During the summertime entertaining should feel effortless. No one wants to spend too much energy preparing an elaborate meal or a formal table for a get together. If you want to simplify your entertaining routine, but still make an impact, try these four tips that I love for summer entertaining.
Dreamy Ice Cream: Turn a half-gallon tub of Neapolitan ice cream -- my favorite is from Il Laboratorio del Gelato (laboratoriodelgelato.com) -- into a decadent bombe by dripping plenty of dark chocolate over it. First, cut the carton off the ice cream. Refreeze it until it hardens, and then pour slightly cooled melted semisweet chocolate over the top, and let it drip down the sides; refreeze once more. When the topping is set, arrange the bombe on a fancy serving platter and scatter chunky chocolate bits on top and around it for an added flourish.
Snazzy Snacks: Mix-and-match silver serving pieces and crisply ironed linens can make even the simplest foods look sophisticated. One huge punch bowl chock-full of potato chips and a smaller bowl of dip (I never stray from the classic 1950s combination of sour cream and onion-soup mix) is my signature party dish. Good-quality olives (with frilly cellophane-topped toothpicks, of course) and a large platter of pistachios round out the savory side of my no-cook cocktail party menu.
Cocktail Accompaniments Platter: A basic white platter just might be the most versatile item in your cupboard. Use it to corral party cocktail garnishes. Offer accompaniments to cocktails: citrus wedges (for gin and vodka tonics), olives and caper berries (martinis, Bloody Marys), and cocktail onions (Gibsons).
Color-Coded Party Drink Buckets: Keeping red wines in red ice buckets and white in white will avoid confusion at summer gatherings. Hadn't thought of chilling a bottle of red? Lighter bodied, fruity reds -- such as Spanish Rioja, Lambrusco, or Sicilian Cersasuolo -- are refreshing when served cool (but not icy cold) and bold enough to stand up to summer fare.