Pull out these tried-and-true recipes for your next dinner partyWe asked four accomplished local cooks, “What do you make when company is coming?” Their vote was unanimous. Our cooks agreed that no matter what the occasion — five-course formal dinner or casual buffet — the very best recipes for entertaining are the ones that don’t trap the host in the kitchen.
Laura Baloun, Sarah Pfendler, Lisa Gregory and Beth Bauman share a few of their “go-to” recipes for company.
HOSTESS: LAURA BALOUN
Laura and David Baloun of Canton love to throw theme parties such as their annual Kentucky Derby Party. A staple at this early May event is beef brisket, cooked until tender, shredded, mixed with barbecue sauce, and served on mini buns.
“Beef brisket is something a lot of people don’t get. It can be served cold or hot. It can be made two days ahead — in fact it’s best if it sits. It can be served in a Crock-Pot or you can leave it in the oven,” Laura said. “There’s absolutely no way to screw it up. I’ve undercooked it and overcooked it, and it always tastes great.”
Laura serves the brisket sandwiches with a side of bubbling hot potato salad.
“It has all the stuff we love — bacon, potato, cheese,” she said.
Best of all, it can be assembled ahead of time, then popped in the oven.
“When I entertain, whether it’s just a small din- ner or a party, I want to have fun with my friends,” Laura said. “I don’t want to be in the kitchen or schlepping in and out.”• BBQ BEEF BRISKET •
- 6-8 pounds beef brisket trimmed of all fat and sinew
- Garlic salt
- Onion salt
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper Freshly ground pepper
- 2 oz. liquid smoke
- 2-3 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Steak Sauce
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup Country Bob’s BBQ Sauce
- KC Masterpiece Honey BBQ sauce (to taste)
- KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce (to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 8 large potatoes cooked in jackets 1 cup mayonnaise
- 6 slices cooked bacon to crisp (reserve drippings)
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- Lawry’s Salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
HOSTESS: LISA GREGORY
For company, Lisa and Steve Gregory of Lake Township prefer delicious dishes that require no fussing. One of Lisa’s favorites is a pork loin with a savory and sweet sauce that will keep guests guessing about the ingredients.
She got the recipe from her mother, Shirley Warburton.
“I’ve made this six or seven times,” Lisa said. “The reason I like this meal is it lets you enjoy the company instead of being stuck in the kitchen.”
The sauce is so luscious, she has used it on chicken as well.
Her make-ahead side dish to pair with the sassy pork is a simple, yet satisfying, potato casserole.• PORK WITH SASSY SAUCE • Ingredients:
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1 small bottle Russian salad dressing 1 jar apricot jam
- 1 envelope of Lipton onion soup
HOSTESS: SARAH PFENDLER
The best recipes for company, Sarah says, are easy, with ingredients that are easily located, and can be made ahead. Mini Beef Wellingtons meet those parameters, and guests often request the recipe.
“These are made with a purchased puff pastry dough, then filled with a very small amount of seasoned beef and cheese,” Sarah said. “The Wellingtons can be made ahead and frozen.”
She serves the pastries with a creamy dipping sauce spiked with horseradish, the perfect foil for the beef.• MINI BEEF WELLINGTONS WITH CREAMY HORSERADISH MUSTARD SAUCE • Ingredients:
- 7 oz. puff pastry, thawed if frozen 2 oz. Boursin, room temperature 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 egg, beaten lightly
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3-5 teaspoons grainy mustard
- 1 teaspoon or more prepared horseradish, to taste
HOSTESS: BETH BAUMAN
In 2004, Beth and Bob Bauman moved to the sec- ond floor above their Chestnut Hill Gift Shop in North Canton. Although the space was smaller than they were accustomed to, they didn’t let that put a crimp in their entertaining habit.
“We have people in often — sometimes 20, some- times 12,” Beth said. One of her go-to dishes for company is a savory cheesecake.
“It makes a nice presentation,” Beth said. “I serve it with homemade tortilla chips. I like them because they don’t have all the salt or flavors that the com- mercial ones do, so you can taste what you’re put- ting on them.”
Beth uses the Lollipop Tree Original Pepper Jelly that she sells at the store, but says any pepper jelly will do.• PEPPER JELLY CHEESECAKE • Ingredients:
- 11-ounce jar pepper jelly
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 2 eggs
- 12 oounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced