by Jackie, Munster Rose
Cost efficient and something that even those that are floral challenged can pull together with grace and beauty. In the summertime I cut fresh herbs from my garden. During the winter months, I grab whatever my local co-op has in-stock. Be creative and try unexpected things! Mint, basil, chard, kale, or lemon balm all work well in tiny bud vases. It's an unexpected (and affordable) way to add some life to your table top.
- 1 bunch Italian parsley
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 bunch dill
- 1 carton rosemary
- 1 carton oregano
Re-plant the herbs in pretty, white planters (like these) then cluster along the table. If you have a longer table, incorporate more herbs or simple greenery. The look is clean, organic, effortless.
by Erik, Easy & Oskey
A gorgeous, beautifully balanced cocktail can set the tone for the party, while giving you permission to keep things simple. Make it great, and guests won't even miss the other options.
- 3/4 oz St Germain
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz Creme Yvette
- 1 tsp simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water by weight, dissolved in a gentle simmer on the stove)
Combine all ingredients with ice and shake 10-15 seconds. Double strain through a fine mesh strainer into your favorite cocktail glass. No garnish. As a lower octane alternative, omit the gin, shake remaining ingredients with ice and double strain into the cocktail glass. Top with 3/4 oz of your favorite dry sparkling wine.
As an enhancement, steep a handful of fresh mint for an hour in the simple syrup as it comes off the stove. Strain out the mint prior to mixing.
by Catherine, Printerette Press
I created downloadable and print-yourself paper pieces - including invitations, the table signage, and more. I hand painted pieces to play off of Jackie's herbal greenery. They look beautiful printed on a toothy cover stock. Ask your local print shop to print them on a heavyweight cover stock - even better if they have something with a toothy texture. Most print shops have a slide paper cutter which makes cutting them down to size a breeze.
Download the pretty paper goods from this party
We paired the invitations with Slate envelopes (size A9) from Paper Source. We did the addressing with a white gel pen. The little signs are propped up with table card holders which can be found at most cooking- or restaurant-supply stores.
Sarah, The Vanilla Bean Blog
The first bite is the deepest...so make it good. These tiny, colorful beet tartletts are the perfect savory + sweet moment to welcome your guests with warmth and yumminess.
Roasting the beets
1 bunch of beets (3-4 small beets)
Trim the beets and wash them. Wrap each beet in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 450F oven for about one hour, until the beets are fork tender. Unwrap the beets from the foil and let them cool to room temperature. Slice the beets into very thin rounds and set aside.
Goat cheese spread
6 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Generous pinch of salt and pepper
Put the goat cheese and the cream cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix on medium until smooth creamy, 3-4 minutes. Add the honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and then mix again until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
I only used one round of dough; the other can be frozen and kept for up to a month. It freezes very well; just remove from the freezer the night before using and keep in the fridge to thaw.
1 cup (100g) spelt flour
1 2/3 cup (238g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water, as needed
Place the flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, and whisk together. Cut the butter into one-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Using a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas. Add 1/4 cup of the ice water to the flour mixture, and mix together with a spatula just to moisten the flour. The dough needs to come together in one lump, with a few small, shaggy pieces. If the dough is too dry to come together, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until it is ready.
Flour your work space, and transfer the dough to it. Fraisage the dough (instructions follow).
To fraisage the dough
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a rectangular shaped pile. Use the heel of your hand to smear the dough against the work surface. Continue to smear until all the dough has been worked. Gather into a pile again, and repeat. Separate the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each piece in plastic and chill for one hour (or up to 2 days).
To assemble and bake
Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Roll out the chilled dough into a 1/4 inch-thick round. Using a biscuit cutter (I used a 2-inch cutter), cut out rounds and place them on the baking sheets. Bake the rounds for 6-7 minutes, just until the dough starts to brown (it should be very light) and starts to puff up. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Top each round with a teaspoon of the goat cheese spread, and then top each one with a thinly sliced beet, pressing the beet down gently into the spread. Bake 8-10 minutes more, until the pastry edges are light golden brown. Serve warm.
A SWEET ENDING
Sarah, The Vanilla Bean Blog
Just like the first bite, the last will leave a final impression. It should be universally loved, crafted with love and not too shabby to look at. Enter, the most perfect chocolate cake ever.
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
The cake batter will be very liquidity, so don’t let that worry you. If you are not a coffee fan, you can just use hot water.
This cake is very tender, so if you want to spread the frosting on without crumbs all mixed in it, I suggest using a crumb coat. Freezing the cake layers 20 minutes before frosting them will also help. There is also just enough frosting for the cake, so frost carefully. When I make this I always use eggs from a small, local farm that I trust, so I feel safe using the yolk in the frosting. If you are nervous about this, you can substitute a tablespoon of corn syrup, or omit it all together (I’ve done both of those options in a pinch, and it’s turned out fine).
1 3/4 cup (249g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (396g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (75g) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
6 oz (170g) bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups (143g) sifted powdered sugar
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350F, and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Butter or grease two 8-inch round cake pans (make sure cake pans are at least 2 inches tall). Line the pan bottoms with parchment paper, then butter the paper and flour the pans.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low. In a medium liquid measuring cup with a pourable spout, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely, removing the parchment paper.
For the frosting
Chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl when necessary, until smooth and creamy.
On low speed, add the chocolate to the butter mixture and mix until just blended. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and finish gently mixing with the spatula. Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
Place one cake layer, flat side up, on a serving plate. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
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