Summertime is all about spending quality time with family and friends over BBQs, picnics and potlucks. Cooking for a crowd doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming however, it just requires a bit more preparation and a few fail-safe recipes. Here are some of my favourite recipes for summer entertaining that are guaranteed to draw everyone around the table — kids included!
Chicken Caesar Salad
- 1 chicken breast, cooked
- 1 baby gem lettuce, cut into pieces
- 1 slice thick white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into small cubes
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ small garlic clove, crushed
- 1/8 tsp Dijon mustard
- A few drops Worcestershire sauce
- A few drops Tabasco sauce (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a small non-stick frying pan and add the cubes of bread.
- Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- In a bowl combine all the dressing ingredients. Mix together the chicken and lettuce and toss with most of the dressing.
- Pack the grated parmesan and the croutons in a separate plastic container for your child to scatter over the salad at lunchtime.
*10 mins preparation; yields 1 serving
Mini Cashew Burgers
- 150g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 50g roasted cashew nuts
- 50g white breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp chopped thyme
- 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for frying
- 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1⁄2 leek, washed, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 100g chestnut mushrooms, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp honey
- salt and pepper
- a little flour, for coating
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the sweet potato until soft, then drain. Meanwhile, tip the cashew nuts into a blender or food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, along with the breadcrumbs, thyme and Cheddar cheese.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, leek, carrot and mushrooms. Fry for 10 minutes, or until soft. Then add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the vegetables to the breadcrumb mixture, along with the sweet potato and honey. Mash together and season.
- Divide the mixture into 8 portions and shape into burgers. Coat them in the flour, then fry in a little oil for 2–3 minutes on each side, until golden.
*20 mins preparation, 20 mins cooking; yields 8 burgers
Apricot Dijon Drumsticks
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- 1–2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 6 skinless chicken drumsticks– could also use skin-on if you prefer
- Salt and pepper to season
- Mix together the jam, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Make two or three cuts in the flesh of each drumstick then put them in a large bowl or re-sealable plastic food bag.
- Pour over the marinade and toss to coat the drumsticks. Cover or seal and marinate 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. Put the drumsticks in a baking dish lined with foil and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the marinade left in the bag, cover with foil and bake the drumsticks for 20 minutes.
- Uncover, turn over the drumsticks, then baste with juices in the pan. Cook, uncovered, for a further 10–15 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with the juices in the pan, until the chicken has cooked through.
- Let cool slightly before serving, and serve warm (they are also good served cold!). The cooked drumsticks will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days.
*10 mins preparation plus marinating time, 20 mins cooking; yields 6 drumsticks
Apple and Almond Cake
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 2 squeezes of lemon juice
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 175g unsalted butter
- 3 medium eggs, separated
- 175g ground almonds
- 1⁄2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Slice two of the apple quarters very thinly, put in a bowl and toss with a squeeze of lemon juice. Slice the remaining apple more thickly, put in a separate bowl and toss with more lemon juice, then sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the sugar, toss to coat and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Grease a 20 cm (8 in) springform cake tin. In a large bowl, cream the butter and remaining sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, then add the almonds, almond extract and baking powder, working the mixture as little as possible.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold into the cake mixture. Add any juice from the thickly sliced apples, then pat dry with kitchen paper and gently fold into the mixture. Transfer to the prepared tin and smooth over the surface. Drain away any juice from the finely sliced apples and arrange on top of the cake.
- Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the tin to loosen the cake, then leave to cool in the tin for several hours.
*30 mins preparation, 80-90 mins cooking; yields 6-8 portions
Berry Burst Smoothie
- 85g fresh or frozen summer berries
- 1 small banana, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 tbsp strawberry yoghurt
- 2 tsp clear honey
- 4 tbsp cold milk
- If using frozen fruits leave them to defrost for about 20 minutes.
- Put the banana, fruit/berries, yoghurt and honey into a blender and whiz for 1-2 minutes, until smooth.
- Add the milk and whizz again until frothy.
- Pour into a glass to serve.
*5 mins preparation; yields 1 portion
For more summertime recipes, see Annabel’s app ‘Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding your Baby & Toddler’ available on iTunes.