New On The Blog

Some dinner parties require a more formal protocol. For example, a military dinner will have strict guidelines as to where personnel will sit. If you are hosting a client dinner, you might also prefer a more formal arrangement. Even in a casual setting, you can choose to follow protocol to honor a special guest. The below description is based on a social party (vs. business), a rectangular table, and includes both men and women:

When hosting a dinner party, where you place your guests around the table is a crucial element for the success of your event. You presumably put thought into who you invited to the gathering. Do not stop there. The placement of each person around the table is something that should not be thrown together at the last minute.

I love entertaining friends and family in my home, especially during the holidays. But I must admit, it can be a bit overwhelming hosting a dinner party in the stage of life with little ones running around. The cooperation I receive from my toddlers is a significant factor in how efficient I am on a daily basis. Add in hosting a party, and it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself wanting to gather friends for a festive evening, here are my tried-and-true tips for entertaining with young children:

Planning a party can be fun, but do you know the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly? Have a rehearsal for your party. Yes, you heard correctly. You have spent a great deal of time planning your theme, creating your guestlist, and delivering your invitations. Now is the time to do a mock rehearsal which will allow you to create an action list of outstanding items around your home that might need attention. It also helps solidify any last-minute details.

These thirteen tips will get your through any dinner party. Here is a quick refresher. 

1. Leave The Cocktail Glass Behind:

If you are attending a dinner party, there may be cocktails offered before the meal begins. When the hostess signals it is time to head to the dining room, leave your drink behind. Why? The dining table has been pre-set with the glasses you will need and adding another to your place setting will only clutter the minimal real estate in front of you. Your palate is another reason to leave the cocktail behind. Many hostesses go to great lengths to pare wine with the food being served. Once seated at the table it is time to switch to wine or water.

You just received an invitation to a party, and the attire says: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture. What??? Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for a party, make it clear. We do not want our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

Table manners are the area in which I receive the most questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in managing an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction. Even if you are unsure, most people do not care.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food, drinks, a clean bathroom, and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest. When a hostess plans a party, a great deal of time is spent deciding who she will invite. What group of friends go well together?

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party looking scared, so unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screamed, “I wish I was anywhere but here!”

You are invited!!! There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP. Follow the six steps below and the hostess will be singing your praises!

  • Cecelia Zook

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake Taste Test



Happy Foodie Friday! These recipes come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

www.thefrankincensetree.com

info@thefrankincensetree.com

We hope you enjoy!


While baking this recipe, I had no idea how it was going to turn out because it seemed too easy. Little did I know, it would turn out to be my favorite recipe I’ve ever baked! Not only was it incredibly easy, but the entire experience from baking it to eating it was enjoyable. There is a wonderful balance of the bitter oranges on the top and the sweet orange zest in the batter. The cake was light, fluffy, and very moist - I couldn’t get enough! 



Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.34MB

Makes 8 Servings

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

Cook Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes


Ingredients for the oranges:

*4 blood oranges (3 used for slices, the 4th for zest + juice)

*2/3 cup granulated or cane sugar

*5 tablespoons butter + additional for greasing the pan


Preparation of the pan and orange slices:

*Preheat oven to 350F.

*Butter a 9 inch cake pan well.

*Cut the 5 tablespoons of butter into small chunks and scatter them in the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

*Slice your blood oranges: cut each end off, then stand the orange on end and slice the outer skin off.

*Cut into thin slices. Set on a large plate and pour the 2/3 cup of sugar over them. Let sit for 5 minutes. Lay oranges in an even layer in the bottom of the pan and set aside.


Ingredients for the cake:

*1 stick butter, softened

*1 cup + 3 tablespoons cane or granulated sugar

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*2 eggs

*Zest of one blood orange

*2 tablespoons orange juice

*1 teaspoon vanilla

*1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

*1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

*1/4 teaspoon salt

*1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream


Preparation for the cake batter:

*Cream softened butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy then add the sugar and mix until creamed together.

*Mix in one egg at a time.

*Add the orange zest, orange juice and vanilla and mix until combined.

*In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

*Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time, alternating with the Greek yogurt.

*Pour batter over the oranges in the cake pan.


Ingredients for the crumb layer:

*1/3 cup all-purpose flour

*3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)

*1/4 cup cane or granulated sugar

*4 tablespoons melted butter

*Pinch of salt


Preparation for the crumb topping:

*In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.

*Add the melted butter and stir until different size crumbs form.

*Sprinkle the crumbs over the cake batter.


Preparation for the cake:

*Once the entire cake is prepared, bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

*When done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.

*Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen, then invert cake onto a cooling rack. (Don't let it sit longer than this because the oranges can begin to stick in the bottom of the pan. If the cake seems to be sticking, gently, but firmly, tap on the bottom of the cake pan with the butt of a butter knife while the cake pan is flipped upside down on the cooling rack. If any stray oranges stick to the pan, gently remove them and place them back on the cake.)

*Let cake cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

*Store at room temperature for up to 4 days, tightly covered with foil, plastic wrap or in a large plastic container.


Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook