I had a lovely weekend! I hope you did too! My weekend actually began on Friday with preparing a dinner for two lovely couples ~ Barry & Linda we have known for a long while and are our family. Carole & Larry I met in the past few months and we really hit it off as they say! Both are very dear to me.
For me, to entertain means pulling out all the stops… You could say it’s a bit like ‘doing the “Downton Abbey”!’ The BIG difference is, I am both the upstairs and the downstairs staff with the occasional assist of one, Eb… Yes, I am happy to do it all! Very content, in fact! I want my guests to always enjoy themselves ~ to have an experience as near as I can remember to when growing up and celebrating a special occasion! A ‘Downton Abbey’ experience…
A special occasion in the Keehn household meant a flurry of activity… There was the silver to polish, and washing the ‘good’ dishes and stemware… All done with glee, pride and anticipation that it was not just an everyday meal ~ Nanny would be in the kitchen with my mother cooking, and Dad would be tending to the cleaning in the house and polishing shoes and making sure that our ‘outfits’ were ready for my seven siblings and me. We were always “nattily” attired! Yes, even Dad participated! Actually, he would do a great deal in keeping the household in order, it didn’t matter to him what the ‘traditional’ male was in the 50’s and 60’s! And if you were old enough, you participated in any or all that needed being done.
Friday began with going over the menu, planning a table and all that ‘that’ means… The menu turned out to be Wedge Salad with from scratch Gorganzola dressing and fresh crumbled bacon, Hungarian Goulash with Porcini & Parsley homemade pasta served with fresh Green Beans and dessert of Meringue Cups with Fresh Whipped Cream and Strawberries. The wine choice was Malbec and with dessert Bailey’s cordials. All well and good, right? Well, there were a few glitches…
With the plan in place, the activity began… I indeed polished the silver, washed dishes and stemware and ironed the tablecloth along with the napkins. Meal prep for my ‘assistant’ began with cutting up the meat, vegetables and gathering the ingredients of his family’s recipe of Hungarian Goulash. To have a very mouth watering, delicious goulash it really needs to be made the day before, and so it was done! The aromas began swirling around the house! My oh my! And the visions of years ago ghosted around in my mind and my heart… They always do when preparing for an ‘occasion’ in my home! The rest is to be done on Saturday! But it was time to go get purty… off to get my hair done!
Saturday… I can’t wait to get started, and I’m up early! First things first, a French Press of coffee and I mull over the recipe again and again… It’s not that I’ve never made pasta or the meringue cups before, it’s just that I wanted it to be perfect… So over and over again it goes in my head – the steps and the ingredients… But this time, to save some time, I chose to mix the dough in my Cuisinart. Usually I make the dough the old fashion way – flour on counter top, a well for the eggs, oil and water and mix by hand. The processor was great but I must admit I missed the sensation of working it by hand. The other thing I did differently with this recipe was I used semolina flour… And then a light bulb went off in my head! When I go home to Seattle in a couple of weeks, I can actually make pasta for my Mom who is gluten intolerant ~ I digress a bit, but it made me even more happy!!!
While the dough was resting, I prepped the beans and moved onto dessert… THE MERINGUE CUPS! So very excited! I hadn’t made these in years, and I knew my guests would be just WOWed! Well… Not so much! The batter appeared to be perfecto! The peaks were thick, and high and I JUST knew I had done it! I placed them in the oven, and they looked beautiful… I was so proud of myself, I hadn’t forgotten how to make them; I was so very pleased with myself! But not so fast… Not exactly sure what happened, I followed the my instructions to the letter; somehow it was not meant to be. They were a wet, sticky, hot mess! They had fallen. AND, it was just not meant to be… Good thing I had bought shortcakes, you see my ‘assistant’ would not have eaten the meringue cups, so I had bought them for him ~ and fortunately six come to a package. Backup Plan in place ~ Strawberry Shortcake!
I moved on to finishing the pasta, beautiful! Set up the table and finishing touches and I had a couple hours to spare… I couldn’t wait for my friends to arrive! It was like being a kid again in our family home, and waiting to have a wonderful meal and time with family and guests! I couldn’t wait to see my friends.
At last, Barry and Linda arrive and I poured glasses of wine to sip that we ate with a bit of cheese and crackers and caught up. Carole and Larry weren’t far behind, more wine poured. We chatted, and got to know one another ~ Barry & Linda and Carole & Larry had never met, but it didn’t take long for them to know each other. Success on the guest front! While we chatted, I put together the salads, cooked the pasta and beans.
With the dinner plated, we moved into the dinning room, shared a wonderful meal and had great conversation – food, Chicago, children and giraffes, yes giraffes! Eventually I plated the Strawberry Shortcake along with the Bailey’s cordials! I sat back and thought about how happy I was, and again it took me back to another time! What a wonderful evening! It wasn’t THE ‘Downton Abbey,’ but it was my Downton Abbey, if you know what I mean.