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September 20, 2014
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Planning an Outdoor Dinner Party

Hosting outdoor parties during the summer months can be successful and enjoyable by sticking to some basic tenents: make ahead, make it simple, make it flavorful, make it colorful.


½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Cut potatoes in half if large; steam in a vegetable steamer set over boiling water in a 4 to 5 quart pot, covered, until easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. (Don’t overcook or potatoes will fall apart). Transfer to cutting board.

Cook asparagus in a 4- to 5-quart pot of salted water (about 3 teaspoons salt), uncovered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer with tongs to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Add to large bowl.

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving drippings in skillet.

When potatoes have cooled, cut into 1/2-inch slices. Add to bowl with asparagus along with bacon, celery, onion, parsley and pickle.

Heat bacon drippings; add oil, then whisk in vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper and cook, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 30 seconds. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Immediately pour hot dressing over potato salad and toss to coat.

Coleslaw with Lime & Cilantro

1 medium cabbage, about 3 pounds, outer leaves and core removed

½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium red onion, diced

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ to 1/3 cup olive oil

11/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar or more to taste

Finely shred cabbage and add to large bowl with jalapeno, onion and cilantro leaves.

Combine lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk together and taste, adjusting seasoning. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Let slaw sit for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Mango Salsa

Makes about 7 cups

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons honey

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

4 large mangoes, ripe or semi- ripe, peeled, pitted and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 small red pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

1 small red onion, peeled and chopped

24 mint leaves, thinly sliced.