I love dining outdoors in the summer! Just being outdoors in the beautiful weather, spending time with friends, eating and talking. It’s perfect! That is until the temperature soars over 100 degrees! Who wants to cook in that heat whether it is indoors or outdoors? I had planned the perfect outdoor event to welcome some new neighbors. It was supposed to be a small, intimate get together on the deck but as soon as I saw what the temperature was going to be I went to Plan B – indoors and still keeping it simple. The thought of standing over a hot grill or even using a hot oven was as oppressing as the temperature. Now, I can’t exactly call on Carla Hall or Ina Garten for suggestions but I think I had it handled.
One rule of entertaining, even though I love cooking for friends, you don’t have to always do it all yourself! The important thing is to have a good time with your guests and relax. Everyone takes a shortcut now and then.
So with my list in had, I doled out the assignments. My husband was in charge of picking up spare ribs and a rotisserie chicken – yum! My dad makes world class crab cakes so I put in my order the night before and then I only had to pick up my crab cakes a little before my guests arrived!
What did I do? Earlier in the day, I quickly crisped up some pancetta for my simple salad of arugula, spinach, diced apples, blueberries dressed with a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette. This time of year, with the fresh local seasonal fruits everywhere, I love adding berries to anything that I can.
I mixed more berries with some pineapple and red grapes then garnished with a few fresh herbs from my garden for a lovely and refreshing fruit salad. One of the best things about the summer are locally grown tomatoes! Add a little fresh basil from the garden, diced garlic and a light dressing and there is nothing better.
By the time my guests had arrived, everything was plated and ready to eat and everyone, including me, could relax and enjoy the evening and make new friends. These evenings become less about perfection and more about taking the time to truly enjoy each other and the beauty of the season – even if it is looking out from your air-conditioned living room. As long a you are among friends and family, what’s not to love!