Dinner party by the pool

Get tips from a food stylist and create a summer menu that's as easy as it is beautiful
Margo True

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Pimm's Cup
A thirst-quenching, supremely summery drink (in England, it's a must at cricket matches). Often ginger ale is used along with or instead of the lemony soda, and sometimes a fortifying shot of gin goes in. You can arrange the fruit, cucumber, and mint any way you like.

Peach and Mint Caprese Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
Valerie likes to make this refreshing version of the classic Italian salad at the height of summer, "when everyone is sick of tomatoes." If your plates aren't white, she says, start your layering with the mozzarella ― its creamy paleness will look pretty against a color.

Red Snapper Fillets on Garlic Toasts with Arugula White-bean Salad
This is a main course built for summer: substantial but light, with a refreshing salad beneath. If you'd prefer skinless fillets, by all means use them, but be aware that the delicate edges may break up a bit. "For serving," says Valerie, "I do a final drizzle of olive oil," which creates an appetizing shine.

Vanilla Ice Cream 'Drowned' in Espresso (Affogato al Caffè)
"It's like a grown-up's milkshake," says Valerie. A cookie or two on the side are nice.

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