The dog days of summer are surely a wonderful time to relax with those we love. So a great cook out is a must before the season is over.
Regardless your preferences, grilling is a fantastic and easy way to enjoy these last warm nights surrounded by friends and family and getting the best out of the final batches of fresh summer produce. So here are a few tips for a perfect last-minute summer outdoors party including some quick delicious bites to prepare in the blink of an eye.
Tips for a great summer cookout
Make it special setting up a bar on its own and a separate buffet area. Both settings will help you feel more relaxed and give you more freedom to be with your guests, and it will also help your guests to feel more comfortable, integrated and at home. Fill the buffet with olives, pates, bread, charcuterie, dips, crudites, or nuts.
Set up a separate table for desserts and coffee to keep the party moving and alive.
Remember that its always in the details feature seasonal drinks, small creative bites, songs or a special theme for the occasion.
Create a space for everyone, let your guests choose where they want to seat and with who.
Think simple, keep it simple with small, quick bites, and asking your friends for help. This will allow you to enjoy the party too. Greet everyone. This will help everyone to relax, feel comfortable, connected, and part of the group.
Own it from beginning to end. After all, its your party, your time to have fun, to relax and to enjoy some special attention as well.
Summer entertaining recipes
Strawberry-poblano salsa with yucca and plantain chips
This recipe is perfect to add a special touch to any of your summer menus. I personally love this salsa, it brings to the table the endless dance of hot, sweet and fresh flavors of summer!
1/2 tsp curry seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 fresh poblano chile, seeded, chopped
3 green onions, white part only, chopped
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Cup medium strawberries, washed, hulled, cut into quarters (or macerated 15-20 minutes before using)
1/2 Cup fresh mango o pineapple, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
Place seeds into a small fry pan and toast over medium heat until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes or so. Be careful not to burn them! Set aside and let them cool. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the strawberries, mango (or pineapple) and avocado.
Just before serving, add the strawberries, mango/pineapple and avocado. Combine well without pureeing. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with lime wedges, yucca or plantain chips.
To truly enjoy these chips, make sure to serve them and eat them hot.
2 pounds yucca, washed, peeled, fibrous inner core of the root removed and thinly sliced with a mandolin slicer
Vegetable or coconut oil, for frying*
Salt and pepper, to taste
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Place yucca slices in iced water for about 30-45 minutes. Remove from water, drain and place on paper towels. (Make sure there is no trace of water before you place them in hot oil!)
Using a frying pan, add oil and preheat to 365-370ºF (not higher than 375ºF). Add yucca and fry in batches without crowding the fryer until lightly brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil, drain and place on paper towels. Season right away to taste and serve with fresh chopped cilantro on top.
Optional: Serve hot with the strawberry-poblano salsa, ají amarillo sauce, or huancaína sauce for dipping, and/or fresh guacamole.
You can also bake the chips, tossing the yucca in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Baking at 375ºF for 5-7 minutes or until golden.
Other option is to cook the yucca in salted water for about 25-30 minutes, then cut them in thick wedges and fry them or bake them at 350ºF for about 8-10 minutes or until golden-crisp.
Though they are easier to make than yucca chips, they also must be served hot.
4 green plantains, peeled, ends removed, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Hungarian or smoked paprika, to taste
Handful fresh cilantro or curly parsley, chopped, for garnish
In a heavy skillet over medium heat about 2 inches of oil. When oil reaches 360-370 degrees F add a few pieces of plantain and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until golden.
Remove, drain, and place on paper towels. Season to taste with salt, fresh pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle on top with fresh cilantro or parsley and serve right away.