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 8, 2012

An Excuse For A Party!

An excuse for a party at Linderhof?     Lamb for stew in the freezer, a plethora of vegetables from the Farmer's Market and a recipe I want to try!    The perfect triumvirate  as a reason for a party!     And so we invited four friends to join us for dinner on Saturday.

Even though it is summer, inside because of the heat . . .

I love the dining room with everything in its place just before company comes.

A white lace tablecloth and white damask napkins in silver napkin rings.

We're awaiting company.

Spode blue and white always sets a beautiful table.

Centerpieces are almost always fresh flowers and candles!

Garden flowers are scarce but the begonias are blooming away.    Two small bouquets in crystal rose bowls.     Conversation is the most important aspect of a centerpiece and it has to be low enough so that you can talk "over it"!     For ambiance, three small sterling candleholders.

Photo by "wine steward" Jim.    Glass is hand painted and one of four.

Husband Jim's joyce of wine for the night.

Photo by "wine steward" Jim with the sunflower glass in the foreground.

He likes to give guests a choice.

The "maiden voyage" of our glasses!

And the wine glasses -- the one with all the flowers are our gift for volunteering at the Overland Park Arboretum's Stems event.    The sunflower glass painted by the same artist was purchased at the Arboretum.  

We always start in the living room with drinks and nibblies.

Whatever appetizer I serve for a dinner party, I always include a cheese tray as well . . . and sometimes the appetizer is the cheese tray!

Fresh chèvre and Himmelsburg from Skyview Farms.    A local cheese maker a short 20 miles from us. Their cheese is wonderful and they've been at our Saturday Farmer's Market the last couple of weeks (the Chèvre, however, has to be bought at the farm) which makes it easy to get our Skyview cheese fix!

Recipe from Daughter Sarah.

Artichoke cups.    An amazingly simple appetizer -- puff pastry cut into rounds and put in mini tart tins (or lacking those, you can use mini muffin tins) and a spoonful of pesto in the shell and a quarter of an artichoke heart on top (which has a squeeze of lemon juice on the bowlful).    Bake at 425 for about 10 to 12 minutes or until puff pastry is puffed and browned.

When we have company for dinner, I rarely use a familiar recipe . . . and when we have company, I always pour over my cookbooks to select the dishes that I'll prepare.

Whenever I have company, there's always a stack of cookbooks.

This often leads to a pile of cookbooks on the island . . . and sometimes something printed off the computer!    

The menu for our company?

Spinach tart -- a great first course!

Spinach tart.    An adaptation of a Laura Calder swiss chard tart.    

Almost ready to call the guests for dinner.

It's good and served at room temperature so it can be preset before the guests come to the table.

And the star of the show?

Lamb stew and lemon risotto

A provencal lamb stew filled with Farmer's Market vegetables -- eggplant, onion, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes.    Served with Ina Garten's Easy risotto made my way with the addition of lemon zest.    If you like to serve risotto for company, this is the perfect recipe!

Dessert can be decadent . . .

A great dessert for company!

And Laura Calder's craggy chocolate cake is!     It's flourless but filled with bittersweet chocolate and eggs and butter!     Topped with a big spoonful of whipped cream flavored with Grand Marnier and a cup of strong after dinner coffee, it's the perfect way to end the meal.    I've made it before and gave the recipe on this post -- A Luncheon for Friends.    It is that good!

Of course, Husband Jim after dessert and coffee,  always offers my homemade apricot liqueur or Cognac or Armagnac to our guests.

More conversation follows as we linger at the table over drinks.    It's always a fun evening at Linderhof when company comes.    Table conversation is lively, we share a meal and some good wine, and friendship flows!

I wish I could invite you to join us at Linderhof for dinner for we love to have company!


1 T. oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clover garlic, minced
4 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
1 1/2 pounds fresh Spinach
3 eggs
1 cup creme fraiche (or heavy cream and sour cream combined)
salt and pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
handful of raisins
handful toasted pine nuts
1 deep tart sheet, baked in a springform pan

Preheat the oven to 375.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and fry the shallots until soft and translucent.    Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.   Remove to a plate.   In the same pan, fry the bacon until the fat has been rendered and the lardons are crispy.      Remove to the plate with the shallots.    Coarsely chop the spinach and add to pan, cover and wilt, about 3 minutes.   

Beat the eggs together with the creme fraiche and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the shallots, bacon, spinach, cheese, raisin and pine nuts to combine evenly.   Taste and season.    Fill the tart shell with the vegetable mixture and pour over the cream mixture.    Bake until the tart has set, about 30 minutes.     Remove the tart from the oven and cool.    Serve at room temperature.


1 lamb shoulder (about 4 1/2 pounds) cut into large chunks
salt and pepper
3 T. olive oil
3 onions, peeled and sliced
6 plum tomatoes
1 1/2 c. red wine
1 c. chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 bouquet fresh thumb
1 head garlic, broken into peeled cloves
1 pound eggplant, cut into chunks
1 pound red peppers, seeded, cut into strips
1 pound zucchini, cut into chunks

Heat the oven to 300.

Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and pepper.   Heat a spoonful or two of the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat well on both sides, about 15 minutes per side.    Remove the meat.

Add another spoonful of the oil and cook the onions until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.    While the onions are browning, peel, quarter and seed the tomatoes over a sieve set over a bowl to catch the juices.    Reserve the tomatoes for later.   Pour the juice into a 2 cup measuring cup and add enough wine to fill.    Deglaze the onions with the stock, stirring up the good bits from the bottom.    Then add the wine and tomato juice mixture.    Add the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and garlic.    Wet a piece of parchment paper and lay it over the meat, cover and bake 1 hour 30 minutes.

While the lamb cooks, salt the eggplant and set in a colander to drain, about 30 minutes.   Rinse and pat dry.  Once the lamb has cooked 1 hour 30 minutes, add the eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, cover and cook for another hour.

Increase the heat to 400.    Remove the lid and the parchment, add the zucchini and cook a further 45 minutes uncovered.

For serving.   Remove from the oven.   Remove the herbs.    Spoon the lamb onto plates, with the sauce spooned over.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my dinner party with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch and join Susan to see what other pretty tables there are this Thursday!



On Crooked Creek said...

Your tablescape is lovely and the hand painted Sunflower stemware stole my heart!Your menu sounds divine! We are having our final "4 X 4" dinner party this Saturday...I'm to bring the salad! Much like you, I've been pouring over cookbooks and my favorite Food Network ladies views!Hopefully, my salad of choice will be post worthy for On The Menu Monday!

Pondside said...

What a beautiful table!
I do believe I could smell the enticing aromas all the way up here, from tarts to chocolate - yummy!

Southerncook said...

Your table is lovely as always and I am coveting that gorgeous soup tureen and large platter underneath on the sideboard. I like the way you changed up that recipe for the tart and I want to make it this week. Did you find the recipe in one of her books and if so which one?


Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Wonderful presentation as always! Thanks for sharing your fabulous adventures! xxoo Nancy

Tammy at Tammy Loves Dishes said...

I do love to read about your lovely dinners and to see the dishes you have served. I often have to wipe the drool off my chin. Oh, your lucky guests!

And as always, your table is set to perfection.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Martha said...

Yes, Carolyn, it was in her second book -- French Taste. Most of her show's recipes are in that book.

Southerncook said...

Thanks Martha. Have not found that book yet but have it in my cart on amazon.

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

Wow! You have really gone out of your way to make your guests feel like royalty! Looks like a delicious dinner and good time!

Tea in Texas said...

Your spinach tart looks and sounds delicious from the recipe. I enjoyed viewing your table with the flowered goblets. You must be a fabulous cook and I love your food photos. Since, I visited your town I have thought of you and would love to come back and meet you. We did not travel your direction this summer for we went to Oregon. Please, pop over to see my post of some thrifted finds for my tablescape.

Thanks, Pam

Marlis said...

What a lovely lovely table. I love your menu.. wow. that knocks my socks off. Also the wine glasses are just wonderful. I can imagine a whole table full of those.. Great great table, your guest loved it I'm sure. xo marlis

Bookie said...

What a nice evening you had! You inspire me to do more but the body fights the inspiration, ha, ha! I have really been avoiding using the oven. So much so, I bought an angel food cake yesterday from the Mennonites rather than heat up the house! As always, your table is so beautiful...I like those begonias in glass...I would not have thought of that! However, even my begonias are beginning to look lame in this heat.

Two Cottages And Tea said...

The dinner sounds lovely. Table looks beautiful and thank you for the recipes!

Bernideen said...

Wow - wow - wow!

Savannah Granny said...

Martha, It is 9pm here. I have had my dinner hours ago but I am salivating. Not only is the table beautiful and inviting the lamb stew looks awesome. Oh, I forgot, I love artichokes and once smuggled about two dozen on the plane from California and that spinach tart. Good Lord, I am hungry.
Awesome as usual, thanks for sharing, Ginger

Michelle said...

Your entertaining just leaves me should do a book!