Summer Fruits Stress Free Dinner Party
Summer Fruits by the cartload! Art original c. 1842-78 by Edward Wilson (1813-1878) via State Library Victoria

I’ve been indulging in a lot of lovely fresh summer fruit lately, so that makes it time for a Summer Fruits Stress Free Dinner Party.

Food

Ummm… Summer fruits! And other fresh seasonal ingredients.

Drinks

Something dry to balance the sweetness of the fruit.

Ambiance

It’s hot, we’ll probably be outdoors where we think we might be cooler. If you are in winter, you might put your heating up around 35 °C (95 °F).

Dress Code

Summer fruit is usually bold bright colours, so let’s try that. Or maybe cooling water colours?

Dinner Planning

As always, six guests invited to arrive 6.30 for 7.00 pm.

6:30 Apéritif: Strawberry Crostini with Champagne

Champagne is a reliable apéritif, and it’s one that is often served with strawberries, so it makes sense to take it one step further.

Crostini: Preheat your oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Cut shapes from slices or ordinary bread (2 – 3 pieces per person) brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, 15 – 20 minutes and leave to cool. Just before your guests arrive, smear with goats cheese, top with half a strawberry and a balsamic reduction (simmer some balsamic vinegar until it reduces by half or coats the back of a spoon).

7.00 Entrée: Grilled Peaches with more Champagne

Dressing: Whisk six tablespoons of olive oil with two of balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.

Salad: Pit and quarter a peach for each person. Brush with olive oil and grill each cut side until you are happy with the level of char – say three minutes. Leave to cool. To serve, top each plate with a handful of rocket (arugula), a share of a cored and sliced radicchio (Italian chicory), 15 g (½ oz) shredded ham, 30 g (1 oz) torn buffalo mozzarella, and the peach. You can prepare this dish to here and drizzle with the dressing just before serving.

8.00 Main: Prawn and Watermelon Salad with Sauvignon Blanc

Dressing: Whisk six tablespoons of olive oil with two of lime juice and a little salt and pepper.

Salad: You’ll want at least six prawns per person, so that’s around 1.5 kg (3.5 lb) with heads, or about half that peeled. When they are peeled and cleaned, finely chop some chilli and garlic and add to enough oil to coat the prawns with a little salt and pepper. Give them a good mix and marinate until you are ready to cook.

Chop 1 kg (2¼ lb) watermelon and add to a big bowl with one sliced red onion, a cup of chopped herbs including mint, coriander and chives. Add 300 g (10 oz) chopped or torn fetta. If your cheese is very salty, you might like to soak it in plain water for an hour or two to draw some of it out. Chop two avocados and add them to a bowl of acidulated water; in this case, 1 teaspoon of lime juice to 500 ml (a little under a pint) of water. Mix them into the larger salad when you are just about ready to serve.

To serve, dry fry a handful of chopped cashews, hazelnuts or peanuts and remove when they smell nice and toasty. Add the prawns and marinating oil to the same pan and fry few a few minutes over a high heat until cooked. Divide the watermelon (and avocado) salad between six plates. Top with the cooked prawns, drizzle with dressing and a sprinkle of nuts.

9.00 Dessert: Blueberry Friands with Muscat

Preheat oven to 190 °C (375 °F) and put the oven rack in the middle. Grease a six-hole friand pan.

Melt 100g (3½ oz) butter  and then allow to cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, whisk four egg whites in a large bowl until foamy but not firm. Sift ¼ cup plain flour, 1 cup icing sugar and 2/3 cup lightly pressed almond meal into the bowl. Stir until just combined, then add the butter and stir until just combined. Divide mixture into the friand pan and drop about five blueberries on the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the friands are a light golden colour and spring back when lightly pressed.

Allow them to stand in the pan for five minutes before running a knife around each to loosen it before turning them out. Place on a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yoghurt with some fresh blueberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

10.00 Aged Cheddar with Coffee and Cherry Liqueur

There’s  been a lot of fruit, so you might like to savoury it up at this point and just serve an aged cheddar with crackers with a dry or sour cherry liqueur. But if you want more fruit, a bow of cherries.

Schedule

3.00 make crostini and prepare the strawberries

3.30 make the peach salad

4.00 make the watermelon salad

4.30 make the friands

6.20 put appetiser together

6.30 guests arrive!

6.55 dress the peach salad and serve

7.50 cook prawns and add the avocado to the watermelon salad

8.00 serve prawn and watermelon salad

9.00 serve the friands

10.00 serve coffee


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