Porch Partyin’

In Louisiana, spring presents the ideal time to dine on the porch, and Vikki and Bryan Colwell take full advantage of the season’s inviting weather – as well as the gardenias, hydrangeas, and agapanthus abloom in their garden – by entertaining outdoors often. The secret to their success is to keep things as simple as possible. For this elegant porch party for six, that meant ordering in food from their favorite restaurant, the Dakota, in Covington, La.

Chefs Kenneth LaCour, Jr. and Kim Kringlie collaborated with the Colwells to plan a menu centered on local specialties: festive icebreakers, a garden-fresh salad, and an abundant seafood buffet featuring crawfish, oysters, shrimp, and blue crabs. The easy-to-prepare entree, Baked Red Snapper, paves the way for a dessert cart filled with classic Southern-style temptations: pecan pie, strawberry shortcake, and decadent pralines.

You can re-create the mood of the Colwells’ party on your own porch, patio, or balcony by using the recipes that follow and supplementing the buffet with favorite dishes prepared for you by a favorite restaurant or seafood market near you. Whatever menu you choose, there’s something inexplicably satisfying about eating a meal outside: Somehow the food just seems to taste better, and you always want more.

freshmintSo relax, enjoy these mild evenings of spring and the milder ones of summer to come, and open your back door to your friends, your imagination, and your appetite. The only rules are to relax, take things slow, and enjoy the lovely view.

The Dakota Bloody Mary

Flavored with ground nutmeg and canned “olive juice,” this Bloody Mary has become a favorite with customers at the Dakota Restaurant, in Covington, La.


2/3 cup vegetable juice cocktail 3 tablespoons vodka 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish 1/2 teaspoon “olive juice,” reserved from can of green cocktail olives 1/8 teaspoon celery salt 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper Crushed ice 1 lemon slice or pickled asparagus spear

1 In an old-fashioned glass, combine vegetable juice cocktail, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, olive juice, celery salt, nutmeg, and pepper; stir well.

2 Add ice to fill, garnish with lemon slice or asparagus spear, and serve.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 1 g; fat: .2 g; carbohydrate: 8 g; fiber: 1 g; sodium: 673 mg; cholesterol: 0; calories: 130.

Banana Daiquiri

Corn syrup may be substituted for the simple syrup.


1 small ripe banana, unpeeled 1/4 cup crushed ice 2 1/2 tablespoons light rum 2 tablespoons banana-flavored liqueur 1 1/2 teaspoons Rose’s lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons Simple Syrup (see Note)

1 Cut a 2-inch piece from the stem end of the banana and reserve. Peel remainder and cut into chunks.

2 In blender, combine remaining banana, the ice, rum, liqueur, lime juice, and syrup; blend until smooth.

3 Pour into decorative glass, garnish with reserved banana, and serve.

Note: To make Simple Syrup: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water to boiling over high heat. Add 1 cup sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool 5 minutes. Store in airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup Simple Syrup.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 1 g; fat: .6 g; carbohydrate: 51 g; fiber: 2 g; sodium: 8 mg; cholesterol: 0: calories: 331.

Mint Julep

Mint juleps make many a May get-together in the South memorable.


6 leaves fresh mint Crushed ice 1/4 cup bourbon 1 1/2 teaspoons simple syrup or corn syrup (see Note on this page) 1 sprig fresh mint

1 Place mint leaves in mint-julep cup. Using an iced-tea spoon, mash the mint.

2 Add ice to almost fill glass. Add bourbon and syrup. Stir to combine and pour into decorative glass, if desired. Garnish with mint sprig and serve.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 0; fat: 0; carbohydrate: 8 g; fiber: 0; sodium: 5 mg; cholesterol: 0; calories: 155.


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