It seems to me that the Victoria Day long weekend is the start of summer in a way, with a sudden influx of visitors to the Okanagan and some people dusting off the barbecue and cleaning out the cobwebs from the deck chairs.
Personally, I barbecue all year long on a covered deck, but I realize not everyone is quite so enthusiastic.
Nonetheless, this the time of year when we invite family and friends to join us on the patio instead of in front of the fireplace.
It’s a more-informal sort of entertaining, with food interrupted by frisbee and horsheshoes, croquet and bocce.
It’s finger food instead of six-course sit-down meals; paper napkins instead of cloth; and the best silver and china can stay in the buffet for a few months.
Whatever you serve, make sure you have everything prepped ahead of time so you can enjoy yourself as well, or have everyone bring a part of the meal to lighten the load.
There are lots of excellent local VQA aromatic whites and roses that make terrific patio sippers; or reds that you can serve alongside your meat dishes that are just a little lighter than the more robust reds of winter.
Or, splash together a sangria punch with wine, club soda, fresh slices of lemon, lime and orange, a touch of sugar and a dash of brandy. Vary the fruits with what’s in season and the brandy with other spirits for a change of pace. Traditionally, it’s made with red wine, but who says you can’t change it up a little?
Whatever you serve, have fun and so will your guests.
For more patio entertaining ideas, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, wherever books are sold, or at local wine shops.
Spiced BBQ Sauce
This has an Asian flavour to it, and it’s great with pork ribs, fish or prawns done on the barbecue.You can make it days ahead and keep it in the fridge.
1 tbsp. (15 ml) minced ginger
3 green onions
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. (15 ml) oil
1 tsp. (5 ml) sesame oil
3 tbsp. (45 ml) ketchup
2 tbsp. (30 ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp. (30 ml) brown sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) dry sherry
1 tbsp. (15 ml) sherry vinegar
1 tsp. (5 ml) Sriracha hot sauce
Mince fresh ginger, green onions and garlic.
Heat both oils in a small pot over medium-high heat and add the ginger. Turn about for a minute, then add the green onions and garlic.
After stirring for a minute or two add the remaining ingredients, turning the heat down to medium.
Simmer for five minutes or so, stirring, and then cool the sauce.
Makes about a half cup.
Tomato-Vodka Grilled Lamb
Lamb and tomato are a good match and this is quite delicious. We tried it while on a camping trip, with barbecued red potatoes and fresh asparagus, and a glass of The View’s 2010 Pinotage, which was incredibly rich and smooth, with lots of berry flavours and silky tannins—not the chewy sort.
1 lb. lamb chops or steaks
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. (15 ml) tomato paste
2 tsp. (10 ml) vodka
2 tsp. (10 ml) teriyaki sauce
1/4 tsp. (2 ml) hot sauce
pinch of chili flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
Mince garlic and combine with remaining marinade ingredients in a bowl that will hold the lamb snugly.
Add lamb and turn about in the marinade until there’s a good smear of the paste all over each piece.
Grill over high heat for five minutes or so a side, or until it’s slightly charred outside but still rosy inside.