Summer Recipes

How to throw a perfect evening garden party

A step-by-step game plan and delectable menu for a perfect summer soiree
How to throw a perfect evening garden party

Michael Graydon

Make a beautiful spread

The menu

Sugar-crusted pork loin
Creamy mozzarella and fennel salad
Polenta with Parmesan
Grilled asparagus
Sweet peppers with garlic-herb oil
Raspberry-cream tart

The gameplan

Day before: Bake tart shell and prepare pastry cream. Prepare garlic-herb oil for vegetables.

Day of: Coat pork with sugar mix and chill 5 hours. Prepare salad and refrigerate. Stir berries into pastry cream and fill tart. Garnish and chill.

1 hour before: Grill pork.

During cocktails:
Grill peppers, asparagus and polenta; cover with foil. Let pork rest while serving salad.
Carve and serve pork and vegetables.

Garden party dinner recipesMichael Graydon

Sugar-crusted pork loin

Prep 10 min
Grill 50 min
Chill 5 hrs


1/3 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1-kg to 1.5-kg boneless pork-loin centre roast
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp butter, melted


1. Stir 1/3 cup brown sugar with kosher salt in a large bowl. Add pork-loin roast, then turn and press sugar mixture into pork to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours.

2. Rinse pork very well and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir remaining 2 tbsp sugar
with butter. Pat over pork.

3. Preheat barbecue to medium. Reduce heat to low on one side of barbecue, then oil. Place pork on oiled side. Cook, rotating halfway through (without turning over), until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of pork reads 145F, about 50 to 75 min. Tent with foil and let stand 10 min (the internal temperature should rise to
150F to 155F) before slicing and serving. Serves 6.

Per serving: 248 calories, 42 g protein, 7 g carbs, 5 g fat, 256 mg sodium. Excellent source of vitamins B6 and B12.

Cooking tip: In testing, we found that pork cooked to an internal temperature of 150F to 155F has a remarkably better flavour and texture than pork cooked to 160F (Health Canada’s recommended temperature).

Garden party pork loin recipe dinnerJames Tse


Creamy mozzarella and fennel salad

Prep 10 min
Total 10 min


1 large fennel bulb
1 ball buffalo mozzarella, about 250 g
1/3 cup black olives (optional)
1/2 large orange
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt, preferably kosher


1. Trim feathery green fronds and tough tops from fennel, saving some fronds for garnish. Place fennel on a cutting board and slice in half. Remove and discard core. Thinly slice fennel. Arrange on a platter.

2. Slice mozzarella into rounds and arrange on top of fennel, along with olives. Grate 1 tsp zest from orange and squeeze juice from it. Drizzle salad with oil and orange juice. Sprinkle with zest and salt. Garnish with fronds. Serves 6

Per serving: 195 calories, 10 g protein, 6 g carbs, 15 g fat, 2 g fibre, 236 mg sodium. Good source of vitamin B12.

Substitution tip: If you can’t get buffalo mozzarella, feta is a great substitute in this dish. If you use feta, omit the salt.

Polenta with Parmesan

Prep 10 min
Total 22 min


1-kg tube polenta
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan


1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Slice polenta into 1/2-in. rounds. Lightly brush polenta rounds with oil on each side. Oil grill well and place polenta on grill. Barbecue until polenta is lightly golden and grill marks
form, about 6 to 8 min per side. Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle with parmesan and pepper. Cover with foil until ready to serve. Serves 6

Per serving: 173 calories, 5 g protein, 29 g carbs, 4 g fat, 3 g fibre, 129 mg sodium. Excellent source of folate.

Ingredient tip: Be sure to use store-bought polenta: It’s firm enough to grill.

Garden party polenta recipe mozarella saladJames Tse

Grilled asparagus

Prep 5 min
Total 10 min


2 bunches asparagus, about 1 kg
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt


1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Snap tough ends from asparagus. In a large bowl, toss asparagus with oil and salt. Place asparagus on the grill perpendicular to grill bars or in a vegetable basket. Barbecue, turning occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 5 min. Serves 6

Per serving: 50 calories, 3 g protein, 4 g carbs, 3 g fat, 2 g fibre, 63 mg sodium. Excellent source of folate.

Sweet peppers with garlic-herb oil

Prep 10 min
Total 20 min


3 red or yellow peppers, or a mix
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
or basil (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced


1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Cut each pepper into 6 to 8 wedges. Toss with 1 tbsp oil and salt. Place peppers on grill. Barbecue, covered, turning occasionally, until tender and grill marks form, 12 to 15
min. Remove to a serving platter. Whisk remaining oil with vinegar, oregano and garlic. Drizzle over peppers. Serves 6.

Per serving: 98 calories, 1 g protein, 4 g carbs, 9 g fat, 1 g fibre, 50 mg sodium. Excellent source of vitamin C.

Garden party grilled veggies peppers asparagus recipeJames Tse

Raspberry-cream tart

Prep 35 min
Total 1 hour 40 min

Pastry ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 tbsp whipping cream

Pastry cream ingredients:

1 cup milk, preferably homogenized
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
2 170-g containers raspberries


1. Make pastry by stirring flour and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter with sugar and yolk, with an electric mixer on medium, in a large bowl. Beat in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add 2 tbsp cream. Beat until dough begins to come together. If dough doesn’t quite come together, add 1 more tbsp cream. Form
into a ball.

2. Position oven rack so that tart will sit in centre of oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 9-in. fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Place dough in centre of tart pan. Press pastry evenly over bottom and up sides of pan. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 min. Bake in centre of oven until pastry is golden,
18 to 23 min. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.

3. Prepare pastry cream by bringing milk to a boil in a saucepan about 8 in. wide. Place yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in sugar until thick and pale yellow, 1 min. Whisk in cornstarch. Mixture will be thick and stiff.

4. Whisk boiling milk gradually into egg mixture. Be careful to whisk quickly to avoid scrambling eggs. Return mixture to saucepan and place on medium-low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 min. Then continue whisking until mixture is thick and no cornstarch flavour remains, 2 to 3 more min. Remove
from heat. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface. Refrigerate until pastry cream is chilled, about 1 hour.

5. Stir 1 container raspberries into chilled pastry cream, mashing raspberries slightly. Spread evenly over cooled baked pastry. Filling will be shallow. Smooth, then garnish by tumbling remaining container of raspberries overtop. Pie crust is tender, so gently remove fluted side of pan, then run a pie lifter between pastry and bottom of tart
pan. Slice pie in tart pan and serve. Serves 6.

Per wedge: 438 cal, 7 g protein, 53 g carbs, 23 g fat, 5 g fibre, 125 mg sodium.

raspberry tartRaspberry-cream tart.Photo, James Tse.


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