Iron Craft ’15 Challenge #10: E is for Entertaining

It was the holiday weekend and we did some entertaining. I wanted it to be casual, but, of course, I want to eat good food. I everything came together pretty easily, and it was met with great reviews. (I think sometimes you just need to shake out of your routine to please the crowd.) Everything here was easy, last-minute and semi-homemade. A winning combination for us.

The menu was BBQ sandwiches, watermelon salad, apple crisp for dessert, and sangria for the grown ups. (And, a pot of mac and cheese for anyone who did not like the choices served.) I served 4 adults, 2 teen boys, and a 6 year old girl.

Pulled pork BBQ sandwiches
Tony Roma’s pork (2 packages)
Hawaiian Buns (12)
Cole Slaw mix (1 bag)
Heat the meat in a skillet. (If it gets too hot on the bottom early, add about 2T of water and cover the pan.)  Take the buns out of the package and slice them in half with a bread knife. Put the lower half of the buns on a platter. Sprinkle the slaw mix across the buns. (I did this undressed as a calorie cutter. We still got the same crunch, without all the extra dressing.) Then spoon the pork onto the buns. Put the tops on the buns, then cut them apart on the platter. It is much more graceful this way. It keeps the pork from flopping about like a sloppy joe.

Thai-Inspired Watermelon Salad
I found a recipe for a Thai salad with watermelon and I shopped from that, but in the end here is what I made:

Watermelon (1 big one, seedless if you can)
Cucumber (peeled and sliced)
Fresh mint (a small handful, cut up finely)
Fresh basil (a small handful, “rough chop” as Ina likes to say)
Roasted peanuts for garnish
Limes for garnish (optional)

Citrus Champagne Vinegar (2T)
Rice Vinegar (1T)
Juice from one Orange
Juice from one Lemon

(We need to pause here and say that I was prepared to use fish sauce in this recipe, but have you ever used this? I have probably had it at a restaurant, but I have never used it at home. I made up a batch of the dressing for this salad and let it sitting on the counter. It smelled SO bad, I couldn’t use it. I would rather put NOTHING on the salad than wreck it and have to start over. We’ll never know if it would have been good (like a stinky cheese) or bad, but I could not “go there.” )



I got a mighty big melon as it turns out.
Cut the rind off the watermelon so that it will sit flat for you on the work surface. Then cut the “top” off, then work on cutting all the rind off in sections. It was like peeling a banana, only with a knife. Once the rind is off, turn the melon on it’s side, and start slicing 1 inch rounds off. Then put those rounds flat, and cut them into checkerboard squares. I tried to do small bites, so that people could eat it more easily and gracefully.
I served mine in a trifle bowl, and that was beautiful, but not easy to toss.
In a big bowl, dress the watermelon cubes on the side with the dressing. Toss them. Then, in the pretty glass bowl layer the watermelon, the mint and basil, then cucumber, and repeat. Top the whole thing with chopped peanuts.
Apple Crisp
For this recipe, I looked to Ina Garten.
Old Fashion Apple Crisp
Cut up apples, mixed with the sugar and yummy stuff.
Making the crumble. Here I am cutting in the butter.
And here it is before it went into the oven. For how it looked after it came out, you will have to use your imagination, because it was gone before the photo shoot!

Sangria Mix (Carlo Rossi)
Orange (sliced)
Lemon (sliced)
Other fruit – optional
This is THE party trick. Take the bottle of sangria, pour it into a pitcher, add all the fruit and chill. Then you don’t have to follow a complicated recipe or find 1/4 cup of brandy.

The whole thing was a big hit.
I hope you have many great (and easy) meals!

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