Serious Entertaining: Memorial Day

Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.


[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

Though I may wear white in the depths of winter and I'm sadly lacking a summer house to "open" or a boat to speed down the Long Island coast, I look forward to Memorial Day and all that it signifies. We're entering summer territory and my heart lifts at the thought of barbecues, sidewalk dining, and post-work "I can't believe it's still light out" drinking.

I like to kick off my summer season by inviting over some friends and cooking up the types of dishes I look forward to most. (NB: I lack a grill or else, yes, some grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream would be at the top of this list).

Blue Cheese Biscuits

In the summertime I tend to make a lot of biscuits. They just beg to be packed in a picnic basket and taken to the park as sustenance for a leisurely lie in the sun. And since I'm never one to overlook the bread basket, for my Memorial Day party I'll choose these blue cheese beauties to accompany my mains. They have a pungent, salty flavor and extra thin and flaky layers.

Spiced Carrot Salad with Olives


Have some vegetarians coming to your party? Looking for a side to accompany your burgers? Try this salad and surprise everyone with how delicious you made some carrots. A combination of coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and toasted cumin gives the carrots an earthy spiciness that plays against salty, vinegary olives and refreshing cilantro. Seriously, don't invite me to your party or I will eat the entire bowl of this while you're busy with the drinks.

Lobster, Corn, and Potato Salad


During the summer, I eat a lot of salads, though not necessarily the type with lettuce. Anything that can be eaten at room temperature gets a star in my book, as does any dish that shows off the inherent goodness of summer produce. Lobster may be expensive, but it's so buttery and luxuriously rich that a little bit goes a long way. Along with some sweet corn, creamy potatoes, and fresh basil, this is the perfect main course to embrace simple summer cooking.

Deep Dish Cherry Pie


When I bought my first bag of juicy, dark red cherries I may have cried out, "It's pie season! It's pie season! Hooray!"

I used Dorie Greenspan's incredibly flaky and practically fool-proof recipe for the pie crust, but the real star here is truly the fruit. Use the best fresh cherries you can find and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. The filling should taste like cherries to the cherriest degree.