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Updated on July 26, 2011

Special Suppers

Summertime and the cooking is easy it's more a matter of mixing the freshest seasonal treats for a meal that is cool and inviting.

Parties held on summer evenings have a magic all of their own. It's something to do with the gradually fading light stars appear. Even on chillier nights it often stays warm long enough at least to enjoy a drink outside before retreating indoors.

Candlelight homes into its own in summer. A romantic dinner for two wouldn't have anything like the summer impact without the flattering light of candles. The pink cloth and china are suitably pretty and the Victorian wrought iron. chairs add a secondary decorative element.

For a day when it's a bit too cold to venture outside, the setting shown on finds a way to bring the garden to the table. The delightful flower painted folding doors lend a summery atmosphere to a plain setting, whatever the time of year. Of course not every household can run to such exotica butt ideas like this can act as a trigger for more easily achieved effects. Flower patterned china or tablecloth individual bowls of tiny blossoms at each place setting an array of greenery on a nearby side table any of these would have the effect of bringing summer inside.

Fair Weather Food

The suggestions could all come into their own for a summer supper party. At this time of year, most fresh food can rely on its own natural good looks to cause a sensation. There is no harm in giving nature a helping hand once in a while though and the Avocado Starters look almost too perfect to be real. A platter of these decorated with orange or lemon slices, would make a show stopping centerpiece to a buffet table.

Another idea for a help yourself supper would be an intriguing selection of seafood starters like those. Elegant and enticing, you could either make them up in individual small portions as shown or increase the quantities and serve one or more of them as a light main course.

Salmon steaks or chicken breasts are hot alternatives that would give hungry guests a bit more to get their teeth into. Add salads and hot herb-buttered bread to round out the meal.

When it comes to puddings look no further than those shown here. Cool pale delicately decorated they make a luscious ending to a meal that uses the best the season has to offer.

Drinks With Everything

It's a nice idea, although unfortunately a rather expensive one to offer guests a drink before dinner. However there is really no need to lay on a vast choice and you can if you prefer simply offer the wine that you plan to drink with the first course. Other possible aperitifs include sherry, one of the many types of vermouth or a spirit-based mixture such as gin and tonic or whisky and soda.

If you are in the happy position of having a good selection of drinks on hand you could try mixing a few cocktails. Don't be too generous when measuring out the ingredients though especially if you are planning to move on to wine later, otherwise guests could find your party memorable for all the wrong reasons.

There is lots of information on buying and storing wines. When you are faced with choosing wines to go with a particular meal the rule is forget the old rules. While dry white wines certainly do go well with many starters and fish, there is no reason why you could not drink a young light red wine instead. And a more full-bodied white wine could equally well be drunk with a sturdy beef casserole as the more usual red. Be guided by your taste and don't forget that some foods are better without wine at all curries dishes with a high acid content or very sweet puddings unless you want to serve a sweet dessert wine or a Madeira with the latter.

In most cases it is preferable to serve white and rose wines chilled and red wine at room temperature although some young red wines like Beaujolais Nouveau are better chilled. To chill a wine, refrigerate the bottle for an hour or two before serving or immerse in an ice bucket for at least half an hour. Uncork red wines half an hour or more before serving to let them breathe and place them in a warm room to come up to room temperature. If you forget to do this in time, you can get away with warming a decanter thoroughly and pouring the wine into it.

If all this sounds as if it could put an unbearable strain on your budget, cheer yourself up with the thought that an informal supper for friends is not the place for a huge selection of smart drinks. If you can't afford to go the whole hog, opt instead for one white wine-still or sparkling to go right through the meal. Look for the words Appellation Controller on the liable and you shouldn't go far wrong. Straightforward still wines that are dry, French and suitable for the whole meal include Sauvignon and Muscadet.

After dinner if resources run to it, you may want to serve a liqueur. Brandy or whisky, on their own or with water, ice or soda are suitable, and you could also provide one or more of the flavoured liqueurs widely available. Among some of the most interesting are kummel, a caraway derivative said to be good for the digestion, calvados a fire less acid alternative to brandy and good, old fashioned port. Coffer is the other essential .

Seafood Starters

Individual starters always please and if they are done in aspic look as if you have taken a great deal of trouble. The subtle flavour of Seafood Aspics come from the white wine herbs and onion in the jelly.

Small pasta shapes they don't have to be shells make Tuna Pasta Hors D'Oeuvre a slightly more filling starter and by adding a side of sliced tomato this would provide a main course.

Smoked Mackerel Pate is interesting and tasty at the start of a meal or is excellent as light meal. It is a very straightforward pate to make. Simply beat together the flesh of 225g (8 oz) smoked mackerel, 10ml (2 tsp) lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, 225g (8 oz) sieved cottage cheese 125g (4 oz) softened butter and seasonings. Turn into a serving dish or interval pots, pour 50g (2 oz) butter over the top and chill before serving.

Another salad starter which easy to assemble and is cool and refreshing is Melon Seafood Salad. It's mixture of crabmeat and flaked skate in a lemon cream dressing site on a green island of lightly perfumed melon and makes for a lovely marriage of taste and texture.

A more unusual and quite delicious cold starter is Marinated Kipper and Avocado. The kippers are left to marinate, in a well seasoned dressing, overnight. The avocado is sliced in the next day then it's ready to serve.


3 medium ripe avocados

30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

100g (4 oz) full fat soft cheese

60ml (4 tbsp) mayonnaise

salt and pepper

half a 411g (14 1/2 oz) can consommé

orange slices and watercress sprigs to garnish

Cut the avocados in half and remove the stone. Cut a thin slice off 3 of the avocado halves, cut the slices in half and remove peel. Toss these in half the lemon juice and reserve to garnish. Scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in a blender or food processor. Add the remaining lemon juice, cheese mayonnaise and seasonings and blend until smooth. Spoon back into the avocado shells and top with the reserved avocado slices. Spoon back into the avocado shells and top with the reserved avocado slices. Spoon over the consommé and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour until se. Garnish with range slices and watercress sprigs and serve with French bread or hot buttered toast.


450g (1 lb) raspberries

60ml (4 tbsp) icing sugar

60ml (4 tbsp) orange flavoured liqueur

3 eggs separated

75g (3oz) caster sugar

300ml (10 fl oz) whipping cream

10ml (2 level tsp) gelatine.

Place the raspberries in a flat dish, reserving six berries for decoration. Sprinkle with the icing sugar and spoon over the liqueur. Leave to stand for 1 hour. Puree in a blender or food processor then rub through a sieve to remove pips.

Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until really thick. Gradually whisk in the raspberry puree. Lightly whip the cream and fold a quarter into the raspberry mixture. Wipe the remainder to a piping consistency, spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star vegetable nozzle and refrigerate.

Soak the gelatine in 30ml (2 tbsp) water in a small bowl. Dissolve by standing the bowl in a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to cool then stir quickly into the raspberry mixture.

When the raspberry mixture begins to set whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the mixture. Pour into glasses and refrigerate to set.

Decorate with the remaining whipped cream and whole raspberries.

Serves 6


75g (3oz) granulated sugar

pared rind and juice of 1 medium orange

225g (8 oz) raspberies

225g (8oz) green grapes, washed

1 large green eating apple washed

In a pan slowly dissolve the sugar with the pared orange rind and juice in 300ml (1/2 pint) water. Bring to the boil then bubble till syrupy. Strain and cool. Wash and pick over the raspberries. Halve and seed the grapes.

Just before serving quarter core and finely chop the apple. Layer the prepared fruit in four deep glasses. Pour over the cooled syrup. Chill and serve.

Serves 4


50g (2oz) medium oatmeal

300ml (10 fl oz) double cream

60ml (4 tbsp) clear honey

45ml (3 tbsp) whisky

350g (12 oz) fresh raspberries

Place the oatmeal in a grill pan and toast until golden, turning occasionally. Cool.

Lightly whip the cream then stir in the honey, whisky and cool oatmeal. Pick over the raspberries and reserve a few for decoration. Layer up the raspberries and cream mixture in four glasses cover and refrigerate.

Allow to come to at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Decorate with reserved raspberries.

Serves 4


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    • Auntie D profile image

      Auntie D 6 years ago from California

      Well done article with good suggestions. The Crushed Raspberry Cream sounds wonderful...I'll try it this weekend!

    • lionel1 profile image

      lionel1 6 years ago

      yum yum excellent. thanks

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      I get what you are saying about summer-time dinners being special but I don't know if I would want to ruin the effects of a full moon with candles.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Obviously you don't have to worry about putting together a dinner party! Beautiful presentation and great food, what more could a guest want? Nice job. Voted up!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great suggestions! I'm always looking for new advice about food and hosting. The avocado mousse looks amazing!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      I especially love the last 2 recipes with raspberries. Delicious and beautiful hub!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, I think I'd like to be invited to your next dinner party! From the decor to the drinks to the food, it all looks and sounds wonderful. Thanks for all of these great ideas.