Planning a dinner party in advance (even just mentally) makes the end of your week as relaxing as it should be. Carve out this warm weather meal ahead and all you'll have to worry about is where to market and whom to invite.
• Make the ginger syrup for the cocktails and store in the fridge.
• Feel free to do the same with the sweet and spicy sauce for the calamari and dressing(s). Hint: the asparagus and the lamb salad have very similar dressings -- feel free to pick your favorite and double it.
• Get the sherbet together and in the freezer -- all you have to do on party day is scoop.
Things to do the day of:
• To the market!
• Start early enough to marinate the lamb for 3-4 hours. Trim and blanch the asparagus, set aside. Slice calamari into rings and let them swim in a bowl of club soda. Thinly slice the Meyer lemon (regular lemon is fine too -- it will just have more pucker) and set aside.
• Mix up those Pimm-spiked ginger cocktails and pour yourself one. Dredge and fry the calamari as your hungry guests are arriving, serve with that spicy dipping sauce. Get the lamb on the grill (or under the broiler). Fry up the lemon slices (you can use the oil from frying the calamari) and dress the aparagus and salad for the lamb.
• Cheers! Serve up.
With a little labor knocked out in advance, you will, no doubt, enjoy your own dinner. It shouldn't be hard to be festive -- you just need a plan!