Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bamboo Bonanza

Bamboo dinnerware seemed to be everywhere this summer. I guess that many people buy it because it’s disposable or reusable, biodegradable, and made from a renewable resource. But I like its neutral tan color and classy appearance.

Used alone, bamboo makes a perfect foil for any solid or printed tablecloth, and it mixes well with printed or solid-colored paper plates. The hosts at a vegetable stir fry party that I attended recently gave every guest a bamboo charger. The over-sized dinner plates lent support to smaller red paper plates, allowing us to load up on the rice and saucy vegetables without fear of leakage or breakthrough.

Crowd Control

Shepherd’s Pie (a comfort food classic made from ground beef or lamb, usually mixed with sauteed carrots and onions and sometimes other vegetables, and baked with a mashed potato topping) may not be the entrée you’d think to serve at a summer dinner party. But it was the dish that the highly experienced hosts of our family reunion served to the 32 cousins in attendance and with good reason. It’s a one-pan meal that can be prepped in advance and baked just before dinner, important qualifications when you’re feeding a crowd. And it was the cook’s favorite recipe, one she had made many times before and knew would be well received.

And was it ever well received! Dinner was on the table in a flash (since serving only required setting squares of the casserole on the plates) and the oohs and ahhs began. Even a month later, I haven’t forgotten how scrumptious it tasted.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure the recipe, so I can’t share it with you…or invite a large group to dinner and make it myself. But you’ll find recipes for Shepherd’s Pie on the Internet from such reliable sources as Alton Brown and Rachael Ray. I, for one, plan to try one.

Roast and Rewarm

If you asked me, I’d have advised against cooking a roast and rewarming it hours later. But as it turns out, it depends on what cut you’re roasting.

When guests were coming to visit for a few days this week, I decided to finally try the New York Times recipe for “fake” porchetta (link to recipe below), which calls for roasting a pork shoulder for at least 2-1/2 hours. If you’re thinking that that’s a crazy thing to do when the thermometer is pushing 90 degrees, I agree. In addition, it would mean I’d be tied to the stove for several hours before dinner, instead of being free to show my guests a good time.

So despite some recommendations to the contrary from people to whom I’d turned for advice, I roasted the meat early in the day, covered it and left it on the counter. Then hours later, I sliced half of the boneless 6-1/2 lb. roast and rewarmed it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, covering it for the first 10.

It emerged pink and juicy, and I can’t imagine that it would have been better if I’d served it right out of the oven. But pork shoulder is very fatty and very forgiving. I wouldn’t want to try the same thing with pork loin or prime rib.