Last weekend we hosted a beautiful mix of friends old and new for a down home Southern dinner at Mi Casa-Su Casa. It was a deeply satisfying menu to write and meal to cook, and I hope our diners felt the love that went into the food.
The Mexican meals that we’ve done have been a riot of fun and having a North Meets South dinner was a culinary adventure, but it felt so good to get back to our roots with a menu of proper Southern favourites inspired by family recipes. A table full of adventurous eaters, strangers becoming friends, sharing the food of our far-away home… these are the reasons that we started Mi Casa-Su Casa and last Saturday night was a perfect example of what we hoped to create.
The menu for the evening was:
Nibbles and drink on arrival:
Pimento cheese with crackers and spiked sweet tea
Butter bean and ham hock soup
Judy’s fried pork chops, biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, succotash
Buttermilk waffles with honey-baked pears and vanilla ice cream
And what a lovely crowd of diners we had! It was a perfect mix of people that we already knew and new friends just waiting to be made. Honestly, one of my big concerns when we started this venture was “What about the weirdos??” Sydney is a big city and has her fair share of creeps, dodgy characters and people that you just wouldn’t want eating off your forks. I was convinced that we’d get a few sketchy people coming along for a free meal. This is the main reason that I undertake these dinners as part of a team and never by myself… and usually have my very tall husband there for “just in case.”
Happily, this has never happened. Our guests have been, in every single instance, delightful. We’ve had uniformly kind, funny and outgoing diners who only make me love cooking, and love my adopted city of Sydney, all the more.
We’ve got one more dinner scheduled right now. A good old fashioned American BBQ in honour of the 4th of July. It’ll be held on 5 July at 7pm and right now we have 4 seats available. The meal will mostly be cooked by my guest chef for the night as I’ll be days away from delivering my own little Bun-in-the-Oven. It’s going to be great fun and I hope you’ll join us.
And now, for those of you playing along at home, here’s the recipe for the honey-baked pears that we served with buttermilk waffles on Saturday night. These pears were inspired by my neighbours growing up, the Porter’s. The Porter’s were a very old couple who lived on the corner near our house. They had a pear tree or two in their yard and would regularly delivery brown paper grocery bags full of the hard, sweet fruit to us. I think they would have approved of this treatment of their homegrown fruit.
6 pears, peeled and cut into 8 pieces each
1 1/4 cups honey
4 tbs water
3 tsp cinnamon
8 tbs butter
Preheat your oven to 350F or 200C. Place the pears in a single layer in a baking dish.
Put the honey, the water and the cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well to combine. You really need to get any lumps of cinnamon to break down, otherwise they’ll stick to the pears and overwhelm the flavour of the fruit.
Pour the honey mixture over the pears evenly. Dot the butter around the pears. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes, removing the pears to baste them with the honey and juices every ten minutes.
Once the pears are completely soft remove them from the oven. You can serve these warm or at room temperature.