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The day after a party a gracious guest will follow up with a thank you note or phone call. Do this within 1-2 days so your appreciation does not seem stale. The formula for a thank you looks like this:

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!

  • Alina Gersib

Severed Beef Wellington Taste Test



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!


I try not to pick favorites often, but my goodness, this meal is a new favorite. The flavors play off of each other in the most wonderful way. From the tanginess of the mustard to the earthiness of the mushrooms and the crunch of the puff pastry, this meal gets 10s across the board. Both my fiancé and I went back for seconds, we could not get enough. A favorite show of ours is Gordon Ramsey Uncharted. If I received this meal in one of his restaurants I would be absolutely blown away, that is how good it is. The best part? It is not too difficult to prepare.


If you follow the recipe closely and plan things out well, it will flow seamlessly. A few suggestions, start the mushrooms early as they need to chill for an hour before being placed on the puff pastry. Also, the puff pastry takes about 40 minutes to thaw so make sure to pull it out early.


I started by making the Mushroom Duxelle. While it was chilling I washed all of the dishes I had accumulated from the mushrooms. When I hit 40 minutes left on the mushrooms I took the puff pastry out to thaw and measured out all of the ingredients for the next steps. After prepping, searing, and covering the meat with mustard, I was ready to start assembling the ingredients on the thawed puff pastry. Once the beef Wellington was in the oven, I washed up all of the dishes and started making the sauce and a side of asparagus. With working while things were cooking (or chilling) everything was ready right at the same time for this delicious meal!


Severed Beef Wellington



Severed Beef Wellington
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.32MB

Makes 5 servings

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

Cooking Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:

*2 pounds beef tenderloin

*1/2 cup yellow mustard

*2 cups Mushroom Duxelle (recipe follows)

*Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed and rolled out 10” x 10” x 1/8”

*Salt and pepper, to taste

*1 whole egg, beaten, for egg wash

*1/4 cup olive oil, for searing


Preparation:

*Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste, and sear to golden brown on all sides in a pan on high heat.

*Take it off the heat and reserve on the side.

*Preheat oven to 400F.

*Spread the Mushroom Duxelle over the prepared puff pastry making sure to leave 2 inches free on all sides.

*Brush the egg wash on this 2 inch free space of pastry.

*Brush the mustard all over the seared tenderloin, and place tenderloin on top of one end of the prepared puff pastry.

*Now, carefully roll meat and dough, making sure it is nicely tucked in. Keep rolling until meat is fully incased. Pinch and press the ends to seal meat, making sure there are no openings or gaps on either end.

*Carefully place meat/dough on a sheet pan and brush egg wash on all sides.

*Put in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, then remove and let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

*Slice in 1 to 1 1/2 inch thickness.

*Accompany with grilled asparagus and Marsala Wine Sauce.


Mushroom Duxelle (for Beef Wellington)



Mushroom Duxelle
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.32MB

Makes 5 servings

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

Cooking Time: 35 Minutes


Ingredients:

*2 pounds mushrooms, minced in a food processor

*1 cup onion, finely chopped

*2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

*1 tablespoon butter

*2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

*1/4 cup dry white wine

*1 teaspoon salt


Preparation:

*In a large sauté pan, place the butter, onion and garlic and cook on medium heat until onion is translucent.

*Add the minced mushrooms, rosemary, wine and salt.

*Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is completely dry. (Mixture should have absolutely no

moisture.) This entire process should take about 15 to 20 minutes on low to medium heat. (It took mine about 35 minutes but my pan does not have a huge surface area)

*Turn heat off, spread onto a sheet pan, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

*Mushroom Duxelle is ready to use.

Marsala Wine Sauce



Marsala Wine Sauce (for Beef Wellington)
.
Download • 2.32MB

Makes 1 Cup

Preparation Time: 5 Minutes

Cooking Time: 15 Minutes


Ingredients:

*2 tablespoons olive oil

*2 tablespoons fresh onion, grated

*1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

*1 cup Marsala wine

*2 cups beef or chicken stock

*2 tablespoons cornstarch slurry, or as needed for thickening (A cornstarch slurry is equal parts water and cornstarch mixed together. I combined 2 tbsp of each and used almost all of it.)

*2 tablespoons butter

*Salt & pepper, to taste


Preparation:

*In a medium saucepan heat the oil to low smoking point.

*Add the onion and garlic, cook until translucent.

*Turn heat to high and add the wine.

*Reduce to half, then add the stock and reduce to half again.

*Turn the heat back to medium and add cornstarch, whisking as needed to lightly thicken the sauce.

*Season to taste and add the butter.

*Whisk to melt butter in the sauce.



Recipe and Taste Tester - Alina Gersib