We’ve had friends with us for the last few days, and we’ve had a ton of fun lounging on the beach, visiting sites on the Cape, and best of all, gathering around the table to raise a glass and enjoy some great food.

The gang arrived the first night at around 5:30 pm, and after nine hours in the car were ready to stretch their legs, get their bearings, and then settle down for a drink and a nosh.

The key to relaxed, enjoyable entertaining is simple meals, planned well in advance.  Know what you’re going to serve when and do as much as possible ahead of time, so when your guests arrive, you can offer them a warm welcome, confident that the kitchen is under control.

In talking with friends, I’ve noticed that what seems to throw people the most is the planning and timing, so here is what we served, and what was involved backstage. Don’t think you have to make everything yourself from first principles.  It’s perfectly fine to serve a combination of homemade and high quality prepared foods. Cook what you’re comfortable doing, and fill in with others’ expertise for the rest.

Appetizer:  White Bean and Shrimp Salad

Main:  Green Beans with Chevre and Toasted Walnuts

Beef Tenderloin on BBQ

Potato Salad (purchased)

Dessert:    Lemon Bars, Brownies and Coconut Macaroons (purchased)


Prepared that afternoon prior to their arrival:

  • White Bean Salad – Cooked, peeled and chilled the shrimp, then prepared the dressing, rinsed the white beans, tossed everything together except the tomatoes so the flavours could meld. Held the tomatoes to one side to add at the last minute.  Washed the Boston lettuce, wrapped in paper towel, and put in fridge.
  • Cleaned the green beans, toasted the walnuts, and shredded the chevre into small chunks ready for the green beans.
  • Set the table

When the guests arrived, I took the beef out of the fridge so it could warm to room temperature.  Once everyone was settled with a drink, I lighted the BBQ, and as we  were sitting down to our first course, we put the beef on to cook.  It took about 25 minutes, so as we were clearing the first course, I took it off the BBQ and left if in the kitchen to rest under foil, while I quickly cooked the green beans in a half inch of boiling water in a shallow saucepan.  I then tossed the green beans with the chevre and walnuts, served the potato salad and sliced the beef.  Presto.