Tiny Dinner Party with International Guests

Diversity Hands - the World I Want to Live InThe Grill-Meister and I are both blessed to work in international environments, which fosters great relationships with colleagues from all over the world.  Sometimes we are able to lure them to Glover Gardens, such as tonight, when we are having a tiny dinner party with a couple from far across the globe.  It is so rewarding to learn about different cultures as we share our own.  One of our two guests tonight has never been to Texas, so we’re having a very traditional steak dinner.  The menu:

It is mid-morning right now and the table is set, so I’m about to get to work on the dessert.  I’m breaking Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) rule of never making anything for the first time for a dinner party, but it is early enough in the day that I can do something different if I make a mess of it.

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The table is set – now we just need food, wine, music, flowers and our guests

We’re really looking forward to it!  And for a look at an entirely different type of international party here at Glover Gardens and a couple of cool wintertime recipes, check out Pot Luck Perfect: In-the-Moment Lentil Soup.  We had a houseful of colleagues this time last year and a rollicking good time when everyone brought a dish or drink to share.

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My European colleagues in the outdoor kitchen at Glover Gardens; they whipped up a marvelous vegetarian lentil soup

I’ll share the results of tonight’s meal, and wish you all a happy Saturday evening.

UPDATE:   the tiny dinner party was super-successful, and the dessert was rockin’!  Read about it here.  And I made a new friend!  Read the haiku about that here.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Even the Chandelier is Decorated

A former colleague and friend shares my love of garden and cooking and home and holidays, and makes frequent posts in Facebook of his flowers, food and fabulous decor.  I have his permission to share this gorgeous photo of his dining room.  Isn’t it elegant?  And yet simple?  And what a great idea to decorate the chandelier to bring a little green into his silver and white theme.

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Here’s what he said when he posted this photo and others on November 21 (before Thanksgiving):

so grateful to be able to celebrate thanksgiving and christmas with loved ones. ~front room –d.o.n.e – silver and white theme
yes, i know it’s really early, but when you feel the spirit you just go with it. i always say find your own joy and rock on!

I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, my friend, for letting me share your beautiful dining room and more beautiful thoughts.

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The candles provide a wonderful holiday mood

Rosemary Wreath Appetizer Platter

I was inspired to make a rosemary wreath by another blogger (see yesterday’s post) and it worked!  It is a lovely way to dress up the old standby party dish of cheese, salami and olives.  I decorated the wreath with marinated piquant Peppadew peppers, but cherry or grape tomatoes would work just as well.

Here’s how to do it.  You’ll need to have access to a large a rosemary plant.

Snip about 30 sprigs of rosemary, one inch long or less.  Remove the side sprigs so that each length of rosemary is only one stem.  Lay the longer sprigs in a circle on a round platter and secure with florist’s wire.  Tuck the shorter ones in around the circle to even out the wreath.

Ingredients

  • Rosemary wreath (see above)
  • 9 marinated cherry peppers, cut in half sideways
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 8 oz. of your favorite white cheese, cut into cubes (I used Havarti dill)
  • 8 oz. sliced salami

Place a small container with toothpicks in the middle of the platter, then surround it with salami slices inside the wreath area.  Arrange the peppers in groups of three on the wreath to resemble holly berries, then add the cheese cubes to the wreath.  Scatter the Kalamata olives across the whole platter.

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Below is the original wreath from Home is Where the Boat is, shared by Sara from Last Night’s Feast.

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Did You Know…?

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Photo By Biozinc (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Sweet piquant peppers called Peppadew are originally from South Africa and were discovered in the early 1990s.  Peppadew is a trademarked name and the peppers can be a little hard to find.  Bon Appetite published a recipe with them a few years ago and got loads of letters from disgruntled readers looking to make their Pimento Mac & Cheese, so they followed up with the article Where to Buy the Elusive Peppadew.

Peppadew peppers resemble (but are not the same as) cherry peppers, which is another name for pimento peppers.  Pimentos resemble (but are not the same as) red bell peppers.

Any of these wonderful peppers can be used in this recipe.

 

A Gorgeous Thanksgiving Table; A Family Legacy from Strong Woman to Strong Woman

Thanksgiving is about food and family and memories and connections.  Sometimes those connections are new, with folks who would be family, only if they were near and known.

I made such a connection tonight, with a marvelous lady named Cathy,  from the land of Facebook in Pantsuit Nation.  She posted this picture and story about a table setting from her mother’s depression glass, and the legacy of strength and faith passed down from woman to woman.

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Cathy said that her grandmother collected these beautiful dishes in West Virginia during the depression on a meager teacher’s salary, and was a dedicated public servant, working at the voting polls every election in her community until her mid-seventies. Cathy’s mother inherited the dishes, and passed them on to Cathy when she turned 50.  She has followed her mother and grandmother in public service and is a special education teacher.  Cathy’s daughter, a lawyer representing workers who have been treated unfairly, will inherit these dishes one day. Cathy says:  “We will endure, we will create beauty in the midst of chaos, we represent hope.”

Cathy’s Facebook post about these dishes, her family and the legacy of strength, conviction and public service on the matrilineal side garnered 500+ likes in its first 30 minutes, and spawned dozens of comments from women who, like me, feel a connection with her story.  Family legacy objects like Cathy’s depression-era glass serve as a talisman to help us believe in better days, better people, better lives.  I have many such items from my grandmothers on both sides that remind me daily to do my best, try my best, be my best.

Thank you, Cathy, for your story.  The ladies in your family are role models for all of us.

Set the Stage with a Beautiful Table

The Grill-Meister and I had the good fortune to attend a corporate awards ceremony this weekend.

Along with the silver and crystal, the beautiful centerpieces with candles and scarlet roses signaled that the event was significant and meaningful, and the attendees were special.

The appropriate mood was set for the celebration as soon as we walked in the door.  I have a renewed appreciation for setting the stage with a beautiful table – I want guests at Glover Gardens to feel special, like we did at this event.

I Love Thanksgiving! Run-Up to My Favorite Holiday

I love Thanksgiving.  I really do.  It’s the only holiday that is just about gratitude, being together and enjoying a meal.  Thanksgiving means food and family and fun, and I enjoy the process of getting ready for it.  I’ve got Thanksgiving tubs up in the attic that come down a week or two beforehand.

Thanksgiving Tubs

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It’s always fun to open up my Thanksgiving tubs and get reunited with my runners and silk flowers and silly little turkey salt-and-pepper shakers.

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Just Gotta Garnish

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Lamb patties with their multiple garnishes

The Grill-Meister is my best taste tester for my new recipes.  He can dissect the ingredients I’ve assembled into what I think is a masterpiece and hit on the one thing that could be improved, which I really like.  I listen to his feedback and my recipes get better.  He said something that struck me earlier this week when I served the Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties from Epicurious:

What I really love is all that stuff on the side; the condiments and the garnishes just make the dishes you serve.

That got me thinking about my cooking and how I believe that a dish really does get completed by its accompaniments.  All of my favorite meals include sauces, dips, condiments and garnishes, even if it’s just a sprinkling of herbs or chopped nuts.  And I always feel pampered and pleased when someone else has prepared the meal and included the “little something extra” (lagniappe, as the French would say).

Garnishes and condiments are a supporting cast that add color and texture and provide complementary or contrasting flavors that highlight the main dish and make it a star.  And they are so visually appealing:  the food looks like artwork when it has been adorned.

So – just gotta garnish!

Garnish

A tray of garnishes for Turkey Cevap, a recipe to be published next week

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Black Bean Salad can be a garnish or a side dish
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Drinks like the Myra Hot Toddy look so much more drinkable with a garnish
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The parsley and scallions on the Mashed Potato Pancake add color and crunch, while the cheese and sour cream provide contrasting texture
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A Smorgasbord is all about the garnishes and condiments
Glover Gardens Chili
Glover Gardens Chili is a work of art in its bright blue dish with colorful peppers and onions
Smoked Salmon Spread
Capers and fire-engine red tomatoes brighten up Smoked Salmon Spread
Pulled Pork Tacos and Guacamole
Quick Guacamole is the perfect compliment for pulled pork tacos, along with Pico de Gallo.
Spring Greens and Green Apple Salad
The Spring Greens and Green Apple Salad sparkles on the plate with its cheese shavings and walnuts
Pico de Galla and ingredients
Pico de Gallo is my all-time favorite garnish and one of my top ten foods