Simple summer dinner party planner

Debbie Elkind
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Hostess hands out dessert
Hostess hands out dessert

Throw a fabulous summer soirée for six with this easy Aussie summer entertaining menu, which allows you to do much of the preparation ahead. It works equally well for either lunch or dinner on a hot summer's day. Add in some tasty cocktails, then sit back and enjoy the delicious results with your guests.

Menu for Six

Char-grilled prawns with watermelon, feta and torn bread

Main:

Barbecued lamb loin with lemon potatoes and tzatziki.

Rocket, green bean and asparagus salad

Dessert

Champagne granita with melon and grapes

NB: Half this recipe for four people or make the whole recipe to have leftover granita.

Time plan

One day ahead:

Make the champagne granita for the dessert. (Steps one and two of the dessert recipe.) Chill the glasses you will serve the granita in.

The morning of:

Make the tzatziki for the lamb recipe and set aside, covered in cling film, in the fridge. This can also be done the day before.

Prepare the prawns for the entrée and thread on skewers and then set aside in fridge.

Up to two hours before:

Prepare the lemon potatoes for the lamb main course and place in the oven approximately one and a half hours before you wish to serve your main. (If they are ready ahead of time you can always keep them warm in the oven on a low heat along with the barbecued lamb.)

Char-grill the bread for the prawn starter and set aside.

Prepare and stuff the lamb for barbecuing and set aside. (Eg Mix feta, spinach, currants, pinenuts, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Lay opened lamb pieces on a flat surface, place the stuffing down the middle and roll the lamb into a log shape. Tie the lamb at regular intervals with kitchen string.)

One hour before:

Trim and blanch the green beans and asparagus for the salad and set aside.

30 minutes before:

Barbecue the lamb and rest the meat while also keeping it warm by putting it on a large serving platter, loosely wrapped in aluminium foil, in the oven on the lowest possible heat while you prepare and eat your starter. (If the potatoes are ready in advance keep them in the warm oven also.)

Just before serving the starter:

Char-grill the prawn skewers and assemble the watermelon, feta and bread salad. (Steps three and four of the entrée recipe.).

Just before serving the main:

Prepare the salad by tossing the rocket with the green beans and asparagus, drizzle over some balsamic vinegar and grind cracked black pepper on top.

Slice the lamb loin and serve on plates with the lemon potatoes and tzatziki.

Just before serving the dessert:

Prepare your dessert by scooping the melon balls into chilled glasses, then adding the grapes, mint and granita.

Suggested matching cocktails and wines:

A simple menu like this is friendly to a range of wines and cocktails. Consider starting with a pre-meal fresh, summer cocktail, such as one of the ones suggested below, or simply serve a bottle of dry bubbly with the prawns for a celebratory kick-start. Alternatively, a nice, crisp chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio would all work with this starter.

For your main, while red wine is generally considered the natural companion to lamb (although one should avoid pairing oaky reds with lamb), it can be a little heavy in summertime and, contrary to popular opinion, white wine works beautifully with lamb too. Depending on your personal wine taste, try a light-bodied citrusy pinot gris or pinot grigio or a more full-bodied chardonnay that can stand up to the robust flavours of this lamb.

If you do choose to go with a red, Australian and New Zealand wines tend to be slightly fruitier than their European counterparts and so will marry more favourably. Try a light shiraz or pinot noir. For dessert, more bubbly is the perfect pairing to this light summer sorbet.

Suggested cocktails:

Champagne cocktails

Sparkling Strawberry cocktails

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