Small Bite Dessert | Chocolate Hazelnut Tassies

Every Christmas I couldn’t wait for my mother to make her Pecan Tassies, the bite-sized pecan tartlets with a simple cream cheese pastry crust. For my pop-up event at the Lake Forest Bookstore, I put a spin on her traditional recipe, swapping hazelnuts for pecans, and adding chocolate and hazelnut liqueur to the filling. The next step was creating a chocolate pastry crust to up the chocolate ante. If you’re looking for something to take along to a Thanksgiving feast, these little gems make a great addition to the dessert buffet. With or without the dollop of Nutella and toasted hazelnut crown, guests too stuffed for another piece of pumpkin pie will appreciate this sweet little nibble with a cup of coffee. Continue reading

Autumn Entertaining | Fireside Cocktail + Lake Forest Book Store Event

Manhattan

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

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner | Guinness Braised Beef with Colcannon

Chicagoans take St. Patrick’s Day seriously. Irish, until recently, was estimated to be the top ancestry of our great city. Tomorrow morning the Chicago River will be dyed green and 800,000 people will gather to observe the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade (fun fact: Harrison Ford running through the parade as Dr. Kimble in The Fugitive was entirely unscripted and shot with a hand-held cam – with the mayor’s permission, of course). Continue reading

Sheridan Road Magazine Interview

The March issue of Sheridan Road hit mail boxes today, and I’m thrilled to be the subject of this month’s The Interview column. Answering interview questions in my kitchen while having photos taken was great fun (and more challenging than you’d think!). I’ve included the full interview below – I hope you’ll enjoy reading about a few fun things I have up my sleeve, which famous people I’d love to host at a dinner party, and what my last meal would be.

THE INTERVIEW

Sheridan Road sits down with Lake Forest Foodie WENDY FRANZEN to share her entertaining secrets in her own words.

Interview_Cover

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN BRIGGS / HAIR AND MAKEUP BY BECKY GASPARD

Continue reading

Sweets | Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Parfaits

fullsizeoutput_594

When I was growing up, my mother cooked almost every night. Going out was reserved for special occasions and the rare evenings when she was too exhausted to think about putting food on the table. On those nights when we sensed a crack in her resolve, my sister and I would lobby for KFC, where I loved not only the crispy, salty fried chicken but also the whipped cream laden dessert parfaits. Kath always picked the one with chocolate pudding and I, the one that riffed on strawberry shortcake with those unnaturally red, gelatinous strawberries and too sweet vanilla cake. While you couldn’t pay me to come near one of those peel-the-foil-off-the-plastic-container confections now (or KFC for that matter), I still get a child-like thrill when excavating my way through parfait layers with a long spoon.  Continue reading

Sip | Rum Old Fashioned

rumoldfashioned1.jpg

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 | Rhubarb Gin Fizz (+ a Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer)

DSC_0634

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

Sea | Seared Sea Scallops with Citrus Tarragon Confetti Salad

scallopsnofork

Sea scallops are elegant in presentation yet incredibly fast and easy to prepare. Their sweet, creamy flesh cooks in about four minutes, making them the perfect entertaining dish. Prepare the salad ahead of time, bring it to room temperature, and dress it just before serving. Then sear and plate the scallops before your guests realize you’ve stepped away! If it’s a beautiful evening and you’re dining outside, brush them with canola oil, season with salt and pepper, and throw them on a medium-high heated grill instead. Serve with a crisp, chilled Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.

I created and photographed this recipe for the April issue of Sheridan Road magazine, wanting to share a recipe that embraced spring flavors yet transitioned to easy summer entertaining. And truth be told, I wanted a dish that would look beautiful in my antique Wedgwood shallow bowls. I have a serious china addiction, and these are one of my absolute favorite finds! Continue reading