But guests need to eat. And Bunny, being a baby, does make elaborate feasts difficult. This post is about hospitality in the form of the path of least resistance. I leave food, a jug of limeade, and red wine (I don't need to fuss with keeping it cool) on the table. Folks drift in and out, helping themselves. Here is what I do to keep everyone fed. . .
Baked chicken: Yes, that sounds awful in the heat. But if you bake one for lunch, people can graze for the rest of the day. I buy a small one and bake it my over-large toaster oven as I can't stand to turn on the "real" oven (your microwave might have a conventional oven setting too). The chicken is doused with salt, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and random herbs from the garden and then gets bunged in the toaster oven for 50m at 350F. Done. Serve with arugula, frise, or some other sturdy green. Let guests pick on the carcass for the rest of the day. Or, buy a rotisserie one-- they are surprisingly good.
Ciabatta, served with wedges of cheese and good Irish or French butter (yes, good butter tastes different) for guests to cut themselves. Shiny black olives. They can stay out all afternoon.
Orzo is your friend. Cook al dente. Parmesan cheese, sautéed spinach, garlic, olive oil and lemon. Add random herbs from the garden, Salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken or even tuna. Red and yellow grape tomatoes are nice, if you have ripe ones. Call it lazy fake risotto if you wish. Good cold or hot.
Finally, desert. You could go to that old standby of ice cream. But sometimes the cream is too heavy in the heat. My latest thing is popsicles-- I found molds for $2 at a big box store. I was tempted by the nice ones at William Sonoma, but really. Who spends $50 on popsicle molds?
I've tried filling them up with almost every thing: espresso cream sugar mix (caffeine pops!), sometimes I make them from left over smoothie, as I always make too much. When I'm pressed for time, limeade and cranberry pomegranate make for great flavors. Naked brand Mango Smoothies make amazing and easy popsicles. It's juvenile and fun, and a perfect way to end a summer meal. If your guests are all grown up, serve with small icy cold glasses of limoncello (I make mine from scratch).
Note: this post was inspired by question from Ashley, and her blog can be found here. Emily, another Cape blogger, wrote her ideas for a slaw recipe here. Yum.