Saturday, April 11, 2009

Special guests.


Our dear friends from Germany are visiting this week.

On Wednesday I took their daughter Hanna up to Dots's school to have lunch with her and see some of Hanna's friends from the time she lived here. It has been three years since Hanna returned to Germany, but her English is still incredibly good and her old friends remembered and greeted her fondly. It was a beautiful day, so the girls sat outside. They enjoyed asking Hanna about the differences between school in Germany and the U.S.


Can you see the brown speckled eggs in the flower arrangement?

Thursday evening we hosted their family for dinner at our house. We had such a lovely visit and could have talked forever! I always enjoy hearing a European perspective on American politics; even their 13-year-old daughter was quite well-versed on current events and participated in our discussion.

Robert, Rosie, Will and Sophie

Jogi and me

Hanna and Dots

Not pictured: Vivian, who was in her room after attempting to throw a plate at our lovely guests. Luckily I saw it coming and thwarted her plans! What happened to the sweet girl from yesterday's post?!

I was very pleased with how my meal turned out. I served slow-roasted tomatoes, olives and a spread of breads and cheeses for our hors d'oeuvres. Mexican Seafood Cocktail was our first course; it was so delicious that I think I may use it for my main course at my Valentine luncheon next year. For our main course I prepared my foolproof Beef Tenderloin, which is always a hit with adults and children, and accompanied it with Sweet Potato Gratin and Haricots Verts with Feta and Pecans. For dessert I made a Coconut Cake. I will include the recipes at the end of this post.

Dinner: Sweet Potatoes, Haricots Verts and Beef Tenderloin

Coconut Cake

Jogi and Rosie invited us to visit them during their annual grape harvest in October. Robert and I think that would be fabulous! I'm not sure that this year is a possibility, but I hope it will work out for us to see them in Germany again one day. We are indeed blessed to have such special friends.



Scott Peacock's Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
from Gourmet, January 2008

1 T sugar
½ t kosher salt
¼ t black pepper
1 (28-oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes in juice, drained
2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Lightly butter a small baking dish. Stir together sugar, salt and pepper in small bowl. Place tomatoes in baking dish and sprinkle all over with sugar mixture. Dot tomatoes with butter. Bake at 350° until tomatoes are partially collapsed and deeply caramelized in places, 1 to 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mexican Seafood Cocktail
Serves 4 – 6. (as a first course or light main course)

1½ c chilled Clamato Juice
¼ c ketchup
¼ c fresh lime juice
1 t Tabasco
1 t salt
½ c finely chopped yellow onion
¼ c chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
⅓ lb. fresh lump crabmeat
⅓ lb. boiled shrimp, shelled, and cut into bite-size pieces

Mix together and spoon into 6- or 8-oz. glasses.

Beef Tenderloin
Serves 8.

Marinate a 3½ lb. whole beef tenderloin for several hours in:
1 c red wine
¼ c salad oil
¼ c soy sauce
¼ c Worcestershire sauce
2 t parsley flakes
2 t black pepper
1 t seasoned salt
1 t sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

Let tenderloin marinate at room temperature for one hour prior to baking.

Preheat oven to 500° F. Place tenderloin on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle to taste with lemon pepper and seasoned salt. Bake at 500° for 15 minutes. Turn off oven but leave tenderloin in the oven for 45 more minutes. Do not open oven door. At the end of 45 minutes remove tenderloin from oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving.

Haricots Verts with Feta and Pecans
Serves 6.

1½ lb. fresh haricots verts (or green beans), trimmed and snapped into 1" pieces
⅔ c olive oil
2 T fresh dill weed, chopped
⅓ c white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1 c chopped pecans, lightly toasted
½ c diced red onion
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Blanche green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes. While draining them, run cold water over to stop cooking. Whisk together oil, dill, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and onions. Place beans in serving dish and toss with pecans and feta. Just before serving, pour vinaigrette over top. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Sweet Potato Gratin
Serves 8.

¾ c whipping cream
¾ t salt
¾ t ground white pepper
dash freshly ground nutmeg
1½ lb. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
1½ lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
⅓ c snipped fresh chives
½ c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Butter baking dish. In a small bowl combine cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover bottom of pan with a single layer of Russet potatoes, slightly overlapping slices. Drizzle lightly with cream mixture. Cover with a single layer of sweet potatoes, arranged similarly. Drizzle lightly with cream mixture. Sprinkle with chives and Parmesan. Repeat layers, ending with Parmesan. Cover with foil, dull side out. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 30-45 minutes longer, until cheese is browned and potatoes are tender.

Coconut Cake
from my friend Bonnie's Mam-maw

1 c Crisco shortening
2 c sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 c flour
1½ t baking powder
1 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 T coconut extract
1 3½-oz. can Angel Flake coconut

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk. Stir in extract and coconut. Pour into tube pan that has been greased with shortening (I also line the bottom with parchment paper). Bake at 350° for one hour.

1 c sugar
½ c water
1 t coconut extract

Microwave on high 3 minutes. Punch holes in top of warm cake through to bottom with wooden skewer and pour glaze over top. Allow to cool in pan completely before turning out.

This tastes like coconut cream pie!


Paige said...

What a wonderful visit!!

The 5 Bickies said...

What great friends and an amazing meal. It all looks delish! I'm borrowing your recipes for sure.

KK said...

What a lovely spread! You are an amazing hostess!!! I can't wait to try your recipes--they look divine!

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you included your recipes! Your meal sounds yummy, and what a special visit with old friends. Thanks for sharing!

fleur de lis cottage said...

I found your blog through 3 peanuts. I'm sure guests feel so special in your home. Thanks for sharing your recipes...can't wait to try them.

Rachel said...

What a great visit! The grape festival in Germany sounds like fun - I hope you can make it there. I'd love to read about it!

Erin said...

Wow! You really know how to treat your friends! Can you do a post describing how you make time to entertain/cook? I am sure that you have some tricks! The food looks delicious! I want to try all of these recipes!

3 Peanuts said...

Yummy---thanks for the recipes. Sounds lie a GREAT dinner (minus the flying plate)


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