It’s the season for fresh air, great food, and good friends, so pull up a chair, fire-up the barbecue, and pop the cork on alfresco entertaining with food writer, stylist and Sunday Times columnist Rosie Birkett, as she shares her tips for the ultimate summertime spread - plus a rather delicious seafood platter recipe to elevate your barbecuing repertoire immeasurably.
It’s the season for fresh air, great food, and good friends, so pull up a chair, fire-up the barbecue, and pop the cork on alfresco entertaining with food writer, stylist and Sunday Times columnist Rosie Birkett, as she shares her tips for the ultimate summertime spread - plus a rather delicious seafood platter recipe to elevate your barbecuing repertoire immeasurably.
Explore our Alfresco Entertaining edit
It now really feels like summer is edging that little bit closer, and while I’m not one to rush through the seasons, I’m already getting excited about those balmy days and nights, and the prospect of small outdoor gatherings with free-flowing jugs of cocktails, chilled bottles of wine, and sharing delicious food with equally delicious laughter as we all enjoy those much-needed catch-ups. At the moment, having a barbecue outside with my immediate family is the next best thing, and it’s been incredibly fun to team up with Fenwick to create a beautiful outdoor table set up and recipe that I hope will come in useful for your own family and, when possible, social plans as we start to spend more time outside. Seafood is always such a treat, and having moved to the coast after years of dreaming about it, I’m paying my excellent local fishmonger regular visits. The recipe below is a celebratory barbecued seafood platter, mixing up sweet scallops, langoustines and squid, all cooked over coal on the [Weber Kettle Barbeque]( elevated by the addictively-good tarragon and charred chilli butter - which had us all fighting over the bowl when we shared it. The whole lot is served with smoky new potatoes and caramelised fennel, whose anise is nicely mirrored by the tarragon butter. We drank Fenwick Sparkling English Wine, a balanced, sprightly blend of pinot noir, pinot Meunier and chardonnay, and ate with a simple green salad, peppery radishes (also great for dipping in the butter) and crusty bread for mopping-up. You can find the full recipe below.
Creating a beautiful, magical ambiance is a way of really making the most of these precious meals we share together outside, and it’s always nice to make a bit of an effort. I've admired [Bordallo Pinheiro’s Ceramics]( since I first came across them on a work trip to Lisbon, and I absolutely love the quality of the pieces and the fact they’re inspired by ingredients. The [cabbage plates]( are iconic and pairing them with the small [cabbage bowls]( which we used as finger bowls for the seafood was really effective. The [watermelon platter]( and [salad bowl]( are both big and striking, which make them ideal vessels for entertaining, and pair perfectly with the [Nordal Black Salad Servers]( and [cutlery]( I also used the beautiful [pea pod platter]( and cabbage dish for the radishes and bread. The [cabbage creamer jug]( was perfect filled with soft spring flowers - I opted for tulips and white ranunculus - the perfect complement to my stunning [floral silk dress by See By Chloe](
For glassware, I dressed the table with pretty pink [Fleur De Lys Tumblers]( for water, with [Nude Tulip Champagne Glasses]( for the fizz, and elegant [Borough White Wine Glasses]( whose stems are incredibly delicate. I filled the gold-rimmed [Chloe Glass Jug]( with water and fresh mint, but I’ve got my eye on this next time for cocktails. I’ve shared some more hints and tips below on how to create a perfect alfresco setting: 1. Use [throws]( and [cushions]( to soften the hard edges of garden furniture and create comfort and potential warmth in case the weather turns. 2. Invest in a [lantern]( for soft lighting as the evening progresses. 3. [Woven baskets]( add texture and are really useful for storing extra cushions and blankets in case people want to lounge or spread out in the garden.
###### **Barbecued Seafood Platter with Smoky New Potatoes and a Charred Chilli, Lemon & Tarragon Butter**
###### **Serves 4-6** ###### **Ingredients:** 400g squid 2 garlic cloves, crushed Juice of half a lemon White pepper Sea salt A dash of Worcester sauce 8 scallops on the half shell 8 raw langoustines (fine to use frozen, just make sure they’re fully defrosted) Two handfuls of samphire, to serve ###### **Smoky new potatoes and fennel:** 1 bay leaf A slice of lemon 1 fennel bulb, hard core removed and cut into wedges 400g new potatoes (preferably Jersey Royals) ###### **For the charred chilli, lemon and tarragon butter:** ½ shallot, finely chopped and soaked in lemon 1 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp tarragon leaves, picked 1 garlic clove, grated 120g softened salted butter 2 tbsp rapeseed oil 1 red chilli ½ lemon
Start by preparing your seafood. Prep your cleaned squid by cutting the body open, wiping out any goop with kitchen roll, and lightly scoring the underside in the crosshatch, then cutting it into rectangles. Cut the tentacles in half. Put in a bowl with two crushed cloves of garlic and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, season with salt, white pepper and a splash of Worcester sauce, and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour. Split your langoustines down the middle with a sharp knife and remove any gunk and the digestive tract with some kitchen roll. Season with sea salt. Give your scallops a clean with some damp kitchen roll to remove any grit and season with sea salt and white pepper. Keep all the seafood in the fridge until you’re about thirty minutes off cooking it. Poach your potatoes and fennel. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the bay leaf and lemon. Poach the fennel for four minutes, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the potatoes to the water and boil for 10-12 minutes, until tender when a knife is inserted. Remove to a plate and allow to cool. To make the butter, find an ovenproof bowl and slide in the shallots. Pour over the lemon juice and season with sea salt. Meanwhile finely chop your tarragon and grate the garlic and add those in. Scoop in the butter and pour over the oil, smooshing it all together until well combined.
Take your seafood out of the fridge to come up to room temperature while you light your barbecue and, once lit, bank the coals on one side, allowing them to cook down until glowing white - about twenty minutes. Heat your oven to 50 degrees, and place the butter bowl on the bottom shelf, to melt. Put your potatoes and fennel into a foil or enamel tray and coat with a little rapeseed oil, then place on the barbecue grate and cook, turning with tongs, until caramelised. At the same time, char your chilli until blackened in places and soft. To infuse everything with an extra hit of smoke flavour, you can throw in some soaked wood chips (I like applewood) on top of the coals and pull the lid down for five minutes. Remove and finely chop the chilli, seeds and all, then stir into the melted butter. Remove the potato tray and brush with some of the butter, then keep warm in the oven while you cook your seafood. Arrange the samphire on your serving platter in anticipation. Put your lemon cut-side down on the grate, at the edge of the coals and arrange the langoustines and scallops on the grate over the coals, shell side down, and cook, brushing and basting repeatedly with the butter, until the flesh is opaque and cooked through - about four to five minutes. Remove them to a warm plate or push to the edge of the barbecue away from the coals while you cook your squid. Barbecue the squid on the grate for four to five minutes, until curled, charred in spots and cooked through. Arrange the potatoes and fennel on the samphire and top with the seafood. Give everything a bit more butter and squeeze over the caramelised lemon, then serve on the table for everyone to help themselves. I love to serve this with hunks of crusty bread and the extra butter, for dipping.
For more of Rosie's delicious recipes, find her [@RosieFoodie]( on Instagram.