Make-ahead recipes and cold cocktails for warm weather entertaining

Make-ahead recipes and cold cocktails for warm weather entertaining

A friend and I recently talked about our entertaining styles in the post-vaccine world and came to the same conclusion: Long gone are the days of cooking right before guests arrive — or even serving hot food. From now on, the types of dishes we make are the kind best served at room temperature, so all the cooking can be done the night or morning prior, freeing the host from being a sweaty stress-case by the time guests arrive.

This style of entertaining is especially essential when temps are consistently warmer than in summers past. Food that can sit out in this weather and still be beautiful — no matter how long it takes guests to move to the dining table — is all I want to make right now.

Luckily, the new cookbook “Colombiana: A Rediscovery of Recipes & Rituals from the Soul of Colombia” from Mariana Velásquez is full of just those dishes. She documents the classic dishes of her native country, and it all, naturally, fits well with entertaining in warm temperatures. Velásquez also is one of the best food stylists in the country. All the food in “Colombiana” is presented beautifully to share the heat and environment through the photos, while also being approachable for a neophyte to Colombian cuisine.

A simple, tender beef roast is braised in a mixture of red wine, Cubanelle chiles and sweet, caramel-y panela then served at room temperature the next day. Cucumbers are marinated in garlic and lime juice and get better the longer they sit in the fridge. Plantains are simmered in coconut milk perfumed with clove, cinnamon and orange zest and can hang out for hours, absorbing the marinade to their core.

And for dessert, an all-in-the-blender flan-like custard made with fresh coconut and sweetened condensed milk achieves a dreamy-smooth texture after an overnight stint in the fridge.

Set out all the dishes at the same time and let guests leisurely refresh their drinks and spend a little too long chatting by the bowl of olives. You can relax knowing that dinner will be just as stunning by the time they sit down to eat.

Posta Negra Con Ensalada De Pepino Y Arroz De Coco Blanco

Velásquez uses a top blade roast, also known as top chuck roast. “The posta can be made the day prior and cooled before refrigerating. Serving this meat at room temperature works very well. Just warm up the sauce and drizzle it over the meat once you have plated the slices.”
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 4 hours.

A dish of braised beef

Plátanos En Tentación

The spices and orange in the coconut milk infuse into ripe plantains in this simple side dish. Make it ahead of time, then serve it at room temperature and spoon plenty of the simmered sauce over each piece.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 35 minutes.

A variety of Colombian dishes

Postre De Coco De La Tia Lilita

This flan is best made the day before so it can be completely chilled when it comes time to slice it. The caramel and batter can be divided into 8 custard cups for a more refined presentation, if you’d like.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours.

A coconut custard dish

Dirty G.L.T.

This spin on a classic gin & tonic adds Lillet to the mix and is the perfect cocktail to serve with Velásquez’s menu. If you can’t find Lillet, a blanc vermouth or Cocchi Americano are excellent substitutes. Look for Castelvetrano olives at your grocery store’s olive bar or from high-end gourmet markets.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 5 minutes.

Dirty G.L.T., a riff on the classic gin and tonic cocktail

(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)

Brandy au Cassis

Another chilled cocktail to pair with Velásquez’s menu, this one makes a large enough batch for 4 to 6 guests. Make it up to a week in advance and keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 5 minutes.

The chilled cocktail Brandy au Cassis

(Shelby Moore/For The Times)