Summer Recipes

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

A crowd-pleasing menu for your warm weather gathering – and a prep plan that will make hosting it a cinch
By Photos by John Cullen
A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

Make a beautiful spread

The menu

Baby red potato salad
Green salad with bacon and dates
Flank steak with tomatoes and basil
Cedar plank salmon
Vanilla cake with summer fruit

The game plan

Day before: Bake cake. Cook bacon and make vinaigrette for green salad.

Morning of: Make potato salad. Frost cake. Grill steak and garlic, then slice steak and refrigerate. Combine garlic with tomatoes.

Hours before: Slice peaches for cake and combine with berries. Soak cedar planks for salmon. Set the table.

During cocktails: Take steak out of the fridge and top with garlic and tomatoes. Grill salmon. Finish off green salad.

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

Baby red potato salad

Prep 20 min
Total 1 hour 45 min


2.5 kg baby red-skinned potatoes
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup grainy Dijon mustard
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped parsley


1. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook until tender, 17 to 20 min. Drain. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and place in a very large bowl.

2. Whisk vinegar with Dijon, shallots and salt. Whisk in oil. Add half of this vinaigrette to warm potatoes. Stir to coat. Cool potatoes to room temperature. Just before serving, stir in remaining vinaigrette and parsley. Serves 12

Per serving: 244 calories, 5 g protein, 34 g carbs, 10 g fat, 4 g fibre, 654 mg sodium. Excellent source of
vitamin C.

Shopping tip: We found that grainy mustards made in France have a more classic Dijon flavour.

baby red potato salad, summer recipes


Green salad with bacon and dates

Prep 15 min
Total 20 min


8 strips bacon
1/4 cup orange juice
4 tsp white-wine vinegar
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1 head red-leaf lettuce, torn into
bite-sized pieces, about 6 cups
8 cups mixed greens


1. Cook bacon in a large frying pan over medium until crisp, about 10 min. Pat with paper towels, then coarsely crumble.

2. Whisk orange juice with vinegar and sugar. Whisk in oil. Chop dates, then toss with bacon, lettuce and greens. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing and toss to mix. Serves 12.

Per serving: 97 calories, 3 g protein, 11 g carbs, 5 g fat, 2 g fibre, 111 mg sodium. Good source of folate.

Shopping tip: Medjool dates are large and plump. Look for them in the produce section of the supermarket.

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

Flank steak with tomatoes and basil

Prep 10 min
Total 35 min


2 flank steaks, each about 1.5 kg
3 tsp olive oil, plus more for garlic
1 tsp salt
6 heads garlic
500 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup basil leaves


1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Coat steaks with 2 tsp oil, then sprinkle with pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Slice off and discard top third of each head of garlic, leaving garlic unpeeled. Lightly coat exposed tops with a bit of oil. Wrap each head in foil.

2. Barbecue garlic until soft when squeezed with tongs, about 20 min. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl and sprinkle with pepper and remaining oil and salt. Squeeze garlic from its papery skin over tomatoes. Stir to mix.

3. Oil grill. Barbecue steaks, covered, 4 to 6 min per side for medium-rare. When steak is done, let stand 5 min, then thinly slice across the grain. Place on a platter. Top steak slices with tomato mixture and basil
leaves. Serves 12.

Per serving: 391 calories, 53 g protein, 6 g carbs, 16 g fat, 1 g fibre, 287 mg sodium. Excellent source of iron.

Grilling secret: For perfectly cooked steaks, bring them to room temperature before grilling. This usually takes about 1 hour for flank steaks.

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

Cedar-plank salmon

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes

Prep 10 min
Soak 1 hour
Grill 25 min


2 untreated cedar planks
(about 12 in. long)
2 750-g centre-cut, skin-on salmon fillets
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dill fronds (optional)


1. Soak planks in cold water for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat barbecue to medium. Slice each salmon fillet into 6 thin portions, cutting through flesh but not through the skin. Place each fillet on a plank, skin-side
down. Stir together Dijon, oil and salt in a small bowl. Brush over salmon and into the cuts. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Scatter onion overtop.

2. Grill, covered, until fillet is barely firm to the touch and white juices appear all over the sides, 20 to 25 min. Turn barbecue off and keep lid closed for 5 min. Fish should now feel firm to the touch and a knife inserted into the thickest part and held for 10 seconds should be warm. If not, close lid and let rest another 5 min. Watch plank carefully; if it catches fire, spray with water and reduce the heat to medium-low.

3. Use a wide spatula to remove fillets to a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 12.

Per serving: 200 calories, 19 g protein, 3 g carbs, 12 g fat, 200 mg sodium. Excellent source of
vitamin B12.

Grilling secret: The easiest way to soak the planks is to fill the sink or a cooler with water, then add planks and set a heavy pot on top of them to keep them submerged.

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipes


Vanilla cake with summer fruit

Prep 20 min
Bake 65 min
Cool 2 hrs

Cake ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups milk

Icing ingredients:

3 tbsp milk
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1/2 tsp almond or coconut extract
3 160-g containers berries
2 thinly sliced peaches


1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 9 x 13-in. glass baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper. Spray again. Stir flour with baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until creamy. Add sugar. Cream together until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Beat well to incorporate. On low speed, add a third of the flour
mixture followed by half of the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Scrape into prepared pan. Smooth top gently. Bake in centre of oven until it is deep golden and a cake tester inserted into centre of cake
comes out clean, 65 to 75 min. If cake becomes deep golden before it is done, cover loosely with foil. Cool on a rack 10 min, then remove from pan and cool completely, about 2 hours.

3. Whisk milk into icing sugar until smooth. Whisk in extract. Spread over cooled cake. Slice cake, then serve topped with berries and peaches. Serves 12.

Per serving: 636 calories, 8 g protein, 104 g carbs, 22 g fat, 3 g fibre, 477 mg sodium. Excellent source of folate.

A chic summer buffet menu: Five recipesVanilla cake with summer fruit.Photo, John Cullen.


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