Tag Archives: Decorating the Dining Room Table

Color Inspiration for Holiday Entertaining

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays and the traditional color schemes for  entertaining this time of year: black and orange for Halloween; gold, cooper, brown for Thanksgiving; and red and forest green for Christmas.  This year I want to incorporate something new, something more trendy so I looked at the 2012 fall fashion colors.  The Pantone Fall 2012 Colors include a bright shade of purple (the fashion trade refers to it as rhapsody, sugar plum, and gothic grape).  I like a little darker shade — more plum and mulberry is more my style.  I’m going to mix up the color wheel by combining olympian blue with ultramarine green (really the shade of billiard tables) together in what I hope turns out to be a smoky teal green.  I’ll add a touch of rose smoke and flashy pink flambe’ for fun, and I’ve found my color scheme for entertaining this season.

As I dream of fall parties, the perfect holiday table for me will be set with a  tablecloth in an almost rose smoke color called Acorn Contour (from BBJ Linens) around $33.00.  Next I’ll add pink flambe’ handmade fabric runners.  Each mat will drape across the table and serve as individual placements (so you’ll only need one runner for every two guests.)  Pick up fabric at a discount online, at Hobby Lobby or any fabric store and make these simple runners yourself.

For an over-the-top tablescape, I’ve chosen Biltmore Inspirations’ Lotus Leaf Platters to serve as the charger plates for each place setting.  Because these platters are so big, bold and beautiful, I won’t be removing them before serving dinner, even though etiquette books dictate otherwise.  Each gorgeous platter measures 12″L x 18″W x 2.5″H and retails for $69.98/each.  With six to eight of these on the table, this will make a dramatic statement.

Lotus Leaf Tableware

On top of each charger, guests will find a brightly colored braided fuchsia placemat with wavy design. Each mat measures 15″ in diameter.  Found online at Gifted Solution (4 for $16.00).

For serving dishes, I’ve incorporated Biltmore Inspiration’s Pisgah Baking Dishes.  The color of these dishes resemble the soft smoky teal-green Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, the corporate home to both the Biltmore Estate and  it’s newest division, Biltmore Inspirations.  The single large baking dish measures 11.25″Dia. x 2.75″H and serves  as the dinner plate ($35.98).  The smaller baking dish 10″ Dia x. 2.25″ will be used for any first courses ($45.98 set of two that includes a 8.5″Dia x 2″H dish).  Perfect for serving soup or salad.

Pisgah Baking Dishes

Pisgah Baking Dishes

Each of the Pisgah Baking Dishes are separated by an eggplant colored linen napkin that measures 21″ x 21″ at $10.00/each.  This one’s called malbec from Linoto.   A great color for dabbing those Cabernet wine stains off your lips between courses.

I envision the table to be decorated with similar colored fresh farmer’s market produce.  Purple cabbage, purple potatoes, dark kale, Chinese eggplant, asparagus, and leafy green Brussels sprouts should be ideal.

Other decorative centerpiece details include Biltmore’s new Pisgah Canisters ($59.98 for set of two).  Same beautiful blue-green color as the baking dishes.  The large measures 4.5″Dia x 13.125″H, and medium 5″Dia x 8.625″H).

Pisgah Canisters & Pedestal Dish

Biltmore’s Pisgah Canisters & Pedestal Dish

French Market Buckets

Biltmore’s French Market Buckets

Centered on the table are Biltmore’s French Market Flower Buckets $99.98 set of two (large 8″Dia. at top x 6″ Dia. at bottom x 18″ H. and medium 7″Dia. at top x 4.5″ Dia at bottom x 14″H) filled with silk hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and other favorite flowers and greenery.

A pair of Biltmore’s Courtyard Lanterns (large 5.75″W x 5.75″D x 13″H $42.98 and small 4″W x 3.5″D x 8″H set of two for $32.98) holding mulberry colored pillar candles completes the tablescape.

Biltmore’s Courtyard Lanterns

Ideally, guests this season will include precious little friends wearing matching velvet dresses and jackets and deep eggplant colored bows in their hair like this one.

The finished table setting should bring lots of ooh’s and ah’s to this year’s festivities.  What do you think?

Autumn-Inspired Tablesetting from Biltmore Inspirations

Festive Tablescape from Biltmore Inspirations

Biltmore products can be ordered at my website.

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Filed under Decorating, Holiday, Party, Tablescapes

James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

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James Beard, former culinary educator and cookbook author, is considered to be America’s “Father of Gastronomy.”  His mother’s recipe for Strawberry Shortcake is one that never appeared in any of his cookbooks.  He did share the recipe with a close friend who to this day has it on his restaurant menu in St. Louis (Chef Larry Forgione at An American Place.)  The uniqueness of the recipe is that it calls for finely crumbled yolks of hard-boiled eggs verses fresh uncooked egg yolks.

I tried this recipe last weekend and it was a great success with my guests.  The recipe calls for two hard-boiled eggs.  After cooking up the entire 12-pack of eggs, I made deviled eggs with the remainder.

This is a clever way to create a delicate and moist shortcake without it tasting doughy or soggy.  Many baking professionals have known this secret and incorporate this technique into their pastries.  Now you can too!

(Recipe reprinted from the James Beard Foundation)

Serves 6

2 cups white all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a zester or fine sieve

3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Sprigs of mint for garnish

Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until it the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead to make a smooth dough (about two or three turns). Pat down the dough to make a 1-inch-thick round. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream: place the strawberries in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream just begins to thicken.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of lightly whipped sweetened cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.

Add a mint leaf to each serving for garnish.

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Filed under Dessert, Food

Spanish Mission Style for your Dining Table

Interior Hallway at Mission Santa Barbara

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

On a recent visit to the beautiful Pacific coastal city of Santa Barbara, I visited the historic, 225-year old Mission Santa Barbara. Locals refer to this 1786-built mission as the “Queen of the Missions,” due to its magnificent Roman-inspired architecture and its place as the 10th of California’s 21 missions continually operating since its beginning by Franciscan friars.  The gorgeous chapel and the flower-filled inner Moorish fountain and courtyard were my favorite parts of the tour.  Until I spied this lovely brick and stucco outdoor hallway.  I loved the elaborate ironwork enveloping the windows and the brightly painted turquoise shutters with brick-red trim.  The thick adobe exterior walls, originally painted by Chumash Indians, now boasts a striking rich-yellow tone. The white-washed years of wear and tear, located below the bottom of the windows, reminds me of tarnished silver. Finally, patterned black ironwork, a frequent enhancement of Santa Barbara architecture, adds a flash of jewelry to the windows.

I thought about how to create this enticing color scheme for dining at home. Envision your dining table showcasing tableware inspired by the Mission colors of muted mustard yellow, Southwestern turquoise, rusty-red, iron black and touches of flashy silver.

In searching online, I found some sturdy dinnerware in a slightly more mint-turquoise shade by Bobby Flay at Kohl’s.  These dishes are perfectly trimmed in rust red, similar to the windows above.  The retail price is $139.99 for a 16-piece set.

Consider pairing this dinnerware with the Dijon-yellow scalloped placemats.  Or, alternatively, a full tablecloth in this collection from Williams Sonoma.

These lovely linens feature a center raised grape motif and leaf pattern. This seems appropriate for our mission theme, after all didn’t the Franciscan monks produce wine?  $56.00 for a set of four placemats, $125.00 – $180.00 for the tablecloths, depending on size.

Complete the table setting with black eating utensils.  A heavy, rustic, forged iron style would be perfect, such as these from the Country Village Shoppe at $64.95 for each 5-piece setting.

Then, add some bowls and serving pieces in a tarnished silver plate, borrowing a few of those antique treasures from your grandmother’s cupboard for the occasion.  Or, I like to search out pretty silver plate pieces with discounted prices at Ruby Lane.

Finally, create a giant centerpiece out of the bright yellow sunflowers growing in abundance by the roadside this month.  And, as an added bonus, they are free!  Add in some green flowering branches from a tree in your yard and arrange the flowers in a silver wine bucket or rustic black urn for a final Spanish touch.

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

Viva La Fiesta!

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes