Categories: Parent Picks
Having spent the last few weeks in cottage country doing my fair share of entertaining, these lessons bear repeating! When I invite people up to the cottage, my guests usually insist on preparing one meal during the weekend. Fine with me, however I always feel a wee bit concerned for them that they feel it needs to be a major affair. Don’t know whether it’s because of what I do for a living that intimidates them or my friends truly enjoy spending hours in a hot kitchen preparing a meal for us instead of hours on a hot dock with a cold drink in their hand! I suspect it’s more to do with the common mistake that many inexperienced cooks make when it comes to knowing what to cook, how much to cook and when to cook it. Here are a few tips to help guide you through your summer cooking and entertaining:
· Keep it simple. By choosing the best local and seasonal quality ingredients you can find, the less you’ll actually need to do to them. Tomatoes are coming into season so instead of spending time on an elaborate salad, thickly slice fresh tomatoes, drizzle with a great olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Lay out a big platter of them with fresh bread and a crisp white wine and you have the perfect light lunch.
· Make the BBQ your best friend. Everything you can do on a stove or in the oven, you can do on the BBQ leaving you less mess to deal with in the kitchen and more of that great summer grilled flavour. Chances are there will be someone around that fancies themselves a BBQ King or Queen so you might not even have to do any of the cooking!
· A little goes a long way. Too often we cook far too many dishes for one meal or too much food thinking there will never be enough. In my experience people eat lighter and less in the summer so plan your meal, picture it on the table or plate and chances are you can remove one or two items from the meal reducing your workload.
· When it’s the weekend, spend some time prepping and planning your meals so that you can cook in advance and enjoy for the whole weekend. Many foods that we serve hot in the winter can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature in the summer so it’s easy to prepare in advance. A grilled potato salad is a great to cook the night before but serve the next day cold. Roast a chicken and serve it cold the next day with a classic mango chutney and ciabatta rolls. Or BBQ salmon on a cedar plank, serve with a sliced cucumber salad and serve any remaining salmon the next day for lunch over room temperature orzo pasta.
Nadine Hughes is the creator and owner of, The Cook’s Companion and The Menu Companion, through which she offers kitchen consultations, menu planning services as well as private cooking classes for adults and teens throughout Southern Ontario. She is also an award winning author. Pick up a copy of her latest cookbook “The Groove Mamma Goes Gourmet – Easy Ways To Put The Fun Back Into Entertaining” (awarded Best Canadian Entertaining Cookbook at the 2009 Gourmand Cookbook Awards) for $7.98 at www.groovemamma.com