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Photo © Michael Devine with John Gruen

Devine presents ideas for recipes, tablescapes, and décor for a variety of get-togethers. The designer celebrates the arrival of spring by throwing a lilac-themed brunch which includes bedecking his garden shed in his own pagoda fabric Garden Folly, and setting the table with dinnerware in hues of dark and light purple, and—of course—with an abundance of lilacs. Below are three of the recipes Devine likes to serve, along with his preparation notes.

  Thyme Tea (Serves 6)

Photo © Michael Devine with John Gruen

Photo © Michael Devine with John Gruen

This tea is a delightful and refreshing drink for the end of any meal. I use lemon thyme, but you should feel free to experiment with different varieties, since the thyme family is a large one and includes many flavors.

  •  6 cups water
  • 7 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
  • 2 lemon slices
  • Honey or raw sugar, for serving

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the thyme and lemon slices; cover the pan and let the mixture infuse for 6 minutes. Strain the tea, and pour it into a teapot. Serve with honey or raw sugar.

 Spring Sorrel and Salmon Tart (Serves 6)

Photo © Michael Devine with John Gruen

Photo © Michael Devine with John Gruen

Sorrel has a wonderful lemony flavor, which is a good complement to salmon. However, when cooked its color changes to a drab green, and so I like to add spinach for some extra color.

  •  1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 ounces spinach, well washed and dried, stems removed
  • 8 ounces sorrel, well washed and dried, stems removed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3⁄4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 8 ounces Atlantic salmon fillet, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • Small bunch of fresh dill, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the pastry, and prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook for 5 minutes, or until it is translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and sorrel to the pan in small batches until all of it has wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the eggs and crème fraîche; season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Transfer the spinach-sorrel mixture to the pastry shell. Scatter the cubed salmon evenly on top of the greens, and then spread the crème fraîche mixture over top.

Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, until it is set and golden brown on top. Remove the tart from the oven, cut it into wedges, and serve immediately with sprigs of dill.

Green Salad with Light Vinaigrette (Serves 6 to 8)

I like a very light vinaigrette on my salads, especially in the springtime. This recipe cuts the oil down by a third, for a lighter version of the classic.

  • 12 ounces assorted spring greens, well washed and dried, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon-flavored white wine vinegar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put the greens in a large serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the vinaigrette: In a glass jar with a lid, combine the vinegar and salt. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to mix. Add the water, oil, mustard, and pepper, seal the jar, and shake again until thoroughly combined.

Just before serving, pour the vinaigrette over the chilled salad greens and toss to combine.

OPTIONAL: Garnish the salad with 1⁄4 cup fresh lilac blossoms, rinsed and dried.

All recipes reprinted from An Invitation to the Garden by Michael Devine, Rizzoli New York, 2014