Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorial Day BBQ Bash!

So I have to confess something you all probably know.... I don't live in a big gorgeous house on acres of land and have a beautiful edible garden that I just pluck my fresh ingredients from minutes before dinner time. I live in the city (metro NYC) in an apartment, my growing space is confined to two south facing window sills (and for some reason after having a very successful herb garden all winter we can't seem to keep anything alive more than a week!) and my outside space.... well we have our stoop. I love my apartment but when it comes to summer time backyard parties it just doesn't cut it! And that is where my amazing friends Tim & Heather come into this story. They just got a new apartment and guess what it has outside space! Now its still in the city so don't go dreaming of being barefoot in lush grassy fields but here in the city rooftops do double duty and knowing someone with access to one is basically the highlight of my summer! They were planning a Memorial Day BBQ and being the bossy girl I am I decided that I was going to jump in and lend them a hand (or a pork shoulder!) So thanks Tim and Heather for planning a party and letting me jump in with my party takeover.....

So first things first lets talk a little bit about party planning and take a look at a few tips that I have put together....
#1 PLAN PLAN PLAN... organization and lists galore will help you keep everything under control
#2 Know your audience... if its a cocktail party make sure food is bite size and portable, if its a BBQ plan ideas that can go on the grill so you don't have to keep running from the grill to the kitchen
#3 Mix familiar dishes with something new.... its great to try something new but don't try and do it all in one night
#4 Plan to make some dishes in advance.... dips, desserts, meats and stews are all easy to make before hand with minimal prep needed during the party
#5 Accept help...delegate responsibilities to your friends- your best girl friend who always shows up on time can get more important items while the ones who are always running later can always bring some extra desserts or snacks
#6 Multi purpose your ingredients.... using parsley in the dip, why not include it in a marinade? it saves on costs and ties your menu together

and most importantly
#7 Keep cool even if it doesn't go your way... the best parties are when everyone enjoys themselves so in the event of a party emergency try to stay cool and laugh it off

OK with all that in mind... let's get our first list ready... the menu (with the rule they correspond to)

chimichurri dip (#4 & #6)
scallion mint dip (#4 & #6)
gucamole (#5)
black bean and corn salsa (#5)
chips, nachos & veggies (#5)
mojito-marinaded flank steak w pineapple salsa grilled pineapple (#6) (recipe below)
homemade sliders w cheddar or pepperjack (#5)
pulled pork sliders w red cabbage slaw and pickles (#3 & #4)
marinaded chicken (#5)
pasta salad (#5)
grilled corn (#3)
fresh cubed watermelon (#4)
fruit plate (mango, strawberries, blueberries etc) (#4)
s'more blondie bars (#4)
peach sangria (#3 & #4)
mint mojito bar (#6)
local micro-brews (#5)

From this list I will make my shopping list and more importantly my task list for the days before the party up and a timeline for the day of the party itself.

Thurs - menu plan
Fri - food shopping & liquor store
Sun - pork into crock pot, make marinade for steak, bake blondie bars, clean corn, make pineapple salsa (decided to simplify and go with grilled pineapple spears)
Mon - (guest arrive at 1 pm)
9am - prep sangria
9:30 - make coleslaw & sauce pulled pork
10 - dice watermelon
10:30  - prep burger fixings (cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato)
11 - start set up
beers into cooler with ice
chairs out and cleaned
plates/forks/knives/napkins/cups available
find and wash serving platters, serving utensils and grill utensils
12 - start plating food
chips and dips out
meat out of fridge to come to room temp
set up veggies plates
condiments out
12:45 - change into party outfit and get the music on!

keep reading for the Mojito Flank Steak Marinade

This recipe is "virgin" so don't worry about serving it to the whole family however its flavors are inspired by one of my favorite summer time drinks (which also made an apperance at my BBQ in a make your own drink station). I served the steak along side a spear of grilled pineapple but you could also make a fresh salad using cucumber, watermelon, feta and mint to bring out the same flavors.

Mojito Flank Steak
3 lbs flank steak
1 c mint - finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic - smashed
1/4 c fresh parsley - diced
1/2 c olive oil

1) Place all ingredients into a zip-top bag and let site at least 4 hrs in refridgerator (up to overnight)
2) Before grilling steak allow to come to room temperature
3) Grill on high heat until both sides are seared but middle is med rare (about 3-5 min each side)
4) After letting meat rest for 3-5 min, slice on a bias against the grain to give pretty slices that are tender (here is a video in case you aren't sure exactly how to do that