Food, Recipes, Tablescapes

Foodie Adventure Revisited

Several of our Maine gourmet group joined us in Cortona for the April Foodie Adventure, so when we met for our first summer meal it seemed right to recreate some of what we made.

IMG_1487Setting the table to inspire memories of Italy was easy.  The centerpiece was a $3 find from the local Goodwill.

IMG_1488Clusters of red grapes repeated the look of the clusters on the candelabra.  Talk about an easy creation!

IMG_1394Dishes, each with a different Italian landscape and wine, bought some years ago at TJ Maxx completed the theme.

IMG_1393It’s hard to imagine a table coming together more quickly than this one.  With the plates having so much color and energy, there was no need for more than a simple background.

Now for the meal.  We prepared so many good dinners that it was hard to pick favorite dishes, but I finally decided on mozzarella with prosciutto and tomato confit for an appetizer and seafood pasta for the main course.  The appetizer was a big hit, and you might want to give it a try at your next Italian themed dinner gathering.

IMG_1400PROSCIUTTO BAKED BUFFALO MOZZARELLAWITH GARLIC & TOMATOES

2 T. olive oil

6 thin slices prosciutto

Tomato & Garlic Confit

6 6 oz. balls mozzarella

2 T. basil, coarsely chopped 

Brush the insides of small ovenproof ramekins with olive oil.  Line them with prosciutto, allowing some of it to extend to the top of the dish so it will crisp when baked.

Add 2 T. of the confit and top will a ball of the mozzarella.  Top with another tablespoon of the confit and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Tope with basil and serve with crisp crostini.

Tomato & Garlic Confit

10 plum tomatoes

5 T. olive oil

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1/2 c. finely chopped yellow onion

4 large garlic cloves, minced

8 oz. tomato sauce

1/2 t. sweet paprika

1/2 t. sugar.

Core and halve the tomatoes lengthwise.  Place them cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle them with 2 T. of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350.

Heat 3 T. olive oil in a medium pan and sweat the onions for  2 minutes over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook briefly.  Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika and sugar.  Cook for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick.

Place the mixture in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.

Note:  I suggest using only 1/2 mozzarella ball or 3-4 little ones as this is quite filling.  Also, when you bake be sure to put the dishes on a cookie sheet to avoid trashing your oven with grease from the prosciutto.  I wouldn’t let the meat overlap  the sides of the dish.

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Tablescape Thursday

 

Tablescapes

India Inspired

There was never a doubt that this beautiful meticulously handwoven runner from India would be the inspiration for a tablescape and dinner for our gourmet group when it next met at our house.

The design elements in the piece are many, but the primary ones are symbolic of the images seen again and again in Rajasthan.  I still marvel at its artistry  and treasure the runner as a favorite possession.

My first thought was for the table to be as elegant as if it were in a maharajah’s palace which meant bringing out the china, crystal and silver.  Good idea but it proved to be a bit much so began the process of simplifying.

I wanted nothing to take away from the beauty of the fabric so glass candle holders and vases as a centerpiece allowed the colors and pattern to show through.

Gold chargers did survive the cut and became the backdrop for varied colored plates that not only played off the thread colors  but were more subtle and took nothing away from the beauty of the runner.

IMG_0356With napkins of gold and burgundy and etched stems with different patterns, the table was simple with touches of elegance that fit my comfort zone.

IMG_0357To this point the only thing missing was the flowers. Choosing roses was a no brainer as in India we were showered with rose petals upon arriving at every hotel.  As luck would have it, Trader Joe’s had the perfect colors, and the tea roses nestled beautifully in their globes.

IMG_0354With memories of India swimming in my head, there was never a doubt that the food would also be inspired by that adventure.  I opted for chicken tikka masala seasoned with spices gotten in Dehli, and to my delight the hubby found Kingfisher ale at Total Wines.

I have to admit that Indian food met with resistance from some of the group, but the ale was a big hit!  Hey, isn’t challenging the taste buds part of the planning for a gourmet group meal?

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Tablescape Thursday

 

Tablescapes

Done Right!

The hubby and I so look forward to our gourmet group gatherings both in Houston and Maine.  The hosts do such a great job menu planning and presenting the evening’s gourmet delights. Our recent gathering was no exception.

It’s the season for Mardi Gras celebrations which provided inspiration for the table festooned with gold, purple and green.

Each place was set with baubles and masks creating a festive atmosphere that defined the evening.

Every detail right down to the colors of the tulips was done right.

The hostess not only made a king cake, but she dipped oreo cookies in white chocolate and embellished them with sprinkles of Mardi Gras colors.  Each one of us was lucky to take a few home.

The table was so perfect we hated to mess it up and almost opted for eating the delicious dinner featuring jambalaya in the kitchen.

As I was snapping away, one of the fellas said there should be a photo of a person admiring the table.  Do you think it possible he was hoping to be featured on a blog post?

While I was so busy taking pictures, the rest of the gang was in the kitchen scarfing down the muffuletta stuffed eggs!  By the time I got there, only one had been saved for me.  That had to be a good sign that they were very tasty.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave hehind

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Tablescape Thursday

Tablescapes

Gourmet Delight

Traveling from Maine to Texas, we aren’t seeing too many tablescapes.  Let’s face it, the emphasis at Cracker Barrel isn’t on the table!  Luckily, I am prepared to share a lovely one from a recent gathering of our Maine gourmet group.

sunflowersWalking into the room, the first thing that caught my eye were the sunflowers.  How can that warm sunny yellow not make anyone feel welcome?

tablescapeOn closer look, there is a detail on the table that shows how well the hostess knows me.  Take a look at the table runner….it’s rumpled!  She got a great big hug for that.

tablescapeUsing napkins laid on the diagonal added color and texture on the tablecloth as well as functioned as background for dishes and stemware.

tablescapeAnother detail that I appreciate is the clever napkin fold that serves as a pouch for the flatware.  It’s that kind of touch that takes any table from ordinary to extraordinary.

tablescapeWith the sunflowers and the color added by the linens, simple white dishes were a perfect choice.

tablescapeWith the sun set and candles lit, I stepped back to take it all in and could only smile appreciatively at the effort.  The table is comfortable, welcoming and beautifully laid out.  Luckily, I had my camera and could capture it all to share with you.

Linda  051 (1)The food was as good as the table. The host did a knockout job with his short ribs served over polenta that was a recipe from the wonderful Jerusalem cookbook.  It just doesn’t get any better than sharing excellent food with special friends at a lovely table.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Food, Tablescapes

A Taste of India

Friends are totally getting into tablescapes these days.  They blame it on me, but you know what, I think they are enjoying the effort and the kudos it brings.  Whatever the reason for this interest in tablescaping, everyone is doing a great job.

Take this table at a recent gathering of our gourmet group.  Yes, I started one in Maine copying the idea of our Houston group.  The hosts  plan the menu and assigns each of the other couples a dish that is made from a provided recipe.  It’s a great way to have a dinner party as no one has to do all the preparation.  But, I do digress.

This night Indian food was on the menu, and our hostess found a great tablecloth with a paisley motif in green and white with coral accents

which she complemented with similarly colored striped napkins and bright yellow stems.  All colors reminded of India’s energetic palette.  The piece de resistance were the coral beeswax candles.  Can you see the sparkles?  By the end of the evening we were all sparkling from touching the candles and then our faces.

I  can’t resist showing the wonderful dining room chairs, each with a different and beautiful needlepoint cushion.  I can only imagine how much time is represented in each lovingly done piece.  Even with the less than perfect photo, I think you can see how lovely they are.

As mentioned, the menu featured Indian food, and it was delicious.  My contribution was Vegetable Samosas.  Though they took a little time to make, they were not difficult and I think they would be a wonderful thing to have in the freezer for that last minute appetizer.

Vegetable Samosas

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces

1 t. curry powder

6 T. vegetable oil

1/2 c. chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated

1/2 c. frozen green peas, thawed

3 T. minced cilantro

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

1 egg beated with 1 T. water

2 t. caraway seets

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  Drain and transfer to a bowl.  Using a fork, mash well, mixing in the curry powder and 3 T. of the oil.

Warm the remaining 3 T. of oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté 3-4 minutes.  Add the carrot and sauté for 3-4 more minutes.  Stir the onion and carrot into the potatoes.  Add thawed frozen peas to the  mixture, season with salt and pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry very thin.  Cut into 3″ rounds.  Place about 1 t. of cooled potato mixture in the center of each round.  Brush the edges with egg-water mixture, fold in half and press the edges together to seal.

Place the filled pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Brush with remaining egg-water mixture and sprinkly with caraway seeds.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.    Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.  Serve hot.

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