Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Southern Style Dinner Party

The summer solstice is this weekend, so it was a reason to celebrate with friends!  Time to use fresh rhubarb, strawberries and peonies while they last! 
Biscuit Bar
 French Preserves, Caramelized Bacon, and Artisanal Cheeses
Sweet Tea Brined Pork Loin
Pimento Cheese Grits
French Green Beans with Molasses and Worcestershire
Summer Pavlova
Chocolate Pudding
Yes- two desserts!  It's a southern thing! And I had a lot of sweet lovin' friends around the table!
You really can't beat the taste combination of Callie's Buttermilk biscuits and the Barefoot Contessa's Caramelized bacon.  I invited friends over for dinner  night before last and decided to do a "biscuit" bar for appetizers.  Well, sorta---.  I should have doubled the number of biscuits and just called it dinner!  First of all, if you haven't tried Callie's biscuits-in the frozen section at Fresh Market-  you are in for a treat. The fluffy little bites from heaven can be filled with all sorts of delights.  Last night, we tasted the  renowned French confiture  chef Christine Ferber's black sour cherry compote in black pepper, Rare Birds Peach and Lavender preserves, a delicate brie cheese filled with apricots and almonds, strawberry rhubarb whipped butter  and  the Barefoot Contessa's caramelized bacon.  Divine! 

For the centerpiece of the biscuit bar, we just received these cute dressmaker forms at the shop.
They are perfect for many  displaying needs and they add a little height to the table. I love the feel with the preserves on it- very homey!  Just like biscuits!

A wonderful old footed basket that I found at Grayslake last month, filled with an over sized linen
towel from Williams Sonoma.  Perfect to keep the biscuits warm.

 A decadent strawberry preserves - all the way from the Alsace region of France.

Callie's sinfully good fluffy little biscuits. 


Ina's Caramelized Bacon -  coated in brown sugar, ground pecans, a bit of cayenne, black pepper- yum!  Baked in the oven- easy to prepare. The recipe is in her Foolproof book.


For dinner, I roasted  a pork loin that had been in a sweet tea brine for 24 hours.  My friend, Mariterese made grits with pimento cheese and we sauté French green beans in butter, molasses and worchesterhire. The pork recipe was disappointing, but the grits and dessert were a hit.   .I think the trick to the pork loin is cooking it less time, leaving the center pink.  I purchased the loin from Costco and they tie two loins together to get a large round roast.  I think it would have been better if I had separated them and inserted the thermometer  into the center of a singe loin and cooked to 135 degrees and then let it rest.   I had this pork at Merchant's restaurant in Nashville and it was the best pork loin that I have ever tasted.  So I will definitely try this recipe again.
Here's link to the recipes if you want to try it yourself-

                        It's the end of peony season, so lot's of peonies on the table were placed on the table.

I found these pink glasses while antiquing last year and they are perfect vessels for the peonies.

Hand dyed French seam binding was used instead of napkin rings.

The candles were lit and it was time for dinner!

Dessert was a roasted rhubarb, French strawberry and blackberry pavlova and Gale Gand's chocolate pudding!

The roasted rhubarb and berry pavlova.
I prepared Gale Gand's recipe for the meringue and roasted the rhubarb the day before. Right before serving, the heavy cream was whipped  and piled   on the meringue .  Next the fruit was layered on top and then the fresh mint and pansies were added for garnish.
A very light summer dessert!

And with it- a not so light dessert! 

Gale Gand's Chocolate pudding!

The great thing about this little glass of chocolate decadence is the small amount of sugar in the recipe. For 8 desserts, the recipe only calls for 4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 cup of sugar!
Plus it can be made ahead of time!  It's a keeper!  Next time, a little whipped cream on top would be a nice addition.
My husband just asked me if we had any leftover Callie's biscuits !  Not a one, honey!
So I have promised him more for tonight's dinner. I think I'll work on that biscuit bar concept a bit more- what other savory fillings can I come up with???  Maybe tonight, Fried Chicken Tenders with a chicken  gravy for dipping???  Small sausage patties ?   Anyone have any other ideas? 


MT said...

YUM YUM YUM-Thank you for including me Susan!!! What a fun evening food to die for -for starters loved those Callie biscuits! And seriously the bacon was just unbelievably delicious -the entire evening so wonderful

Sarah said...

Perfection from beginning to end. I don't know what I'm craving the most ~ a table full of peonies or a bite or two of those desserts. You certainly know how to set a gorgeous table and fill it with delicious offerings. Would love an invitation to one of your dinner parties! ;-)
Happy Summer!

La Vie Quotidienne said...

What a fantastic event...not only beautiful but yummy, who could ask for more.

Laurell Banner said...

Yummy dinner with good friends. Susan you have outdone yourself again. Always a treat to come to your home and see what wonderful things you have been up to.
This one was a keeper. Enjoyed every last bite.
Thank you so much for being you.

Kelly said...

Good Lord! If I was sitting at that table and eating that food, I would've thought I had died and gone to heaven. Everything was beautiful and the menu sounded divine. What a special treat for all your guests. I'm in love with your table setting. Jealous of all those fresh peonies you were able to bring inside. I only have one peony bush and it doesn't yield many flowers.

Christy said...

My fav was the Pavlova...unlike anything I have ever had. So so good. Bacon was delicious and yes, the biscuits were a big hit.....I could have had the whole basket.

donna baker said...

Boy, would I love to come to your dinner party.

A Toile Tale said...

Oh. My. Gosh! How have I missed this blog for so long?????? This is exquisite! I could taste every morsel and smell the peonies, the photos are THAT good. This beauty is going to keep me awake a long time tonight as I work my way through your archives. Well, well, done, Susan. I can't wait to be a regular visitor.
Linda @ A Toile Tale

Jeannine said...

Wish I were one of your friends! You have great times together!