You may remember that a few months ago I was asking about menus for a small dinner party with our minister and his wife... that particular gathering had to be postponed twice, but last night was the night. And I had no idea whatsoever what I was cooking until I went to the grocery store that morning! I was thinking 'pork' but it really depended on what was on sale, and what looked good.
Starter - basic salad mix doctored up with apple, pecans, cucumber and tomato. Served with Kraft's deluxe bottled salad dressings (low in calories and far yummier than you'd expect. Salad dressing is one of those things that I never learned to make effectively...)
- Roast chicken pieces (they had giant chickens on sale, so I carved one up, put the carcass and breasts in the freezer for another day, and just roasted the joints.)
- Roast pulled pork Cuban style, with Sonny's bbq sauce served on the side. We went to a Cuban restaurant on Friday night I had the roast pork, which would have been delicious if it wasn't salty enough to choke a horse! So since picnic shoulders were on sale I decided to have a go at making it myself. I slow-roasted the shoulder in a casserole dish with a bunch of onion, garlic and lime juice, and it came out delicious without any need to add salt at all.
- I made homemade baked beans. The baked beans were pretty simple to make - one can of pink beans and one can of small white beans both drained and rinsed to get the icky can juices off... then I added one can of no-salt tomato sauce, one can of bbq sauce (I measured into the can so I wouldn't accidentally use way too much!), one can of water, tomato paste, some spices, vinegar and brown sugar. Mixed with sauteed bacon, onion and garlic.
- And we had fresh dinner rolls from Publix bakery, and basic corn on the cob.
I put the beans and pork into the oven at 325 degrees at one o'clock, and by six they were both beautifully done. The chicken pieces joined them at four, and they were cooked at 5.30 so I took them out and warmed them up briefly before we ate. I served the meal family-style, with the meats and corn arranged on a platter, and the beans and salad on the table to accompany them.
Followed by a pause for digestion, and then dessert - Summer Berry salad with a ginger syrup, and vanilla frozen yoghurt. I had planned to make a canteloupe/grape based salad because they go wonderfully with ginger (my mother used to make it with ginger wine when I was a little girl) but the grapes were hideously expensive, and the summer berries were on sale! I did buy a canteloupe but couldn't use it - I tried to find a ripe one by making sure it was soft and sounded a little sloshy, only alas it was way almost rotten inside and it was only fit for the trash! So our salad was watermelon, sliced up strawberries, blueberries, and cherries cut in half with the pits removed, all soaked in the ginger syrup for a few hours.
And this time I remembered to put the hot water on the stove and to make coffee to go with dessert! (Last time we had guests I forgot to even offer it because we almost never drink the stuff ourselves...) All in all it was a very successful evening, and I sent our guests home with a stack of leftovers. :)
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