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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

Rosemary Crusted Filet of Beef and Asparagus


Happy Foodie Friday! This recipe comes courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

www.thefrankincensetree.com

info@thefrankincensetree.com

Each of our Taste Test Reviews comes with the original recipe and the tester's notes/changes listed with the ingredient list in blue. We hope you enjoy!


As soon as I read this delicious recipe I was sold! Between the colorful and flavorful herbs and the butter-soaked filet, it was definitely a dinner to remember. My husband and I love cooking filets and always enjoy trying something new. We had never covered our filets in a buttery herb spread, but we will from now on! The red wine sauce really brought everything together. It was rich, creamy, flavorful, and simple. The recipe had all the steps clearly laid out so it was very easy to follow. The asparagus was the cherry on top because it only took minutes to make while the tenderloin was resting. We decided to add mashed potatoes to our meal, but it also would have paired nicely with some mac and cheese, roasted potatoes, or grain rice. 


Rosemary Crusted Filet of Beef
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Makes 6 Servings

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Cost: About $45, depending on the size and price of the beef tenderloin


Ingredients for Filet:

*8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

*2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced

*2 garlic cloves

*Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*1 beef tenderloin, about 4 pounds


Preparation for Filet:

*Preheat oven to 450°F.

*Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

*In a food processor combine the butter, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, garlic and a large pinch each of salt and pepper.

*Pulse until the mixture is creamy and the garlic is minced and blended into the butter.

*Place the beef tenderloin on the prepared baking sheet.

*Rub the herb butter over the entire surface of the meat (silicone spatula works best).

*Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 130F for medium-rare, 40 to 45 minutes (or until done to your liking).

*Transfer the tenderloin to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

*Cut the tenderloin into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on a platter. Place 3 slices on each plate.


Ingredients for the Red Wine Sauce:

*1 bottle of your favorite California red wine (preferably a Cabernet)

*1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

*1 sprig rosemary

*1 cup beef stock

*1 tablespoon butter

*Salt and pepper, to taste


Preparation for the Red Wine Sauce:

*For the red wine sauce, reserve 1 tablespoon of the steak drippings and place in a pot over medium heat.

*Add red wine, balsamic vinegar, rosemary sprig and thyme sprigs, bring mixture to a rapid bowl.

*Allow wine mixture to reduce until thickened, about 1/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.

*Add in beef stock and bring to a rapid boil until the sauce is reduced and thickened to about 1/2 cup, about 4 to 5 minutes.

*Remove rosemary and thyme, discard.

*Turn off heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter.

*Taste the red wine sauce and season with more salt and pepper as desired.

*Garnish steaks with chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley a few minutes before serving.

*Place red wine sauce in separate bowl for guests to use as they wish.



Aspargus
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Ingredients:

*Thick asparagus (you choose quantity of spears)

*Oil, as needed

*Salt and black pepper, to taste

*1 teaspoon garlic powder


Preparation:

*Trim 1 inch off the asparagus from the root side.

*Peel the asparagus and coat with remainder of ingredients (easiest to do this on a sheet pan.)

*Stir well and cook on the grill for 3 to 5 minutes. (Can be cooked in the oven under the broiler for 2 to 4 minutes.)


Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook