Outdoor Entertaining: Put the ‘Great’ in Your Party on the Lake

Sophisticated recipes, guides, and tips for a nautical brunch


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Toast Bar

Unless you have an electrical outlet on board, you’ll have to pre-toast your toasts. They won’t be warm when you serve them, but they’ll have a nice crunch and let’s be honest — toast is just a vehicle for the toppings.

Salmon Toast // Spicy Honey Almond Toast // Golden Yogurt and Mango Toast // B.A.T. Toast // Fig Out Toast // The Obligatory Avocado Toast

Make the toasts the night before, let cool to room temp, and store in an airtight container until brunch.

Since you’ll be making the toasts ahead of time, a crusty bread will work well; we like sourdough and French breads like boule.
For sweet toasts, try brioche.

Cooking Times:
Sourdough: 8 minutes per side in 400-degree oven, more or less depending on how crunchy you like your toast.
Brioche: 7 minutes per side.
Boule: 10 minutes per side, brushing with smashed garlic and olive oil if you wish.

Salmon Toast

Makes 4 servings

The curing process “cooks” the salmon, but you’ll want to make sure you use the highest-quality fish you can find. Use only sashimi-grade salmon (you can find this at Japanese stores and Whole Foods).

1 recipe gin-cured salmon
1 recipe scallion cream cheese
½ cup pickled red onions
¼ cup everything seasoning
Handful fresh dill, minced
4 slices toasted sourdough

Gin-Cured Salmon
2 ounces gin
1 pound sashimi-grade salmon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup salt
Zest of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful fresh dill
Handful fresh parsley

Scallion Cream Cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
4 green onions, sliced
Pickled Red Onions
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 red onion, sliced into half moons

Everything Seasoning
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon dried garlic flakes
1 teaspoon salt


In a nonreactive glass dish, pour gin over fish. Combine sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Rub the mixture generously over both sides of the fish and season with freshly ground black pepper. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and put half of the herbs down. Place the fish on top of the herbs and top with the rest of the herbs. Wrap tightly, place in clean nonreactive dish, and put in the fridge for 48 hours, turning over every 12 hours. Weigh down the fish with a heavy object, such as a 28-ounce can of tomatoes or whatever you have on hand. After 48 hours, rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry. With a sharp knife, slice thinly at an angle from top to bottom and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Use within 3-5 days.

Cream cheese
Whip the cream cheese with a hand mixer until it’s smooth and creamy. Fold in the green onions. Keep chilled until ready to use.  

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Pour over red onions, let cool to room temp, and then chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Spread cream cheese over the sourdough bread. Fan out 3-4 slices of the salmon on top of the cream cheese. Top with pickled red onions, fresh dill, and everything seasoning.

Spicy Honey Almond Toast

Makes 4 servings

4 slices toasted brioche
½ cup almond butter
2 bananas, sliced lengthwise
Chili-infused honey*
Toasted slivered almonds


Spread almond butter on toast, top with bananas, and drizzle chili-infused honey. Top with almonds.

*Make your own by heating 1 cup of honey with ½ teaspoon of dried chili flakes and 2 chili peppers such as Thai bird’s-eye chilies or jalapeños over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat and cool to room temp. Strain before using.

Golden Yogurt and Mango Toast

Makes 4 servings

1 cup whole-milk yogurt
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
A couple grinds of black pepper
Juice of ½ lime
4 slices toasted brioche
2 fresh mangoes, peeled and sliced
Chopped pistachios, toasted coconut, and fresh mint for the garnish


Mix yogurt with spices and lime juice and spread on brioche. Top with sliced mangos. Garnish with pistachios, coconut, and mint.

B.A.T. Toast

Makes 4 servings

½ cup basil pesto
¼ cup mayo
8 slices of bacon
¼ cup maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh arugula, shredded finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 slices toasted boule


Combine pesto and mayo. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay out bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook until crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush both sides with maple syrup and season with black pepper. Return to oven and cook for 10 minutes, turning over halfway. Remove from oven and let cool. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper. Toss arugula with olive oil and vinegar.

Spread pesto mayo on bread, then top with bacon, tomatoes, and a scant handful of arugula.

Fig Out Toast

Makes 4 servings

The candied walnuts, with a hint of spice, bring a savory element to this toast, balancing out the sweetness of the fig jam. You can find togarashi, a Japanese chili pepper, in Asian stores, or you can substitute cayenne pepper. If you really want to go all out on the savory route, try blue cheese instead of ricotta.

Candied chili walnuts
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon togarashi
½ cup ricotta cheese, whipped for a minute or so with a hand mixer
4 slices toasted brioche
¼ cup fig jam


Candied chili walnuts
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix walnuts, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, and togarashi and spread in a thin layer on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool completely, remove from sheet pan, and coarsely chop.

Spread whipped ricotta on top of toast, followed by the fig jam. Top with candied walnuts.

The Obligatory Avocado Toast

What’s better than avocado on toast? Guacamole. This is like a taco in toast form.

Makes 4 servings

4 large avocados
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Juice of two limes
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Smashed black beans
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can black beans
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 pieces toasted sourdough
1 package queso fresco, crumbled
2 watermelon radishes, thinly sliced
2 pickled jalapeños***
¼ cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked from stems


Pit and scoop out avocados into a bowl. Pour salt over the garlic cloves and smash down a few times with a knife to make a paste. Add to the avocados with lime juice and cilantro. Mash and mix well. Transfer to a plastic deli container and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it right up against the surface of the guacamole. Put the cover on, “burp” the container to let the air out (oxidation is the enemy of guacamole), and then close tightly.

Smashed beans
In a dry skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind in a spice grinder. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spices and salt and cook for about a minute until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beans and cook until warmed through. Smash with a potato masher or a big fork in the pan. Remove from heat and pour in the broth to get a smoother, spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

*** You can make your own by using the same pickle brine recipe from the red onions and substitute about 8 sliced jalapeños for the onions.

Spread guacamole over sourdough. Top with smashed black beans, queso fresco, watermelon radish, pickled jalapeños, and cilantro leaves.


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