Come and join JLife’s summer party.
The warmer weather can only mean one thing: party time in the great outdoors. Whether you opt for a smokin’ hot barbecue or a refined gathering in the garden, JLife has your celebration of the summer covered.
PLEASED TO MEAT YOU
Let’s have a barbie…
Ask the Expert
For those planning a barbecue, it is important to get the meat right. Author and food journalist, Andrew Webb has penned The Meat Manual (£22.99, Haynes.co.uk) that can help to do just that. Here, he shares his top tips with JLife readers:
Tell your butcher your budget, how many people you’re feeding and the type of meal you’d like to achieve. How you are going to be cooking the meat has an impact, so explain to your butcher that you are planning a barbecue and they will be able to advise you from there.
When selecting your meat, think about what kind of breed it is. For the best flavour, choose a native British breed. Also, what has the animal been fed on? Grass-fed meat will give it more flavour than grain.
The meat’s age is critical. How has it been hung and aged, and how was it treated? Your butcher should be able to answer your questions about this, and once you know the texture you have in mind for the meat you will be serving up on your barbecue, you can work out the cut you will need.
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive cut of meat – often it is about canny cooking.
For a taste of the States, try this Cajun marinated rib eye recipe by restaurant chain, Smith and Wollensky.
CAJUN MARINATED DRY AGED RIB EYE
Cajun Spice Rub Ingredients:
- 2 tbsp and 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp and 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp and 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp basil, dried
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp thyme, dried, whole
Combine all ingredients and mix well. If not using in a marinade, simply rub the steaks generously with the Cajun spice rub on both sides and cook.
Cajun Marinade Ingredients:
- 1 cup salad oil
- ½ cup Cajun spice rub
- ½ Spanish onion
Place all ingredients into a stock pot and simmer for one hour then strain with a mesh fine hole strainer and store in a plastic container.
To Marinate Steaks:
- ½ cup Cajun spice rub
- 1 cup Cajun marinade
- 4 rib eye steaks
Use a fork to pierce the meat, pressing the rub into the steak. Place the steaks in a plastic container just large enough to hold them and add the marinade to cover the steaks. Marinate these in a refrigerator for two days. When cooking, season the steaks with some salt. Barbecue and finish with some additional Cajun marinade.
JLife picks two top tools of the trade…
The George Foreman Electric BBQ Grill has a large non-stick grill plate that allows room for up to 15 portions of meat, fish or vegetables in one go – handy if you are entertaining guests.
Keep it Clean
Protect and clean up your barbecue with this nifty spray paint.
Be the host with the most…
Ask the Expert
Rebecca Hurley is deputy head of events at London’s BMA House, a venue that offers a garden events space that is transformed in the summer months. She shares her tips and alfresco event etiquette to ensure your party goes to plan:
The best garden parties have a distinct sense of identity so choose a theme to tie everything together that doesn’t just mean fancy dress. Give your event a glam vibe with 1920s-style glassware or create a retro feel with some 1950s vintage crockery – or simply pick a colour theme.
Make a statement with your nibbles, too. Street food is still fashionable, but think beyond gourmet hot dogs. Try miniature canapés or something very earthy like crudités in edible soil, which is an eye-catching hit for garden parties. Edible flowers also make a great garnish for drinks, puddings or salads, adding to the flavours of spring and summer.
When it comes to etiquette, it is important that you or your partner are at the entrance to say hello and if you can, take guests into the party and introduce them to others. Also, if guests have not RSVP’d, plan an extra seat or two just in case they turn up.
When it comes to gifts, guests shouldn’t be expected to bring anything to your party, but this depends on how you plan it and what type of party it is. If budget is a little tight, consider politely asking that each guest brings a dish or one item each to contribute to the food and drink.
Finally, this is always a stumbling block when you have a mix of parents and single friends, but If you are worried that some of your guests might want to bring their children to your ‘grown up affair’ you can get over this politely by sending a follow-up email or text to everyone reminding them to book babysitters.
IN THE MIX
Take your pick from these two cocktails…
- 50ml of Scotch whisky, such as The Famous Grouse Smoky Black
- 1 wedge of fresh lime, squeezed
- Half cranberry juice
- Half pressed apple juice
Fill a highball glass with ice, squeeze in a generous wedge of lime and drop it into the glass. Pour over your chosen Scotch and fill the rest of the glass half with cranberry and half with apple juice. Stir and serve with a garnish of raspberries and lime.
Recipe by Craig Mather, head chef at the Empire Room, Royal Harbour Hotel.
- 20 heads of elderflowers
- 2 pints of water
- 1 ½ lb sugar
- 1 sliced lemon
Bring the water, sugar and lemon to simmer, then remove from heat and add the elderflower. Pour into a jug and cover with cling film. Allow to cool slowly, leaving for 24 hours to marinate. Pass through a chinois and leave in the fridge.