OUT­DOOR EN­TER­TAIN­ING TIPS

NZ House & Garden - Outdoor Living - - Outdoor Entertaining -

THE MENU

• 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.

THE TABLE

• 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.

FOOD SAFETY

• 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.

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