Hoping to turn your garden into the hottest ticket in town? You’ll need more than a neatly manicured lawn. From gourmet barbecue ideas to the very best outdoor cooking equipment (pizza en plein air, anyone?), here’s a checklist for everything you need for a fabulous season of alfresco entertaining.
Whether it’s a simple or elaborate menu, cooking outside over an open flame keeps everybody happy – including you. As the host, the last place you want to be is manning the stove indoors.
Option 1: Fire Up the Grill
When the sun shines – and even when it doesn’t – there’s nothing Brits love more than a summer BBQ. Forget blackened sausages and dried-out burgers, though. Today’s gourmet grillers are serving the likes of coal-roasted aubergine dips and low-and-slow oak-smoked Texas beef brisket.
To do so, they’ve invested in the best BBQs of 2023. They’ve searched for precise temperature control, ample space for two-zone grilling, customisable grill plates, extra storage, additional accessories, and they’ve (most likely) landed on a Big Green Egg (available in-store) or a Weber barbecue.
Why? Because they’re durable, easy to clean and make for effortless cooking. Whether you pick a charcoal, gas or wood-fired model will depend on your needs (ask our in-store experts for help). For garden parties and large family gatherings, however, we recommend Weber’s Genesis II EX-335 GBS Smart Gas BBQ. With smartphone connectivity that alerts you when your food is cooked, you’re free to entertain and top up drinks – including your own.
Option 2: Make It a Pizza Party
Everyone loves pizza; make a batch of classic dough (see below) ahead of time, set out a smorgasbord of gourmet toppings and invite everyone to create their dream dinner with Ooni’s Koda 16 pizza oven. Running on gas for ultimate convenience and temperature control, it reaches 500°C in 20 minutes and will stone bake a 16-inch crust to perfection in 60 seconds flat. Hot, perfectly crispy Neapolitan pizza with charred bubbles and melted, gooey cheese – coming right up!
Ooni’s Signature Pizza Dough Recipe
364ml cold water
20g fresh yeast (or 9.2g active dried yeast, or 7g instant dried yeast)
607g "00" flour, plus extra for dusting
1. Place two-thirds of the water in a large bowl. In a saucepan or microwave, bring the other third of water to boil, then add it to the cold water in the bowl. This creates the correct temperature for activating yeast. Whisk the salt and yeast into the warm water.
If mixing by hand: Place the flour in a large bowl and pour the yeast mixture into it. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Continue mixing by hand until the pizza dough comes together in a ball. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead with both hands for about 10 minutes, until it is firm and stretchy. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for around 2 hours or until doubled in size.
If using a mixer: Fit the mixer with the dough hook and place the flour in the mixer bowl. Turn the machine on at a low speed and gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour. Once combined, leave the dough to keep mixing to at the same speed for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is firm and stretchy. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for around 2 hours or until doubled in size.
2. When the dough has roughly doubled in size, divide it into 3 pieces. Place each piece of dough in a separate bowl or tray, cover with cling film and leave to rise for another 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
3. Kneading and stretching the dough: always start with a perfectly rounded ball of pizza dough as this helps to keep the shape of the pizza base circular during the stretching process. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and use your fingertips to press the dough into a small, flat disc. Working from the centre, push the dough outwards while spreading your fingers, making the disc slightly bigger. Pick up the pizza dough and gently pinch it all around the edge, allowing gravity to pull it downwards into a circle. Neapolitan-style pizza bases are very thin, so you should be able to see through the base when you hold it up to the light. Take care when doing this – you don’t want it to tear.
4. Once the pizza dough is fully stretched, lightly flour your pizza peel and lay the base on it. If at this point you see any small holes in the dough, gently pinch them back together. Once you’re happy with the base, add your toppings and bake in your Ooni pizza oven.
If you entertain regularly, and for your own enjoyment, it’s worth investing in a permanent outdoor living setup. If you’re serving food, ample seating and a dining table are a must. And when the mercury dips, a heater will keep the party going long into the night.
With the food, drinks and garden décor sorted, the only task that remains is selecting the perfect ensemble. Whether you’re hosting or guesting, always be the best dressed with our guides to summer occasion dressing.
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