Tonight we’re having people over for a meal, lots of laughter and conversation, and a fire in the backyard fire pit if the thunderstorms hold off. They’re good friends, certainly not people who demand a spotless house or fancy food. Then tomorrow some relatives are coming for the rest of the weekend, so we’ve been spending a chunk of today doing the regular weekend things: shopping, mowing, giving the house a bit of a buffing, and getting things ready for upcoming meals.
I’m looking forward to tonight, and am employing my usual methods for casual entertaining. Which is, by the way, the only kind of entertaining I do. First, it’s a potluck, which takes some of the load off me. Second, the food can mostly be done ahead of time so I’m not spending my evening cooking instead of socializing. And third, the main dish is either something slow cooked with little need for attention or strict scheduling, or else something grilled.
Tonight it’s something grilled. One of my favorite meals to serve a crowd is a hamburger bar. It’s not fancy, but as long as the ingredients are the best it tastes terrific and people have a lot of fun with it. It begins with grass fed beef, and then everyone has to make some choices for their particular burger. There will be two kinds of bun, three kinds of cheese, lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, pickles, bacon, mushrooms browned in bacon fat, onions caramelized in butter, raw-milk gorgonzola crumbles and guacamole.
Someone is bringing a salad, someone else an appetizer and green beans. I’ve par baked wedges of russet potatoes tossed with walnut oil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and will blast these steak fries at high heat in the oven to crisp them up when the burgers go on the grill. For dessert? Thawed oatmeal-molasses-chocolate chip-spice cookies that I made last week.
Since it’s football season and avocado season as well, here is the recipe for the guacamole I threw together this morning. It freezes well, so if you hit a sale on avocados I recommend doubling or even tripling it.
Squeeze the juice of one small lime or half a large one into the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the flesh of two ripe avocados and mash the avocado into the lime. The lime both brightens the flavor of the guacamole and keeps it from turning brown. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, two or three Tablespoons of finely minced raw onion, a very small clove of garlic, crushed (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder), and several dashes of Tabasco sauce. Stir it all together. Add more salt or lime to taste.
You can also add chopped cilantro if you roll that way, or a few Tablespoons of prepared salsa. I didn’t today, as one of my guests is allergic to tomato products, but the flavor of the avocados this time of year is so good they require little dressing up.
Serve with chips. Or on hamburgers.
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