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Classically Inspired Dinner Party in Blue and White

A blue-and-white nod to the navy warms the soul and a crisp, wintery tabletop

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Werner Straube

    Menu and recipes start here

    Blue-and-white ceramics are a staple in many homes, but for Chicago-based designer Soledad Zitzewitz, the much-loved dinnerware has special meaning. Her own plate collection, depicting scenes from the United States Naval Academy, hails from the facility and dates to the 1930s. Because her husband and father-in-law are Navy veterans, Soledad paid tribute to them by showcasing the plates in the dining room designed for a formal dinner at the Lake Forest Showhouse in Illinois.

    “For my culture, entertaining is less about the food and all about the people and time spent together,” says Soledad, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires, where, she notes, she was always ready to welcome visitors. “This table pays tribute to the people I care about.”

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Hilary Rose

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  • Werner Straube

    Dining in Style

    An antique wallcovering replete with murals inspired the neutral gray tablescape, punctuated by the historic blue salad plates and cachepots that hold flowers in the center of the table. And what could be more traditional for dinner than stew? The menu stars warm, seasonal flavors: ginger beer cocktails and cheese straws for starters, slow-cooked tarragon chicken with root vegetables for the main course, and citrus-laced rice pudding and snickerdoodle cookies for dessert.

    Informed by the scheme of the blue-and-white ceramics on the table, a royal blue hair-on-hide rug from Argentina adds a modern dose of saturated color to the traditional mahogany dining table and chairs. The wing-style host and hostess chairs upholstered in cut velvet feature a trellis pattern.

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  • Werner Straube

    Plain & Fancy

    Frosted and fluted stems on crystal “Langeais” water and wine goblets from Lalique contrast the clear glass of the bowls and subtle detailing of the bases, delivering a refined presentation.

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Maritime Bounty    

    Seared sea scallops combined with sautéed leeks and drizzled with a lemon-laced butter sauce are topped with baby greens for an appetizer and salad course. It’s an elegantly light lead-in to the hearty chicken stew that follows. Recipe here.

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  • Werner Straube

    Stunning Silver

    Handcrafted hair clips that designer Soledad Zitzewitz found in her Argentine homeland work well on the table too, securing dinner napkins and echoing the pewter-rimmed chargers from Match.

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  • Werner Straube

    Secondary Surface

    A 1700s Italian secretary finished in walnut marquetry injects warm wood tones into the otherwise-gray dining room and provides another surface for entertaining. In this case, the piece functions as a makeshift bar.

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  • Werner Straube

    Naturally Neutral

    A fresh and vibrant addition to the mid-winter gathering, white-and-green French tulips are bundled and arranged in a blue-and-white Chinese cachepot that stars as the table’s centerpiece.

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  • Werner Straube

    Embroidered Elegance

    To balance the shimmer of the iron chandelier that is outlined with crystal beads, the “Scallop” placemat by Lalique features metallic linen that’s been embroidered with silver-color silk.

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Get the Look: Royal Navy

    We assembled variations on the table scheme to give you options that are equally stylish. “Glacier Bay Stone” napkin ring, “Hemstitch” linen napkin and placemat in navy, all from Pier 1 Imports. Handmade “Burano” earthenware dinner and salad plate are both from Arte Italica. 

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Get the Look: Lovely Linen

    “Carnival” linen napkin from Sferra. Metal napkin ring and “Tabella” placemat from Pier 1 Imports. “Renaissance Gold” bone china from Wedgwood. “Durban” silver-plated charger, Ralph Lauren Home.

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  • Werner Straube

    The winter weather inspired Chef Mary Moran to create this menu for Chicago designer Soledad Zitzewitz’s Lake Forest showhouse dining room. Start with a ginger-beer cocktail spiked with Grand Marnier, enjoy a winter stew of chicken and root vegetables, and finish with fruits of the season—lemon and blood orange—infused into a classic rice pudding. You can add a snickerdoodle cookie to the dessert if you like.

    Menu

    Grand Marnier with Ginger and Orange

    Cheddar Cheese Straws with Serrano Ham

    Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc

    Slow-Cooked Tarragon Chicken with Root Vegetables

    Lemon and Blood Orange Rice Pudding

    Shopping list

    We’ve organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients. (Amounts do not include snickerdoodle cookie ingredients.)

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    • Unsalted butter (need about 2 sticks)
    • All-purpose flour (need 1-1/2 cups)
    • Granulated sugar (need about 3/4 cup)
    • Olive oil (need 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon total)
    • Salt (need 2 teaspoons plus pinch)
    • Ground black pepper (need 1/4 teaspoon)
    • Cayenne pepper (need 1/4 teaspoon)
    • Paprika [need 1/4 teaspoon (check for freshness)]
    • Eggs (need 1)

    Specialty grocery store

    • 2 to 4 (4-ounce) packages Serrano ham (need 24 slices)
    • Coarse sea salt (need 3/4 tsp + more for crostini)

    Produce

    • 1 bunch rosemary
    • 1 bunch tarragon
    • 1 large and 1 medium onion
    • 2 medium leeks
    • 1 (1-pound) bunch carrots (need 2 large carrots)
    • 1 bunch celery (need 1 stalk, trimmed)
    • 1 large rutabaga
    • 1 to 2 medium parsnips
    • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1-1/3 pounds)
    • 4 lemons
    • 5 to 6 blood oranges (need peel of 2 plus one cup juice) or 2 oranges plus 1 cup orange juice
    • 3 to 4 ounces mache or very sweet soft greens (need 2 cups)

    Grocery

    • 1 (1.75-liter) bottle orange juice [not from concentrate (enough for 8 cocktails)]
    • 1 six-pack ginger beer
    • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken stock [not broth (need 2 cups)]
    • 1 (16-ounce) bag long-grain white rice
    • Snickerdoodle cookies (if not preparing homemade)

    Baking aisle

    • Ground white pepper or white peppercorns (need 1/2 teaspoon ground plus more to taste)

    Fish and Meat counter

    • 8 large sea scallops, about 1-inch thick
    • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

    Bakery aisle

    • 1 baguette

    Cheese and deli counter

    • 4-ounce block sharp cheddar cheese

    Dairy

    • 1 (1-quart) container buttermilk (need 1 cup)
    • 1 (1-pint) container half-and-half or light cream
    • 1 quart milk (need 3 cups)
    • 1 (1-pint) container whipping cream (need 3/4 cup)

    Alcohol

    • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Grand Marnier
    • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry white wine (need 1/4 cup)
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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Grand Marnier with Ginger and Orange

    • 2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (not from concentrate)
    • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
    • 1 ounce ginger beer, chilled

    In rocks glass combine orange juice, Grand Marnier, and ginger beer. Stir until combined. Add ice. Makes 1 cocktail.

    Recipe from chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Cheddar Cheese Straws with Serrano Ham

    Paprika, cayenne, and rosemary add a spicy Spanish twist to classic cheese straws. Add a dipping sauce with a simple stir-together of Dijon mustard, olive oil, honey, and snipped fresh rosemary.

    • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 24 slices thinly sliced Serrano ham

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat; set aside.

    In large bowl beat half of cheese and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. In medium bowl combine flour, rosemary, salt, cayenne, paprika, and pepper.

    Gradually add flour mixture into cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Using hands, knead in remaining cheese.

    Divide dough into 24 portions. Roll each portion into 7-inch long rope. Lay ropes on prepared pan. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Once cooled, wrap tips with Serrano ham. Serve immediately. Makes 24 straws (8 servings).

    Recipe from chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc

    • 8 large sea scallops, about 1-inch thick
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 large onion, cut into very thin 1-inch strips
    • 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and cut into very thin 1-inch strips
    • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • Juice of 2 lemons (1/3 cup)
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 2 cups mache or very sweet soft greens
    • 1 recipe Crostini*

    Line tray with double thickness paper towels. Lay scallops on towels and pay dry with additional paper towels. Cover loosely until ready to use.

    In large nonstick skillet heat oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, leek, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to pan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until just tender. Remove from pan; set aside.

    In same pan heat another 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Season both sides of scallops with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and white pepper. Add scallops to hot pan. Cook scallops about 2 minutes per side. While they are cooking divide onion mixture onto eight plates. Place cooked scallops on top of onion mixture. Quickly wipe off excess juices from hot pan.

    Add lemon juice and white wine into pan. Bring to gentle boil and reduce by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Drizzle sauce over scallops. Top with mache and serve with crostini. Makes 8 servings.

    *Crostini: Drizzle eight 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices baguette-style French bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange on baking sheet; bake 7 minutes in 350°F oven until golden.

    Recipe from chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Slow-Cooked Tarragon Chicken with Root Vegetables

    Using skin-on, bone in thighs adds to the rich flavor of this chicken stew. Boneless, skinless thighs or breasts may be substituted.

    Marinade:

    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 3 fresh tarragon leaves
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    Tarragon Chicken:

    • 8 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped (1-1/3 pounds)
    • 1 cup sliced carrots (2 carrots)
    • 1 cup chopped rutabaga
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup sliced parsnips
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1 stalk celery, ends trimmed
    • 1/2 leek, cut lengthwise
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup half-and-half or light cream 
    • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
    • Salt and ground white pepper

    Combine marinade ingredients. Marinate chicken 30 minutes in refrigerator.

    Preheat oven to 250°F. Add butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Add potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, onion, and parsnips. Cook and stir over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are glossy and aromatic; add salt and pepper. Remove vegetables from pan.

    Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Remove chicken from marinade; add chicken to pan, skin-side-down. Discard marinade. Cook chicken in batches 5 minutes or until brown. Turn chicken, skin-side up. Return vegetables to pan. Add celery and leek.

    Pour chicken stock into pan. Cover; place in oven and cook 2 hours.  Remove all vegetables and chicken; place on platter. Cover to keep warm. Using large spoon skim excess fat from liquid. Reduce liquid over medium-low heat by half. Add half and half; stir to combine. Add chicken and vegetables, except celery and leek, back to pan. Add leaves from tarragon stems into pot. Season with additional salt and ground white pepper. Makes 8 servings (1 thigh plus 1 cup vegetables).

    Recipe from chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Lemon and Blood Orange Rice Pudding

    We added a snickerdoodle cookie to this serving of citrus-laced rice pudding. You can purchase the cookies, but if you have the time, try the attached recipe for homemade snickerdoodles. The recipe makes about 70 small cookies, perfect for a party.

    Rice Pudding:

    • 3 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 cup long grain white rice
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 3/4 cup whipping cream
    • Finely shredded peel of one blood orange or orange (1 tablespoon)
    • Finely shredded peel of one lemon (2 teaspoons)

    Blood Orange Sauce:

    • 1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice or purchased blood orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons sugar

    To serve:

    • Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
    • Finely shredded peel of one orange or blood orange (1 tablespoon)
    • 8 snickerdoodles (purchased snickerdoodles or recipe follows)

    For Lemon and Blood Orange Rice Pudding, in medium saucepan combine milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to simmer. Add rice, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes. In small bowl whisk together egg yolk and cream. When rice is tender, add egg yolk mixture and citrus peel to saucepan. Simmer, uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and bubbly. Serve warm or chill before serving.

    For sauce, in small saucepan combine blood orange juice and sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 16 to 18 minutes or until reduced by half (about 1/2 cup).

    To serve, spoon rice pudding into dessert dish. Pour blood orange sauce and lemon juice over top. Sprinkle orange peel; serve with snickerdoodle. Makes 8 servings.

    Make Ahead Tip: You can make the rice pudding and blood orange sauce a day ahead. Serve the rice pudding and sauce chilled, or to reheat pudding, bring a small amount of milk to simmer in saucepan. Add rice pudding. Cover and simmer over low heat 4 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

    Snickerdoodles

    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • 1-1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

    In large mixing bowl beat butter and shortening with electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add the 1-1/2 cups sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. In small bowl combine 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on two cookie sheets lined with a silicone baking mat (Silpat) or use an ungreased cookie sheet.

    Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Let cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Makes 70 (2-inch) cookies.

    Recipe from chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Gordon Beall

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