Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Birthday Luncheon

Friend Katherine has been a friend for a long time.    From when we lived in the little town 20 miles east of us.     And our friendship has continued.     It's always great to see Katherine whether here or there.    When Friend Barbara called and said she wanted to celebrate Katherine's birthday at Linderhof, of course, I said yes.

And so this week, they came . . . Katherine and five friends.

Dining Room table all ready for company.

A ladies luncheon.     Lace tablecloth, damask napkins (in the silver napkin rings), fresh flowers on the table.    
A present for Katherine, an orchid lover.

Katherine's place.    A basket for cards and a week orchid -- a gift from me.

I always love that time just before guests arrive.

The dining room.    All set and waiting to celebrate a friend's birthday.

Always fresh flowers.

Flowers in the garden have been sparse this hot and dry summer but the begonias bloom on.     I've been cutting them for the table . . . a bouquet in one of the wine rinsers.    Short flowers because we believe that a centerpiece should add a bit of freshness and color -- not be so big that you have to talk around it!

Always a menu.

Aways a menu -- one per person.    To take home, if they wish (and they usually wish).     A memento of the day and the meal and the celebration.

And the food . . .

A simple soup with the flavor of carrot and ginger.

Gingered carrot soup which looks a little bare for the candied ginger garnish sunk to the bottom!

A crustless quiche so you can have pie for dessert.

My favorite quiche recipe -- the bare bones are good and the "ingredients" are easily changed.    This time I made a broccoli chicken.

A perfect ladies luncheon plate

Served with slices of toasted buttered banana bread and a green salad with Skyview Farms Chèvre.  

And the dessert -- Katherine's favorite . . .

Creme brûlée served on a doily and adorned with blackberries and a mint leaf

Creme brûlée.    Done European style in ramekins rather than those shallow dishes that most restaurants seem to use now.

And Katherine's . . .

Just one candle.    A lady shouldn't tell her age!

Had a candle.     We all sang "Happy Birthday", she made a wish and blew out her candle.

It was a fun afternoon and I was pleased to be able to celebrate Katherine's birthday with her.

However . . .

"We want to party too!"

The corgis were not happy that the party was inside and they were outside!


2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
pinch salt
4 egg yolks
7 T. sugar


1/4 cup packed brown sugar

For custard:   Preheat oven to 300.   In a saucepan, combine the cream, vanilla and salt.    Warm over medium heat until the surface begins to shimmer, about 3 minutes.    Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, stir the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until blended.    Pour into the hot cream mixture and stir gently to avoid forming air bubbles.    Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher (or large mixing cup).    Skim off surface bubbles if any.

Place ramekins in a baking dish with 1 1/2 to 2 inch sides.   Pour custard into  the ramekins, filling them to the rim.    Pour in enough very hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.    Cover barely with foil and bake for 1 hour 40 minutes, or until the custard is firm around the edges.  (it may still be wobbly in the center but it will firm up as it chills).

Cool for 15 minutes.   Then remove custards from the water bath.   Let cool to lukewarm.   Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour (the custards can be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead).   If small pools of liquid develop on the surfaces, blot with a paper towel before proceeding.

Preheat broiler to 500.    Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.    Sprinkle a very thin layer of brown sugar over the chilled custard, about 1 T. patting it evenly.    Broil the custards as close to the heat as possible until the sugar is caramelized, about 1 minute.   (It will be melted and deep brown in color) watch carefully that it does not blacken.)    Let custards cool to room temperature, then chill for 45 minutes or up to 3 hours.    Serve the same day once the topping is caramelized so that the topping is crisp.    The topping will soften if chilled overnight.

NOTE:    This recipe is from friend Michael Richardson's cookbook, The Best of Cottey Cooking and is a classic creme brûlée.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my Birthday Luncheon with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.


william said...

Martha, what a delicious menu and pretty table! A fun birthday party for Katherine! Your doggies are darling!


Patty said...

what a fun birthday lunch. I love all the details, the flowers, the gift, and the menu!

Tea Party said...

So thoughtful and charming...and yummy!

Dolly and Oliver are so cute!

Rowan said...

What a lovely birthday lunch - the menu looks and sounds delicious!

On Crooked Creek said...

What a lovely birthday celebration and ladies luncheon! I do believe Ollie is "smiling" more these days since Dolly's arrival!

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

Martha, your luncheon looks amazing! Everything is just so perfect!

Your dishes, your attention to detail and your menu - wow!

Thank you for your recipe, too- I love this dessert and even have the little ramekins for it and have never made it. Something I just always wanted to do.

You h ave inspired me today, thanks!

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...


Your Corgis are ADORABLE!

lindaraxa said...

That Dolly is a cutie. You are so lucky! and Ollie probably only to eager to show her the ropes.

Beautiful table and food. How do you get those menu cards printed so professionally?!

Jocelyn said...

Your luncheon table is amazing! Everything looks so beautiful and delicious. Love the details.

Jocelyn @

Southerncook said...

Such a gorgeous table as always and a perfect menu. Loved that Creme Brulee.


Michelle said...

Love the idea of a "crustless" quiche so there's more room for pie! You always have the best recipes and thank you for sharing them!

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

What a lovely lunch you prepared for your friend!! Creme brûlée. Is one of our favorites around here, too. The crust less quiche looks wonderful. I need to see if you have that posted on your blog somewhere. Have a good weekend, Martha!