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

Sophisticated recipes, guides, and tips for a nautical brunch
Straw bag and hat, $115 & $120, at Lori Karbal; 248-258-1959; lorikarbal.com. Vintage indigo textiles, $98-$115, Jayson Home; 800-472-1885; jaysonhome.com. Oliver Peoples cat eye sunglasses, $395, Shades Optical; 248-645-0075; shadesoptical.com // Photographs By EE Berger

Michigan summers are so fleeting, but they are worth every second. The cool summer nights, the sun smiling down upon you as you savor an ice cream cone — it’s moments like these that tether you to reality during the dead of winter when the skin on your face burns from the biting winds and you’re sweating after shoveling snow off your driveway for the 10th time.

One summer tradition we Michiganians fully embrace is any outing that involves a boat, which is the inspiration for this boozy brunch party. Dishes and silverware are optional with this menu, which features hand-held items such as mini tarts and quiches and a toast bar with ingredients that you can mix and match to make your own or try one of our favorite combos.

There are a lot of steps to this fete, but we have a game plan for you to make sure you spend maximum time relaxing on the boat and making the most out of those precious summer moments.

The Menu

Yogurt Parfaits

Fresh fruit
+ Cardamom-ginger granola

Toast Bar

Salmon Toast:
Gin-cured salmon
+ Scallion cream cheese
+ Pickled red onion
+ Everything seasoning

The Obligatory Avocado Toast: Guacamole
+ Smashed black beans
+ Queso fresco
+ Radish
+ Cilantro
+ Pickled jalapeño

B.A.T. Toast:
Pesto mayo
+ Maple-glazed bacon
+ Heirloom tomatoes
+ Shredded arugula

Fig Out Toast:
Fig jam
+ Whipped ricotta
+ Candied togarashi walnuts

Spicy Honey Almond Toast:
Almond butter
+ Banana
+ Chili-infused honey

Golden Yogurt and Mango Toast:
Lime yogurt
+ Chili mango slices
+ Pistachios

Tart Trio

Strawberry-Rosé Jam and Whipped Mascarpone
Sweet Corn and Blueberry
White Chocolate Matcha Coconut

Mini Quiches

Feta Cheese and Spinach
Spicy Bacon Cheddar
Crab and Asparagus

The Drinks

Blueberry Lavender Mimosas
Smoky Red Snapper

Indigo Linens and Pillows, grey stripe pillow, $98; indigo pillow, $175; indigo linen, $295, ceramic cups and dishes, cups, $26, abigail murray; abigail-murray.com. scalloped ceramic serving dish, $125, Zieben Mare; 248-539-8879; ziebenmare.com. Ceramic serving spoon, $40, make.do.studio; katiebramlage.com. Checkered outdoor platter and plates, wooden spoons, cutting board, checkered platter and plates, $15 & $45; wooden spoons, $10; cutting board, $90; all zieben mare; 248-539-8879; ziebenmare.com; marble bowl, $30, lori karbal; 248-258-1959; lorikarbal.com. Floral arrangements; loden floral; lodenfloral.com; price by request, pewter tray, copper serving piece, wooden forks/knives; stylist’s own

Snack Attack

If you’re doing your trip right, you’ll spend several hours on the water. Pack these treats into Mason jars for spill-proof, fool-proof snacking.

• Carrot sticks and celery stalks with individual cups of peanut butter or hummus
• Trail mix or mixed nuts
• Fresh fruit such as berries, cherries, grapes, and apples (slice ahead of time and spritz with lemon juice to prevent browning)
• Prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella sticks with basil leaves
• Crackers
• Popcorn (spice it up with a little nutritional yeast, garlic powder, chili pepper, or other dry spices)
• Roasted edamame

Blush ceramic dishes, $42, abigail Murray; abigail-murray.com

Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits with Cardamom-Ginger Granola: 

Makes 4 servings

Granola is kind of like avocado toast; it is stupid-easy to make and can be expensive when you go the store-bought route.

½ cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup, divided into ½ cups
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole-milk yogurt
½ cup maple syrup
1 cup toasted coconut*
1 cup toasted almonds**
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cups fresh fruit, such as berries, mangoes, and pineapple


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, mix the oil, ½ cup maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and salt. Add the rolled oats and mix well — the only way to really coat those oats is to get in there (with your impeccably clean hands). Pour the mixture onto sheet pan and bake in the oven until toasty and golden brown, about 50 minutes, turning the oats every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer to a clean container.

Combine the yogurt and remaining ½ cup maple syrup in a bowl. In a mason jar, layer the fruit and sweet yogurt. Repeat two more times. Top with a sprinkling of granola, coconut, almonds, chia seeds, and fresh fruit.

*Spread unsweetened coconut flakes on a sheet pan and toast in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, turning them at the halfway point. Keep a close eye on them; the flakes will go from not toasted to burnt in mere seconds.

**In a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet, toast the almonds for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently to prevent burning. You’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown and fragrant.

Pack It Up

• Trays and serving ware for toasts, tarts, and quiches
• Forks, knives, spoons
• Plates
• Glassware
• Mason jars
• Napkins
• Blankets
• Knives and cutting board
• Trash bags
• Paper towels
• Ice

Floral Arrangements, price by request, loden floral design; 419-277-7999; lodenfloral.com. Marbelized bowl, $30, Lori Karbal; 248-258-1959; lorikarbal.com. Wooden bowl; stylist’s own. Ceramic bowl, $60, Make.Do.Studio; katiebramlage.com. Ceramic Dishes, cups, $26, Abigail Murray Studio; abigail-murray.com; brass tray; stylist’s own. Ivintage Indigo Batik, $295, Jayson Home; Jaysonhome.com; 800-472-1885

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.

Tart Trio

Like the quiches, make three batches of tart shells by baking the shells in a greased muffin tin for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Don’t forget to prick the bottom of the shells with a fork before baking so they don’t puff up.

White Chocolate Matcha Coconut // Sweet Corn and Blueberry // Strawberry Rosé Jam and Whipped Mascarpone

White Chocolate Matcha Coconut

Keep the coconut cream in the fridge until ready to use. Make sure it’s been chilling for at least an hour or ideally a day.

1 ¼ cup full-fat coconut cream
1 teaspoon matcha
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate
24 tart shells
Candied ginger, sliced into slivers
Toasted coconut


In a double boiler, heat ¼ cup of the cream until it is warmed through. Whisk in the matcha until there are no lumps. Whisk in the lime juice. Add the vanilla and white chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in the cold cream into the chocolate mixture until creamy and fluffy. Transfer to fridge and cool overnight.

Put coconut mixture into a piping bag. Fill baked tart shells with coconut mixture then top with a sliver of candied ginger and toasted coconut.

Sweet Corn and Blueberry


Pastry Cream
½ cup freeze-dried corn kernels
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks, at room temp
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
Ice bath (fill a large bowl with ice and water)
24 tart shells
Fresh blueberries
Fresh mint, chopped


Pastry Cream
Pour freeze-dried corn, vanilla, and milk into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Turn off and let steep for an hour. Transfer to a container and chill overnight in the fridge. The next day, get an ice bath ready. Strain off the corn and pour milk into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. While that is working, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until it forms a smooth paste; you don’t want eggy sugar lumps. Add the cornstarch and mix well. This next part is extremely crucial because if the milk is added too fast, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Add about a ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs while whisking. After the milk is fully incorporated add about another ¼ cup. Add the tempered egg and milk mixture back to the saucepan, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap; this will prevent a film from forming. Put the bowl into the ice bath and let cool to room temp. Transfer to fridge until completely cool and ready to use. Whip cold cream using a hand mixer or whisk by hand before using to bring back the creamy texture.

Put pastry cream into piping bag. Fill tart shells with cream, top with fresh blueberries and garnish with mint.

Strawberry Rosé Jam and Whipped Mascarpone


Strawberry Rosé Jam
1 ½ pounds fresh strawberries, quartered and hulled
1 cup sugar
¼ cup dry rosé
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
24 tart shells
Crushed pistachios, for garnish

Whipped Mascarpone
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar


Strawberry Rosé Jam
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well, making sure the strawberries are all covered with sugar, mashing with your hands. Transfer to medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer, stirring frequently until it’s thickened and gelled, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a clean jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Whipped Mascarpone
Chill a metal bowl and mixer whisks in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour in mascarpone, heavy cream, and powdered sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Chill for at least four hours before using.

Fill shells with jam, top with a dollop of the whipped cream and garnish with crushed pistachios.

Mini Quiches

Make three batches of the egg mixture if you’d like to make all three quiche combos. (Makes 24 quiches)

Base Quiche // Feta Cheese and Spinach // Spicy Bacon Cheddar // Crab and Asparagus 

Base Quiche Recipe


1 pie crust
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Feta Cheese and Spinach


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ package baby spinach
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese


Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Sauté garlic for 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Finish off with spritz of lemon juice. Let cool before combining with feta and add to base quiche recipe.

Spicy Bacon Cheddar


6 slices bacon, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
½ cup cheddar cheese


Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Add green onions and jalapeños and cook until green onions are wilted. Let cool slightly then add to base quiche recipe along with the cheese.

Crab and Asparagus


½ pound lump crabmeat
½ bunch of cooked asparagus, small dice
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


Add combined crab, asparagus, and herbs to base quiche.

Make Your Own

Get creative with other add-ins: bacon, ham, chorizo, sausage, cheddar, feta, Parmesan, Gruyere, onion, shallots, scallions, pesto, arugula.


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Roll out pie crust to about ¼ inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out about 24 circles. Press each circle into muffin tin and push down and up the sides up. Add 1 teaspoon of your choice of filling to each shell and cook for about 25 minutes until crust is golden brown and eggs are set.

Blueberry Lavender Mimosas aboard h2O Limos’ 41-foot “meridian” yacht. Available for event rentals. Visit h2Olimos.com or call 313-799-2628 for more information.

The Drinks

Step your cocktail game up a notch with these creative twists on brunch classics.

Blueberry Lavender Mimosas // Smokey Red Snapper

Blueberry Lavender Mimosas


1 cup water
1 cup honey
1 pint fresh blueberries
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons dried or fresh lavender


Simple Syrup:
In a small sauce pan, combine water, honey, blueberries, and lemon juice. Slowly bring to a boil until blueberries have completely broken down. Reduce heat. Add lavender and stir well. Remove pot from heat and allow the simple syrup to infuse for at least 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Refrigerate and store for up to one week.

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of blueberry simple syrup to a champagne flute, to taste. Top with prosecco. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

Smoky Red Snapper


Celery salt
Smoked Hungarian paprika
Lemon wedge
8 ounces tomato juice
1 teaspoon pickle brine (McClure’s “Spicy” or your favorite)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon celery seeds
5 drops or more to taste, hot sauce
2 ounces gin (or vodka)
3 or more drops liquid smoke, to taste
Splash of dry sherry (optional)
Pickled asparagus
Shrimp skewer


Sprinkle celery salt on a napkin. Rub lemon wedge around rim of a Mason jar or pint glass. Roll rim in celery salt and smoked Hungarian paprika. Fill glass with ice, squeeze lemon over ice and set aside. In a separate pitcher, add juice, brine, celery seeds, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and gin. Stir well and pour into the Mason jar.
Add a splash of dry sherry, if desired. Garnish with a pickle and a shrimp skewer.

The Game Plan

1 Week Beforehand
• Make pie crust dough
• Make strawberry-rosé jam
• Make pickles (onions and jalapeños)
• Make everything seasoning

3 Days Beforehand
• Make salmon
• Make scallion cream cheese
• Infuse milk with corn
• Toast almonds
• Toast coconut
• Make tart shells

2 Days Beforehand
• Make white chocolate coconut cream topping
• Finish pastry cream
• Make candied nuts
• Make granola
• Make quiches

Night Before
• Make white chocolate coconut cream topping
• Finish pastry cream
• Make candied nuts
• Make granola
• Make quiches

Morning Of
• Make guacamole
• Make maple-glazed bacon
• Prep and wash fresh fruit (berries, mangoes, bananas), vegetables (wash greens, cut crudité for snacks), and herbs (wash, cut, and bag for easy garnishing)
• Pack your coolers (keep food in one cooler and drinks in the other to minimize the amount of time opening and closing the coolers)


Prop Styling By Stephanie Potts
Floral by Loden Floral Design
Charter Yacht Location Courtesy of H20 Limos