As the weather gets warmer and lockdown starts to ease, more of us are opting to dine outside and make the most of summer evenings with family and friends.
Stewart Milne Homes has teamed up with Great British Bake Off finalist and Cheshire resident Luis Troyano to share some tips on making the most of the summer’s al fresco dining opportunities.
Creating the perfect environment
“My family and I are big fans of outdoor dining and have invested in our outdoor entertaining space as it is important you have somewhere for your guests to relax, unwind and enjoy the food and company on offer.
“Stewart Milne Homes ensures that their gardens can be used from the day the new owner moves in with a fully turfed lawn and patio included and ready to be enjoyed. Add a few clever seating choices and any space or size can make the perfect setting for entertaining guests or enjoying a family meal with a difference.
“As the UK weather is so unpredictable, an outdoor heater can be a great investment to ensure your dinners can continue into the night, especially if you will be dining outside regularly. If you don’t have a heater, then throws are a great alternative and help create that summer holiday feeling.
“We also bought a couple of gazebos at the end of the summer season last year, so we can enjoy our outdoor space no matter what the weather, as they provide shade if the weather gets too hot or protection from rain. You can decorate a gazebo with fairy lights and hanging lanterns to make it a decorative feature of your garden.
“When decorating the table, always use plastic tablecloths, so you don’t have to worry about the rain or any spillage. I also recommend mosquito candles to keep insects away at night-time, especially if you are cooking food.”
“Now you have the perfect set up, you can begin with the food!
“Preparation is key when it comes to al fresco dining. Prepping food ahead of time allows you to spend more time outdoors with your guests and family, rather than indoors slaving over the stove.
“When I’m dining outside, I prepare a lot of meat in advance by precooking joints in the oven first so that I can simply finish them off on the BBQ. This way you can make sure everything is safely cooked through and then get that perfect smoky BBQ flavour as you get ready to serve up.
“Prepare pasta and couscous salads a couple of days before as they can marinate in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Similarly, desserts like apple tarts can be assembled the day before then kept in the fridge until needed. It can be baked in around 40 minutes while your guests enjoy their mains.
“My favourite purchase of the year has been a pizza oven for my garden. Its perfect for having a pizza party with friends and family and I can accommodate all diets, including vegans and vegetarians.
“You can prepare all the toppings ahead of time in individual bowls and then assemble the pizzas outdoors, making it an interactive and fun way to eat with guests.
“I use a simple recipe to prepare the dough which can also be used to make burger buns, sharing flatbreads and even a base for sweet pizzas with a thin layer of custard, topped fruit and chocolate. If you don’t want to invest in a pizza oven, you can easily buy an attachment that goes on your BBQ which will have the same results.
“I also recommend using your BBQ as an oven and not just a grill, you can slow cook a joint of meat or a spatchcock chicken in a couple of hours with the lid on and then use the hot coals to cook off wings and kebabs quickly – a BBQ will burn for six or seven hours if prepped correctly!
“Once the cooking is done, you can then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Al fresco dining should be fun and simple, allowing you to enjoy the weather and the company of your family and friends!”
For more information about Stewart Milne Homes which come with private enclosed gardens and well-designed kitchen/dining/living spaces visit www.stewartmilnehomes.com