Perfect mix lets you enjoy time out with friends.

It's the perfect time of year for entertaining and, for a break from the barbecue, there is nothing I love more than a decent platter in place of a main meal.

It means you can graze for a couple of hours without stress. A bit of forward planning and buying can make for a relaxing and delicious evening.

I have a few tips for constructing the perfect platter. I like a mixture of textures, flavours, and plenty of colour. A mixture of crackers, bread and fresh vegetables for dipping is great, and a couple of home-made dips mixed with store-bought ones work well too.

A few olives, half an avocado, a piece of smoked salmon, fresh berries, home-made sauerkraut, hummus and some cheese, with something tangy like a relish or pickle, and then fresh herbs for garnish, make a great start.

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These three recipes work well as part of a platter, or on their own for a little something to go with a drink in the sun. The smoked fish spread also makes an excellent topping for toast the next day. Enjoy.

Smoked fish spread

250g smoked white fish, flaked
250g cream cheese
2 gherkins, finely chopped
Small handful fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
Flaky sea salt and black cracked pepper
Juice of half a lemon, plus lemon wedges to garnish
Small pinch chilli flakes or half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well with a tablespoon to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Garnish with extra dill and lemon wedges.

Serve with thin slices of grainy toast or crackers.

Soft goat cheese dip

Soft goat cheese dip. Photo / Doug Sherring
Soft goat cheese dip. Photo / Doug Sherring

g soft goat cheese
3 Tbsp thick natural yoghurt
Juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt
Small pinch cayenne pepper, to garnish
Optional: soft fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Add fresh herbs if you wish.

Serve with fresh, crunchy vegetables (radishes are great) and crackers or flatbread.

Honey and thyme walnuts

This is one of my most simple but most impressive recipes and has been a hit on my blog, delaneymes.com, for a while. The walnuts are a great addition to a cheeseboard or platter, and people are always asking for the recipe.

Honey and thyme walnuts. Photo / Doug Sherring
Honey and thyme walnuts. Photo / Doug Sherring

1 cup (roughly) fresh walnut halves
1 very generous pinch flaky sea salt
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Tbsp clear, runny honey

Preheat oven to about 180C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and scatter over the walnuts.

Sprinkle over the sea salt. Pull some of the thyme leaves from the stalks and scatter over the walnuts. Add the other stalks whole among the walnuts.

Roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, being very careful not to burn them.

Remove the tray from the oven, and while the walnuts are still hot, drizzle over the honey.

Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. They will keep in an airtight container for about a week.