have a nice ice pop with maybe a tiny pool of melty goodness for some 'action' in the photo.

Plan A_OPT











So -- we cannot take issue with the recipe when we didn't follow it, can we?

I used half a ruby red grapefruit (no oranges) and thought adding a couple dashes of orange bitters and a splash of orange flower water would add some orange notes to the pops. What I learned is the ratio of alcohol to juice is critical for proper freezing.

plan b pop glass_3Plan B

Ultimately we enjoyed these from flutes with iced tea spoons. They were delicious.








Fig Negroni sorbet_OPT Negroni Fig slush puppy...










I'd make these again - and follow the recipe next time. The flavor was fantastic. This is the part of summer we love...you just look at the positive and roll with it. Now go enjoy!

Summer Solstice and Summer Love - a Homemade Summer Blog Party

You know me. I'm the one who has trouble letting go. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes a not so good thing. You're in luck, dear readers: this time it's good. Remember the wonderful Yvette Van Boven sweeping into Boston right around the Boston Marathon weekend? So many lovely events, like this one at Kitchenwares:

Julie Homemade Summer Kitchenwares

Oof Yvette Jacqueline

Inspired by Yvette's & Oof's gorgeous book Homemade Summer and Tammy Donroe's excellent suggestion, we've decided to do a Homemade Summer Solstice blog thing. I can't let go. I'm still getting books in bloggers' and food writers' hands - there's a small stack here with stickie notes indicating who I'm saving them for - you know who you are.

Homemade Summer Cover

Homemade Summer Solstice

We are inviting everyone who's got the book to prepare one of the lovely recipes (I'm thinking of the Fig Negroni Popsicles p. 99) and do a post. Send me the link on or before June 28 and I'll do a meta post (I know you're saying "that's just like her, she's so meta.") rolling up all the links to all your lovely posts in one.

But wait, you say, isn't Summer Solstice today - June 21? Yes, of course you are correct. But you know we're rather fond of doing things on our own timetable around here. We're making our Solstice thing next Friday!

Okay, but you're still so busy, you're wondering how you could possibly manage it? Let me tell you, I saw with my own eyes several of these recipes come together in 20 minutes, in one bowl, in one square foot of my kitchen island as I banged about testing the lamb, tenting it, carving it, dishing out sides, stacking pans...if you've seen me cook, you know what I'm talking about. I made us dinner while we prepped recipes for the various signings. Possibly there was wine involved, or whiskey, or both.

Really, you can do this. And just think of the fun seeing all the summer posts in one. It may end up looking like the whole summer party menu Yvette did for Powell's.

In fact, have a drink and relax. Why not a Pimm's Cup (p. 90)? Have a nibble on some crispy chickpeas (p. 111) or maybe shuck some oysters and enjoy with ginger lime dressing (p. 105).

We are in gorgeous and short berry heaven right now, maybe you'd like to do a berry thing - strawberry jam biscuits or coconut strawberry lassi? (Did you see the Providence Journal or Bon Appetit pieces?)

lemons lemonade

So that's it folks! Get your book, prepare something quick and delicious, post and send me the link by the 28th!


Homemade Summer Solstice

With the summer solstice nearly upon us, it's time to get together and celebrate Homemade-style!

Come pick up your own copy of Yvette Van Boven's acclaimed book: Homemade Summer.

We'll have a glass of wine and catch up.

We'll plan our summer solstice blog party and we'll toast Tammy Donroe for the excellent inspiration!

Thanks to Les Zygomates for hosting and Kitchenwares for goodies!

WHEN: Monday June 17; 6-7 PM WHERE: Les Zygomates Wine Bar & Bistro; 129 South Street; Boston, MA 02111

RSVP to me here - just a few seats left.


Click on the image to see Yvette's Summer Menu and a yummy drink...