Best of the Web

Handmade Gatherings Giveaway + Best of the Web

by Grace Bonney

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The sun is finally out in Brooklyn and it looks like it might reach 70 degrees (!!) here in Brooklyn. So I’m closing up shop and heading outside to soak up the sun with Hope. But before we leash-up and head out, I wanted to share a delicious warm-weather recipe from our friend and former teammate Ashley English. Ashley’s new book, Handmade Gatherings, is out now and is packed with delicious (and healthy) recipes for friendly get togethers with friends. Today she’s been kind enough to share one of her favorite recipes with us, vegetarian-friendly Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette, as well as give away a copy of her book to a lucky DS reader.

To enter, just leave a comment below with your favorite summer party idea. How do you celebrate with friends with the temperatures rise? Something in a pool? A beach bonfire? Share your party idea below by next Friday and Ashley will pick her favorite to win a copy of her book. Thanks so much to Ashely and Roost Books! xo, grace



From Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English, © 2014 by Ashley English. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. www.roostbooks.com

Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6


-2 pounds large asparagus 1⁄4 cup olive oil
-1 cup shelled pistachios 1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

For the vinaigrette:

-1/4 cup olive oil
-1⁄4 cup crumbled feta cheese
-2 teaspoons lemon juice
-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon honey Several grinds of black

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rinse the asparagus and cut about an inch off of the stem ends. Pat the asparagus dry.

Place the asparagus on a dry baking sheet, put in the oven, and bake for 3 minutes to dry off any excess moisture. Remove the sheet from the oven and toss the asparagus on the sheet with the olive oil.

Crush the pistachios in a food processor (or under a towel with a kitchen mallet or hammer) for about 1 minute, until finely ground. Transfer the ground nuts to a small bowl. Using a spoon or clean hands, mix the nuts with the salt.

Lay the asparagus out evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle the spears with half of the ground pistachio and salt mixture. Turn the spears over, then evenly sprinkle them with the rest of the ground pistachio mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and, using tongs, carefully plate the spears onto a platter.

Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a lidded container or a food processor. Shake or process until smooth. Drizzle the plated asparagus with the vinaigrette. Top with the feta and parsley. Serve at room temperature.

Suggested For You


  • I’d love to have a picnic party on the roof of our downtown loft! Just need to find the right night to watch the sun set and the stars shine…!

  • An iced tea party. I did that a few years ago when it was stifling hot. Had the usual tea party fair along with four or five teas – flavored, unflavored, and herbal – plus lots of ice.

  • When our Wyoming weather warms up enough, we light a fire in our backyard and celebrate with drinks, good food and great friends

  • When our Wyoming weather warms a bit, we light a fire in our backyard firepit and celebrate with drinks, good food and great friends

  • Summers in Long Beach Ca we love a picnic dinner at the bay and stay until dark
    It’s very relaxing and no clean up

  • Thank you in advance for the opportunity. The recipe book looks lovely! I look forward to summer movie nights and make-your-own grilled cheese night. I love grilled cheese and would love to have an array of items to add to the basic (yummy) grilled cheese- avocado, grilled onions, bacon, lettuce- and guest could build their sandwich before watching a movie under the stars.

  • I think you can’t beat a picnic dinner on the beach and a fire pit. Throw in some good friends and you’re all set.

  • How fun to see everyone’s plans for summer gatherings! I wanted to mention that there’s a slight typo in the recipe here. For the vinaigrette, where it reads “4 cups olive oil”, it should read “1/4 cup olive oil” (which is how it’s printed in the book). Thanks, Grace, for hosting the giveaway!

  • My ideal summer party would be if we had a huge backyard with a woodburning oven and we invited all our friends and family for a “make your own pizza party.” I’d have homemade dough, grilled veggie toppings, various sauces and cheese, along with a bunch of side salads, wine, beer, and ice cream and cookies for dessert! We’d break out games when the sun sets and people are a bit more buzzed and then let the fun ensue :)

  • When weather warms up and the kids are out of school we do an annual Tuesday Night Supper Club with 5 other couples. Everyone in the group likes to cook and appreciates fresh food so its a weekly surprise. Its either al fresco, on a patio, by a poolside or however each couple wants to host during the summer months. Because fresh is abundant the food always coordinates perfectly. Host makes the main (meat, fish etc.) and guests sign up to bring a “green” a “starch” a “side” a dessert etc…so we always have a complete and balanced meal. Whats great is we enjoy seeing each other weekly at different homes so its never or redundant, and its a nice way to break up the week with friends. Somehow it really prolongs summer and gives us a chance to be creative every week.

  • As soon as it gets warm enough I like to invite friends over for an old-fashioned outdoor movie night! I bought a vintage screen and folding chairs specifically for this reason, and I was able to find a fairly inexpensive projector on Craigslist. We usually watch classic comedies from the ’80s and ’90s like Troop Beverly Hills or The Great Outdoors. I serve themed snacks and drinks, and of course lots of freshly popped popcorn!

  • favourite summer party is best friends and their families, good old fashioned BBQ with a paddling pool that is never big enough and it starts off with the kids….. they get bored and then adults find the water pistols and get a bit silly !

    happy days :)

  • Hands down, it’s gotta be a crab feast. Newspaper, Maryland blue crab, Old Bay & cold beer. There’s nothing more delicious or nostalgic for this east coast turned west coast girl. Miss it so much!

  • A summer isn’t complete without Porch Fest. Invite family and friends over to handout on your front porch, and stick a sign in front of your house. Everybody does the back yard party, but by moving the part to the front porch you never know what new neighbor or walker/biker will decided to join you.

  • I love to go on the PBS app and catch up on my shows… Nature is a favorite. Caught the Bionic Pets show Sunday evening. I had been out to a farm on Long Island on Sunday so animals were especially on my mind.

    The idea that we are not “owners”, but “guardians” is what stayed with me. Too often, we believe we own something – an idea – an animal – a circumstance. But actually it’s not ours. It’s just passing through. I loved that concept and it opened my eyes. To choose how you are going to steward something.

    I loved seeing those animals running around, and their drive to survive.
    I remembered you had posted about the show so came back to say thanks for the recommendation. : )

  • A picnic at the beach, with fresh fruit, lemonade, summery beers and tasty melty things to roast over the bonfire later. Lots of beach games and big blankets to lay out on.

  • For my summertime birthday, I often throw an open house known as The Champagne Jam: I buy a case or more of cheap bubbly and serve an all-day brunch, The menu includes several dishes with champagne or jam or both: usually a tray of biscuits with savory spreads (including bacon jam and garlic-onion jam with sparkling red wine) to make sandwiches, a tray of scones with sweet jams (usually including a strawberry-champagne jam), pink champagne cupcakes, vegan chocolate cake bars with raspberry jam filling, and so on.

  • Picknick with friends at an open air cinema. We theme the food according to what is showing, we had french for Ratatouille, italian for The Tourist etc.

    Sometimes it’s more a Picknick de luxe, like the time it included white tableware, silver cutlery and Veuve Cliquot. That was The Great Gatsby.

  • My favorite outdoor gathering is a casual potluck with lots of great friends around. I’ll supply the sangria and salsa, the rest is a surprise!

  • To kick off the summer season, I like the idea of hosting a Saturday morning post farmer’s market pot luck brunch. I organize a make your own bloody mary and coffee bar, set the table with a colorful variety of linens and dishes/glasses, lay out a few blankets and pillows in the yard, put together a center piece or two from the garden, and fire up the grill. The emphasis is on creating a casual, welcoming, and functional atmosphere in our small urban space. Fingers crossed for sunshine. :)

  • So I went ahead and bought the book, and I’m so glad I did! I’m just getting started with it, but I’ve thumbed through to look at the pictures. It’s absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to try some of the ideas.

  • Well, I just want to have a glampful, glampalicious outdoor art party with all types of poetic vagrants in Austin (where I do not live, except in my own mind) … I actually have been preparing for this, to tell the truth. I’ve got a purple blow-up (meaning inflatable, but it’s also da bomb!) chair, bright Moroccan poufs, and ideas about how to make art that’s more durable and weather-proof. I’ve been collecting various cool-looking first-aid kits, just in case, and got a book about emergency wilderness medicine. Because I can’t help but be international, I’d probably also order some yummy fortune cookies with my own poetic sayings inside, as well as cooking up couscous with sultanas (big plump yellow raisins) and other tasty luxuries as inspired by my poetry, in which I reside. Of course, I’d also invite others to read but especially perform, and we’d have a nice new-fashioned record player going when there weren’t words …. This is a party for people who want to expand their minds through their hearts, and perhaps even eventually become more philosophically esoteric, like myself.

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