Ricky Eisen's Summer Barbecue Party Tips Slideshow
July 26, 2013
Go-To Simple Party Dishes
Ricky advises that when planning a summer party menu, you can't go wrong with fresh, seasonal produce.
For drinks, summer party-goers can't resist a cold martini — Ricky suggests combining hibiscus tea, vodka, and lime juice for a fresh and zesty take on a classic, just unique enough to be enthusing, but not too intimidating for guests.
For appetizers, Ricky focuses on fresh vegetables — pairing fresh heirloom tomatoes and/or cucumbers with herbs and light dressings and vinaigrettes. She also suggests making one-ingredient grated Parmesan crackers made simply by melting grated cheese in a pan and allowing it to crisp into a delicious cracker.
For stress-free desserts, Ricky also focuses on fresh summer fruits such as apricots or nectarines. You can't go wrong with chocolate-dipped or grilled fruit with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Find Budget-Friendly Decor Inspiration from Nature
For charming yet budget-friendly party decor, Ricky advocates going with nature — it's free! Get creative using leaves (especially as they change colors as we progress into the fall months), rocks, flowers, shells, etc. Just take a look in your backyard for inspiration!
Also, Ricky suggest to not just go with one centerpiece — She has won design awards by using many colors for a fun eclectic vibe, connected by one main color being brought out by all of the pieces.
Finally, Ricky suggests rummaging through craft stores — use items in ways other than their original intention, such as ropes and vases. The possibilities are endless.
Cater to Special Diets with Ease
While some diet demands are mandatory, such as when someone has celiac disease or is diabetic, you can’t expect to cater to every diet, from vegan to paleo, or else you’ll become overwhelmed.
Ricky advises that if you focus on fresh vegetables, you won’t have to worry. Add in vegan-friendly foods that everyone loves, such as nuts and legumes. Bean salads or fresh vegetables paired with sliced nuts, for example, are versatile and universally liked by all.
Consider Alternative Grilling Techniques
Especially if you’re just beginning your party-hosting career, taking on the grill can be both unpredictable and intimidating. Yet by grilling on the stove top with just olive oil and sea salt, you can achieve the same effect of grilling with more control and comfort. Ricky suggests then only grilling on a stovetop grill until marks form, then finished cooking in the oven. This shifts the primary heat source from below to being completely surrounded, allowing the meat to cook through thoroughly with less chance of overcooking.
Make-Ahead Dessert Tips
While Ricky is not the biggest fan of ice cream cakes which can melt quickly in the summer heat, she prefers an elegant semifreddo and fresh fruits, along with macerated berries with cream that can be prepared the night before and just left in the fridge until treat time.
Consistent Guest-Pleasing Sandwiches
Eisen’s insanely successful event planning and catering company Between the Bread began as a sandwich shop in Manhattan in 1979, and Ricky revealed two sandwiches that have been adored by customers for decades and outstood the test of time.
The Filet Mignon sandwich with watercress and tarragon mustard on French bread is an extravagant bite made casual placed between to slices of bread.
Also the Curry Tuna sandwich, consisting of curry powder, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, grapefruit juice (who knew?!), raisins, and walnuts in a Tuscan pocket has been in high demand for years. Lacking an idea for a casual bite for your guests? Try one of these sandwiches, which are proven party pleasers.
To Potluck or Not to Potluck?
Are you considering having a potluck style party, but concerned about whether it could turn out to be a menu disaster? Ricky advises, “You have to know your guests very well — who has great taste in wine, who makes a great salad, etc.”
It’s often easier to just create the menu yourself so you don’t end up with 10 appetizers and an unbalanced menu. If you’re going to have guests bring their own food, delegate clearly beforehand who will bring what.
How Many Guests to Invite
The number of guests you welcome into your home depends on how large your home or venue is. Look around and take note of the space, number of chairs, etc. Ask yourself, “How many guests will feel comfortable here?” Count carefully, and go with that number.