back to entertaining
I’ve missed having company! Between the frenetic pace of my former job as editor-in-chief of a lifestyle magazine (this September issue was my last) and COVID-19, our gatherings had become infrequent at best. Now—with a blissfully more relaxed schedule—I have time for cooking, puttering around the yard, and entertaining. Dahlias also happen to be in season now, which provided a fantastic reason for a dinner party: celebrating these flamboyant favorites from the garden.
Figs, like dahlias, shine in late summer and early autumn, so I put together a charcuterie board including jammy missions, gorgeous green adriatics, and fig jam for slathering on crackers then topping with blue cheese.
flowers from the garden
I clipped dahlias from one of our cutting beds and arranged them simply in these colorful, handblown glass vases. Placing just one or two stems per vase allowed the unique shape, size, and color of each dahlia to be appreciated—and it took mere moments.
Offering a special cocktail to guests as they arrive is something I do if time allows (if not, I default to champagne … who doesn’t love champagne?). For this dinner I chose the Bee’s Knees (recipe below), a refreshing, honey-kissed gin cocktail with a name perfectly suited for a dinner celebrating flowers.
THE BEE’S KNEES
- 2 ounces gin
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce honey syrup recipe below
- 1 large egg white
- 1 strip lemon peel for garnish
- Fill a coupe or cocktail glass with ice and set aside to chill.
- Place lemon juice, gin, honey syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake vigorously.
- Take a peek in the shaker: when egg white is foamy, add ice, re-cover, and give it a few more shakes.
- Discard ice from glass, draining it of any residual water. Strain shaker contents into the glass. Garnish with the lemon peel.
For the honey syrup:
- Place 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently and frequently until honey is dissolved, about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool thoroughly. Store in a closed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
Setting the table makes me ridiculously happy. As Charlotte Moss famously once said, “setting the table is everyday decorating.” To me, it’s all about finding color stories between objects, choosing a few pieces that have been passed down through the family or found on a special trip, and tying in the flowers. I don’t fret over mixing old and new, fancy and flea market—in my estimation, it looks better that way.
A few hours before this dinner, I laid out a quilt recently discovered at Brimfield Antique Flea Market for the tablecloth, then layered on the tableware, including some of my favorite china. Top tip: when setting an outdoor table ahead of time, lay a sheet over it until just before guests arrive to prevent leaves and other unpleasantries from making a mess! I’ve learned the hard way…
DAHLIA DINNER MENU
cocktails of the evening
The Bee’s Knees (recipe above)
zero alcohol: Sparkling Honey Lemonade
white: Weingut Hirsch Kammern Gruner Veltliner 2019
red: Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015
zero alcohol: Gisen 0% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020
lemon thyme roast chicken
vegetable tian (recipe in next week’s post)
garden herb quinoa
peach cobbler (recipe here)
video and photography in this post by Caroline Reynolds