Sunday, July 25, 2010

5 Easy Tips to Make Summer Dining Special

When the weather is hot, dinner tends to become simpler and more casual, at least around my house. Whether you're entertaining friends in the summer heat or simply grilling dinner for your family out on the patio, you can still add some special little touches to the dining experience. Here are five quick & easy tips that you can use any time of year, but especially for summertime dining:

1. Serve a simple appetizer of chutney or preserves poured over a block of cream cheese, with crackers or fresh vegetables like carrots and celery.

2. If serving lemonade, punch or iced tea, freeze some of the beverage in one or more ice cube trays ahead of time to use as ice in the drink without diluting it the way regular water ice cubes would.

3. Add an elegant garnish to plates by using curled vegetables: Slice one or more carrots and celery stalks in half crosswise, and then lengthwise into thin strips and soak in ice water for a few minutes until curled.

4. If serving sandwiches, keep them from getting soggy by spreading a very thin layer of butter or margarine on the "inner" side of each piece of bread before assembling the sandwich (use an herbed butter if you want to add some flavor).

5. Fresh fruit makes a light summer dessert, but some cut fruit will discolor quickly which makes it trickier to prepare ahead of time. To keep fresh cut fruit such as apple wedges, peaches or bananas from discoloring before serving, place in a shallow container and cover with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple.

Zestfully yours,

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