The last long weekend of summer is one that should be well celebrated. As water toys and camping gear are packed away for yet another year, gather your family, friends and neighbours for a celebration worthy of the season’s most fabulous food. Keep the menu simple and offer up classic barbecue fare, allowing you to enjoy the day just as much as your guests. Aim to host your soiree in the late afternoon, allowing those with children to arrive home in enough time to tuck their young ones in for an earlier back-to-school bedtime.
Grilled Corn: Place corncobs in a bowl of water and allow to soak, with husks on, for 30 minutes. Grill over an open flame and serve alongside bowls of melted butter and assorted seasonings, including salt and pepper, Cajun spice, Herbs de Provence and chili powder.
Potato Salad: Keep this dish light and healthy by substituting yogurt for mayonnaise. Jazz up the flavour with the addition of curry powder or garam masala and add fresh peas, chives and green beans to the mix. Alternatively, make a German-inspired salad by combining boiled or roasted potatoes with bacon, chives and mustard vinaigrette
Coleslaw: Combine chopped cabbage with grated carrot and diced apple, or colourful peppers and radishes, and toss with some mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar and a touch of honey. Season your salad with caraway seeds or a Southwestern spice blend.
Cornbread: Cornbread is a classic barbecue offering. Infuse your favourite recipe, or store-bought mix, with cheddar or jalapenos (or both!). If time is not on your side, purchase a loaf of cornbread from your local bakery, slice, spread with butter and fresh herbs and grill each side.
Chicken: Grilled chicken is always a crowd pleaser and tends to work for both adults and kids alike. If using a boneless, skinless chicken breast marinade it in yogurt for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This will help to retain the moisture of the meat without adding oil, which will encourage flare-ups and increase the fat content of your food.
Lemonade: Avoid sugary sodas by serving homemade lemonade. Combine equal parts simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon juice and top with flat or sparkling water. Garnish with fresh berries or basil leaves.
S’mores Bar: A make-your-own s’mores bar is the perfect finish to a classic summer meal. Baskets of graham crackers accompanied with bowls of marshmallows, chocolate chips, bananas, fresh berries and Caramel bar pieces can be easily assembled to create gourmet, flavourful s’mores. Toast the marshmallows over an open fire if possible. If not, line a baking sheet with parchment and place marshmallows on top of graham crackers and set under the broiler for a few minutes to melt them.