NEW YORK — Summer is a splendid time to serve meals based on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sue Smith, home economist for Black & Decker Household Products, said cold soups are easy and refreshing for lunches or dinners.
Fruit soups can include peach, blueberry, raspberry or plum, and minted cantaloupe and honeydew soup can be served for dessert. You can also serve individual mousse or sherbets in hollowed-out lemon or orange peels.
Best of the Offerings
Choose from the best of the offerings. Some examples: stuffed tomatoes, gazpacho with fresh melon, plum sorbet, peach mousse and cherry flan.
Use garden herbs everywhere--in cooking, on the grill and to garnish food and beverages as decorations. Try different combinations--peaches poached in syrup with basil, for example.
Cover bowls of fresh vegetables or fruit with a damp towel until the last minute--then mist with water every 30 minutes to keep foods fresh.
Keep plenty of beverages on ice in washtubs, coolers or a wheelbarrow. Serve beverages in colored acrylic glasses with crushed ice. Inexpensive wicker trays will make lap dining more comfortable.
Dining by Candlelight
Use candles when entertaining in the evening. You can also hang small lanterns or string small white lights from low tree branches.
Smith said formal flowers don't last well in the heat, and she suggests using flowers from the garden or potted plants.
Malabar Hornblower, author of "Do-Ahead Dining" (Globe Pequot Press) uses platters of fresh fruits or vegetables for dramatic centerpieces.
She suggests fat bunches of fresh herbs, a mix of lavender and rosemary, sage and basil, with trailing tendrils of tarragon.
"Not only are these bouquets beautiful to behold, their scent is subtle and intriguing," she said.