A consummate hostess, Vera Stewart shares her tips for warm-weather entertaining—plus a few favorite recipes from her new cookbook, “The VeryVera Cookbook: Occasions.”
Be Flexible: The backyard offers countless possibilities for fun presentations, weather permitting—but “always have a Plan B in your pocket,” in case it gets a little too warm or a storm rolls in.
Bugs and Bright Lights: “Think about these two things when entertaining outside: lighting and insects.” Uplighting supplies the prior without attracting the latter, but also consider spraying the yard with bug spray beforehand or using nicely scented citronella candles.
Mind the Temperature: Keep cold items cold, especially when they include ingredients such as sour cream or mayo. You can make this creative and fun: For example, place your slaw or potato salad in a large bowl with a freezer bottle at the bottom, covered by a layer of cabbage leaves. “No one will know that you are protecting the salad, but they will be intrigued with your presentation.”
Simplify Your Servingware: When entertaining outside, consider using paper products. Stewart recommends Hester and Cook, which has “so many festive designs and accessories” that are sure to match your linens and centerpieces.
Play With Color: Choose colorful food and tableware that you think would be “unique for the occasion and impressive to your guests.” Stewart sometimes likes to shake things up and choose the containers first, then plan the menu to match—“it makes menu-planning fun.”
RECIPE: Southern Chopped Salad
RECIPE: Gouda Crescents
RECIPE: Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies