Cooking for friends and family is always a joy, and the essence of a great menu begins with assigning a chief ingredient— the bedrock that sets the stage for the meal and flavors to come. And most of the time for me, the heart of a meal is the protein. Take a look below to see the protein I chose and the other dishes I served on the shores of the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina.
Marinaded Flank Steak: An affordable, ever-crowd pleasing cut of meat. And by the way, it smells amazing on the grill. Marinade- 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 Tbs. honey, 3 dashes of worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbs. grated ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves. Marinade 2 lb. flank steak for 2 hours or over night. Grill 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest before you slice.
Only Green Salad: A mix of unusual greens hold up well while traveling and when tossed with a simple vinaigrette. Greens- arugula, baby bok choy, snow peas, grilled asparagus. Vinaigrette- 1 Tbs. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. red wine vinegar, whisk in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil until it emulsifies.
Maple Sweet Potato Mash: Sweet enough for any season. Boil 2 large sweet potatoes in salted hot water for 20 minutes. Drain. Mash potatoes with 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, 3 Tbs. or more of real maple syrup, pinch of salt and pepper. For fluffier potatoes add a tablespoon or 2 of cream.
Orzo Salad: This salad is adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe that I adore. It's just good. Ingredients- extra virgin olive oil, 1 lb. orzo pasta, 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, 1 cup mint, 1 cup basil, 1 cup currants or cranberries or both! Sautee orzo over medium/high heat in 2 Tbs. of olive oil until orzo toasts slightly. Add the vegetable stock, juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt, stir. After the mixture come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Put mixture into a large bowl and toss immediately with a drizzle of olive oil, juice and zest of a lemon, salt and pepper. When the mixture is cooled add the herbs and berries.
Herb Butter: It can go on ANYTHING! 2 room temperature sticks of salted butter mixed with 2 Tbs. each of parsley, chive, tarragon and 1 Tbs. each of sage, rosemary, thyme. Roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
The Wine: This bottle of Cocobon is what I have been serving as my table wine for the past few months. It goes with everything and nothing (if you know what I mean). A recommendation from a fellow shopper in Trader Joe's, you can pick this up for about $6.50 a bottle.