As the summer winds down, you may be planning your last soiree of the season.
Rather than the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, The Early Show's favorite entertainer, Colin Cowie, has some suggestions that will kick your barbecue up a notch or three.
First off, to create the right mood, Cowie's table is set with black and lime green - black because this party is for the evening and lime green because it's bright and fun and very fashionable this season.
To complement the look, he uses leaves and fruits and vegetables that are in season. Place the leaves on the table and down the center as part of a centerpiece design. Cowie says the leaves are symbolic of summer, so he uses them on the table, as well as on the cushions for seating.
The centerpiece is all made of fruits and vegetables, which makes it very easy to replicate at your own home. All it takes is just going to the local market. It's also quite an affordable way to make a terrific-looking centerpiece.
For illumination on the table, Cowie uses a tall vase and square black candles. Cowie says never to use votive candles on a table for an outdoor evening dinner because the wind always blow them out too quickly. The larger the candle and the thicker the wick, the better off you are.
In terms of the meal, the idea is that it needs to be easy and it needs to "reek of chic" (a new Cowie expression). He says there's no excuse for bad taste or no taste. Every dinner party doesn't have to be a big exercise in time consumption and it doesn't always have to be complicated meals that require hours of cooking.
Each of the recipes for this party call for about five ingredients - that's all! For example, the first course is gazpacho with crabmeat. You can buy crabmeat and gazpacho. Just put the crabmeat and some chives at the bottom of a bowl, and then pour the gazpacho from a pitcher over the crabmeat. The presentation requires minimal effort. Along with the soup, Cowie serves grilled foccacia bread that was painted with olive oil and garlic and put on the grill - a perfect accompaniment to the fancy gazpacho.
Because the first course is so simple, Cowie says he's able to put all his efforts into the main dish, which is butterflied leg of lamb on the grill. And this dish is also easy to make. The night before, marinate the lamb with the simple ingredients and when you cook it, it's just 15 on one side and 10 on the other. It's then served with a tri-color salad and lemon wedges. Grilled Japanese eggplant is served with the lamb and salad. And when it comes to the salad, it can be pre-bought, pre-washed and even served with store-bought dressing.
Lastly, for dessert, Cowie recommends baked peaches with vanilla ice cream. Just bake the peaches and scoop out the ice cream right before serving – easy.
In order to ensure lively conversation and a fun time by all for the evening, Cowie suggests serving this drink: La Piscine (which means "the pool" in French). It's a highball glass filled with ice and topped with champagne. Cowie loves this refreshing drink, which was served at the Cannes Film Festival in the 1950s, so he has decided to revive it.
A good idea is also to go around the table and ask each guest to share their best moment of the summer to spark more conversation.
The following are the recipes:
Gazpacho and Crab Meat: (serves 8)
4 lbs of lump crab meat
Store bought Gazpacho (enough for 8)
Place one scoop of lump crab meat in each bowl and cover with soup.
Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb: (serves 8)
1 cup fresh, flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh rosemary leaves, stemmed
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
12 garlic cloves, peeled
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 (6-pound) deboned, butter flied leg of lamb
1 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more for garnish
4 lemons, quartered for garnish
Prepare the marinade: Place the parsley, rosemary, pepper, garlic, mustard and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of a smooth paste, about 1 minute. Rub the mixture all over the lamb, place the meat on the tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Light the gas grill. Season the lamb all over with salt. Place the lamb in the center rack, cover the grill and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the lamb and cook for an additional 15 minutes (to test for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the cut, 125 to 130 degrees is medium rare). When the meat is done, transfer it to a serving platter, loosely cover it with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Garnish the platter with lemon quarters and serve with course sea salt on the side.
Tri-color salad with Basil Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove of garlic, crushed
8 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup packed basil leaves
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.
Baked Peach with vanilla ice cream
4 Large, ripe, peaches, pitted and halved
8 tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup
3/4 cup of dessert wine
Haagan Daaz vanilla bean ice cream
In a glass-baking dish, place the halved peaches and cover with the syrup and dessert wine. Bake at 400 for approximately 35 minutes, until peaches are soft and lightly browned. Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle remaining sauce from the peaches over ice cream.