Memorial Day weekend is here: Summer “officially” begins, white linen pants are encouraged, and your cup of rosé should runneth over. As someone who has spent the last three years compiling simple, yet sophisticated recipes for my book he dishes of the weekend are also very much on my mind. While a salty sea breeze and cool dips in the Atlantic are not in my future quite yet, I do plan on spending as much time as possible outside in my Hudson backyard. It’s there, under string lights and with block-print linens, that I’ll be entertaining multiple groups of friends.
First things first, I must assemble a menu. I plan on keeping the mains simple, seasoning steaks and vegetables well with kosher salt and pepper and grilling them over hot flames. With good quality meat, you don’t need to do much else. I’m also not against calling in an order of fried chicken, which can be served at room temperature. I’ve done so before with great success and no one is the wiser.
Instead, I’ll turn my attention to snacks and sides that can be made and for the most part prepped ahead of time. I’m thinking about fancy toasts with farm cheese and grilled asparagus, topped with green garlic salsa verde, a Green Godess dip with celery leaves and another one with smoked trout and crème fraîche, as well as a rice salad laden with provolone, capers and plenty of herbs, which can sit for hours.
When it comes to dessert, I am not a baker, which can be problematic when entertaining. Things potentially get awkward at the end of a meal when your host offers you nothing except for more wine. So in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded hostess, I’ve come up with ways to end a meal without turning on the oven. They also happen to make me feel European in nature (excuse me while I adjust my silk scarf) and on top of my game. They include: a bowl of clementines, blood oranges or other in-season fruit (cherries on ice are nice) or figs that you can pull apart with your hands; bars of good quality chocolate that you can let guests have at, or even a loaf of something sweet from your favorite bakery served with whipped cream.