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Summer Dining al Fresco

Celebrate the Season with a Home-Cooked Meal and Friends

Article by Recipes By Sammie Laforce

Photography by Paul Versluis

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

Spending time outdoors and enjoying friends and family with fresh food and drinks is a celebration of summer. From colorful flower arrangements to locally-sourced produce and herbs, this table brims with character and flavor. Cut herbs and handpicked wildflowers welcome guests and the bouquet includes a medley of Queen Anne’s Lace, mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, Lamb’s Ear, Nigella, Buddleia, oregano, dill, and more.

As guests arrive, pour a slightly sweet and smoky cocktail. The "El Ahumado" looks like pink lemonade, but is decidedly adult with  Reposado tequila, Aperol, and cherry syrup. Serve Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken which pairs nicely with Roasted Heirloom Carrots drizzled with Honey. Peach Bread Pudding with Salted Vanilla Caramel Cream is the perfect sweet treat at the end. 

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

One whole chicken, pieced. (Or two bone-in breasts, plus two thighs and two drumsticks.)

Dried Spice Mix

  • 2 Tbs. White Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Ground Mustard
  • 5 tsp. Paprika
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbs. Garlic Powder 
  • 2 tsps. Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsps. Cayenne 
  • 1 tsp. Celery Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
  • 4 tsps. Onion Powder 
  • Kosher Salt 

Buttermilk Brine

  • 4 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Sage
  • 1/2 of Spice Mixture 


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch 
  • 1 Tbs. Baking Powder 

To cook: 
4 cups Shortening 

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over top. Add fresh sage and store in refrigerator.  Marinate chicken in brine for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking rack with a sheet pan for raw chicken and one for cooked chicken. 

Add the remaining half of the spice mixture to flour mixture and combine. 

Pull chicken out of the buttermilk mixture and let it drip. Coat firmly in flour mixture and set on raw chicken rack. Complete each piece of chicken. 

Heat shortening to 350 degrees, preferably in a cast iron Dutch oven. Place two or three pieces of chicken in oil and cook three-five minutes per side. Place on cooked chicken rack. Put cooked chicken in oven to complete cooking for 15 minutes. 

Let chicken rest for five-10 minutes before serving. 

El Ahumado by Brandon Burke, Cordial Craft

  • 1 1/2 Ounces Reposado Tequila
  • 1/2 Ounces Aperol
  • 3/4 Ounces Lime Juice
  • 1/2 Ounces Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Ounces Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Syrup
  • 1 Spritz of Mezcal 

The Mezcal adds just a hint of smoke to make a beautifully balanced, lightly sweet, and pleasantly bitter cocktail.

Peach Bread Pudding

  • 1 Loaf Brioche bread 
  • 5 Fresh Peaches 
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 5 Eggs 
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon 
  • 2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread into one-inch cubes. Cut peaches into medium dice. Place peaches, white sugar, and butter in a saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved and peaches are soft. Mix all other ingredients together. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan and add peach mixture with brioche pieces and then add milk mixture. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting. 

Salted Caramel Sauce 

  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 6 Tbs. Salted Butter, at room temperature and cut into six pieces
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp. Salt

Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown/amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir, be careful not to let it burn. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Use caution, the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about two minutes. If you notice the butter separating, remove it from heat and vigorously whisk to combine it again. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring.  Allow the mixture to boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in one teaspoon of salt. Caramel thickens as it cools. Cover tightly and store for up to one month in the refrigerator.