Session #5 – Anne’s English Garden Party

For Anne Bunnell just walking around her lush garden filled with vibrant color motivates her creative senses and we (her dearest friends) understand that it won’t be long before a beautifully handwritten invitation will arrive for the Annual Garden Party historically held in her stunning Petaluma Garden. Our traditional English afternoon is something we look forward to and over the years the guest list has grown to include our mother’s, daughters and best friends which lends to the continuance of a lovely tradition.

The English Garden soirée is usually a little more refined than other parties we create. The eight of us plus Missy Cat love assisting Anne with the menu preparation, garden table designs and of course the selection of perfectly paired B.R. Cohn wines to complement the luncheon menu.

The  Garden Party begins with simple appetizers, a trio of olives and a cheese platter to include English cheeses along with toasted walnuts and almonds. Anne’s choice for this year’s lunch will feature Finger Sandwiches, Chilled Pea Soup, Salmon, Dill and Parmesan Tart with Cucumber Salad, and grilled asparagus. Dessert will celebrate the season’s array of berries with  shortbread cookies.  Wines selected specifically for this light delicate menu will be the 2010 B.R. Cohn Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 B.R. Cohn Rose and B.R. Cohn Sonoma Valley Chardonnay.

Finger Sandwiches


Chilled Pea Soup with Mint

Serves 8

  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 springs of mint
  • 2 bags frozen petite peas
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crème fraiche – use to garnish
  • Strips of fresh mint for garnish

Method: In a medium 3 quart saucepan melt the butter on medium heat. Add minced shallots and cook until softened (about 2 minutes). Be sure not to brown. Add the chicken broth and mint sprigs to the shallots, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Add the frozen peas and salt and pepper to taste. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are just tender (about 3-4 minutes). Discard the mint and puree the soup in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Blend in the heavy cream. Taste and correct seasoning as needed. Chill until ready to serve and garnish with crème fraiche and mint strips. Pair with 2010 B.R. Cohn Sonoma Valley Chardonnay


Simple Salmon, Dill and Parmesan Tart

Serves 8 to 10

  • 2– 10” Purchased frozen Pie Crusts or homemade (for 2 tarts)
  • 2 lbs fresh salmon fillets (skin removed)
  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz. smoked salmon (crumbled or torn)
  • 6 large eggs beaten
  • 6 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2/3 cup)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Bring pie dough to room temperature. Meanwhile place salmon fillets in a shallow saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a little salt and bring to a slow boil. Just before the water boils, turn off the heat and leave the salmon in the water until it is cold. Lift it out the water, drain well and flake coarsely. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Form the crusts into 2 tart pans and prebake per package directions. Remove when prebaked and allow shells to cool for 10 minutes. Put the heavy cream into blender, add in the smoked salmon and eggs. Blend until smooth.  Season the custard mixture with salt and pepper and stir in the dill. Sprinkle the bottom of the tart crust with the flaked poached salmon, pour in the smoked salmon and cream mixture. Scatter the top with Parmesan, set on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes (or until just set up). Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Left: A garden table. Right: Lisa and daughter Ella enjoying refreshing beverages.


Left: Donna, Elly and Rebecca discussing hats. Right: Elly and Donna arrived dressed for the occasion.


Sweet Endings ~
Berries, Shortbread and Crème Fraiche

Classic Shortbread Cookie Recipe courtesy of Karen Kerrigan who has been making these cookies for 14 years using her favorite Brown Bag Cookie Art Shortbread pan.

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1  cup flour (unsifted)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter or spray the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper or use a shortbread pan. In a bowl, cream butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add flour.

Press dough in prepared pan, leveling and smoothing the top. If baking in an 8×8 baking pan, use a knife to cut dough lengthwise into strips less than 1” wide then crosswise into 3” bars (or any shape you would like). Using the tines of a fork, prick the entire surface of the dough. Bake the shortbread until evenly pale golden, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to cool. Invert pan onto a cutting board, remove parchment paper and separate the cookies. Also great to dip the ends in melted chocolate and cool.


Anne, Darlene and Rebecca wish to thank you for your continued interest in the Easy and Effortless Entertaining Series and look forward to presenting their August session devoted to Sonoma’s Tuesday evening Farmer’s Market.  ~ Cheers!

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