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Our Guide To Hosting The Best Summer Garden Party

Summer Garden Party

Barbecue season is upon us once again. If you have a garden party planned for the weekend, here’s our top tips on how to make it a special and fun occasion that will seriously impress your guests.

1. Invitations: Things to include on the invitation – date, time to arrive, when they’ll be eating, what they’ll be eating, dress code, and rain plans (‘game night indoors!’).

2. Seats: Make sure you have enough seats. Once you have a confirmed guest list, assess your furniture. If you only have five patio chairs but 15 guests, you’ll need to look at your indoor furniture. If you have a big garden, keep things casual and have a picnic-style affair with comfy quilts and blankets spread around.

3. Rain plans: With the UK’s unreliable weather, you should always have a back-up plan in case the rain arrives on your party night. Bring the barbecue inside with a game and/or movie night.

4.  Lighting: Always go for mood lighting as it’s key to setting your party’s atmosphere. Hang fairy or string lights with paper lanterns around trees and dining areas to create a cosy ambiance. And remember, always light up pathways and steps.

5.  Set up beverage stations: You should always get your guests their first drink but between large numbers and being busy with the food preparation, you won’t have the time for refills. Set up a couple of beverage stations around the garden and indoors so guests can help themselves. It’s also a great way to encourage people to start conversations with others.

6.  Music: Never let your party be silent; if the conversations aren’t flowing, always have music playing. Good speakers and a couple of playlists on Spotify are all you need to be DJ for the night.

Now you have tips, here’s our guide on the perfect barbecue night:

The Menu:

Blue Cheese & Apple Burger

Blue Cheese & Apple Burger

Ingredients:

  • 750g quality minced chuck steak
  • 1 soft round lettuce
  • 1 punnet of cress
  • 2 Braeburn or Cox apples
  • 120g blue cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 6 burger buns
  • American mustard

Method:

  1. Make the burgers at least an hour before you want to cook them. Divide the mince into 4 portions and work each ball in your hands for a few minutes to melt the fat and mould them into a relatively smooth, round patty. Make them slightly bigger than your bun, as they will shrink when cooked.
  2. Pop them on a tray, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge.
  3. When you're ready to cook your burgers, get your toppings ready. Pick off, wash and spin dry the lettuce leaves, cut your cress, slice the apples, crumble the blue cheese into chunks, and leave everything to one side.
  4. Preheat your grill to high. Pop a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of oil to the pan.
  5. Fry the burgers for around 4 minutes on each side if you like them pink in the middle, or longer if you prefer them fully cooked, seasoning the patties with black pepper as you cook them.
  6. Halve and toast the buns under the grill or on a hot griddle, then line them up on a board ready to go.
  7. When the burgers are cooked, top each with the blue cheese and pop under the grill for a couple of minutes until nice and oozy.
  8. Now build your burgers. First layer the salad leaves and apple onto the buns, followed by a good drizzle of mustard.
  9. Pop the burgers on, and top with the cress (a cucumber and chilli relish is great here too). Squish the bun tops on and serve straight away.

Recipe via Jamie Oliver

Brilliant Veggie Burger

Brilliant Veggie Burger

Ingredients:

  • 200g frozen sweetcorn
  • 400g mixed frozen peas and broad beans
  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander , (15)
  • 75 g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 1 pinch of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • ½ an iceberg lettuce
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil
  • 2 gherkins
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 4 large quality burger buns
  • 1 punnet of cress
  • tomato ketchup

-          Spiced vegan mayo

  • 2 spring onions
  • ½ a fresh red chilli
  • ½ a clove of garlic
  • 2 heaped tablespoons jarred chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • 1½ tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 splash of brandy
  • 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil

-          Crispy onion rings

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 200ml golden ale
  • 600 ml sunflower oil or sunseed oil, for frying

Method:

  1. Place the frozen veg in a food processor and let them defrost for around 15 minutes.
  2. Add the coriander (stalks and all), flour, cumin and cayenne, season well with sea salt and black pepper, then blitz to a rough paste. Pulse in the sesame and sunflower seeds until combined.
  3. Divide the mixture and shape into 4 equal-sized patties, roughly 2cm thick. Place on a lightly flour-dusted tray, turning them in the flour to coat. Firm up in the freezer for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas 3, while you make the vegan mayo and onion rings.
  5. For the mayo, trim and roughly chop the spring onions and chilli (deseeded if you like) and place in a blender. Peel and add the garlic, along with the chickpeas, mustard, tomato paste, brandy, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Blitz well to combine, then, with the blender still running, slowly pour in 4 to 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until smooth and the same consistency as mayonnaise.
  6. For the onion rings, peel the onion and slice horizontally into 2cm-wide rounds. Separate into rings, then place in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Leave for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl, then gently whisk in the ale until smooth, thick and coating the back of a spoon nicely.
  8. Place a medium, deep pan over a high heat, pour in the sunflower or sunseed oil and allow to heat up. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a piece of bread into the pan – if it floats to the surface, sizzles and turns golden, it’s about right.
  9. Drain the onions, dust a handful of them with flour until lightly coated, then dip them into the batter. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow any excess batter to drip off, then carefully lower into the hot oil.
  10. Cook for around 1 minute, or until golden and crisp, turning halfway with the slotted spoon. Transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain, then repeat with the remaining onion.
  11. When you’re ready, cook the burgers in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway and pressing down with a fish slice to get them nice and crispy.
  12. Transfer to a baking tray, then pop into the oven while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  13. Finely shred the lettuce and mix with half the vegan mayo (keep the rest in the fridge for up to 2 days). Slice the tomatoes and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  14. Sprinkle over a little salt and pick over the basil leaves. Top with another piece of kitchen paper and pat lightly to remove any excess water.
  15. Slice the gherkins lengthways, then halve and destone the avocado. Scoop out the flesh, cut into slices, then squeeze over the lime juice.
  16. Halve the burger buns and toast on a hot griddle pan or under the grill.
  17. Once ready, pile the dressed lettuce and sliced tomatoes and basil on to the burger bun bases. Pop the burgers on top, snip over the cress, then layer over the avocado, gherkins and crispy onion rings.
  18. Add a good squeeze of ketchup to the burger bun lids, place them on top, squeezing down gently, then tuck in.

Recipe via Jamie Oliver

BBQ Baked Beans With Sweet Potato Smash

BBQ Baked Beans With Sweet Potato Smash

Ingredients:  

  • 2 red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 2 large carrots
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 x 700ml jar of passata
  • 2 x 400g tins of mixed beans
  • 100ml quality BBQ sauce
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • ½ a loaf of ciabatta or stale bread
  • 40g Cheddar cheese, optional
  • Fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  2. Peel the onions and garlic, then finely slice with the chilli. Peel and chop the carrots. Put all these into a large roasting tray and place on a medium heat with a lug of oil, the paprika, cumin and chilli flakes. Cook for 20 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly.
  3. Meanwhile, scrub the sweet potatoes clean, then rub them with a little oil, sea salt and black pepper, place on a baking tray and put aside.
  4. When the time’s up, stir the passata into the tray, add a splash of water to the empty jar, swirl it around and pour it in along with the beans (juice and all). Drizzle over the BBQ sauce, season lightly and stir well.
  5. Pick and roughly chop the rosemary leaves, toss in a little oil and sprinkle over the top, then place in the oven for around 1 hour, or until bubbling, baked and gorgeous, adding a splash or two of water to loosen, if needed.
  6. Put the tray of sweet potatoes into the oven for the same amount of time, or until soft and cooked through.
  7. Around 20 minutes before the beans are ready, tear the bread into rough chunks and toss with a drizzle of oil in a roasting tray.
  8. Grate over the Cheddar (if using), then place on the bottom shelf of the oven for around 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden, to make croutons.
  9. Remove everything from the oven, tear up or squidge open the potatoes, and serve with the beans, dollops of yoghurt and the homemade croutons to mop up that delicious sauce, with a simple green salad on the side.

Recipe via Jamie Oliver

Griddled Vegetables

Griddled Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • ½ a bunch of fresh oregano
  • ½ a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 150 g feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • 3 courgettes (a mixture of yellow and green)
  • 2 handfuls of mixed tomatoes
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 50g shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 250g cracked wheat
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 big bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Light your barbecue and give the coals time to get nice and hot.
  2. Pick the oregano and parsley leaves, peel and slice the onions into wedges and halve the aubergine lengthways.
  3. Add the feta to a small bowl with half the oregano leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Next make the tabbouleh. Cook the cracked wheat according to the packet instructions, then rinse and drain. Set it aside to cool a little.
  5. Pick and finely chop the mint and parsley, then finely chop the cucumber.
  6. Once the cracked wheat has cooled, mix in the mint, parsley and cucumber, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Have a taste and tweak the seasoning to your liking, then cover and set aside.
  7. Once your barbecue is hot enough to start cooking, grill all of the vegetables and the garlic and, once beautifully charred on both sides, transfer them to a chopping board.
  8. Chop up all the veg together, squeezing the garlic cloves out of their skins and squishing the tomatoes. Roughly chop the parsley and remaining oregano leaves into the vegetables, season and drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Carefully griddle the whole marinated feta on the barbecue for about 3 minutes (this will depend how hot your barbecue is), or until golden and crispy, then gently turn and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Toast the pistachios in a small pan over a medium heat until lightly golden, then spoon over the honey and allow the nuts to caramelise, tossing regularly to stop them from catching in the pan (do not be tempted to touch them because they will be very hot!).
  11. After a couple of minutes, tip them onto a sheet of oiled greaseproof paper to harden and cool, then roughly chop and leave to one side.
  12. Spoon the tabbouleh onto a large serving dish, then top with the chopped vegetables.
  13. Place the griddled feta in the centre, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and scatter over the crispy smashed pistachios. To serve, crumble the feta over the top. Delicious served with toasted flatbreads.

Recipe via Jamie Oliver

Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3cm piece of ginger
  • 140g natural yoghurt
  • 60 ml passata
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 free-range skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large red pepper

Method:

  1. Place 12 wooden skewers into a large roasting tray of cold water to soak – this will stop them from burning.
  2. Peel the garlic and ginger, then finely grate and place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the yoghurt, passata, 1 tablespoon of oil and the spices, then mix well.
  4. Slice the chicken into bite-sized chunks and add to the bowl, then season with a tiny pinch of sea salt.
  5. Toss everything together to coat, then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to marinate for around 2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, halve and deseed the pepper, then roughly chop into chunks, roughly the same size as the chicken.
  7. Remove the skewers from the tray, discard the water and wipe the tray dry.
  8. Divide and thread the ingredients between your skewers – don’t push them too close together otherwise they won’t cook properly, then place onto the tray.
  9. Put the griddle pan on a high heat to warm up (or you could cook them under the grill or on the barbecue).
  10. Drizzle the skewers with a little oil, then place onto griddle and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through, turning every 2 minutes to get nice and golden on all sides – you may need to work in batches.

Once cooked, transfer the kebabs to a platter and serve with a fresh zingy salad and some rice or flatbreads.

BBQ Chorizo Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 750g new potatoes, halved if large
  • 4 – 6 large cooking chorizo (or 12 small ones)
  • 150ml soured cream
  • 3 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, very finely chopped

Method:

  1. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until tender and a knife goes in easily. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan, then stand for 5 – 10 minutes to steam-dry. Cut them into bite-sized pieces, season with salt, cover and chill until cold.
  2. Heat the barbecue. Halve each large chorizo lengthways and put them, cut-side down, on the barbecue. Cook, turning once or twice, until they are crisp around the edges and cooked through. Slice the chorizo into pieces.
  3. Combine the soured cream, mayonnaise and mustard, then add to the cold potatoes with the celery and dill. Gently fold the potatoes into the dressing, taking care not to break them up. Scatter the chorizo on top to serve.

Recipe via BBC Good Food

Chocolate Baked Bananas

Chocolate Baked Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 x 32g bag chocolate buttons
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat BBQ. Make a slit through the skin of the bananas along one side – making sure you don’t cut all the way through to the other side. Poke in the chocolate buttons along the cut. Put each banana onto a sheet of foil and crimp the edges together to seal into a parcel. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes until the bananas have turned black.
  2. Serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Recipe via BBC Good Food

S’mores Dip

S’mores Dip

Ingredients:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 350g mini marshmallows
  • 100g digestive biscuits, to serve
  • 100g strawberries, to serve
  • 100g pineapple chunks, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the chocolate, milk and 200g of the marshmallows in an ovenproof frying pan over a low heat until melted and smooth. Top with the remaining marshmallows in circles so that the whole surface is covered.
  2. Grill on high for 1 – 2 minutes until the marshmallows are toasted.
  3. Serve with digestives, strawberries and pineapple chunks.

Recipe via BBC Good Food

The Setting:

Your Outfit:

Women:

Men:

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