When it comes to summertime appetizers, I like to keep things simple so I’m not rushing around getting things ready when my guests arrive. Skewers of fruit and cheese are perfect because they can be fully prepped in advance and are great for serving a crowd.
½ seedless watermelon, cubed
1 – 8oz package of blackberries
1 block of feta, cubed
Maldon salt for seasoning
1. On a skewer, add the watermelon, feta, blackberries, and basil so that they are layered.
2. Place finished skewers on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt, shredding any leftover basil and sprinkling on top as well.
The combination of salty prosciutto, creamy mozzarella, and fresh melon is pure magic. These skewers feel elevated enough for a party but are total crowd-pleasers… Just make extras because guests will go back for seconds!
1 package thinly sliced prosciutto, about 6 slices
1 container bocconcini
basil for garnish
1. Slice the melon in half and remove seeds. With a mini ice cream scooper, ball the melon into small 1-inch pieces.
2. Tear the prosciutto slices into halves and fold in a back and forth pattern until pieces are about 1-inch wide.
3. Using bamboo skewers, slide on the folded prosciutto, a bocconcini, and a melon piece, followed by another prosciutto slice and bocconcini.
4. Place all of the finished skewers onto a serving platter and sprinkle sliced basil on top for garnish.
This is my own twist on the Mexican Street Corn from La Condesa (if you’ve never had it, I highly suggest getting there as fast as possible and savoring an order with a spicy paloma.) This is probably the number one most popular item I have served at any backyard barbecue. Don’t forget to provide lots of napkins.
4 ears of corn, shucked and split in half to form 8 pieces
extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I prefer classic Hellmann’s)
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
a couple tablespoons of chili powder
3 limes, each cut into 6 slices
coarse flake salt, like Maldon
1. In a small plate, pour a bit of olive oil and roll the corn in it to evenly coat. Sprinkle all over with garlic salt.
2. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat, and grill the corn until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn occasionally to cook on all sides.
3. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sriracha, and a squeeze of lime juice. Whisk to combine.
4. When the corn comes off the grill, slather it with the mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with cilantro, chili powder, and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Roll all the corn cobs around in the mixture to get it all evenly coated, and serve with slices of lime so guests can squeeze more juice as they like.
5. Embrace the messiness; I promise, it’s worth it.
6 tomatillos, husked
1 small jalapeño
1 large shallot
2 garlic cloves
6 sprigs cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice
1. Roughly chop tomatillos, jalapeño, and shallot.
2. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached. For a smoother puree, add ¼ cup water while blending.
3. Serve with Beanitos Black & White Bean Skinny Dipper chips. Enjoy!
In the heat of the summer, guests will drink more cold beverages than you ever thought possible.
Set up a drinks station in a shaded area of the yard where everyone can pour their own beverages and go back for refills as many times as they like. I love to fill large drink dispensers with lemonade and infuse water with cooling mint and cucumbers. They make the bar look amazing while ensuring that there’s always a nonalcoholic option to quench guests’ thirst.
For outdoor gatherings, I stick with a laid-back centerpiece that won’t wilt in the heat. A big wooden bowl looks so cheerful when filled with lemons and limes, wildflowers gathered in Mason jars make for a casual arrangement, and pots of herbs or succulents can be sent home with guests for impromptu party favors! And don’t forget, when serving food family-style, beautiful platters filled with abundant food can be an inviting centerpiece all on their own.
When I worked in catering years ago, I quickly learned that when it comes to serving food outside on hot days, room temperature is best. Fresh crunchy salads, sliced grilled meats and light sandwiches can hang out on a buffet for a while without wilting in the heat. And most importantly, you won’t be fighting the losing battle of trying to keep cold foods cold in the summer heat.
8 oz caramel Chameleon Cold-Brew
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary, torn
1 Tbsp pink peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
6 oz Chameleon Cold-Brew
1 oz Rumchata
1 oz butterscotch Schnapps
Float ½ oz cream
8 oz caramel Chameleon Cold-Brew
4 oz full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon