A few weeks ago, after the crowds had gone and the pace of life had slowed down a bit, we gathered with friends at a gorgeous home along the Lake Michigan shore for a simple celebration of summer. We’ve long been fans of Megan & Mike Gilger’s blog The Fresh Exchange, so when they invited us to be a part of one of their Simple Evenings, along with our friends at Huzza, we got our notebooks out and started planning a simple menu centered around the agricultural abundance of September in Northern Michigan.
We filled the back of our little red pickup truck with peaches and tomatoes and corn, eggplant and herbs and pickled chanterelles, and some of our favorite jars, and then Chris and Nicholas got to work in the kitchen. So serious, those two!
The evening began with our signature Jam Jar cocktails, a favorite at our Café and the perfect companion to the trio of simple bites Chris and Nicholas put together. While Chili Jam-marinated chicken skewers sizzled on the grill, we noshed on fresh ricotta with cherry tomatoes, deviled eggs with our Cucumber Pickle Relish, and smoked whitefish with our Whole Seed Mustard.
All of this gorgeous food was made even more gorgeous by the gorgeous serving pieces our friends at Huzza carefully selected for the evening. Kate and Rad MacCready have impeccable taste and a knack for discovering beautiful, unique things wherever they go. Since they opened in 1978, their store has been filled with some of the most lovely pieces in Northern Michigan, gathered from antique markets and craftspeople all over the world. The second generation staff at Huzza is especially talented at mixing high and low, old and new–an aesthetic perfectly matched to the elegant simplicity of the food we prepared. The table they made themselves, to accommodate twenty people and a trough full of beer and wine.
For dinner, we passed dishes around the table, family style. We started with simple grilled chicken skewers marinated in our Chili Jam, and piled rustic seasonal vegetables on our plates beside the spicy chicken. For dessert we took things a little over the top, piling fresh peaches, Red Haven Peach Preserves, and whipped cream on top of layer after layer of meringue for a wild, drunken pavlova that everyone guiltily devoured.
Our simple evening was the perfect way to celebrate a gorgeous summer and ease into the sweetness of September. Thanks to Kate and Rad MacCready for welcoming us all into their beautiful lakeside home, to Megan and Mike Gilger for inviting us to join them, and to the Huzza crew for gathering such a lovely collection of serving pieces to showcase the food we prepared.
And since we couldn’t invite everyone to the actual dinner, we’d thought we’d take you there vicariously through this video Mike put together, and through the simple recipes you’ll find after the video for easy duplication at home. Enjoy!
Our signature cocktail, the Jam Jar, made with Tito’s vodka and our Blueberry-Lime Preserves. Print the recipe here.
Deviled eggs with crispy bacon and our Cucumber Pickle Relish. Print the recipe here, and simply substitute Cucumber Pickle Relish for Whole Seed Mustard (or make some of each!).
We paired fresh, homemade ricotta with a cherry tomato chutney we’ve been playing around with in the R&D kitchen. We hope to have that available soon, but in the meantime, our Heirloom Tomato Preserves pair beautifully with ricotta.
Simple whitefish bites: pile chunks of smoked whitefish on crackers and dollop spoonfuls of our Whole Seed Mustard on top. Garnish with fresh dill and shaved baby beets.
Chicken Skewers with Chili Jam are one of our favorite simple summer meals. Print the recipe here.
Our late-night, over-the-top Peach Pavlova. Print the recipe here, and make it with fresh peaches and our Red Haven Peach Preserves.
Food: Chris Dettmer and Nicholas Roznowski of American Spoon
Styling: Rad MacCready, Tobin MacCready, Kate Bonsted of Huzza
Floral: Kate MacCready of Huzza
Photography: Cody MacCready of Huzza and Mike Gilger of The Fresh Exchange
Videography: Mike Gilger of the Fresh Exchange
Table Design: Andrew Schorfhaar and Rad MacCready of Huzza