Summer's in full swing here in Boston.
Bryan and I have a real special treat this week. Bryan's parents are visiting Boston (all the way from sunny California). As a result, we've been enjoying some great eats around Boston with them, with plans to show them other favorites we think they would like.
This past weekend, we kicked off the festivities by hosting a dinner party at our house. We invited all of the local relatives. It was awesome - we'd never had all of them under our roof before (frankly, in the old tiny urban condo, it would have been kind of difficult to fit so many people).
We whipped out the grill and took full advantage of the warm summer nights.
Yes, we set off the fire alarm twice, but we had a fantastic time enjoying lots and lots of grilled food as well as several homemade salads.
And how best to prep to entertain so many people with only a few hours to prepare?
1) Buy quality ingredients
2) Call Mom
3) Go back to the basics - make what you know!
I was lucky - I had happened to visit the North End less than a week ago with Bryan (patronizing one of our favorite casual pasta restaurants) and had picked up some gorgeous locally-made salumi and imported Italian cheese from Monica's Salumeria (down the street from one of their restaurants, Monica's Trattoria).
We paired these beauties with some marinated mozzarella we had bought at Costco (a great place to buy food when entertaining large parties), as well as Castelvetrano whole green olives from Mezzetta and jalapeno stuffed olives from Saucy Mama (both of which I had received in the past through the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program).
2. Call Mom
My mom makes the most amazing grilled corn. It's based off of a popular Taiwanese street version of the dish. Even though my mom was grocery shopping when I called her in desperation (about three hour before my guests were to arrive), she patiently explained to me, step-by-step, exactly how to make this mouthwatering dish.
It turned out amazing (thanks to Bryan's dad's help in grilling it!). I can't wait to share it with you in a future
(soon!) blog post (update! Recipe for Taiwanese Grilled Corn!).
3. Go Back to the Basics - Make What You Know
Caprese salad is easy to assemble, beautiful to look at, and always popular. I've made it a million times, so it was a no-brainer for me to decide to put this on the menu. I like to keep the sizes of the tomatoes and the cheese relatively similar, so depending on how big your cheese is, you can choose the appropriate tomatoes to match.
In this case, I bought the smaller cocktail tomatoes and marinated mozzarella balls from Costco. Chop the tomatoes into fourths and the mozzarella balls in half, and just toss them together. Frankly, if your tomatoes are really sweet, you don't need to add much else. To tie the whole thing together, I threw on some basil leaves from my mini-basil plant.
Similarly, I've made this Corn, Avocado, and Pepper Salad several times in the past as well. This is one of those dishes where you think "a salad with all these ingredients is bound to taste pretty good." I love this salad because it's easy to make, super colorful, healthy, and is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
I'm a huge fan of Copper River salmon, and I was thrilled to find entire half fillets at Costco last week. We just simply grilled the entire filet on the grill, skin-side down, until the skin was gorgeously crispy. It presents beautifully as a full filet, and honestly, it doesn't need much else. The fish is so good that just a simple dash of salt is sufficient.
We (or I should say, Bryan and his dad), grilled an entire rack of St. Louis-style chili-rubbed ribs (pre-marinated), slowly cooked on the grill for about 25 minutes.
Although not pictured, we also grilled some prime ribeye steaks, something Bryan and I probably have at home on a monthly basis. Again, something familiar that we could execute quickly if needed.
We had another special treat for dessert. As part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program, I had the opportunity to sample Skinny Cow Slimited Edition lowfat ice cream products. Skinny Cow is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the movie Dirty Dancing by hosting a bunch of events, including movie screenings across the US and contests with various prizes (check out their facebook page for more details).
For fun, Skinny Cow sent us a copy of the Dirty Dancing DVD, which we watched at the dinner party with my relatives.
While cleaning up after the party, we listened to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I had forgotten how many top forty hits came out of that one movie. I found myself humming along, still remembering the words to a lot of those songs. Man, I can't believe it's been 25 years.
It was a fantastic evening spent relaxing with friends and family. For years (all throughout college and beyond), Bryan and I have been the ones going to our parent's and aunt & uncle's houses and having them cook loads and loads of food for us.
It was nice to finally be able to host them for a change.
Here's to many, many more family gatherings over lots and lots of great food.
As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a stipend, DVD, and coupons for free Skinny Cow® product. I also received the olives for free from the respective companies.
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