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Farewell to Summer With Outdoor Supper

Easy grilled pizza (the appetizer) and Cornish hens

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  • Whether you need them or not, grill four pizzas at a time. Leftovers make a wonderful meatless lunch. To reheat, pop in the microwave to take off the chill and then warm them in a 300-degree (toaster) oven to re-crisp.
  •  Keep it simple. Don't make sauce or prepare toppings. Rather, spread them with flavored ricotta, and top with roasted or fried peppers and olives (both of which you'll find in the grocery store's Italian aisle.

While everyone nibbles pizza, crank up the heat again and lay on the Cornish hens. Butterflied, they cook more quickly and evenly. Once the hens have browned — 4 to 5 minutes per side should do it — dial back the heat and brush with reduced balsamic vinegar, a quick way to impressively flavor and color the birds.

If the birds are big and appetites are small, consider a half hen per person. Or grill one for each with leftovers to enjoy the next day.

You have your choice of side dishes — what doesn't go with chicken! Grill veggies during the high-heat phase in the open spaces. With all the grilling, you may prefer to cook vegetables indoors while the birds finish up over low heat. Green beans, broccoli, steam-sautéed spinach, corn and cherry tomatoes all work well.

Dessert is utterly simple. Sugar sliced end-of-season peaches served with a dollop of light sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of candied pecans or walnuts (which you'll likely find in the produce section).

Dine al fresco and enjoy the last of the warm weather. Since the days are getting shorter you might need a few candles, and you probably ought to grab a light sweater. Chilly nights are back.

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