Monday, August 13, 2007

Super easy summer entertaining

This summer menu could not be easier to make. We had some friends over for dinner the other evening and this is what I prepared:

Appetizers - Salsa, Guacamole, and Tortilla Chips

Main Course - Dry-rubbed Flank Steak, Zucchini Bread, Heirloom Tomato Salad, and Corn on the Cob

Dessert - Homemade Ice Cream

Here are some hints to making this meal come together seamlessly.

Advanced menu preparations (some tasks are days before or hours before):
Flank Steak - Rub the steak with the dry rub of your choice an hour before your guests arrive. Put the steak back in the fridge to keep cold.

Corn on the Cob - Fill a stock pot with water. Do not salt the water or it will make the corn tough. Have your corn shucked and ready to drop into boiling water.

Heirloom Tomato Salad - Have your tomatoes diced and in your serving bowl. Covered and refrigerate. Whisk together the dressing and set aside.

Zucchini Bread - I made the zucchini bread earlier in the week and froze the loaf. I got it out the night before serving and set the loaf on the counter to thaw.

Ice Cream - Make in advance, at least long enough for it to freeze a bit in the freezer.

Guests are due to arrive:
Turn the burner on high heat under the stock pot of water. Go socialize with your friends and eat some of the appetizers that you just set out. For the appetizer, I would suggest buying a fun type of salsa. We served this fun Cherry Jalapeno Salsa that my aunt sent me. And buy the guacamole, it is easier. Trader Joe's has a good one.
Grilling the steak:
About a half hour or so before you are ready to eat, light the grill on high. Let the grill heat for 15 minutes. Remove your steak from the fridge and place on the grill, still on high heat, for 4-7 minutes, depending how you like you steak to be cooked. Then flip for another 4-7 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, cover loosely with a piece of foil, for 10 minutes to retain the juices in the meat.

Getting the other dishes together while grilling:
While you are grilling, place the corn cobs in the now boiling water for 10 minutes. While the corn is boiling, bring out the heirloom tomatoes and gently toss with the dressing. Slice the zucchini bread and plate. Lastly, slice the flank steak in thin slices at an angle and again the grain and serve on a platter.

Don't forget the sweet stuff:
For the dessert, have the homemade ice cream made ahead of time. Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving so that you can easily scoop up the frozen dessert. You can serve with cookies or solo. Delicious either way!

This stress-free menu is sure to be a hit with your guests and it is easy for the cook to do a lot of socializing because they are not in the kitchen the entire time.

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