Nostalgia on the Menu


We are having a heat wave here in England with gorgeous sunny skies, warm breezes and temperatures of 28c. Beautiful, except people are just not used to it. Not all offices are air-conditioned and neither are grocery stores. (I know!) Unlike my native America, where you need a sweater to go into the supermarket in July and then feel as if you are entering a blast furnace when you leave. Yikes! Anyway, the heat makes me want the foods of my childhood summers- and the drinks of my early twenties. So I thought today I would share a few fragrant recipes. Nothing fancy, just easy to toss together and then relax!

First, a disclaimer- I am not a chef, by any definition. I am just someone who likes to cook and is hopefully improving as she goes along!

Right we need a drink to start with, don’t we? One Sauza Commemorativo Margarita coming up! (Sauza Commemorative Tequila is aged in oak Bourbon barrels and has a gorgeous deep woody flavour and scent) As a child, Margaritas were exotic drinks that my parents only had in the hottest days of summer and, on the rare occasion that I was allowed to taste them, terrible!  It wasn’t until I waitressed at a Mexican restaurant during college that I fell in love with margaritas. The flavours, the colours, the salt, the spray of lime juice as the knife snicks through the peel of the fruit- bliss! All of that and happy memories of my parents sitting talking in the dusk as my brother and I chased fireflies make them hands down my favourite summer drink.  Of course, something so delicious sits you at the top of a slippery slope and, while the way down may be fun, the bottom is never pretty is it? I had a boyfriend who nicknamed tequila ‘to kill ya’ and the stories, well,…but I digress.  Anyhoo, I trust you all to pace yourselves and have some of the gorgeous food below!

Ok, first up is Dilled Seafood Salad. I love dill! It is such a wonderful, clean flavour and just really makes me happy. My mom used to make salads very similar to this which were integral to our summer dinner menus.  I find this seafood salad is an excellent lazy summer weekend meal. Any sort of seafood works here and you can put it together in the cool of the morning and then when dinnertime approaches, in the heat of the afternoon, you can feel all smug that it is in the fridge, ready to rock. (Oh, how I love that feeling!) It is easily doubled and goes down a storm at big gatherings. The recipe is from The New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny:

Dilled Seafood Seashell Pasta Salad: Yield: 4 main –course servings

For the dressing:

3/4 cup mayonnaise                                                                ½ tsp salt

1 tbsp white wine vinegar                                                      ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 ½ tbsp. fresh chopped dill, plus sprigs for garnish


For the salad:

8 to 10 ounces small or medium pasta shells                                    1 ½ to cups cooked fish or

Salt and fresh ground black pepper                                           shellfish, broken into flakes or

3 tbsp dry white wine                                                                 chunks

1 green bell pepper, chopped                                                 Lettuce leaves

2/3 cup thinly sliced celery                                                    Salt and fresh black pepper

½ cup chopped red onion                                                       1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in wedge

6 radishes, sliced


  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and, while still warm, toss with the wine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the green pepper, celery, and onion to the pasta. Pour the dressing over and stir to combine. Add the seafood and stir gently but thoroughly, taking care to leave some large chunks. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
  4. To serve, line a platter with lettuce leaves. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Spoon the salad over the lettuce, arrange the tomatoes and radishes on top, and garnish with dill sprigs.

(Of course, as a bread lover, I need a roll to go with my salads so I usually plump for Cornbread or Buttermilk Rolls here.)

I hope you have left a little room for the final touch- margarita cookies. Yes- Margaritas. And Cookies. Together in one recipe. It sounds crazy but they are phenomenal! I would DEARLY love to take credit for these beauties but I must bow in awe before Deb of Smitten Kitchen. She is ah-may-zing. Here is the link to the cookie recipe:

I have spent ages reading her archives and cooking from them. It is one of my favourite ways to relax. (That and The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Ree has fab food and is hilarious to read.) Deb has a really friendly inclusive ‘voice’ and is seriously talented. I defy you to just check the recipe and go!

So there you have it, some easy, fragrant and delicious summer goodies- enjoy!

And, please, feel free to share any of your favourite easy summer recipes in the comments!


Oh, and just because I love you all here is a great YouTube advert:

  • Jillie says:

    Sorry I’m late – too taken up with watching Jubilee stuff on tv all day/evening yesterday! Did anyone who saw the Queen on the barge see the little finials on the back of the thrones and think, like I did, that they looked like bottles of Samsara?????!!!!!!!!!

    Any way, just adore Maragaritas, in any form. And your recipe for the salad is wonderful FW! I know it is going to become a great favourite of ours. Loved the sound of Poodle’s pie too.

    Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a chocolate tequilla cake – I can’t remember which book, but it is a recent one – it is rather yummy and not too calorific, and I served it to my friends from Paris (I think they thought it rather weird)..

    Happy slurping/noshing everyone.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    My pleasure, nozknoz! I hope you enjoy it and that you got a smile from the ‘NOmNOMNOM’ perfume.

  • nozknoz says:

    Meredith, there is something so cooling about lovely dill. Thanks for providing the game plan for a perfect summer evening plus the Cookie Monster!

  • Poodle says:

    I just bookmarked that cookie recipe. That sounds so good. I have. A recipe for frozen margarita pie which is a nice little summertime treat.

    I’m a dill fan too so that pasta salad is definitely on my list to make in the near future. I think it would be a great summer meal. Thanks for sharing!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Hi Poodle,
      Frozen Margarita Pie, you say? OOh, do share please! that sounds glorious.
      I hope you enjoy the dill pasta – its definitely a favourite here.

    • Poodle says:

      Okay, found it. I also noticed in digging through my insane amount of recipes that I seem to like to save recipes that have tequila in them. I need to try some of these others I have here. I have made the pie before but I found a recipe for margarita cheesecake freezes that I’m going to have to try sometime too.

      Frosty Margarita Pie

      2 1/2 cups small pretzels, finely crushed
      1/4 cup margarine, melted (you can use reduced calorie if you want)
      1 tablespoon sugar
      6 cups nonfat frozen vanilla yogurt, softened
      1/4 cup tequila
      3 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate, thawed (do not dilute with water)
      1 teaspoon grated fresh lime rind
      1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
      Lime slices and curls of lime rind (optional)
      Edible flowers ( optional)

      1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Freeze crust 1 hour.

      2. Combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Spoon yogurt mixture into prepared crust. Cover and freeze until firm.

      3. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before slicing. If desired, garnish with lime slices, lime rind curls and edible flowers.

      Obviously you can alter this a bit without any issues. I’ve cheated and used a graham cracker crust and regular vanilla ice cream and garnished with the pretzels based on what I had on hand at the time. Or maybe add some strawberries for a strawberry margarita pie.

  • Musette says:

    I just got here! Man, am I jonesin’ for a margarita now. Of course, to me a margarita is just an excuse to dump some good tequila in a iced cocktail shaker, strain it out, drizzle a bit of Roses and call it a day.. Or, if I’m feeling like I want to stretttttch it out a bit, I’ll do it over the rocks. I can never manage to get the recipe down right with the triple sec, etc.

    I used to read Smitten Kitchen all the time but I was getting fat. So I stopped. If I get fat (ter) I am going to blame YOU! LOL!

    Great post! How are you enjoying the Jubilee?

    xo :Devil:

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Hey, I won’t MAKE you cook the recipes – its not like I have a bottle of Pink Sugar held at your head, saying ‘Cook or you get 5 sprays’! :Happy-Grin:
      We have lots to do over the next few days, including a street party and a scarecrow festival, so are really looking forward to it and hoping to avoid heavy rain as our glorious weather has come to an end. :Tears:

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Ms. M! What a fun and dee-lish post! Never been a margarita fan, but you’ve got me craving everything else. Thanks for sharing!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Hi Ann! Thanks! Those cookies might make a convert out of you yet….

      • Ann says:

        They do sound wonderful, as does Poodle’s pie below. I think it’s just the drink itself that I’m not crazy about.