Next to accompany a marinated roast we will be grilling we will also be grilling marinated veggie shish kebabs, lentil salad, and for dessert a simple summer trifle.
Guests may have sparkling water, ice tea, a lovely rosé wine or glass of Sancerre.
Next to accompany a marinated roast we will be grilling we will also be grilling marinated veggie shish kebabs, lentil salad, and for dessert a simple summer trifle.
Guests may have sparkling water, ice tea, a lovely rosé wine or glass of Sancerre.
I am not for the paper plates and plastic cup casual, though. I like to make things look nice for my guests.
Last night was one of those nights. We got together with some of our favorite friends from high school and we don’t get together as often as we should and I wanted it to be special.
I served summer food with my culinary twists. Started with a real gooey traditional French Brie with fresh strawberries on the side as well as crackers. Melon wrapped in prosciutto but not just cantelope, a lucious canary melon too. And a super fresh caprese salad with my own garden basil.
For dinner, sweet cornbread muffins with dill, chili powder, and cinnamon. Chuck roast I had marinated for two days and roasted (they were supposed to be for the grill but Mother Nature changed the weather up). The roast was tender and flavorful!
We finished with a seasonal greens salad topped with sliced thin rings of lolipop scallions, Mert’s Nuts (the salad crumbles), goat cheese crumbles and a simple mustard vinegarette. Dessert was a triple berry trifle with three layers of pudding (lemon, coconut, white chocolate) and cookies my friend brought from Isgros.
And on a whim along with some lovely French Rosés I served prosecco. The food was fresh and simple and the table seasonally festive. I did it buffet style so my guests could mingle and eat what they chose while catching up.
Thanks for stopping by!
I ended up having some people over for dinner last night. So I butterflied a big roaster chicken and roasted Julia Child style simply with fresh herbs (you can see the chicken in the photo at the bottom of the page – that was what it looked like as it went into the oven – I forgot to take its picture when it came out).
I served with a fresh mixed green salad to which I added a simple balsamic mustard vinaigrette, and the starch was homemade gnocchi with mushrooms. Dessert in case you were wondering was sliced fresh strawberries from Kimberton Whole Foods.
I have previously given you my gnocchi recipe. So use that as your guide to rolling them out until little logs and slicing them into bite-size pieces, but the dough composition is different and here’s how I did it:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet red bell pepper chopped fine fine
1 cup frozen peas thawed/drained
4 or 5 mushrooms sliced thin
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup plain tomato sauce
1/2 cup brown gravy
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Salt and pepper
Oregano, basil, and cumin to taste
Chili powder to taste
Pastry for 1 double-crust 9-inch pie (recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add herbs , chili powder, and cumin, garlic, onion, pepper, mushrooms, carrots and celery; sauté on medium about 5 or 7 more minutes. Turn off pan.
In a large mixing bowl stir together tomato sauce and gravy and then add Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Let cool slightly. Use a slotted spoon to lift contents of skillet into gravy-tomato sauce in mixing bowl and fold together. Add peas.
3. (*pie crust recipe below*) Roll out 1 sheet of pastry and fit into deep dish pie plate. Spoon filling into crust and add cheese lightly and evenly on top. Roll out second crust; place on top of pie. Fold top crust over bottom crust; crimp edges to seal. Brush top with egg wash if you want. Cut steam vents in top. Place on cookie sheet and put in oven.
4. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°F. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF; bake until crust is golden and filling bubbles at steam vents, 20 to 25 minutes longer.
5. Slice like a pie after allowing to cool about 20 minutes. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream on top of each slice.
Slightly Savory Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. Add pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano. Cut in shortening until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add milk until dough forms. Split dough in two even balls and keep wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated until you are ready to roll out.
It’s Christmas in July! The Smithfield Barn is open tomorrow Saturday, July 26, 10 am to 4 pm! 425 Little Conestoga Road in Downingtown!
This is a barn clearing sale loaded with furniture, vintage china, vintage linens, tons of vintage Christmas ornaments, vintage fishing rods, tools, you name it it is there !
Cash and carry works best!
Where we live has well established pachysandra that grows like it is on steroids. It’s common name is Japanese spurge and is in the boxwood family. When we moved in, the flower beds weren’t so much flowers anymore as they were pachysandra ponds. Pachysandra was everywhere. So if you wonder what my first garden inspiration was, it was to break up the sea of GREEN.
My mother loves pachysandra and maybe part of my intense dislike was having to plant it for her too many years. (Yes, as much as I love my mother, her idea of gardening was to supervise, not actually plant things.) I did not want the pachysandra to go to waste, so what I have done is relocate it around the property. Waste not, want not when it comes to the garden.
I have become an expert at liberating pachysandra from planting beds. I cut it out with garden clippers and a sharp shovel edge like strips of turf or carpet and roll it up. All you have to do is plunk down the sections where you want it next and water it in. I have relocated my liberated pachysandra to bare spots on the edge of the woods and it regrows nicely and chokes out the weeds.
This weekend I had stopped at Home Depot in Frazer and noticed a lot of plants were on sale. A lot of the sale plants looked horrible because they needed watering, but along the side of the store where the “nursery” is were a ton of day lilies at $3.00 a pot. They were decent cultivars and were from their Vigoro line which is grown by Bell Nurseries in Maryland. Bell has their own land and a network of growers. They are all along the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
And incidentally, if you are looking for plant nurseries, the Eastern Shore of Maryland has some amazing places. One nursery I used to go to is called Pumpkin Shell Nursery on Route 213 in Cecilton, Maryland. They used to have the most amazing boxwood and trees, shrubs, perennials.
So anyway, I found a bunch a day lilies that had bloomed but were still vigorous and healthy plants. I will be honest I don’t really buy too many plants from Home Depot, but I will look for things in the Vigoro line like hydrangeas and day lilies when they go on sale to use to fill in spots in the garden. The day lilies I bought were the same cultivar, “Baby Moon Cafe“.
……BUT before I planted the day lilies I had to liberate more pachysandra. And the formation I ended up planting the day lilies in was not what I originally envisioned because I also discovered today that the concrete path along which I wanted to plant was well, a foot wider than I originally thought. So I spent quite a while excavating the path and trimming pachysandra along other borders too.
I also noticed my deer friends have been munching a section of garden I planted near the woods this year that I hadn’t sprayed with Deer Out. Apparently my oak leaf hydrangeas are even more yummy than my hostas.
Ah yes, Deer Out. My friend Melanie (who has a gorgeous garden) told me about this stuff. It smells vaguely minty and it is working…..where I sprayed it of course LOL. (I had forgotten about this particular planting area, so they ate the buds off the day lilies and topped one of the oak leaf hydrangeas.)
Right now the late summer flowers are blooming. The garden phlox is just delightful and smells amazingly fragrant especially in the early morning. The phlox was inherited with my house, I can take no credit for it. Three different shades of pink, pink with white edges, and white. It’s old school , tall garden phlox and as opposed to more newly introduced cultivars it is fairly mildew resistant. I have split a lot of this up as well. When we first moved in it took up almost the entire front half of an old perennial bed, so I split it and replanted it all over the garden. Same with the inherited yellow lilies and flag irises.
I also cooked up a batch of hummingbird food (nectar) today. It’s easy. Four parts water to one part sugar, bring to boil in a pot on the stove, cool completely and fill your feeder. You can store the nectar in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a few days per batch. When temperatures reach the 80s and higher you should change the nectar in your hummingbird feeder every couple of days, and it works best when the feeder is in a more shady location. For more information check out the Wild Bird Shop website.
Planning ahead, I have also reserved my next pile of bulbs. Daffodils and Narcissus from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Virginia. I also might have to take another peek at the bargain hosta bin at Bridgewood Gardens , also located in Virginia. I will also be waiting to see what else Applied Climatology at the West Chester Growers Market has to tempt me with between now and fall!
Gardening is one of my favorite things. It is a great thing to be able to connect with nature, and it is a creative outlet. Anyone can garden. You just have to try. Start small, experiment with what you like. Get your garden on a routine and it really starts to take care of itself. I realize I garden more than a lot of people I know, yet what I am doing is not so unusual as I see a lot of similar plantings and groupings of plants in my friend Abbi’s garden in Northern New Jersey. Abbi is an artist among other things so her garden is very cool. And she does her own gardening as well.
Digging in the dirt is fun!
Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know how your garden is growing as well!
The humble roast chicken. A backbone of American cuisine. I am one of those people that loves roasted chicken. But I need to spice it up a little and not just roast it in the style of Julia Child all of the time.
So I have been experimenting with marinades that use plain Greek yogurt as a base. My favorite plain Greek yogurt is the Fage brand.
As I am especially pleased with today’s marinade so I thought I would share the approximate ingredients:
1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
Salt to taste (kosher is best in my opinion)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Dash or two of hot sauce/Tabasco
Combine marinade a greedy ingredients in a small bowl whisk well, taste for salt and set aside.
Take a 4 1/2 to 5 pound roasting chicken and butterfly it – basically you are cutting it in half and spreading it open so it lies flat.
Take butterflied chicken, put it in a large Ziploc freezer bag and dump the marinade on top. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal the bag and smoosh the marinade around. I then put this bag in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator for anywhere from five hours to overnight. I periodically smoosh the marinade around in the bag and turn the bag over so it coats evenly.
When ready to cook bring your chicken out of the refrigerator and remove from marinade and lay out flat in a roasting pan lined with onion slices. Discard the rest of the marinade. It has had raw poultry and it so you can’t use marinade for anything else.
The chicken goes into a preheated 350° oven skin side up and flat out for approximately 15 minutes per pound at 350° . I actually use a meat thermometer to check for proper doneness with poultry.
The chicken is delicious when you use a yogurt marinade. I will serve this with something like roasted carrots and a salad, or a wild rice mixture and a salad, or oven roasted potatoes and a salad.
I make no secret of my love of Christmas and vintage ornaments. Today I completed my six mini-trees and have them scattered about the house. I thought I would share two of the trees with you.
Why have a plebeian elf on a shelf when you can decorate mini-trees?
Please note the largest mini-tree is like 2 feet tall. They all feature ornaments I had either previously collected, found at the Smithfield Barn and other places this year, and a few from my father.
Surprisingly it took hours to get these little trees decked out appropriately…but I had so much fun!
My father made the bottle into a lamp after the bottle was emptied at a dinner party. The lamp came to me, and the lampshade on it currently kind of went kaput. (Silk lampshades do that after a while.) So we just ordered the bottle a new shade! I love this lamp because it is very cool and also because it has some very happy childhood memories attached to it. Not that I was drinking the wine at that time but it was just because of all the times when we were growing up that we got together with my father’s friend and his family.
And when people ask how I come to put things in my house or say I have such tremendous decorating skills, honestly it isn’t the skill part as much as filling my home with things I love, that bring me pleasure, evoke happy memories. Stuff that I just like, want to look at, want to use.
To me that is where so many people go wrong when decorating their homes. They see a photo in a magazine, or see a trend. But they don’t interpret what they like on their own, more often that not they bring in some sort of decorator. Mind you I have no problems with a decorator providing you with the bones of a room if you are stuck, but face it you know yourself, so play an active role. Unless you like living in a Trendy Wendy or beige, beige world?
What I bring into my home for the most part most of the time did not cost me a lot. Long before Martha Stewart rolled up or Rachel Ashwell and her shabby chic self was popular, I was combing flea markets, thrift stores, consignment stores, garage sales and the like for things to define my living spaces. I needed to develop my own style, and I needed to be able to afford to do it. To this day I would rather pick something up second-hand and not necessarily officially antique than to buy new.
My style is eclectic and a mix of traditional, haute country and sometimes a little funky. But I buy things that please me. You won’t see country kitsch and Grand Ol’ Opry plaids, checks, and frills but some of what I like can be categorized as more country/rustic than mid-century modern (although I do like some of that here and there as an accent.)
My thrown together escaping one category of style is not so unusual, I see it with my friends. For example, my friend Stevie and her husband not too many years after they were married needed some storage pieces. Stevie thought outside the box and she bought of all things an old chicken coop. She restored it and adapted it to modern use and it is hands down to this day still one of my favorite pieces. Another favorite piece belonging to someone else is this dry sink that a friend of a friend has. Obviously rescued from a barn or a similar structure, it was cleaned up and put into this one woman’s living room. It is so awesome.
With the exception of four bent wood chairs from Bent Brothers in Gardner Massachusetts, which are now my kitchen chairs thanks to that Resellers consignment Gallery in Frazer, I don’t do much painted furniture. I like looking at wood and I am sick to death of going to flea markets and antiques and collectible markets and seeing everything coated in some shade of white or pastel.
Now my Bent Brothers chairs which have the brand logo burnt in the bottom of the chairs along with the paper tags still on the bottom won’t ever light the antique world on fire. They date back probably to the late 1940s maybe the 1950s, but they are crazy sturdy and well made…and appealing to the eye in their original paint and stenciling. I love them. And they cost next to nothing – which they should because Bent Brothers (which operated between 1867 and 2000 in Gardner MA) although they produced durable pieces of furniture, if you do the research they do not retain their value.
Another trend I am sick of is coating everything with blackboard or chalkboard paint. Lordy people, WHY??? Got a school marm disease or something???
Something else I love? Patchwork Quilts. I love old quilts. But I use them. So I buy them inexpensively – church sales, flea markets, barn picking, Ebay. They are a great way to add color to the room and there is nothing more homey than curling up under a ptachwork with a good book or a movie on a cold winter’s night.
My final word is I approach my art the same way as my furniture and accessories: I buy what I like and what makes me happy. I am not some deep pocketed collector with rotating gallery walls, I am just a regular gal. (Incidentally one of my favorite pieces of art was found put out for the trash when the Clothier House on Buck Lane in Haverford was being readied for demolition by a soulless developer. I had the piece preserved and reframed.)
The take away here is simple: enjoy where you live and remember your spaces are meant to be lived in. Buy what gives you pleasure, don’t necessarily buy in the category of “dress to impress.” Also remember cutsie doesn’t age well in decorating, either.
And remember, don’t be afraid to bargain shop and barn pick. You never know what you might find!
“No matter what size bird you are dealing with, if you are cooking a frozen turkey it needs to get out of the freezer and get into the fridge today,” Rachael suggests. “Store it in the lowest part of the refrigerator, and take it out [of the freezer] today and it will be perfect by Thanksgiving day!”
Ok so it is funny, as I was staring at my frozen turkey this morning, I was wondering the same thing. Some years I have gotten a fresh turkey, but this year economizing is the name of the game so I took advantage of my free turkey from the grocery store. I actually have the points for two free turkeys, but have only picked up one at this point. Maybe I will donate the second one.
Anyway, apparently every four pounds of turkey is equal to one day of refrigerator thaw. And once defrosted a turkey can hang out in the fridge another four days. My turkey is in a plastic shopping bag and resting in a shallow pan. I don’t want anything to leak if possible. After all, who wants to scrub the refrigerator on Thanksgiving Day?
A week ahead of time is also when I start to think about how the table will look. I collect vintage linens so I can change my table out from year to year. And no, I never pay a lot for old and vintage linens. Garage sales, church sales, flea markets, thrift shops. I look for lots of things in numbers I can deal with, tablecloths that can be tea stained or dyed if need be. I only look for natural fibers, so polyester will not be found on my table – I don’t like the sheen, feel, and texture. I generally hand wash my linens, so a week ahead gives me time to do that and get them ironed up if need be.
I also love vintage dishes, so you might find those on my table as well. I have some cool goblets also gathered courtesy of garage and church tag sales. I don’t do paper plates, plastic cups, and aluminum foil containers as serving dishes.
In my former life with my former in-laws (for lack of a better description of what to call these people), one of the ex factor’s sisters not only had the darkest living room I had ever been in (dark green walls and all her own art work – some was decent, some of it looked like paint-by-numbers), but she wouldn’t know how to set a buffet without aluminum foil containers and cheap paper napkins.
I wouldn’t comment except she made such fuss about how fabulous a table she set, and all I ever saw every Thanksgiving were those aluminum foil containers on the sideboard and table (and the bottles of salad dressing on the table, paper napkins and really bad as well as warm white wine choices.) She was also one of those people who would ask you to bring something and then make something in the category of what she requested like it was a competition instead of a holiday meal. And if you arrived five minutes past her decreed holiday start time, chances were she was eating without you which I always found rude to guests who traveled a distance to be with her. I think one of my favorite Thanksgivings with this woman was when her dog stole the leftover turkey right off the counter.
Anyway, when you have had a few painful Thanksgivings like that, you learn how to craft one you can be proud of, but a holiday that won’t drive you bonkers either. The key is simplicity. The KISS theory, or keep it simple stupid. I believe even if you aren’t doing a more formal dinner, you should take the time to set the table well to complement your meal preparation. It is a holiday, not pizza night.
If you are doing all the cooking, realize it doesn’t have to be the proverbial last supper. The world will not end if you don’t have multiple kinds of potatoes, every Thanksgiving veggie known to man including that disgusting green bean casserole made with those deep-fried dried onion things. If you are doing a communal Thanksgiving and you are the host or hostess, lay out your menu and be clear about your assignments to other people.
Don’t forget the salad. It can be simple or seasonal, but take the time to make your own vinaigrette. So much better than the bottle.
Let’s talk stuffing. Know what I discovered yesterday when I was thinking of buying a Thanksgiving stuffing mix to cut out a step? High fructose corn syrup is an ingredient. I saw it on the ingredients list in Peppridge Farm and Arnold’s pre-bagged dried stuffing cubes. Bleck.
I won’t be taking that stuffing short cut. I am going traditional and have plenty of fabulous herbs left alive, so my turkey and stuffing will definitely include fresh sage and rosemary. And a combination of garlic, shallots and onion. Baby Bella mushrooms are a must. Maybe minced apples and raisins, not sure. I won’t know until Thanksgiving morning. (Nothing better than the smell of stuffing ingredients sautéing away in the pan!)
And yes, I make my own cranberry sauce. It is so easy a caveman can do it. My base recipe is 2 bags fresh cranberries, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup water, cinnamon, a little fresh ginger. Sometimes I add diced apricots or a persimmon or two. Sometimes I turn it chutney and add funky ingredients like diced green tomatoes.
As for other sides? Well this year it will be yams done somehow (I like them better than sweet potatoes) – I am thinking of roasting them with a couple of carrots and then mashing them somehow – a puree then warmed up in the oven with maybe little marshmallows on top to appeal to the kid factor. Maybe a yam-pumpkin puree. And a simple salad. Gravy.
Dessert? Undecided. Looking like an apple pie. Haven’t decided. Saw a double crust apple apricot pie on page 126 of the November 2012 Food & Wine that looks promising. Or I might do my own apple with streusal topping. I haven’t finished checking out my favorite magazines yet.
As for the big bird itself, it is helpful to remember a couple of simple tricks to keep turkey-lurky from drying out. I pre-heat my oven to 450 degrees for twenty minutes before putting turkey in the oven. When I put the bird in the oven, I leave it at 450 degrees for the first half hour, and then I reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for the duration.
Most people say 15 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb. So my turkey is 15 pounds. So that is 15 x 15 = 225 minutes or 3.75 hours. Sometimes my gass oven is a little pokey on the roasting, so it could be longer. But I have a thermometer :<}
I cook my turkey covered for almost half of its cooking time. I do put a couple of cups of water or broth in the bottom of my pan along with bay leaves and onion. I baste around every 45 minutes. When you baste, haul big bird out of the oven and shut the oven door so you don’t lose the heat.
And yes, I do indeed rub my turkey down with butter before I herb and salt and garlic the skin and put it in the oven. I do not brine my turkey. I have thought about it, but never done it. I have no desire to deep fry my turkey so I can’t comment on that.
Check out this blog link for a KISS method of turkey cooking. Whole Foods also covers the basics, Southern Food does too, and when all else fails there is Butterball and they have a turkey hotline too. While Martha Stewart has a LOT of recipes, I find her recipes may be confusing and overly complicated for the beginner home chef. There are a LOT of turkey recipes out there. I like to consult web sites that I know test the recipes Food TV and Epicurious are the websites I haunt the most.
I like to entertain for friends and family. I like to cook, so you may find cheeses and whatnots mixed in from DiBruno Brothers and Carlinos, but for the most part you find what I serve I actually prepared. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but it is something I just like to do. I also believe in adopting Thanksgiving orphans. I have been one a couple of times over the years when family and friends were scattered to the four winds for the holiday. I actually have an article on easy entertaining featuring Chef Angela Carlino in the fall issue of Main Line Parent Magazine (which I haven’t seen yet in print because I keep spacing on picking up a copy).
Do you have a Thanksgiving tip or recipe or tradition you would like to share? Feel free to post a comment!
A place to SKIP is Farmhouse Bistro at People’s Light. We did that last year because family and friends were all scattered and it is something we would not do again, or recommend. We’ll leave it at that.
This post must now come to an end. I have recipes to read.