When the weather heats up, mix up a batch of cocktails and canapés that will not only kick off your event with a summery spirit, but will also have your guests wanting more… as our new culinary entertaining expert Josie Rees shares.

2017MayJune_Savor_bloodorangeBLOOD ORANGE & THYME PALOMA


2 oz silver tequila
4 oz blood orange soda
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
leaves of 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
thyme sprig for garnish
1 blood orange (slices for garnish)

DIRECTIONS: Combine the sugar and thyme on a small plate. Use as much or as little sugar as you like. Gently crush the mixture together with your fingers. Wet the rim of a glass with lime and cover with the thyme salt. Add in a few ice cubes, and then top with the tequila, lime juice, soda and stir. Garnish with a blood orange slice and thyme sprig.



3 cups prosecco, chilled

1 cup limoncello liqueur, chilled

1 cup frozen raspberries

6 sprigs fresh mint

DIRECTIONS: In a large pitcher, mix together prosecco and limoncello. Serve over raspberries and garnish with mint, if desired.

2017MayJune_Savor_pomegranatePOMEGRANATE MOJITO


1/2 lime cut into 4 wedges

small handful mint leaves (plus a sprig to garnish)

1 teaspoon sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)

1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed pomegranate juice

45 – 60ml white rum (depending how strong you want it)

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

soda water to top up

about a cup of ice

a lime wedge to garnish

DIRECTIONS: Place lime, mint and sugar into a tall glass and muddle to release the juice and flavor from the mint leaves. Add the pomegranate juice, seeds & rum and then add the ice. Stir. Top the glass to the rim with soda water and stir again. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint.

2017MayJune_Savor_puffmushroomGRUYERE, MUSHROOM & CARAMELIZED ONION puff pastry

Caramelized onion bites with sautéed crimini mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onions, and gruyere cheese. The perfect summer savory hors d’oeuvres, they’re made with puff pastry and take no time at all to whip up. Perfect for your summer parties in the sun.


4 tablespoons salted butter, divided

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

5-6 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

4 ounces grated gruyere cheese

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil along with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside in a medium bowl.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter along with the 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Add the dried thyme and sugar and continue to cook for 25 minutes on medium low heat. Make sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, turn down the heat a little more. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, allow the onions to soak it all in. Turn off heat. Add the onions to the mushroom mixture. Season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add the gruyere cheese and mix well.

Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on a lined baking sheet. Make sure the puff pastry is thawed, but still cold. If not, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before proceeding. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg on the squares. Place a tablespoon of the filling mixture in the center. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway in between until crisp and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.


A perfect combination of spicy, sweet, savory all combined into one bite.


1 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

1 lb thick cut bacon

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup honey

1 lime, juiced

2-4 teaspoons sriracha sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the bacon in half so you’ll have twice as many strips to work with. Wrap each pineapple chunk in a piece of bacon and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, honey, lime juice, sriracha, and soy sauce. Pour over each piece of bacon-wrapped pineapple to glaze. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until bacon is crispy. Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro over the top. Insert toothpicks into each bite for easy serving.

2017MayJune_Savor_grilledcheese5MINI-GRILLED CHEESE APPETIZERS

Updating a classic party snack with big taste in small bites.


long French baguette, thinly sliced

1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese

3-4 tablespoons butter

fresh arugula

fresh basil (optional)

red chili flakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Slice baguette into thin cross-sections, then top with cheese, arugula and fresh basil. Sprinkle with a pinch of red chili flakes, black pepper and sea salt to taste, and top with another slice of baguette. Cook sandwiches in batches of 5 or 6 in a large frying pan on med-low heat, over 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter per batch. Cook for about 3-4 minutes each side until cheese starts to melt and the outsides of the sandwiches are crispy. Serve immediately with ketchup and sriracha, or any of your favorite condiments.