June is the kickoff month of the summer party scene. Sadly a summer gathering hasn't much changed since our parents' days here in suburbia. It's time to liven things up, with drinks and with foods.
As anyone with a backyard will tell you, a backyard barbecue starts off with beer and soda in big iced filled buckets.This is OK, but change it up a bit with IPA beers. The IPA stands for India pale ale - it was a light,hoppy ale that was first exported to India in the mid 1800's. Today it's a perfect accompaniment to any grilled food, be it beef, chicken or fish. Another good beer is a dark porter. Although this may seem like a drink perfect with a London Broil on a winter's day, this is surprisingly great with hamburgers and T-bones. You could easily serve beer, but make it a true German one such as Paulaner Oktoberfest marzan. A different spin is a shandy -a mix of lemonade and beer. It's combining lemon juice, a pinch of sugar and one bottle of beer. Some recipes add seltzer for kick. You could also go with the Italian sparkling lemonade such as San Pellegrino's and serve it virgin for the kids, a naughty shot of vodka for the adults. Also try this with San Pellegrino's other flavors such as blood orange, lime and grapefruit. Sangria is fun accompaniment for any party. Like the lemonade, it can be made either alcoholic for the grown ups and non alcoholic for the little ones.
Every great barbecue starts off with hamburgers. What else would go with those pale ales and shandys? Go super lux with filet mignon burgers ! These can be made two ways. First you can grind the meat if you have a meat grinder attachment for your mixer or even easier, cut into small pieces and grind in your food chopper. Do this in small batches for a nicely even texture. The second way is just cutting the meat the size of the hamburger buns. You can add a fancy mushroom sauce or pop them on toasted brioche buns for more glamor. If you want simple then stick with hot dogs but make them fun.Have a fixings bar where guests can add sauteed onions ,sauerkraut, chili and guacamole. Have veggie dogs too for vegan guests.The sides need to be taken up a notch too. Try a Sicilian potato salad that's made light by subbing in mayo with olive oil. If you still prefer the traditional, add crumbled bacon on top then. Cole slaw can go exotic with nixing the mayonnaise , subbing in olive oil and soy sauce. A teaspoon of freshly grated ginger gives it zing. End the evening with a lusher kind of s'mores. Sub in chocolate graham crackers for the plain kind, and use Valrhona chocolate instead of Hershey's .
Throw a summer party that' s going to be talked about up until the fall and winter. Update classic recipes. Make plain dishes rich and lux. It's easy to redo a summer party menu.