Gather your family around the welcoming farmhouse kitchen table to enjoy a tasty meal and plenty of love and laughter. Any time of the year is ideal but the summer sun and heat fading in late summer, have one last soiree before the grey of winter. Within a short few months, the next time you gather to celebrate life and all its opportunities, it will be the festive season…
Simple, yet Elegant
There is a saying that we eat with our eyes first and our bellies second. And that means setting the table so that it looks appealing and welcoming. You don’t have to be cordon bleu chef or operate silver service to make the farmhouse table appealing.
- A white table cloth is the ideal blank canvas for the late-summer family gathering – compliment with brightly coloured napkins to keep the setting informal and fun.
- Don’t forget the centre piece – as it's summer, opt for blousy summer flowers and maybe a few tea light candles for when the sun starts to drop in the late evening.
- For more space around the table, replace the wooden dining chairs with a dining bench, ideal for informal dining and a cosy feel.
Plan the Menu
Any family gathering works best when there is food. Eating together is a way of not only bringing people together but cementing friendships and relationships, forging new projects and who knows, maybe healing a rift or two too - while you sit on the reclaimed furniture that holds so many memories.
Planning the late-summer menu is critical. Keep the overall food choices light, packing a punch with the occasional spiced dish. Don’t opt for too many carbohydrates, as these can be cloying in warmer weather and in many ways, reminiscent of the festive season.
Chicken Stir Fry with Orange
You will need:
- 2 tbsps. sunflower oil
- 4 boneless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 180ml fresh orange juice (no bits!)
- 2 tbsps. soy sauce
- 1 level tbsp. cornflour
- 100g peas – thawed if frozen
- 50g cashew nuts
Heating the oil in a heavy-based frying pan, season the chicken strips with salt and pepper and add to the frying pan. Keep stirring until the chicken is cooked. Meanwhile, mix the orange juice, soy sauce, and cornflour in a small bowl. Add to the cooked chicken in the pan along with the peas. Keep frying until thickened, about three or four minutes. Serve garnished with herbs along with rice, noodled or fajitas.
For dessert try this light, delicious pie.
Rhubarb and Custard Pie
For the pie crust, you will need;
- 125g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 55g cold butter, cut into cubes
- 30 to 45ml cold water
Combine the flour, salt and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs – you can do this by hand or in a mixture. Add the cold water, a little at a time until it forms a dough that is not too dry nor sticky. Don’t over handle the pastry.
Knead lightly and the roll out so it covers the base and side of a 7inch pie dish. Lay on the dish and push into shape. Using a layer of greaseproof paper and either cooking beads or uncooked rice to weight it down, bake the pastry blind in the oven at 180° for around 10 to 15 minutes.
For the rhubarb custard filling, you will need:
- 540g tin rhubarb in syrup, drained
- 180g granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Nutmeg to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. milk
- 25g butter
In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together until combined and then add to the rhubarb mixture, stirring thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case after removing the baking beans or rice. Use the butter to dot around the surface. Place the pie back in the oven, baking for 30 minutes or until the custard is set. Serve in slices with a generous dollop of cream or ice cream.