Last weekend was my annual summer party. I have a bbq every year and invite everyone I know, and then proceed to freak out about everything that could go wrong for the two weeks beforehand (examples: rain appearing, people turning up once the food has gone cold, running out of beer...)
Over the years I have made various different food and drinks, some simple and some complicated, but I think this year I generally got it right. I vetoed certain dishes that have been popular in the past because they're just not right for an outdoor event that will last throughout the day - I always used to make Sophie Dahl's guacamole but it just doesn't look that appetising after an hour in the sun. So this year I tried to keep the things I made in advance super simple - there were of course also the various burgers ad sausages that are a bit of a staple (a lot of which are now in my freezer) - but here are the (super, super) simple things I dished up...
* Lime and Honey Chicken Thighs
Literally one of the easiest prep-in-advance dishes ever. For 800g of chicken you will need one large lime and 4 tablespoons of honey, as well as a bit of sea salt and black pepper. You just need to chuck it all in a pan - in the order of half a lime, all the honey, the other half the lime - cover in tin foil and leave to marinade for a couple of hours (as long as you can, really) and then just chuck it onto the fire!
* Pork and Mango Skewers
For 400g of diced pork shoulder you will probably need one large mango. Rub your pork in olive oil, wholegrain mustard and crème fraîche (I went for an equal amount of both the mustard and cream, and kept adding until I thought they were suitably covered), and then once this is done cut your mango up into similar-sized pieces. I bought some small skewers (rather than those super long ones that always seem too big when the moment comes) and put 3 bits of each on each one. I did start to run out of mango before I did pork (which is definitely the better option!) towards the end and started to cut down to just two bits of mango, so try and get the largest one you can find.
* Feta Cheese and Pomegranate Salad
This is a salad I usually chuck together when I'm stuck for inspiration as it's delicious and easy and goes with pretty much everything. You need sweet gem lettuce, a big old chunk of feta, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. I usually add avocado as well but swapped it this time for some salmon that we cooked on the barbecue before most people arrived.
* Mint and Lime Sparkling Water
I like to make one non-alcoholic drink for things like this as there is always at least a couple people who will be driving and it's nice to make people think you've made an effort for them. This is one of the simplest ones I've made and is so inoffensive it generally works for all occasions (it also works when used as a mixer for vodka and white rum, which is always handy towards the end of the evening!). Cut a lime in half, and squeeze the juice of one half into a jug of sparkling water. Cut the other half into segments and chuck those in, along with as many mint leaves as you can be bothered with. Mix it all up and, for good measure, chuck in the lime shell from the half you squeezed (you could always add a bit of lime cordial if you're that way inclined). Very summery and refreshing.