Ah summer - the daylight lasts a little bit longer, entertaining
is taken outdoors. The living is easy…
Somehow, entertaining seems so much more simple when one can eat
outdoors. Everything seems a little less effort, the pace is
more relaxed and so is the mood. Guests are happy to pick at
appetizers with their fingers and linger over a barbecue or outdoor
meal over a number of hours. So what to serve them to preserve that
relaxed feeling for you, the host, as well?
One of my most successful outdoor party ideas was a "BLT
from Scratch" party. Everyone brought a component -
home-baked bread, mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuces - and we supplied
the home-cured pancetta. People built their sandwiches according to
their preference and because everything was truly from scratch, the
satisfaction was enormous!
Even if you don't make everything from scratch, a pot-luck sandwich
party is always fun too!
Salads are easy to throw together at the last minute, using what
you have on hand… Shallow fried pucks of creamy goat-cheese
in panko crumbs make a meal out of fresh salad leaves with
asparagus spears. Toasted baguette spread with goat cheese and
topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and basil make a wonderful
appetizer. Or how about salad leaves tossed with blueberries,
grapes, feta and watermelon with your favourite vinaigrette?
One of the easiest salads you can serve to impress your guests is
tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella. Whether you serve one
large mozzarella with rough-cut tomatoes or individual servings,
it's a sure-fire crowd pleaser!
A play on the fruit and cheese theme is thin slices of watermelon
sandwiching salty slices of feta cheese. Topped with some
caramelized onions, these are a unique appetizer that will have
people thinking differently about watermelon - it's not just a
Or how about some Sugar-and-Spice-Baked Shrimp
adapted from The New York Times
Ingredients (for 6 people)
?1 cup sugar (plain white sugar is best - it caramelizes
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Penzey's Black and Red Spice blend (or regular chili
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1 1/2-inch slice fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Zest of one lime
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (with tail on)
Juice of 1 lime
1. Preheat the oven to 500F. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar,
salt, Black and Red, garlic, ginger, allspice, turmeric, flour and
lime zest. Grease a large baking sheet with the vegetable oil or
line a cookie tray with aluminium foil.
2. Dredge the shrimp, 2-3 at a time, in the sugar and spice
mixture. Try to coat the shrimp thickly with the
mixture. Place place on the baking sheet. Bake for about
10-12 minutes, until the sugar is caramelized.
3. Remove the shrimp from the oven, turn over with a spatula and
squeeze lime juice over them.
And what's a summer party without drinks? Take advantage of the
wonderful selection of fresh fruit available and make your own
fancy drinks. How about a watermelon agua fresca?
Simply blend a cup of cubed watermelon and mix into club soda or
lemonade to taste. A squirt of lime juice and you're good to
go. You can make any number of agua fresca type drinks with
fresh fruit blends - how about a peach/ mint combo? The
possibilities are endless. You can make them kid-friendly or
adult-friendly with a spash of your favourite alcohol, as you
The main thing to remember for summer entertaining is to keep it
easy for yourself and relaxed for your guests. Use what's in
season locally for the tastiest options. And enjoy!
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and
part-time food blogger based in Toronto. Her blog,eat.live.travel.write
focuses on culinary adventures both near and far because she
travels as often as she can!
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Posted: Mon, Jun 13 2011
Filed under: Recipes, Summer, Beverage, Photos, Snack, Cottage, Camping, Tips, Lunch, Instructional, Healthy, Quick and Easy, Ask an Expert
Hey there fellow foodies,
I can't wait to discuss all things food with all of you!