OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING TIPS
• Eating outdoors provides the ideal opportunity to enjoy casual meals that make the most of fresh, seasonal produce. Food that can be served cold or at room temperature, is portable or will hold up well on the table or buffet, is suited to self-service (such as platters and salads) or requires little last-minute fuss – these are things to consider when creating a menu, and the recipes in this book provide plenty of delicious inspiration.
• Often a single hot item accompanied by a selection of room temperature offerings, like breads and salads, is sufficient to achieve a satisfying and substantial meal. A barbecue, of course, is ideal. Also consider incorporating a do-it-yourself course, such as a build-your-own burger or ice cream sundae bar, which are fun for guests and easy on the host.
• Outdoor entertaining is essentially casual and relaxed, so keep table decorations simple and unfussy using elements that relate to the setting, like garden flowers, sprigs of greenery, potted herbs, shells or fruit. An edible centrepiece is fun – such as an arrangement on a wooden board of grape clusters, nuts, olives, bread and olive oil and vinegar for dipping.
• If using place mats, a tablecloth or runner, opt for a natural fabric
such as linen or cotton.
• Bundling cutlery in napkins makes them easy to transport and adds a decorative element to the table; lay them at each place setting or stand them upright in a small basket.
SURVIVING THE ELEMENTS
• Place candles in vessels so they won’t blow out at the first puff of wind – hurricane lamps, recycled glass jars, tumblers and vases are all suitable receptacles.
• Secure tablecloths and napkins with paperweights, a few attractive
stones, clothes pegs or drapery weights.
• Use glassware that won’t be easily knocked over, such as tumblers
or stemless wine glasses.
• Keep guests comfortable by providing shelter from the wind and sun with umbrellas, and have throws, wraps or a portable heater on hand for when the evening turns chilly.
• Light citronella candles to deter wee biters, and have some insect repellant on hand for guests to use.
• Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before handling food.
• Precook minced meat patties, poultry and sausages before barbecuing to ensure they cook right through by the time they brown.
• Keep raw and cooked foods separate at all times – use separate plates and have one set of utensils for raw meat and poultry and another for cooked foods.
• Marinate food in the fridge, not on the bench.
• Ensure food is kept covered and cool until ready to cook or eat.
• Put leftover food in the fridge within two hours of cooking. When reheating leftovers, ensure they are piping hot right through, use them up within two days and don’t reheat them more than once.