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We were really looking forward to having some of the most fabulous people we know for dinner. What started out as a small gathering, grew to 12 adults and 14 children.
We started the evening outside on the deck, with a cocktail, and radishes sliced in half, spread with goat milk butter and sprinkled with sea salt. We then moved inside to dine on braised ox-tail, roasted vegetables and pork shoulder my husband had slow cooked in hoisin sauce and red apple ale. I rounded out the meal with a spring salad lightly dressed with a tangy lime vinaigrette and a simple white peach crisp served with whipped cream and coffee.
It was a delightful spring menu for an incredible evening, joyfully served to wonderful friends.

CUCUMBER LEMONADE CHILLER

3 cucumbers
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups gin
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons of agave nectar

Peel and chop the cucumbers, transfer to a food processor. Add rosemary and puree.
Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. Add gin, lemon juice, and agave nectar to the cucumber juice, stir until the agave is dissolved. Divide among ice filled glasses and garnish with rosemary sprigs.
Enjoy!

SPRING SALAD WITH LIME VINAIGRETTE

FOR THE SALAD
1 green apple, cored and diced
grated zest of 2 limes
juice of 2 limes
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes, sliced in half lengthwise
butter lettuce
1 avocado, peeled and diced
FOR THE LIME VINAIGRETTE
1/4 lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE SALAD
In a small bowl, coat the apple with the lime juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the lime zest, artichoke hearts, green onions, cucumber, celery, parsley, and grapes. Separate the leaves of the lettuce, and place one on each plate. Top with the vegetables, and arrange avocado on top.
FOR THE LIME VINAIGRETTE
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over top of salads.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 2005
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

WHITE PEACH CRISP

STREUSEL
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
PEACHES
1 1/2 pounds ripe white peaches, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

STREUSEL
Heat oven to 325F.
In a food processor, pulse together flour, butter, almonds and sugar until crumbly. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheet, then crumble into pieces.
PEACHES
In a medium saucepan, combine peaches, honey, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until peaches are tender and juices thicken slightly (I ended up adding a little cornstarch to thicken). Remove from the heat and cool.
Spoon 1/3 cup peach mixture onto each serving dish. Sprinkle each serving with streusel. Serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, July 2004
www.oprah.com/food.html

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