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Formal Spring Luncheon
Soft turquoise and gold inspire a delicious spring-fresh luncheon
Spring is the time to fall in love. So when Traditional Home senior style editor Krissa Rossbund took a tumble for the gorgeous Limoges porcelain dinnerware she spotted at market, her immediate inclination was to devise a table setting that balanced formality with a fresh look appropriate for a spring luncheon. Her affection for the dinnerware’s soft turquoise rim—beautifully embellished with gold—became the basis for an unexpected palette of peach, orange, ivory, yellow, and blue—the colors, Krissa says, that bring to mind cloudless skies, fragrant rose blossoms, and captivating sunsets. “I wanted a soft palette that suggests the lightness of spring and a look that is unapologetically feminine but not overly sweet,” she explains.
The airy tablescape is anchored by a silk runner and peach linen placemats topped by rectangles of ivory crocheted lace she snipped from a length of fabric. Above the table hangs a pair of chandeliers whose transparent dangling orbs catch the light like the shimmering bubbles a child might blow on spring’s first warm day. Adept at repeating motifs that may only be noticed unconsciously but nonetheless contribute to a pleasing whole, Krissa chose draperies with an abstract scroll pattern that echoes the more literal scroll pattern on the backs of the dining chairs.
To decorate the table, glass vases hold cheery orange ranunculus and gently nodding tulips in pale yellow. Filled with blue hydrangeas, heftier glass vases in shimmering gold are simple in form yet twisted and fluted to catch the eye. Likewise, the menu is sophisticated but fresh—from the first sip of a light, cool White Negroni cocktail (the breezier sister of the brassy martini) to the last irresistible dollop of panna cotta with rhubarb preserves.
Photography: Peter Krumhardt
Produced by: Krissa Rossbund
Dreamy & Delicate
The delicately detailed and scalloped “Eden Turquoise” Limoges porcelain soup bowl from Bernardaud (212/371-4300) inspired the dining room’s soft palette. It’s beautifully paired with a bone china “Lismore Lace” service plate from Waterford.
Bill of Fare
A distinctively printed menu from Anna Griffin adds a certain element to any event, connoting that not only is the meal thoroughly and thoughtfully planned—but that it’s bound to taste absolutely wonderful!
Send guests home with Grapefruit Madeleines, brushed with a grapefruit glaze and a dipping sauce of grapefruit-infused syrup. These petite sponge cakes have not only inspired the writings of Marcel Proust but also lyrics by the Pet Shop Boys.
A runner made of “Bellini” silk lightens the table, while panels fashioned from “Rosegate” embroidered linen add subtle pattern to the windows; both fabrics are from Schumacher. The “Gentry” chairs and “Northwest Passage” table are from Drexel Heritage; “Allusion” chandeliers are from Currey & Company; candlesticks are by Rosanna Inc.
Chef Robert Marzinsky of the Philadelphia restaurant Fitler Dining Room created this spring-inspired menu. Look for the quiet touches of the spring season here: fresh herbs and goat cheese, lobster, spring peas, ramps, and rhubarb preserves.
- White Negroni
- Mussels with Vermouth, Mustard, and Herbs
- Chèvre with Lavender-infused Honey, Strawberry Preserves, and Toasted Almonds
- Butter-Poached Lobster with Spring Peas, Wild Mushrooms, and Spring Garlic Emulsion
- Buttermilk-Vanilla Panna Cotta
- Madeleines with Grapefruit Syrup
We’ve organized a list to make shopping for this party menu easier. Package sizes are included so you have enough for ingredients that are duplicated in the recipes.
Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:
- Unsalted butter (need 2-3/4 cups or 5-1/2 sticks)
- Olive oil (need 2 tablespoons)
- Dijon-style mustard (need 1 tablespoon)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Granulated sugar (need 3 cups)
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
- All-purpose flour (need 1 cup)
- Baking powder (need 1/2 teaspoon) (check expiration date)
- 3 eggs
- Vanilla extract (need 1 teaspoon)
Specialty grocery story
- Chèvre (goat cheese)
- Lavender-infused honey
- 1 bunch tarragon
- 1 bunch chive
- 1 bunch chervil or marjoram
- 1 bunch dill weed
- 1 bunch parsley *Note: Mint and or thyme may be substituted or added to chive/parsley lobster herb mix
- 4 shallots (for 1/4 cup for mussels and 1/4 cup for lobsters)
- 1 to 2 bunches ramps or 2 to 3 bunches green onions
- 1 head garlic
- 1 bunch spinach
- 8 ounces wild mushrooms such as morels or chanterelles
- About 1 pound total assorted spring peas such as English peas, sugar snap peas, and/or snow peas; or 1-1/4 pounds English peas or 2/3 pound sugar snap or snow peas
- 4 lemons (for cocktail garnish, mussels and mussel garnish, and lobsters)
- 2 medium grapefruits
- Strawberry preserves (for chèvre and panna cotta; rhubarb preserves may be substituted for panna cotta)
- Canola or grapeseed oil
- Good quality aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 baguette
- Almonds (for chèvre)
- Unflavored gelatin (need 3-1/2 teaspoons)
- Vanilla bean (need 1)
- 2 pounds mussels
- 4 (1-1/2 to 2-pound) live lobsters or 8 small fresh or frozen lobster tails
- 1 quart whipping cream (need 1/2 cup for mussels plus 2 cups for panna cotta
- 1 quart buttermilk
- Gin, such as Plymouth, Junipero, or Bluecoat
- Lillet Blanc
- Dry vermouth, such as Noilly Prat (for cocktail and mussels)
- Cynar (artichoke liqueur)
- Grapefruit or orange bitters
This unusual version of a Negroni substitutes white vermouth for sweet and Cynar (artichoke liqueur) for the Campari, and adds the French aperitif Lillet Blanc for a dash of quinine. The result is a cocktail that balances bitter with sweet and has forward herbaceous flavors. Find grapefruit or orange bitters at www.feebrothers.com.
- 2 ounces dry gin
- 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth (Noilly Prat or Dolin dry are suggsted)
- 1/4 ounce Cynar (artichoke liqueur)
- 2 dashes grapefruit or orange bitters
- Lemon peel for garnish
In mixing glass filled with ice combine gin, Lillet Blanc, vermouth, Cynar, and bitters. Stir thirty seconds. Strain liquid into ice-filled highball glass or chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel. Makes 1 cocktail.
Note: Plymouth, Junipero, and Bluecoat are among chef Robert Marzinsky’s favorite gins.
Mussels with Vermouth, Mustard, and Herbs
Cape Cod, PEI, or Pemaquid mussels are the best choice here, depending on the season. Check with the fishmonger at a specialty grocer for availability. Mussels should have tightly closed shells and be of equal weight when purchased. Avoid those with cracked shells.
- 2 pounds mussels
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh chervil or marjoram leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill weed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup dry vermouth, such as Noilly Prat
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (1-1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon slices
- Toasted baguette slices
Under cold running water, scrub mussel shells clean and "de-beard" them. Rinse well. Set aside; keep cold or on ice. In small bowl, combine tarragon, chive, chervil, dill weed; set aside.
In 4-quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil over low heat. Add shallot and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until soft.
In small saucepan, warm vermouth over low heat, then whisk in mustard, cream, and lemon juice. (Taste and add more mustard for a bit more piquancy.)
Turn up heat on pan with shallot-garlic mixture to medium-high. Add mussels; stir about 20 seconds. Add vermouth mixture and half the herbs. Continue to stir mussels. Mussels are done when they are just open. Use slotted spoon to pull mussels out as they open; transfer them to warm serving dish. Discard any unopened mussels
Toss remaining herbs and parsley into sauce. Whisk in 1 tablespoon butter. Adjust seasoning with additional lemon or salt. To serve, pour sauce over mussels. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper. Serve with lemon slices and baguette slices. Makes 8 servings.
Tip: The vermouth sauce should be balanced—slightly sweet from the vermouth, a touch of piquancy from the mustard, some acidity from the lemon, and a lovely oceanic brininess from the mussels. Adjust to your taste with lemon, salt, or even a few pats of butter to round out the flavor.
Butter-Poached Lobster with Spring Peas, Wild Mushrooms, and Spring Garlic Emulsion
Using live lobsters can be a challenge, but if you have the time and inclination, a worthy endeavor. However, using small fresh or frozen lobster tails from a trusted fishmonger will give you equally satisfying results in this recipe.
- 4 (1-1/2 to 2-pound) live Maine lobsters or 8 small fresh or frozen lobster tails
Spring Garlic Emulsion:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, diced
- 3 cups ramp (spring garlic) leaves or green onion tops
- 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
- 2/3 cup water
- 8 ounces wild mushrooms, preferably morels and/or chanterelles, halved (4 cups)
- 4 cups assorted spring peas such as English peas, sugar snap peas, and/or snow peas
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup minced shallot (2 medium)
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh thyme, chives, parsley and/or mint
To prepare Lobsters, thaw lobster tails, if frozen. In 20-quart or larger kettle heat salted water to 150°F.* Grasp lobsters just behind eyes; rinse under cold running water. Quickly plunge lobsters head first into water. Cook 7 minutes, maintaining temperature at 150°F (if water gets too hot, add some ice cubes). If using lobster tails, cook 8 minutes. Remove lobsters or lobster tails from water. Remove tails by twisting tail and body in opposite directions. Twist claws where they join body to remove them. Discard bodies. Transfer tails to ice bath. Return claws to kettle; cook 7 minutes more. When claws are cooked, transfer to ice bath. Drain lobster tails and claws. Cut membrane from tail to expose meat. Remove tail meat from shells and split in half lengthwise. Using nutcracker or meat mallet,** break open claws. Remove meat from claws, trying to keep meat intact. Discard shells. If desired, cover and chill lobster meat up to 24 hours.
For Spring Garlic Emulsion, in blender or food processor combine 1 cup diced butter, ramp leaves, and spinach leaves. Bring 2/3 cup water to boil; add to blender or food processor. Cover; blend or process until bright green, about two minutes. Transfer sauce to small saucepan; bring to simmer, stirring constantly for 1 minute to set color. Season to taste with salt. Set aside if using immediately, or cover and chill up to 24 hours. If chilled, reheat and whisk well before serving.
For Pea-Mushroom Ragout, trim and rinse mushrooms. If using morel mushrooms, trim stems, halve lengthwise, and rinse in bowl of cool water. Repeat as needed to remove any dirt. Air dry on paper towels.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Shell English peas*** and snip ends of snap and/or snow peas. Cook peas in boiling water 1 to 3 minutes or until tender. Transfer peas to ice bath. Drain; set aside when cool.
In 12-inch skillet make butter bath: Bring 1/4 cup water to boil. Slowly whisk in 1 cup butter, a few pieces at a time, so that it stays emulsified. Once all butter is incorporated, adjust seasoning to taste with lemon juice and salt. The ideal temperature to re-warm lobster is 155°F. Add lobster meat to butter bath; heat 5 to 8 minutes or until lobster is warmed through.
Heat large skillet over high heat. Add canola oil to coat bottom of skillet. When oil is shimmering, add mushrooms. Immediately season fairly aggressively with salt to release some of the moisture from mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and shallot. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and have given up most of their liquid. Add peas; cook 1 minute or until whole mixture is warmed through. Add herbs; season to taste with lemon juice and salt.
If Spring Garlic Emulsion is still warm, froth with immersion blender, or simply whisk aggressively until bubbles form. Spoon 2 tablespoons of emulsion into center of each of eight serving plates. Top with ragout and lobster. Serve warm. Pass remaining Spring Garlic Emulsion. Makes 8 servings.
*Tip: Use a deep-frying or candy thermometer to measure temperature of water.
**Tip: If using meat mallet, place claws in sturdy plastic bag to reduce splatter.
***Tip: If fresh English peas are hard to come by, good quality "fresh-frozen" peas can be used.
Chèvre with Lavender-infused Honey, Strawberry Preserves, and Toasted Almonds
Chef Robert Marzinsky likes to break up the courses with a small bite of cheese. Chèvres (goat cheese) are extraordinarily fresh in the spring when the goats are kidding and dining on new spring grass. Choose a chèvre from a local purveyor for the freshest cheese. Purchased lavender-infused honey, preserves, and toasted almonds make lovely accompaniments.
Buttermilk-Vanilla Panna Cotta
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 2-2/3 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 to 1 cup good quality strawberry or rhubarb preserves
- Good quality aged balsamic vinegar, such as an aged Aceto Balsamico di Modena
Lightly coat eight 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with nonstick spray. Place in shallow baking pan; set aside. In small bowl sprinkle gelatin over water. Do not stir. Let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in medium saucepan combine whipping cream, sugar, vanilla bean, and vanilla seeds. Heat over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Add gelatin mixture; stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean; discard. Whisk in buttermilk.
Divide mixture among custard cups or ramekins. Cover; chill completely, 4 to 24 hours or until set.
To unmold, if using custard cups, run thin knife along edge of sides of mold, and if necessary, dip bottom of ramekins in hot water 3 seconds. Turn custards over onto serving plates, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves over each custard and drizzle with balsamic. Makes 8 servings.
Make Ahead Tip: Panna cottas can easily be made up to 24 hours before party and chilled until ready to serve.
Madeleines with Grapefruit Syrup
- 2 medium grapefruits, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon zest and 1 cup of juice)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
Prepare Grapefruit Syrup (recipe follows); set aside.
For Madeleines, in small saucepan heat butter over low heat until melted. Continue heating until butter turns a light golden brown. Remove from heat; cool.
In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium to high speed until light yellow in color and thick ribbons of batter fall from beaters when raised, about 5 minutes.
Fold flour mixture into egg mixture gently so as to not deflate batter. Fold until well combined. Slowly fold in browned butter, once again until batter has just come together. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow batter to rest.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 3-inch Madeleine pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter; dust lightly with flour.
Using pastry bag fitted with large round tip, pipe batter to fill each Madeleine cavity about 3/4 full. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until centers are puffy and raised, springing back when lightly touched. Rotate pan halfway through baking.
Immediately remove madeleines from molds and lightly brush tops with the Grapefruit Syrup while madeleines are still warm. Let rest on cooling rack 15 minutes to cool. Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 8 gifts (2 madeleines with 1/4 cup syrup).
Combine grapefruit zest, juice, water, and sugar in medium heavy saucepan or pot. Bring just to a simmer, stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Use while syrup is still warm or at room temperature for brushing the tops of madeleines (or store in fridge until needed). This syrup can also be used for handmade sodas or cocktails.
Note: If you make miniature madeleines, reduce baking time to about 7-9 minutes.