What to Serve at Your Next Dinner Party, According to the Moon
When you combine the cosmic energy of a full moon, with the unpredictable nature of a dinner party, anything can happen.
At least, that's been the experience of chef Annemarie Ahearn. She's hosted more than 100 such suppers at her farm on Maine’s Penobscot Bay—where the celestial satellite shines an otherworldly moonbeam across the ocean.
Take her first, which literally started with a bang. “A car exploded. There was a 30-foot fire, and both fire departments came to put [it] out," recalls Ahearn, who says the drama, fortunately, didn't spoil anyone's appetite. "Everyone came in to finish the meal and drank a whole bunch. It was pretty memorable.”
Since then, there have been plenty of other unforgettable evenings on the property, which doubles as a cooking school, that were far less incendiary—like the time a couple got engaged and diners serenaded them as they walked up from the beach.
“Fun things happen on full moons, emotions are heightened,” says Ahearn, who's collected recipes from some of her best fêtes for her new book, Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm. “[It's] an excuse to bring all these people together and all of this wonderful food onto the table and celebrate that moment in time."
"Fun things happen on full moons, emotions are heightened."
Rather than just write-up recipes, Ahearn organized her cookbook into twelve menus—one for each time the astrological body orbits the earth. “Part of the goal of the full-moon supper is to highlight the ingredients that are in their peak at that month,” she says.
And to help you create a lunar food ritual of your own, Ahearn's shared her favorite, seasonal dinner recipes that are ideal to serve under the Full Hay Moon on July 9. So gather your women's circle, bust out the dreamy backyard essentials, and prepare for a magical evening where anything can happen.
Scroll down to see Ahearn's summer full-moon supper menu.
Fried Squash Blossoms with Garlic and Parsley
Yields 8 servings
4 cups olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
8 sprigs parsley, leaves picked from stems and stems discarded
1½ cups sparkling water
1 cup flour
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch fresh ground pepper
8 squash blossoms, stamens and bugs removed
1. Heat the olive oil in a pan along with the garlic and parsley over medium heat.
2. In a bowl, whisk the sparkling water and egg into the flour to make a smooth batter. Season well with salt and pepper.
3. Hold the squash blossoms by the stem and dip them into the batter, twisting them to cover the whole flower. Let the extra batter run off.
4. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, the oil is ready for the flowers. Place four flowers at a time in the pan and fry until they're golden brown, turning them once for even cooking. When the garlic begins to gain color and the parsley starts to shrivel, use a slotted spoon to move both items to a paper towel.
5. Drain the flowers on the same paper towel and season again with salt after frying. Serve hot with bits of fried garlic and parsley.
*To clean and prepare blossoms, gently open each flower without ripping it and inspect the inside. Remove the stamen and shake any bugs into the sink or outdoors.
Locally Farmed Chickens and Wheat Berries with Grilled Baby Squash, Tomatoes, and Summer Herbs
Yields 8 servings
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large chicken, cut into 8 pieces
4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and cut into medium-size dice
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces
2 fennel bulbs, stalks and hearts removed and bulbs roughly chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked from stems and roughly chopped
Wheat Berries and Veggies
2 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
Big pinch of Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked wheat berries
6 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
3 tomatoes, cut in half
3 summer squash, sliced lengthwise into 3–4 pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
Handful of baby braising/hearty greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, Asian greens, or mustard greens) or regular-size braising/hearty greens cut into thin ribbons
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Handful of fresh herbs (sorrel, basil, parsley, lemon thyme, tarragon)
Pinch of red chili flakes
Big pinch of fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high for 2–3 minutes. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in the pan, skin side down, for about 5 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side for about 2 minutes. (If the chicken sticks to the pan, it's not ready to be flipped.)
2. Remove from pan and let rest on a plate. (The chicken will still be raw on the inside.) Add the leeks, onion, carrots, fennel, and garlic to the Dutch oven and turn the heat down to medium. Add a touch of salt, cover, and sweat the vegetables until tender—about 10 minutes.
3. Uncover, sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, and toss to coat them. Toast the flour for 1–2 minutes, constantly stirring.
4. Stir in the wine, turn the heat up to high, and allow the alcohol to evaporate (about 5 minutes). Add the stock, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and give the contents of the pot a stir. The stock should nearly cover the chicken.
5. Turn off the burner. Top chicken with lemon slices.
6. Transfer the Dutch oven into the preheated oven and bake until the chicken is golden brown and the liquid has thickened (about 35–40 minutes).
*If you use a kitchen thermometer, the temperature of the chicken should be a minimum of 150°F and no higher than 155°F to meet food safety standards. Once it’s finished resting, the temperature will have risen to 165°F, which is a safe temperature for food consumption.
For the Wheat Berries and Veggies
1. In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sweat them, covered, until they are transparent (about 10 minutes).
2. Add the garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
3. Add the wheat berries and toast them (about 2 minutes), stirring them around in the pan. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Give it all a stir and reduce to medium heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the wheat berries have absorbed all the liquid.
4. While the wheat berries are cooking, toss the tomato halves and the squash in olive oil. The following step can be done in a cast-iron pan or on top of the grill, using medium-high heat. Quickly sear or grill the squash pieces until they develop grill marks or turn a golden brown color (about 4 minutes). Let them cool. Do the same with the tomatoes (about 3 minutes). Slice the tomatoes into wedges and the summer squash into bite-size pieces.
5. Once the wheat berries are fully cooked, turn off the heat and let them rest for 5 minutes with the cover on.
6. Uncover and toss the wheat berries with the greens, lemon zest and juice, fresh herbs, red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, tomatoes, and grilled squash. Serve chicken over wheat berries and vegetables with plenty of lemony sauce from the bottom of the pan, and garnish with chopped parsley.
Raspberry Trifle with Sweet Cream
Yields 8 servings
16 Tbsp butter, plus 1 Tbsp melted butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 pints raspberries
8 sprigs mint
Sprinkle of lavender flowers
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch cake pan with 1 Tbsp melted butter and dust with flour.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the remaining butter. Gradually add the sugar, mixing until the butter becomes soft, light, and pale. Blend in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating between each addition.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the butter and egg batter, then stir in the milk. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula a few times while mixing.
4. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and tap it against a counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; don’t let the cake gain too much color. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Using the mouth of an 8-oz. mason jar, cut out circles of cake. This ensures the cake rounds will fit perfectly inside the jars in which you will build the trifle.
6. To assemble the trifle, layer raspberries, cream, and cake rounds in the jars until filled. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and a sprinkle of lavender flowers.
For the Sweet Cream
1. Just before assembling the trifle, in a stand mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks with the vanilla extract and sugar.
End the night with a moon ritual, plus a little sage cleansing, and you're all set.
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