Enjoying the Summer Sports

There’s plenty of exciting things happening this summer to suit all interests and keep us entertained, whether you’re a long-standing fan or you just like to tune in to the big events each year. With both Wimbledon and the European Championships currently taking place, we’re practically spoilt for choice when it comes to seasonal sports, and how we can enjoy watching them.

It’s not truly summer until Wimbledon begins. A long-established icon of our country’s heritage, the only thing more quintessentially British than watching the tennis is tucking in to the traditional refreshments alongside it. Even if we can’t be there in-person, we can all still feel like we’re a part of the Wimbledon mania by enjoying those classic favourites such as strawberries and cream, an iced pitcher of Pimm’s and a spot of afternoon tea. Make it a properly authentic experience by serving your snacks alfresco to make the most of the sunny days.

Find the perfect spot on your lawn or patio and set the scene with a cosy bistro table and chairs. Add some seat pads for some extra comfort and dress the table with some summery linen, then bring out some beautiful coloured glassware and crockery to present your tasty treats and refreshing drinks in style. A vase of freshly cut flowers straight from your garden’s finest will give everything that perfect finishing touch.

If you fancy making a day of it, why not pack up a hamper, take along a blanket and a couple of cushions to enjoy a Wimbledon themed picnic in the park?  A great way for kids and adults alike to join in the fun together, you can even play a bit of tennis yourselves to work up an appetite. To give you a little inspiration when it comes to the food, we’ve even included a quick, simple, yet utterly delicious summer recipe at the end of this blog!

For those of you who aren’t really tennis fans, or else if you love to keep on top of all the sporting events, the Euro quarter-finals are also in full swing. The fact that England is still a contender is definitely something to celebrate, but the other matches are all worth a watch, too. The football championships are always a great excuse to have friends over. Why not decorate with some England flags and bunting and settle down with some of your favourite beers – served perfectly chilled in one of our stylish bottle buckets, of course. The only thing left is some tasty snacks to enjoy as you watch, and we have another tempting recipe below that will please everyone!

In the run-up to the match, you can while the hours away in style relaxing together on one of our comfy garden furniture sets – and you can even retire back outdoors in the evening once the game is over. Simply add some ambient lanterns and crack open some more drinks to debrief and talk the finer points of the football over with your friends – bliss.

Wimbledon Strawberry Pavlova

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 300ml (½ pint) whipping or pouring double cream, whipped
  • About 350g (12oz) strawberries, halved or sliced

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/gas 3. Lay a sheet of non-stick baking parchment on a baking sheet and mark a 23cm (9in) circle on it.
  • Put the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk until stiff and cloud-like. Add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has been added. Blend the cornflour and vinegar together and whisk into the meringue mixture.
  • Spread the meringue out to cover the circle on the non-stick baking parchment, building up the sides so they are higher than the middle.
  • Place in the oven but immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas 2. Bake for about 1 hour until firm to the touch and a pale beige colour.
  • Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to become quite cold while still in the oven. If you keep the oven door closed you will encourage a more marshmallowy meringue.
  • Remove the cold Pavlova from the baking sheet and parchment and slide onto a serving plate. Top with the whipped cream and strawberries, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Big Match Mac & Cheese Bites

Ingredients:

  • 25g butter, plus extra for the tin
  • 25g plain flour
  • 400ml milk
  • 200g macaroni or other short pasta
  • 200g mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g baby button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • 20g dried breadcrumbs
  • 8 black olives pitted and sliced
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 100g grated mozzarella or cheddar

Method:

  • To make the toppings, heat half the oil in a frying pan over a high heat, and cook the mushrooms for 10 mins until golden. Stir in half the garlic and the parsley, and fry for 1 min more. Season and scrape into a bowl. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and fry the remaining garlic and the breadcrumbs for 3-5 mins, stirring until crisp. Scrape into a second bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually add the milk, a splash at a time, whisking until it’s all incorporated. Cook for 2-3 mins more until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling salted water for 5-6 mins. Stir the cheddar into the white sauce until all the cheese has melted, then fold in the macaroni.
  • Butter a 12-hole muffin tin and divide the mac ‘n’ cheese between the holes, packing it in with the back of a spoon. Top with the mushroom mixture, olives or sundried tomato slices, then scatter over the grated cheese and garlic breadcrumbs. Will keep, covered in the fridge, for up to 24 hrs.
  • Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake for 15 mins until golden and piping hot. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins in the tin, then loosen by running a spoon around the edges. Transfer to a plate.