party post!

February 26, 2013

Last Saturday night we had a party here for 20 people.  It was my friend's birthday and retirement from teaching and thus required a party put on by the birthday girls. 

The birthday girls are old hands at party giving! Here's how we do it: one girl hosts and the others help with appetizers, sides and the desserts.  The hostess does the set-up and the main course.  The BD girl's husband pays for the meat, the booze and the kitchen help.  This is our formula, and it works for us!  And I can assure you, the men love this arrangement, completely off the hook except for writing a check.

When I have a large group for a buffet, I normally don't worry about having a seat for everyone and find that people are fine holding their plate and perching on sofas and chairs around the house. But with the plate, napkin, wine, and the cutlery, it can be a bit difficult, so I thought with 20, I might just be able to make a sit-down happen. I had tables set in the dining room, kitchen and family room.

The round table in my living room was the appetizer center,
then became the dessert station at the end of the night.

We served a tried and true buffet meal, simple and elegant, and for the most part, do ahead!
  Sorry, no pics of this as I was so busy at the time!

Fennel and Paprika Pork Tenderloin, recipe below
Potato and Leek Gratin
Roasted Asparagus

Fennel and Paprika Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4-6

Searing the meat before roasting it provides an additional layer of flavor.  Coat the tenderloins with the fennel crust after searing (and before roasting), so that the delicate crust doesn't burn.

4 T fennel seed, grind in small grinder or use mortar and pestle
1/4 C finely minced shallot
2 t. sweet paprika
2 t. finely minced garlic
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 pounds total
1 quart water
1/2 C kosher salt
1/4 C sugar
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 T prepared mayonnaise
1 T Dijon mustard

Remove silver skin and any fat from pork.  Combine water, salt and sugar in a large bowl, and stir to dissolve.  Place tenderloins in a resealable plastic bag and add the brine.  Remove the air when closing the bag and place in shallow dish in refrigerator.  Let it brine for 1 hour or up to 3 hours.  

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Remove meat from brine, rinse and pat well.

In a large ovenproof skillet over med-high heat, add olive oil to pan and heat.  Place tenderloins in skillet and sear on all sides.  Move browned meats to a large plate.  Combine mayonnaise and mustard and spread a thin coating on top and part-way down sides of tenderloins.  Combine first 5 ingredients above and press into mayo mix.  Leave the bottom uncoated. 

Place the tenderloins on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet, place in oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 142-145 F (I prefer it at 150), check with meat thermometer after 15-20 minutes and then adjust cooking time.  The meat will be fully cooked with a blush of pink remaining. I found I had to cover it loosely with foil after 10 minutes more or less so the crust wouldn't burn.

Cover loosely with foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

During this resting, I made a gravy with the pan drippings.  I also added 1/2 jar of some ginger/pear chutney at the end.  Pour over sliced meat.

This is a great do-ahead recipe and can be reheated easily.  It's also excellent cold the next day in sandwiches.  Easily doubled, quadrupled, etc.!

Recipe was given to me by my friend Rene, from an unknown source, perhaps Bon Appetit Magazine.

You know I rarely post a picture of anyone on this blog.  I respect privacy and know that sometimes people are particular about what photos appear online and elsewhere.   I tried to take a picture of the nice wines Victor brought, but my friend Kathy kept photo-bombing the picture, she likes to do that!  I said, "Girl, stop it or I'm going to put you on my blog".  She did it again.  So here she is!  Makes me laugh!

A little bit about Ellie the birthday girl, she is a woman who is always kind and good natured.  She looks for the best in everything and everyone plus she likes to have fun!  Beautiful on the outside, it belies the powerful strength and faith within.  At the end of the evening after everyone had gone, my husband said, "That Ellie, she is such a doll!"  Yep!

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  1. what a wonderful celebration. everything looks lovely and delicious!!

  2. What a lovely party! And your friend is cracking me up with her photo-bombing!

  3. Looks like fun Kristen! I love pork tenderloin, but have never tried to brine one. Going to bookmark this recipe.

  4. Kathy is such a ham, and your comments about Ellie were perfect!!

  5. What a wonderful party you gave for your friend. She must have been very happy.

  6. Woo hoo! You guys know how to party!! It's a good thing you had several areas in the house that could be set up to accommodate the number of invited guests. I think people don't mind being spread out a little during the meal. Most people don't have dining rooms large enough to fit more than 6-12 people, so everyone understands the logistics. You guys have a good formula that seems to work well for putting on parties for each other! If it ain't broke, don't fix it! :-) Congratulations to your friend Ellie on both her birthday and retirement!!!

  7. Such a lovely party for your friend. I know, she absolutely loved it. Such a wonderful idea, with the ladies chipping in. Everyone has a task and you have all pulled it together beautifully. The menu sounds perfect. Those desserts are calling my name. Thanks for sharing Ellie's Retirement party.

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