Monday, August 25, 2008

out and about with Allison: a late summer party

I really can't think of a better occasion for a party then to welcome someone to town. Having people you love feel excited about a new place (whether it be a town, job, whatever) is the best gift you could possibly give them. Here, Allison walks us through this late summer party she threw for some friends to welcome them to Charleston.

From Allison, "My friends, husband and I threw a summer party at our home this past weekend for our good friends who just moved to Charleston. We had about 20 people over to our house around 7 on a warm Saturday evening. My friends and I divvied up the responsibilities of food and drink between us. With all of the food prepared ahead of time, the only responsibility I had was to bring everything to room temperature, and to make sure everyone's glasses were full. A note to self: In the future I must remember everything takes twice as long to prepare with a 5 month-old in the house! The idea was to have a relaxed party with Southern hors d'oeuvres. I wanted to create a menu that people could enjoy while talking and mingling outside on our porch, in the yard or inside our home...whether they wanted to grab a plate or just graze.

We started with a specialty cocktail made with local Firefly sweet tea vodka- a spirit distilled on Wadmalaw Island, not very far from Charleston. My friend, Kate, simply mixed it with a bit of lemonade, which made for a refreshing start to a warm Charleston evening. The vodka is also delicious straight up, but beware...for lovers of sweet tea, it goes down easy- too easy. We served the cocktail in Mason jars with slices of fresh lemon over ice. Guests helped themselves to pitchers of it in our sunroom when they arrived. 

For the hors d'oeuvres, I marinated my new favorite cut of meat- a flat iron steak- with a soy citrus marinade. The steak is not that expensive, and the cut holds the marinade very well and is almost as tender as filet mignon when done! It literally melts in your mouth. The marinade came from an old issue of Gourmet (they used a London Broil instead). I have used it on everything from shrimp to chicken. It is delicious when served with the soy citrus mayo...not too heavy, and perfect for a summer meal. We served the grilled sliced steak at room temperature on a platter with the mayo, warm rolls, and some wonderful arugula greens.

Pickled shrimp helped round out the menu- served cool or at room temperature, it is so fresh and easy to prepare ahead of time. We grabbed the shrimp from Mt. Pleasant Seafood on Shem Creek, where they sell locally caught shrimp right off the boat. I used Sara Foster's recipe from Fresh Everyday. Her cookbooks are among my favorite- her recipes are flawless, colorful adaptions of classic Southern fare. The blueberry pie recipe is also to die for! But I digress...

I also whipped up some deviled eggs and gave them a refreshing touch of tang by adding lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard and a simple garnish of freshly chopped dill. My friend, Anne, made Southern caviar- a classic combination of black eyed peas, green bell pepper, green onion, pimentos, garlic and other seasoning- which we served with pita chips. And my dear friend, Ellie, made bite-size tomato sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise on white bread with local farmer's market tomatoes. 

Toward the end of the evening, I made my way to the porch where the din of conversation could still be heard over the music, my guests digging deep into the coolers of beer and wine...and oh, and what's that? An occasional broken glass. I don't get too worked up about the wine glasses- after all, it's not a good party until someone breaks something! And besides- this was a casual party among good friends new and old. By and by, it was a success...a fresh, simple summer gathering to show some newcomers Southern hospitality.

Until next time...Allison."

Thanks Allison for this amazing post! I'm already dying to try the soy citrus marinade. 

1 comment:

Joslyn said...

i love this...nothing better than a southern party! love the jars used as glasses.