Patio table all dressed up for an alfresco dinner party!
The patio looking at the fountain. -My friends, Carol and Sarah, have included me in a regular meeting of old friends of theirs--musicians who formerly sang with the Portland Opera chorus. They gather on Friday nights for wine and good food. It was my turn to host. We would be eight--though ten were originally planned for. Two last minute additions included a freelance fiddle player touring the country in Harry Connick, Jr.'s band. I hope to hear him in Portland in the fall.
Leftover long-roasted pork shoulder
I had wanted to use my rotisserie attachment to the grill, but with two extras added at the last minute, my plan for glazed Rock Cornish Game Hens had to be abandoned. I bought a large boneless pork shoulder thinking it would be great to make it Cuban or Puerto Rican-style. Mark Bittman of The New York Times provided an ideal method for a long roasting period by covering the roast in a thick paste of onions, garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, sherry vinegar and olive oil. I set the roast on a rack in a large roasting pan with a bit of water underneath and slow roasted the shoulder for six hours. The result was astonishingly tender, moist and so good that one of my guests, who rarely eats pork, had a second helping. Jim, who often hosts these events, brought oyster shooters, which I'd never tried before. I think I knocked back four which was a combination of a raw oyster, some chili sauce, a bit of the oyster liquor, and a dash of garlic-ginger sauce. They were wonderful, good sized and not as soft as oysters can often be, with a silky texture. Carol brought an arugula and baby spinach salad with yellow peppers and tomatoes. Justin brought along his wonderful roasted coffee (besides being an accomplished cellist, he has an artisanal coffee-roasting business), several outstanding cheeses and some bread from Grand Central Baking for the cheese. We sat outside, and feasted and gossiped, and talk about music and politics. I put out a freshly baked blueberry buckle with some ice cream and Justin's superb coffee. We drank the rest of our wine while a wonderful performance of MADAMA BUTTERLY (auf Deutsch with Lorengar and Wunderlich) played in the background. It was fun to see all the guests ask who was the wonderful soprano, and to be fair, Lorengar caps Butterfly's entrance with a superbly sustain high D flat, that nobody could fail to notice!
Blueberry Buckle using local Oregon blueberries (I've used Kathleen King's recipe from Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook for years). This is the famous South Hampton bakeshop, celebrated for its chocolate chip cookies and other homespun desserts.
The weather was comfortable and sunny, but as the sun began to disappear, several of us went in search of sweaters to keep us warm through dessert. I usually get too busy grab my camera and take pictures of the food, which I always regret the next day. So all I have are photos the leftovers.
I've loathed the Whirlpool dishwasher I inherited with this house on sight. It's not very efficient, has an annoying fan that is always getting in the way of my dishes in the bottom rack, doesn't always get the dishes clean (my old Hot Point in New York served me beautifully for thirteen years), and has now begun to leak. I've been longing to replace it, but couldn't justify the expense when it was somewhat functional. But the leaking has given me just the excuse I need to replace it. I found this lovely Samsung model which got very good reviews on the Best Buy site. The final decision was the interior design of the shelves (I could care less that it is stainless steel inside--it's white outside). The deeper top basket means I can finally put my wine glasses safely in the dishwasher. And the higher side down below, means platters don't have to list to one side to fit inside. Believe me, as a cook, you think about these conveniences in a home kitchen. Best of all, I will once again, have an interior basket for utensils, no more door baskets which are awkward to get in and out of. This one is intelligent in that the basket is on the side, where it doesn't take up space like front-loading baskets. I know, it's dishwasher. It doesn't take much these days!
New dishwasher interior.