A recent survey found that 26% of us enjoy a BBQ during the winter, a figure which may surprise those of you who tuck your garden furniture and BBQ away as soon as the leaves start to tumble from the trees. But in reality, an Indian summer can mean plenty of warm autumn days that are just perfect for enjoying your garden and for those who love a crisp winter walk – is it that great a leap to trying some outdoor cooking and being outside for a little longer?

Plan, prepare and then plan a little more

As often discussed in our blog articles, the easiest way to enjoy those days is to be well prepared and properly equipped so that you can be spontaneous, and an outdoor kitchen provides you with ability to get going quickly with minimum fuss.

If you are planning to dine outside, then sourcing some woollen blankets and arranging some well-placed heating, or example a firepit or chimenea, can provide you with the extra warmth needed to ensure a comfortable experience. Alternatively, you can create that authentic BBQ flavour outside whilst enjoying a warming drink and some fresh air, before heading indoors to enjoy the food.

Here in the United Kingdom is it always wise to consider the weather when planning outdoor entertaining. A garden pavilion or other permanent structure will mean you can enjoy outdoor cooking when the rain comes, regardless of the time of year. If your cover extends over the dining area too then you are even better equipped to enjoy more time in your outdoor kitchen as your guests will be able to sit and chatter with you.

Choosing your menu to please everyone

Bonfire night is a wonderful opportunity to gather friends and family to enjoy the spectacle of the fireworks together, while you craft some culinary delights to keep everyone warm and well-fed. If it’s a particularly chilly time of year then bear in mind people might want to wear scarves and gloves, so will need plates and forks to enjoy any food that might otherwise be tricky to handle. Cashmere gloves do not mix well with sauces!

Loaded jacket potatoes are simple and popular, and with a range of fillings they make a simple base easy to modify for a variety of tastes. Pizzas have the same broad appeal, easily tweaked for a variety of tastes. Hot dogs are a bonfire night classic and s’mores will delight the younger members of the party or those with a sweet tooth. If you want to take the culinary creativity up a notch then a well-equipped outdoor kitchen means you could create anything you can possibly dream of, from a roasted leg of lamb to a lobster thermidor…

Seasonal drinks to get the party going

There are plenty of hot cocktails to choose such as Pimms Winter Cup or a mulled cider and rum punch. If you are willing to mix individual drinks then the choice available to you is vast, such as espresso martinis to give you an extra kick, but a pre-mixed option will make life easier for the hosts. Handling a drink, a plate and a fork can be tricky unless people have somewhere to perch or place their drinks, so a handy alternative could be kebabs such as lamb and vegetable, keeping hands clean without the cutlery.

Get outside and enjoy it!

It doesn’t matter whether you are planning just a small dinner with the children or bringing together a group of friends to watch your fireworks, planning warmth, shelter coupled with good food and drink will make for an atmospheric and indulgent evening outdoors.