Style Expert

The Elegant Garden Party

The secret to adding sophistication to a summer garden party is about infusing everything – from the cocktails to the centerpieces – with garden scents and flavors. These garden details can be accented with vanilla, a versatile flavor that enhances the natural garden essence in dishes and decorations. Amplify a sophisticated garden atmosphere with just a drop of vanilla extract to intensify subtle garden flavors, making them the star of the party.

Try these tips for adding elegance and garden tastes into a summer garden soiree:
  • Create a summer cocktail favorite with a unique garden twist like rose sangria, which sets the tone for your fete.
  • Use fresh cut flowers or bunches of herbs tied with a simple ribbon for centerpieces with natural garden fragrance.
  • Enhance ripe tomato flavors in a savory appetizer like Lemon-Bleu Stuffed Tomatoes with Pure Lemon Extract.
  • Float votive candles in water to add light. Add flower petals and a drop of rose water to the water for an authentic garden aroma.
  • Intensify summer flavors by mixing orange blossom water with fruit-flavored yogurt as a light citrus topping for a dessert of freshly picked fruit.

As guests arrive, start the party off with a summer cocktail favorite, rose sangria. The vanilla extract and rose water lighten the drink – allowing the freshness of the lemons and limes to pop. Add sprigs of fresh mint as a garnish for a bright garden taste. Here’s the recipe! So delish!

Rose Sangria (Serves 4-6)
  • 1 apple, peeled and quartered
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced rounds
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced rounds
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced rounds
  • ⅓ cup pure vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup brandy, chilled
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine, chilled
  • 1 ½ cups pulp-free orange juice, chilled
  • ¼ teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon Tahitian pure vanilla extract fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Stud apple by pushing the clove stems into the prepared apple quarters. In a large glass pitcher, place the clove-studded apple quarters with the citrus fruit slices. Sprinkle pure vanilla sugar over the fruit, pour brandy over the sugared fruit and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours to infuse the flavors. Before serving, remove the clove-studded apple and discard, and crush the infused citrus fruits slightly with a wooden spoon. Stir in the wine, orange juice, rose water and pure vanilla extract. Garnish each glass with a sprig of fresh mint.

Lemon-Bleu Stuffed Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5 ounces bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (approximately 48)

Combine the wine and shallots in a small bowl. Let stand. Combine the cream cheese, garlic, lemon extract, white pepper, cayenne pepper and shallot mixture in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended using an electric mixer. Fold in the bleu cheese with a wooden spoon. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator. Rinse the cherry tomatoes. Remove the tops by slicing a small amount off each tomato. Scoop out the seeds with a small measuring spoon. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each tomato so it will stand upright when plated. Fill each tomato with ½ tablespoon of the chilled Lemon-Bleu Stuffing using a pastry bag or spoon.

This recipe along with some good quality crackers and a nice assortment of cheeses and sweet individual pastries is all you need for an elegant and unique garden party. The only thing left is for you to invite your friends over …

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