Yesterday we had a BBQ party to start the long goodbye to sultry summer. Old friends and friends from the neighborhood came with their kids for a long and lazy dinner: there was flashlight tag, tea parties in the grass, lots of different salads from our local farm stand and Stone Barns, and a dessert buffet. If there was one thing the aftermath of Hurricane Irene taught me, it’s to remember to keep things simple. Sometimes I’ve been know to go a little overboard with BBQ parties: deviled eggs with homemade herb mayonnaise, grilled lamb chops with mint vinaigrette, kitchen-sink potato salad with everything from pancetta to capers.
This is all good, but I wasn’t really up for spending the whole day cooking so soon after stocking the fridge (there was also a fun flea market that morning in a nearby town and I didn’t want to miss it–I’ll be sharing photos of that soon). I also didn’t want to miss out on the company because I was too busy composing a perfect tuna nicoise salad. There are times for that kind of detail work but this weekend wasn’t one of them.
So we kept the menu easy: hot dogs and burgers (bought at the butcher so with just some salt and pepper the burger tasted impressive with little effort); a green salad mixed with pea shoots and tomatoes from the garden; a cold string bean salad tossed with balsamic, olive oil, sliced shallots, and pecorino; roasted “french fry” potatoes; a raw beet cole slaw; and pasta with a fresh basil and toasted almond pesto. Kind of simple, right? Everything was served at room temperature and made before the guests arrived so except for tossing the lettuce with the dressing and fetching the burgers and buns I didn’t have to do any cooking while the guests were there. Which meant I was free to discuss important topics like the scariest roller coaster rides we had ever been on (for me the Cyclone in Coney Island, hands down); where we went on our honeymoons (the wild and beautiful west coast of Mexico); and the horror movies that scared the bejeezus out of us when we were kids (Friday the 13th