Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
'Droid-catered Girls & Boys Soirée
by SuSu, MaceVindaloo

Ever notice that when men are called upon to plan and provide the fare for a party, their choices are rather different than what a group of women might plan? For the most part, men seem happy with beer and high protein and fat and crunchy carb snacks; women are the ones who end up wondering if they could get something "healthier."

And so it was in the GFFA, too — and women knew that if they let their menfolk do the planning and provisions, they'd best expect to gain a few kilos, no matter how energetic their dancing since they will only have booze and hi-calorie snacks. And men knew if they let the women make all the arrangements, they'd be hungry and feel all sticky from the sugary drinks. How to have a party for both sets of interests?

When the Solos give parties for their friends, it's often a mixed group, and even includes people from Leia's work as one of the government shapers and rulers. It always includes Jedi, smugglers, military types, bounty hunters, traitors ... and everyone is forced to be nice, but Leia and Han know that it's easier to be nice when everyone has what they want to eat and drink!

Enter C3PO, the protocol 'droid who in his past picked up programming which allowed him to arrange parties for disparate guests. But Han also would requisition Squeaky and Emtrey, the protocol 'droids who worked for Wraith and Rogue Squadrons. He figured that if those three 'droids could agree on a menu for a soirée, the humans and aliens attending would have trouble finding any fault in the offerings. (He also appreciated that Squeaky was manumitted and could be bribed to make sure the offering would please HIM as well as his wife.)

Ithorian Key Lime Pie
A key lime is a relative rarity — it's tiny size and preference for the green planet of Ithor meant that when the planet was razed by the Yuuzhan Vong, it would be years before the harvest could be restored. So very practically, Emtry requisitioned normal limes, even though C3PO thought it improper to fool the guests. What they did agree upon was that this pie would please everyone, men and women alike — women would appreciate the creamy fruit tarte, while men would like the sweetness and sourness of this tasty pie. They'd serve the slabs bigger for the men, of course, and cover it with more cream than for the ladies, who would appreciate a dab of cream on the side, in case they were watching their waistlines. The citrus tartness would be considered "refreshing" by the women, and a "good greasecutter" by the men ... one pie, two effects!

  • 6 limes
  • 4 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for some other use; they refrigerate well covered well, for about a week, or can even be frozen)
  • 14 oz / 395 g can sweetened condensed milk
  • graham cracker crust
Heat the oven to 350°C / 165°C.

Using a microplane rasp or a grater, grate the skins of the limes; you only want the thin green layer, not the white pith beneath. Set aside in a bowl.

Roll the limes under your hands, then cut them in half. Rolling them will help loosen up the pulp so they are easier to juice. You will need about ½ cup of lime juice. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolk with a whisk or electric mixer till thickened and lighter yellow in color. Add the canned milk and continue beating at a lower speed. Add half the lime juice and continue beating slowly till just combined, then add the remaining juice and the zested lime rind. Beat till combined, then pour into the graham cracker pie crust. Place the pie in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till it's slightly jiggly in the very center, but otherwise "set."

Cool completely before covering and chilling. Serve at a bit colder than room temperature, cut into wedges and served with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 6 to 12, depending on the size of your slices.

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Crumble Topped Peach Pie
C3PO deemed this pie to be absolutely necessary, even though peaches were out of season. The wheeling, dealing Emtrey was non-plussed — he simply bought canned peaches in syrup, though this was NOT was C3PO had intended! The reason this pie was important is because data C3PO had gathered which indicated this was a favorite fruit of women, but men found it irresistable in pie form because it reminded them of their mothers ... whether they had memories of their real mothers or not. Squeaky, who was rather practical for a 'droid, proposed that if one masked a negative with an ultra-positive aspect, live creatures would tend to overlook the negatives. And so it was agreed to use a very homey crumble topping instead of a top crust for the pie. The crumble would convey the idea of "homemade" so that no one would realized the peaches themselves were not fresh. And it worked! This pie also slices really nicely, too.

    Crumble Pie Topping
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, very cold
In a small bowl, mix together the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the cold butter till the mixture looks "sandy" and crumbly. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes enough for one pie.

    Canned Peach Pie Filling
  • 15 oz / 375 g can peaches in syrup, drained, chopped (juice reserved)
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 frozen piecrust
Heat the oven to 400F/185C.

In a large bowl, place the chopped peaches. Sift the cornstarch over the peaches and toss to mix, avoiding lumps, then toss in the nutmeg and brown sugar. Add some of the juice to "loosen" the mixture a bit, as you prefer. (NOTE: We often use the whole can of juice so the pie is not too "tight" after it's baked, but use your own judgement.)

Pour the filling into the frozen crust. Top evenly with crumble topping. Plcae the pie on a baking sheet lined with foil, and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, or till the topping is browned and the peach juices look thickened and is bubbling through the crust. Remove and cool on a rack to room temperature. It can be served slightly warmed, or at room temperature.

Cut into 8 slices and serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

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As for beverages, the 'droids agreed that women tend to like concoctions which were lighter tasting and fruity, and often indicated a preference for less alcohol. C3PO assumed this was because the female of many species was smaller than the male; Emtrey thought it was because women didn't like to lose control, and Squeaky assumed the women's tastebuds were more delicate. Whatever the reason, they agreed that a fruit salad combined with a beverage could serve as both a dessert as well as a refreshing beverage. C3PO also decided that a version should be offered without alcohol in it at all. Squeaky and Emtry liked this idea, because not using alcohol would be more economical, which meant more profits for them!

  • 1 honeydew or cantaloupe melon, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 peaches, pitted and diced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 lb / 450 g seedless grapes, cut in half
  • ½ cup simple syrup*
  • 1½ quarts / 1500 mL white wine (optional — if you are using the wine, reduce the soda down to 1 liter)
  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda or ginger ale or seltzer water
  • handful of mint springs
In a very large bowl or pitcher, toss together the honeydew, peaches, lemons, grapes, and simple syrup. Add the wine if you are using it, and stir to combine. You can prepare the recipe up to this point and cover and refrigerate it for 24 hours or so. When ready to serve, add the fizzy water and mint sprigs, stir and serve. Ladle out into small bowl, or serve as a drink. Serves 32.

* To make Simple Syrup: Combine equal volumes of water and sugar and heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. When the sugar is all dissolved, remove from the heat and cool down to use. You can put this in a bottle or container with a tight-fitting lid and keep it refrigerated. It's a great sweetener for cold drinks, like lemonade or iced tea.

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Just Melons

And while they were on the idea of a beverage containing chunks of fruit, why not present fruit on its own? R2D2, Luke's astromech, had an artistic bit of programming, and he told C3PO that he rather liked the idea of displaying the cut and rind edges of melons into a graphic pattern. C3PO declared he had no idea where R2 came up with such nonsense, but again, Emtrey and Squeaky liked the idea — less work, less money, and if they cut a fruit like watermelon into big and small chunks, it should appeal to both men and to women. So they did it while C3PO persisted in arguing with R2D2.

  • whole melon, your choice
Place the whole melon in the refrigerator overnight, so it's really cold.

Cut the melon into serving-sized wedges. Depending on the shape of your melon, how to approach cutting it will vary. For spherical melons like muskmelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe, cut them in half and scrape out the seeds. Then place the cut end flat on the board, and cut like a pie into wedges. A small melon should cut into at least 8 slices, and a large one can provide 16 pieces.

If you are cutting an oblong melon (like a watermelon), cut it in half lengthways, then cut each into half, so they look like enormous wedges. Slice these about 1-inch thick, then cut them in half to make 1/8 wedge slices, or smaller, depending on the size of your melon.

Use a large platter and arrange the melon wedges in a more "sawtoothed" fashion, noting that the "rinds" of the fruit will produce a pleasing pattern. Use the photographs for inspiration!

Supply tongs for people to serve themselves. Count on 3 pieces per person.

If you want to do this ahead of time (up to 6 hours ahead), be sure to cover the fruit with plastic wrap to prevent it drying out, and keep it cold.

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Pulled Pork Sandwiches

When they had surveyed what they'd chosen, they realized they had leaned too far toward the females, and the men would likely protest at the lack of protein, fats, and carbs (though they wouldn't use exactly those terms). C3PO proposed creating a dish with all three components, and Squeaky put forward that in the tapcafs he'd worked in, men loved foods which could be put between two slices of bread, or stuffed into a roll. They also liked foods which fell apart easily in their mouths, and had texture but wouldn't fight attempts to chew. And Emtrey noted that the Rogues, as they aged, tended to like spicier foods. Since the Solos friends were likewise aging, a bit of pungency should satisfy most people. And when the budgets were considered, they chose gornt for it's rich flavor at a low price. Be sure to make all the components and to add them to the meat at the right times — it makes all the difference!

    Sage Rub
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup raw or Demarara or white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ground cumin
  • 1 cup ground chipotle or chile or hot paprika powder
  • 1 cup cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups sweet paprika
  • 1 cup ground sage
Blend all the ingredients together very well. Store in a jar with an air-tight lid. Makes a bit more than 2 quarts.
    Vinegary Pig Bath
  • 1 quart / 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 quart / 4 cups cider vinegar
  • ½ cup raw or Demarara or brown sugar
  • ¼ cup ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
Place all ingredients in a gallon jug, cap the top tightly and shake. Store in the bottle, shaking before you use it.

You can also serve it at the table — get a bottle with a shaker tip or lid so you can dispense it sparingly. (An old hot sauce bottle will do.)

    Tomatoey Finishing Pig Dip
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup granulated onion
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup sharp dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
Place all the ingredients in a large pot over low heat. Put the lid on the pot and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Store in a bottle or container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator. Makes about 1½ quarts.

    Prepare and Cook the Pork
  • 1 large pork shoulder, or as many as your oven can fit
  • Sage Rub
Heat the oven to 250°F / 120°C.

Trim off the pork skin off the shoulder roast, and a bit of the fat. Make sure you leave about ¼ to ½ inch (2 to 2 cm) of the fat on the meat, which will baste the roast as it cooks. Pat Sage Rub all over the meat and fat, covering it completely. Place the roast — fatty side up — on a rack set inside a pan which is either disposable, or is lined with foil. (Clean up is awful, use foil!) Put the roast in the middle rack of the heated oven and allow to cook for 10 to 16 hours.

If you are cooking more than one roast, it will increase your cooking time. If you have a convection oven, this is a good time to use it if you are cooking a lot of shoulder at once.

The temperature will rise up to about 170°F / 77°C, and then stop. At that point, increase the heat to 300°F / 150°C and shut the door. The meat it done when it reaches 195°F / 90°C. (This could take 30 minutes to a 3 hours.) Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let it cool down to something tolerable before you try to pull it, or you'll burn yourself badly.

Use gloves if the meat is too hot for you, or if you prefer not to touch it. Make sure the gloves are clean and not covered in gymsum or soap!

Pull the fat, gristle, veins, etc. from the meat as you disassemble the big muscle groups. With your fingers or the tines of a fork, shred the meat so it comes away in strings. Don't make the strings too fine. If the strings of meat are too long, you can cut them with scissors or a knife.

While the meat is warm, drench it with vinegary pig bath sauce. It's hard to say how much is "enough," but start with a cup of bath for every quart of meat. You can add more meat or bath, to taste.

At this point, you can store the meat in freezer bags and freeze or refrigerate them. The meat reconstitutes very well in the microwave.

Yields about 2 quarts / 8 cups of shredded meat per pork shoulder, depending on how big the shoulder was to start with.

You can serve each of the components at the table and let people construct their own sandwiches, or you can prepare them in advance, like for a buffet.

Do It Yourself: Split the roll, and pile on the pulled pork. Slather with Pig Dig. Eat the sandwich.

Prepared Sandwiches: Heat the oven to 300°F / 150°C. Place the pulled pork in a baking dish (lined with foil) and toss with "enough" sauce so that it's coated but not wet. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or till heated through.

Split the rolls, then pile up with the pork-and-sauce combination. Serve. NOTE: This is good for cocktails with small dinner rolls.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes
The 'droids agreed that there was not a male of their acquaintance who could resist a tuber. C3PO had also observed that women liked them as long as they were not greasy and appeared to be healthy. They also agreed that a well-cooked tuber was more appealing than one that was barely cooked; men loved them mashed, but women tended to like them baked. They argued over this one for quite a while until Squeaky pointed out they were running out of time, and why not just do what's simplest for them? So they sliced them and baked them, but tossed them first in oil so that it wouldn't be so healthy looking that men would be suspicious of the delicious potatoes!

  • sweet potatoes or yams
  • oil
  • salt
  • ground pepper
Heat the oven to 400°F / 205°C. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, keeping the skins intact. Slice the potatoes into 1-inch / 2&3189; cm rounds. Using your hands, coat the sweet potato pieces with oil completely, and place on a foil-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, till tender. These can be served out of the baking dish, if you desire.

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Pan-Fried Chicken
A light white meat was also the observed preference of women, but men liked it if it was battered and fried in oil. C3PO did know that the women in the Solo family liked when a meat or vegetable was "pan-fried" instead of "deep-fried." To the 'droids mind, both were actually fried and he couldn't understand why women liked one and men liked the other. Both Squeaky and Emtrey were similarly flummoxed about the difference, but they agreed that men would eat anything if it was fried, but that women would actually observe the different types of frying. Therefore, they would just label the dish "fried" and the men would eat it becaue they liked fried food, and the women would take note that it was pan-fried and eat it too ... a win-win scenario!

  • 1 chicken, cut into parts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • ½ cup / 1 stick / 4 oz /125 g butter
  • ¼ cup oil
You can cut the chicken down into whatever size parts you wish, but in general, you should get from one chicken: 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 breasts, and a back. The breasts and back could each be cut in half, so you get 8 to 12 pieces per chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken.

Blend together the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl or large plate. Dredge the chicken pieces through it, coating thoroughly, and tap or shake to remove excess flour.

Heat the oven to 250°F / 120°F. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on the stove, melt the butter and oil together over medium heat. When it foams up, it's ready to cook the chicken. Place the thighs and drumsticks in the pan first, so they get a head-start cooking (they take longer than the breast pieces). Turn once to brown both sides of the chicken. Adjust the heat as necessary to make sure the chicken does brown, but doesn't burn.

As the pieces are browned, place in a baking dish and put in the oven to cook the rest of the way, and to keep warm. The internal temperature of a thigh piece should be at least 160°F / 71°C.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

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Dirty Tea
Finally, Squeaky asked to make the drink for the men ... and he promised it would appeal to women, too. How? "It's got a manly name, and it's got bourbon, which has an afterglow type of burn which men really like. But this concoction has enough sweet things and dessert type flavors like vanilla to make women feel like it's tasty enough to sip." Emtrey laughed — as only he could laugh — because he knew that brew to be one that men liked to have at parties to make seduction of women easier ... C3PO was aghast, but was placated when R2 pointed out that at the Solo soiréses, everyone was older and more mature, and if they got into trouble by overimbibing on this drink with the dangerous name, they deserved what they got!

  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1 cup peach juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 4 cups sweet ice tea
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 quart ice cubes
Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Serves 16.

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