Midsummer Night’s Magic at Eliza’s Grotto



Eliza Cross—Mountain Living contributor, Happy Simple Living blogger, cookbook author extraordinaire, and my friend—has released her 14th book, Small Bites: Skewers, Sliders, and Other Party Eats (Gibbs Smith, 2017), with photographs by Jessica Nicosia-Nadler.

To celebrate, she invited me to her “grotto,” a beautiful backyard space that she and her son created last summer in a corner of her garden, where we sampled a few recipes while drinking buttery, oaky chardonnay. 

“English cucumbers are in season,” she exclaimed, “making this recipe even better!” We tried her Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rounds with Lemon Dill Cream (try the recipe!) paired with an Olathe corn salad. 


Baby Eggplant Parmigiana

Her book features appetizer offerings that can be prepared in advance so you can enjoy the fun instead of being stuck in the kitchen. Some of my favorites include Avocado Toasts with Balsamic Glaze and Cherry Tomatoes, Baby Eggplant Parmigiana, Crab Avocado Nachos, and Mini Cheese Balls.


Avocado Toasts with Balsamic Glaze and Cherry Tomatoes

Crab Avocado Nachos

Mini Cheese Balls

As Eliza writes in the book’s introduction, “appetizers are meant to be shared with others.” Maybe that is what makes them so much fun to prepare, knowing that you’ll enjoy them with friends and family. I can’t wait to bring some of these appetizers to a picnic in Vail. As Eliza says, “Let’s start cooking and get the party started!”

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