Dahlia Dinner + fletcher & fork’s first video

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.

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LUNCH IN THE GARDEN

My favorite part of being Editor in Chief of Forest & Bluff Magazine is concepting our entertaining pieces, then collaborating with others to make the ideas come to life. This story originally appeared in the House & Garden section of our July 2020 issue and was shot in my backyard on a beautiful day in late May of last year. Though summer has not officially arrived, I thought it would be the perfect time to share this piece with warm weather predicted for the upcoming weekend and Memorial Day just around the bend.

words and styling by Wendy Franzen / photography by Monica Kass Rogers / recipes by Elizabeth Brown / cocktail recipe by the Deer Path Inn

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sip | the last word

If I am out to dinner (yes, I vaguely remember what going out was like) and a cocktail with green Chartreuse is on the menu, I will, without fail, order it. This delightfully herbaceous, naturally green liqueur is made by French monks from a secret, 400-year-old recipe. The process is shrouded in mystery as well, though it is known that Chartreuse is made with 130 botanicals aged for years in oak casks and placed in the world’s longest liquor cellar until mature. Oh, and it is deceptively strong. 110 proof … which I was not aware of the first time I tried it.

The Last Word, fletcher + fork
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Sip | Julia’s Martini + Wild and Wonderful Travel in 2019

Still Life with Fruit, oil on panel , 1675, by JACOB VAN WALSCAPELLE
Dutch, 1644-1727
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

TRAVEL MORE. That was my main 2019 resolution. It was a wise one, it turns out, as this has been one miserable winter in Chicago! Though we’ve barely entered March, I’ve been out of town more than I’ve been home. In the last four weeks alone I’ve spent long stretches in Colorado, the Keys, and Washington D.C. All regular haunts for me, but OH MY is that about to change.

Beaver Creek with the birthday boy
Ocean Reef antics
Rye Manhattans and cat bingo…Saturday night with my sister and three-year-old nephew
Continue reading “Sip | Julia’s Martini + Wild and Wonderful Travel in 2019”

Sip and Nibble | Recipes from Lake Forest Bookstore Event

fullsizeoutput_763Last Thursday evening, I was delighted to share a few of my favorite recipes and tips for an autumn cocktail party at the Lake Forest Book Store’s fletcher + fork pop-up event. Guests sipped Fletcher’s Harvest cocktails and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres I’d prepared while we chatted about all things entertaining. The menu, below:

Cocktail
Fletcher’s Harvest

Hors d’oeuvres
Parmesan Polenta Stacks with Oven Dried Tomatoes
Braised Hoisin Short Rib Crostini with Kimchi Blue Cheese Remoulade
Roasted Rosemary Shrimp with Creamy Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce
Chocolate Hazelnut Tassies
Spiced Pear Cakelets

Party Favor
S’Mores Cookies

Thank you to all who attended! I loved your questions and look forward to your visits here at fletcher + fork. As promised, I am sharing the recipes here. Seven recipes in one post would leave you scrolling for miles, so you’ll find two in today’s post and the remaining over the following weeks.

The cocktail, below, works beautifully for Thanksgiving, and was created for serving with or without alcohol so all will feel festive and included.  Continue reading “Sip and Nibble | Recipes from Lake Forest Bookstore Event”

Autumn Entertaining | Fireside Cocktail + Lake Forest Book Store Event

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Is autumn your favorite entertaining season? It is mine, by far! And on November 1st from 6-7pm, the Lake Forest Book Store will host a Fletcher + Fork Pop-Up where I’ll discuss everything from crafting a cohesive menu and curating a playlist to creating beautiful tablescapes and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. It will be a relaxed hour filled with tastings, tips, and recipes for a late autumn gathering. Please come! You can click here to read more about and register for the event. in the meantime, enjoy my classic, perfect-for-fall, Manhattan recipe. Continue reading “Autumn Entertaining | Fireside Cocktail + Lake Forest Book Store Event”

Sip | Aperol Spritz

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It’s no mystery why spritzes are the darlings of Italian aperitivo (similar to American happy hour). With their effervescent nature and low-alcohol content, merrymakers can enjoy a spritz or two and feel refreshed and relaxed without stumbling into the dinner hour. I mentioned in last week’s post that we mixed up a batch of Aperol spritzes for recent guests before sitting down to a summery risotto, so this week I thought I’d share the recipe with you. Continue reading “Sip | Aperol Spritz”

Sip | Rum Old Fashioned

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Evening temperatures have begun to dip into the forties, and the vines climbing our home’s stone and brick facade have shifted from dark green to shades of burgundy and blazing orange. It finally feels like autumn. Why not enjoy your first fire of the season with fall cocktails and close friends? It’s a simple and comforting way to usher in the season, where cozy sweaters and spirited conversation are the only requirements for guests. Continue reading “Sip | Rum Old Fashioned”

Sip | Rhubarb Gin Fizz (+ a Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer)

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Happy Fourth of July, all! Question…what are you bringing to your neighborhood barbecue or fireworks celebration? If you’re not sure yet, I have the answer. This refreshing, simple, and utterly unique summer cocktail is a crowd pleaser. I LOVE these for big social gatherings because everyone can enjoy them – and honestly, the non-alcoholic spritzer version is every bit as yummy as its ginned up cousin. Tart, sweet rhubarb-lemon simple syrup brings a flavor punch as well as visual payoff with its festive Nantucket red hue, while the sparkly club soda refreshes and hydrates. If you can’t find rhubarb, substitute raspberries for an equally beautiful and delicious simple syrup. Continue reading “Sip | Rhubarb Gin Fizz (+ a Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer)”

Sip | Bourbon Smash + Writing for a Magazine

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The August issue of Sheridan Road hit mailboxes yesterday. It brings me so much joy to create cocktails and recipes for the magazine each month, and choosing what to make is a big part of the fun. The magazine’s fabulous editor (and I’m not just saying that – she really is a dynamo), Dustin O’Regan, will share with me the stories she plans to feature, providing me with a springboard for ideas. From there I develop recipes that marry what’s happening in the magazine with ingredients that highlight the current season. Continue reading “Sip | Bourbon Smash + Writing for a Magazine”