Monday, July 18, 2016

Creative Summer Dining Al Fresco

The rare burst of hot, golden sunshine in Dublin this week got me thinking creatively about summer dining al fresco. Let me share a few clever ways to add veggies to your barbecue or picnic menu, light up your garden table, and finish off your outfit with summer jewellery.
sweetcorn cakes garnished with radish and a drop of sweet chili sauce, own photo

Sweetcorn cakes are a tasty way to get extra veggies into anyone's diet but the hint of sweetness can especially appeal to kids. They won't even know they are eating vegetables! Drop a small can of sweetcorn, a short splash of lemon juice and an egg into the blender. Add a heaped teaspoon of flour, shake of salt and pepper, a pinch of paprika or chili and either a sprig of fresh coriander or parsley (dried will also do). If you'd like to give them a bit of a sharper edge, chop in some chives or a spring onion too. Blend only for a few very short seconds to break up the kernels. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and when very hot, carefully lower dessertspoonfuls of the mixture in as for drop scones. It's best not to have them too close together so four or five in a full sized pan at a time is about right. Flip them over when they begin to solidify and brown. They can be eaten hot or cold so are a novel idea for picnics.

Tomato and garlic Melba toast, own photo
This is my version of pan Catalan; perfect for bringing colour and zing to a summer barbeque or buffet. These tasty bites really complement charcoal-grilled chicken. Throw a couple of vine tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes) into the blender and add salt and pepper. Add one or two cloves of garlic according to taste and the number of tomatoes and blitz only for a couple of seconds leaving it slightly lumpy. It should not be a runny liquid. If you prefer the garlic to be fully blended in, put it in first, blitz for a second before adding the tomatoes. Serve on Melba toasts. You can top with grated emmental cheese, Parmesan shavings and/or a basil leaf.  Any left over tomato paste can be frozen and used in pasta sauces or on pizza.
miniature potato omelette, (ashamedly own photo)
Isn't this miniature Spanish omelette so cute? This is a creative idea I had for an afternoon tea party last summer. Space doesn't allow me to include instructions for Spanish potato omelette but the recipe is widely available online.  Once you have made a good, thick omelette, use an orange-juice glass or cookie cutter to make mini rounds.  Again, these are handy for picnics as they are just as tasty hot or cold, but it is a good idea to wrap in tinfoil before placing in Tupperware to keep the shape intact. You may wonder what happens to the outline scraps left over after cutting them out. While you can freeze them, the flavour and texture can deteriorate. However, they will keep in the fridge for the next day or two and make a delicious filling in a panini with mayo and rocket leaves. 

Upcycled sea glass candle holder

Now let's throw a little light on outdoor table decor. I made this decorative candle holder using sea glass pieces that were to small to fashion into my sea glass pendants. You  can find out how to put it together by clicking here

And to decorate yourself with summer styled jewellery......
Blue dangle earrings. Peacock blue. Sapphire Seas.
                                   Irish sea pottery pendant              blue dangle earrings       
Champagne Pink & Aqua Earrings. Summer Party Irish sea glass pendant. Seafoam & copper. Ireland's Eye

                                   Champagne pink earrings             Irish sea glass pendant in copper