As soon as the thermometer regularly hovers over 70 degrees, I start living outside! Of course that includes entertaining guests. Who doesn't love to sit on a breezy porch (or in my case, a breezy rooftop) on a hot day, cool drink at hand?
Denise Gee, author of Porch Parties (Chronicle Books, 2010) has compiled a charming book full of food, drinks, and decorating ideas for outdoor entertaining. Featuring beautiful photographs, this 144 page volume is a colorful joy to read.
Here are two recipes from Denise. Try them, then buy the book!
This is the dreamiest drink I’ve had in ages. So agree the friends I most recently shared it with. They, like me, love how it’s naturally sweetened with honey. It’s a lot of fun to serve in chilled jelly glasses.
4 cups 2-inch cubes watermelon
1 cup vodka, chilled
2 tablespoons honey (see note)
Garnish: Small watermelon wedges with rind (optional)
Freeze the watermelon chunks in a zip-top plastic bag until just frozen, about 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and add to a blender. Pour in the vodka and honey. Process until blended and pour into frosted cocktail or jelly glasses. Garnish, if desired.
Note: Use standard honey (say, clover) instead of a dark or other strongly flavored version; otherwise it’ll change the drink’s flavor in a disappointing way.
The young, soft white seeds in a “seedless” watermelon are perfectly fine to ingest. Actually, they make your drink look even more watermelon-y.
Shrimp and Tomato Salad
The marriage of sweet tomatoes and shrimp, with kiss of light and lemony cream sauce, makes for both a well-seasoned and well-dressed nibble. Serve it in small decorative bowls, avocado halves, or martini glasses.
1 1/2 pounds cooked, peeled, and deveined large (26- to 30-count) shrimp
1 1/2 pounds grape or small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream or mayonnaise (see note)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Garnish: Additional lemon zest, lemon wedge
Add shrimp and next 4 ingredients to a large bowl; set aside. Stir together lemon juice, sour cream, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Gently fold into shrimp-tomato mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours before serving. Garnish if desired.
Note: Sour cream will lend a lighter texture, revealing more of lemon and herb flavor; mayonnaise will give a bit more depth and a creamier consistency.
Decorate your outdoor space with the same careful thought as you do the indoors. See Porch Parties for more decorating ideas.
Do you have a porch (or a veranda, or a rooftop, or....)? How do you "live outside"?
Text & photographs reprinted with permission