This weekend I hosted a dinner party. See, Kurt has these coworkers that he’s pretty good friends with, and we’d already been to Family A’s home for their son’s birthday party, and to Family B’s house for a dinner party consisting of Colombian tamales. (Yum…) So you see how it was obviously my turn.
I wanted to make enchiladas. I make these killer enchiladas, a recipe I bastardized from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, in that I saute up some ground beef with homemade taco seasoning. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is a vegetarian cookbook, you see. It’s a really rad cookbook; not only does it have some really excellent recipes, but it’s also completely hand-lettered and hand-drawn. That’s pretty much why I bought it in the first place — that, and the copy I have is signed by the author. I found it at a used book store in Washington for cheap. Then my mom gave me her copy that my grandma gave her a long, long time ago, and which is inscribed from my grandma to my mom. Now you know why I have to keep both copies, especially since the author-inscribed one is the revised version.
Back to the enchiladas.
What makes them vegetarian is that the filling is made up of zucchini and onion. I even make my own red sauce, and once everything is assembled and baked (with copious quantities of Jack cheese, because cheese makes everything better), it comes out super, super yummy. I do use flour tortillas, however, as neither I nor my husband are fans of corn tortillas. So maybe they’re not traditional enchiladas, but they’re damn good.
Take my word for it.
Kurt vetoed the enchiladas, however, as we’d just had the aforementioned Colombian tamales. I guess he didn’t really want to overdo the Hispanic food, though that’s one of my favorite cuisines. Wait. I have so many favorites that I guess I don’t really have a favorite. I pretty much haven’t met a cuisine I don’t like.
Now you know why I’m so chubby.
But what to make for a dinner party that involves so many people?! It wasn’t just Family A and Family B; Kurt felt that we should invite a recently divorced coworker of his as well, and it turned out that he would have his two daughters with him this weekend. That brought my total numbers up to seven adults and nine kids.
Have I mentioned that my house isn’t very large? My table sits six comfortably, but somehow we squished all seven adults around it without feeling too cramped. But nine kids?! What do you do with nine kids?! I was hoping that it would be warmer, but once the sun went down, it was just too cold to have them eat outside. Ultimately we brought Grace’s picnic table inside for the littlest kids, and the bigger kids ate at our breakfast table on bar stools.
So it worked out.
Now what to make?! I finally decided on Nigella Lawson’s One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage. I’d made it several times before for company because it makes a lot of food, and since it’s a marinated dish, you do 90% of the work the night before. But of course there had to be a few wrenches thrown in, most particularly the fact that the commissary was out of the sausages that I like to use. Hmph. Instead of a couple dozen sausages made by local company, I went with Trader Joe’s Irish bangers — which are seriously to die for. I only wish I’d thought to buy more than a dozen.
I pretty much doubled the recipe and after marinating the chicken over night, dumped it and the sauce into two separate roasting pans. I also lengthened the roasting time by 15 minutes to allow for the extra meat. The problem is, the white meat turned really dry, and the juices burnt to the bottom of the darker roasting pan.
It didn’t help that my guests were in the kitchen with me when I pulled the pans out of the oven, so it’s not like I could just pile the non-burnt pieces onto the platter and call it good. I mean, I did that anyhow, but I admit to being somewhat embarrassed about it. My guests raved over it and thought it was delicious, so the flavor was obviously not affected.
For side dishes, I served up a fresh escarole salad with a homemade vinaigrette, as well as the roasted potato salad that I’ve made several times before. Boy, is that stuff good! Roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and bacon, dressed with Dijon mustard, honey, and sherry vinegar. Yummm. Even Kurt’s friend who abhors onions couldn’t get enough of that salad, and informed Kurt today that when we have another get-together, that is the dish I am to bring.
Good thing it’s dead easy to do.
After dinner, the adults sat around and conversed (boys in the living room in front of the tv, girls in the kitchen — why is that??), while the nine children (did I mention there were nine???) ran amok. It’s amazing how much mess nine children can make in a small house, even though I’d just gone through all of Grace’s toys and set aside a good chunk of them to discard or donate. The kids found toys I didn’t even realize we had. I swear, children have some sort of toy-dar that lets them see through walls and closet doors and under beds to locate even the most hidden toy, and it’s always the ones you put away on the highest shelf in hopes they wouldn’t play with it. It’s like they know.
But all in all, a great time was had by all, and it’s been determined that now we will all get together, Family A and Family B and Single Guy (with and without his girls), every week or two for dinner and fun and kids running amok. I promise, though, next time I will make my enchiladas. I’ve got to redeem myself somehow!