We had a dinner party last Saturday. Can you still call it a dinner party if you make plans for dinner with your brother and sister-in-law and then, at the last minute, spring four more people on them? I say yes.

A few years ago when we were living in Montreal, we and all the people we knew were severely financially challenged. My brother and I started cooking together on Monday nights (hey, we were in university; Monday nights were no different from Saturdays back then). Each weekly evening meal got progressively more elaborate and more well-attended by roommates, friends, and, in the end, strangers. This was cool, except for the fact that we were making three or four courses for a room-full of 15 people without any advance prep. None. Seriously, we’d meet at around 5:00 and then go shopping and THEN start cooking. This meant that every Monday was a late night. I remember one Monday in particular when my brother, a pastry genius, had decided to make pie (started AFTER dinner) — he had the pies out of the oven and cooling by about 2:00 am, at which point he had people begging, really begging, for him to just please, please, please cut them a slice. He stood firm, insisting that they wait until the pies had cooled. It’s a testament to his baking that we all waited.

This meal on Saturday had a similar feel,complete with dessert at midnight, for which everyone waited because hey! home-made ice cream! My brother and his wife and Carlo and his brother and I scrambled around the kitchen and took far longer than probably necessary to turn out meatball sliders, a spinach salad, and roasted potatoes. We ate dinner at 10:00 pm.

We were behind last Saturday, and I’m still behind now. No one needs our meatball sliders only a few days after Deb posted hers! Oh well.

One of my favourite things about this meal is that we decided to place the meatballs on a serving platter (a marble slab) in the middle of the table rather than dishing them up for people. It allowed everyone to take exactly what they wanted without being embarrassed about how much they were eating (hey, they were very good sliders), and it gave a nice family meal atmosphere. And thanks AGAIN to my talented brother-in-law Tony for the photos and the roast potatoes.

Recipe from Bonnie Stern’sFriday Night Dinners

My brother and his wife made these, and as far as I know they made no real changes from the original recipe except that they reserved half the meat and grilled it to serve with guacamole instead of tomato sauce. This recipe should make 20 sliders.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 finely chopped cloves of garlic
pinch of hot pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can of plum tomatoes, chopped up, with their juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground chicken
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
20 dinner rolls

1. For the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and hot pepper flakes, cooking them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are slightly transparent and soft.
2. Add the tomatoes to the onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes (until the sauce thickens slightly).
3. Add salt, pepper, and basil, then puree the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. To prepare the meatballs, combine beef and chicken in a large bowl. Add the eggs, Worcestershire, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Make balls with about 3 tablespoons of the mixture. Flatten the balls slightly so that they cook through easily.
5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Brown the meatballs on both sides (it should take a couple minutes on each side), working in batches.
6. Once the meatballs are browned, add them to the sauce and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. You can pull out a meatball and cut into it to make sure it’s cooked through.
7. Cut rolls in half and place a meatball with extra sauce inside each bun.