House parties have been around for decades, ever since the first Tupperware party was held in 1948. But recently, they’ve been given a makeover, thanks to PR budgets. Brands are sponsoring dinners and parties where hosts can showcase products to their friends. Unlike the Tupperware parties of old, there’s no pressure to buy anything, there’s not even anything to buy. Just a bunch of friends hanging out, having fun, on someone else’s budget.
Last week, I hosted a dinner sponsored by Williams Sonoma and Calphalon. They provided me with $100 for groceries, a set of Calphalon Unison Nonstick pans, a Michael Symon cookbook, and a few of his recipes created specially for the dinner. The suggested menu was light and summery: Grilled Crostini with Goat Cheese and ‘wichcraft Tomato Relish, Pork Tenderloin with Heirloom Tomato Salad, Grilled Radicchio with Orange and Balsamic, and Lemon Ricotta Blinis with Raspberry Sorbet.
So I invited my Ohio blogging friends to my messy house, and cooked up a storm while we hung out and caught up. I looked around the table, amazed that a year ago, I didn’t know any of these talented and fun women: Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh Vay, Abby from Sundays with Stretchy Pants, Diane from Momo Fali, Kristin Marks from Cbus Mom, Christina from a Mommy Story, Rachel from Hounds in the Kitchen, and my one brave non-blogging friend, Jill Brandt. By the end of the night, we almost dragged her to the computer to create a blog right then and there, just to get her hilarious stories out on the web.
The drawback to hosting a party to demonstrate cooking with pans is that it involves cooking on the spot, but my guests were very gracious as they sat waiting for the main course, munching on goat cheese crostinis and drinking wine. I chopped tomatoes and sauteed pork and finally got dinner on the table, and then finally relaxed, mission accomplished.
Pork Tenderloin with Heirloom Tomato Salad
Serves a crowd: 10-12 people
6 pounds of pork tenderloin
3 teaspoons of coriander seed, toasted
3/4 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted
zest and juice of 6 limes
9 tablespoons of olive oil
3 teaspoons of salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
3/4 cups of red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons of honey
1 1/2 cups of extra virgin olive oil
9 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
6 cups of watercress
3/4 cups of mint leaves
3/4 cups of toasted almonds
- Cut pork into 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick medallions. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients above. Pour over pork and marinade for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat a Calphalon Unison Grill pan with Sear Nonstick over medium heat, remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade. Sear pork for 3 minutes per side. When pork is seared, transfer pan to preheated oven for 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and place the pork on a platter covered with foil. Add marinade, stock, vinegar and honey to pan and bring to a simmer, reducing by 1/3. Whisk in 1 1/2 cup of olive oil. Mix tomatoes with watercress, mint and almonds. Toss warm dressing over tomato salad and serve with the pork.