Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Practical Ideas for Your Backyard Barbecue

Floating centerpieces are perfect for outdoor events.  They are simple but elegant.  Add a little cintronella oil and it will also ward off bugs.

Keep the pests at bay by prepackaging side dishes as single servings.  Mason jars and lidded glass jars are perfect.

Re-purpose holiday lights by adding paper muffin cups over strands of Christmas lights.  This will add an elegant ambience to a nighttime affair.

An Ice cream sundae bar is always a great treat.  Sure, it is a potentially messy venture but the kids will definitely be busy for a while.  Instead of the traditional setup, try replacing candy topping with berries, nuts, dark chocolate chips, and fruit.  Puree blueberries and strawberries to make the syrup toppings. 

Chop an orange and a lime into small pieces, place them in an ice tray and fill with lemonade.  Place the cubes in each guest’s glass for a delightful twist on an old favorite.

Hibiscus syrup usually comes with edible flowers in the jar.  Adding a little syrup to the beverages is a flavorful touch.  Adding a drop as well as a flower in a glass of champagne is even better.

Gnats and flies do not like the scent of cloves and lemons.  Cut lemons in half and add a few cloves to each.  Leave them in candle jars about an hour before the guests arrive and the critters will leave the premises.

 A classic burger bar is always a treat. 

For all your catering

Summer Fruit Pie Tips

Summer is almost here and it's time to work on creating the perfect pie. If you are experimenting with a batch of apples, peaches or pears, here are some basic but essential techniques that will help you create perfectly rich fruit pies.

1. Use cold ingredients for your crust.  Unlike cakes, pies require cold ingredients.  

2. Fat is needed.  Use real butter for a flaky rich crust.  The high fat content (at least 83% is suggested) is necessary. Besides, butter just tastes so much better.

3. Let your dough rest for a bit after making it. It should have several clumps and should stick together when you squeeze pieces together.  Make sure it isn't too dry.

4. Watch the bottom of your crust.  Greasing the bottom of the pan will butter add a golden color but can be tricky if you don't understand the oven timing.  To avoid a soggy bottom, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour and sugar over the bottom of the crust before adding your pie filling.

5. Parboiling your fresh apples, peaches, or pears will ensure that they don't shrink as much when baking. It essentially makes the pie look better.

6. Layer apple, peach and pear slices tightly to avoid air pockets. You should pile the layers slightly higher than the crust because the fruit will shrink while cooking.

7. Using tart apples such as Golden Delicious or Granny Smith will turn out better.  The tart varieties don't get mushy too quickly.

8. Try not to over season your fruit with cinnamon and spices.  It should taste like a fruit pie.