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Great Gatherings: Dining Out in Style

Marchesa makes magic at New York’s Crown restaurant

Written by Krissa Rossbund
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  • Jonny Valiant

    Recipes for This Story

    Warm Artichoke Salad
    Filet Mignon with Stilton and Port Reduction
    Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
    Tart au Citron

    There’s no rule that dictates an intimate dinner is best enjoyed at home. An unexpected setting and the pleasure of being served holds special allure. Even better—why not a meal prepared by a favorite chef? It’s an idea that appealed to fashion designers and cofounders of Marchesa, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, above, as they planned a celebration dinner in New York. A dining room in the Upper East Side’s Crown restaurant would be their red carpet, with the table dressed in pieces from their own couture tabletop collection—Marchesa by Lenox—for a color-saturated setting that struts with unforgettable attitude.

    In the paneled dining room of Crown, the two style setters fashioned a table for eight near the fireplace. Experts in draping beautiful garments on famous bodies, Georgina and Keren designed a multilayered look for the table that started with two tablecloths: a gray-and-white hand-blocked print to match the napkins and an overlay of white linen. They continued the layering using two alternating colors of their delicately patterned bone china placed atop silver trays at each setting. The “Empire Pearl” dinnerware they chose “was a collection created to emulate the embroideries we use on our garments,” explains Georgina.

    As with a runway event, where accessorizing can make a difference, the table’s centerpiece of cobalt-blue Italian glass vases filled with pink peonies and trailing strands of fuchsia Phalaenopsis orchids offers a striking embellishment. Matching motifs on vases and china add to the charm of the arrangement.

    Whether their stage is the runway or a table, the duo’s style is inimitable. “Entertaining is the perfect way to translate my vision by incorporating my own vintage elements,” says Keren. “I like to channel creativity into mediums that stretch beyond fashion.”

    Photography: Jonny Valiant
    Produced by Erin Swift

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    For visual variety, Georgina and Keren alternate place settings of Marchesa’s  “Empire Pearl” bone china in indigo and white. The platinum motif—inspired by intricate bead detail on their fashions—is also etched on cobalt-blue art glass vases from Italy. “Paisley Bloom” goblets are classic in a subtle etched pattern. Lighted tapers in “Gossamer” crystal candlesticks illuminate the arrangements. All items available from Lenox. Flowers are by Jacqueline Elfe of Stellar Style Events. “Cartouche” hand-blocked cotton napkins from John Robshaw.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Flatware Fashion

    For special occasions, choose flatware with a pattern that reflects light, like the “Braided Opulence” stainless flatware by Marchesa for Lenox. Its design references the shimmer of beadwork that Georgina and Keren might use to festoon a ball gown.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Framed in Silver

    To achieve an extravagant attitude, indigo-blue “Empire Pearl” plates with raised enamel accents are anchored by basic white “Federal” plates—both at Lenox —and vintage Gorham sterling trays. Linen tablecloth by Sferra.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Scent-sational

    Bottles of Marchesa’s signature fragrance, Parfum D’Extase—available from Sephora—make stunning gifts for guests. The chunky crystal vessels embellished with Swarovski-studded ribbon epitomize the romance of the occasion.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Patina vs. Polish

    Shiny polished silver seems elegant and formal, but maintenance can be time-consuming. Rethink the aesthetic of the table and consider the benefits of using vintage silver pieces that have tarnished to a timeless, alluring patina.

    Recipes begin here.

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    All in the Name

    To complement vintage sterling silver place-card holders rendered in the form of an ancanthus leaf, elegant silver-ink calligraphy artfully adorns simple white cards softened with rounded corners. Calligraphy by Deborah Nadel Design.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Gorgeous & Glowing

    Nothing provides ambience like candlelight, so Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig assembled an assortment of ivory pillar candles in varying heights and arranged them on a silver tray. They suggest burning candles prior to a party to give them soft and shapely silhouettes.

    Recipes begin here.

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    Warm Baby Artichoke Salad

    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 16 baby artichokes*, about 2 pounds total
    • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups arugula
    • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved**
    • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    Fill very large bowl with water. Juice lemon halves; add juice to water. Reserve lemon halves. Remove tough outer leaves of artichokes. Trim pointy tops and stems, rubbing artichokes with lemon halves. Transfer artichokes to lemon water as you work to prevent discoloration. Cut larger baby artichokes in half lengthwise, if desired.

    Drain artichokes. Transfer to very large skillet; add chicken stock, wine, and 1/4 cup oil. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until artichokes are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover; cook and stir over medium-high heat 5 minutes more or until liquid has evaporated and artichokes begin to brown. Transfer to large bowl. Add arugula, Parmesan, and walnuts. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving platter. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

    *Tip: If baby artichokes are unavailable, omit soaking step. Use 4 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts. Bring to boil with stock, wine, and oil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 6 minutes. Drain and proceed as above, omitting browning step.

    **Tip: A vegetable peeler is perfect for this.

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    Filet Mignon with Stilton and Port Reduction

    The classic combination of Stilton cheese and port becomes the accompaniment for this impressive main course. Ask the butcher to tie the steaks so they are 2 inches thick.

    For Filet Mignons:
    • 8 (8-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, tied to a 2-inch thickness
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 8 ounces Stilton or other blue cheese, sliced* (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    For the Port Reduction:
    • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup ruby port
    • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled

    Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. Season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. In large skillet heat 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook steaks, half at a time, until browned on both sides, 3 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining steaks. Bake 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare doneness or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 145°F. Remove from oven. Let steaks stand 5 minutes.

    Port Wine Reduction:
    Meanwhile, heat same large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat. Add port to deglaze; stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Return to heat; bring to simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add beef stock; simmer, uncovered, until reduced by half, 8 to 9 minutes. Add butter to skillet, 1 piece at a time, whisking until fully melted and combined after each addition. Remove skillet from heat as necessary to prevent sauce from breaking; sauce should be thick enough to coat back of spoon. Remove sauce from heat; cover to keep warm. Serve steaks with sauce. Crumble Stilton over steaks. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 8 servings.

    Tip: Serve with French fried onion rings.

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    Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

    • 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 8 ounces Stilton or other blue cheese, sliced* (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    Wash broccoli rabe; remove and discard woody stems. In large pot cook broccoli rabe in lightly salted boiling water 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

    In large heavy skillet cook garlic in hot olive oil 30 to 60 seconds or until garlic is golden. Add broccoli rabe. Cook and stir over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes or until desired doneness. Makes 4 servings. (Recipe may be doubled.)

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    Tarte au Citron

    These lovely individual tarts can make their appearance any season of the year—simply substitute whichever of your favorite citrus fruit is in season for the garnish and purchased juice for the blood orange juice.

    The shells, Myer lemon curd, and blood orange gelée can all be made a day in advance. Follow the directions for softening the chilled gelée when you assemble the tarts.

    Tart Dough:
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    Meyer Lemon Curd:
    • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    • 1 tablespoon cold water
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup purchased crème fraîche
    • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice or lemon juice
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

    Blood Orange Gelée:
    • 3/4 cup blood orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons light-color corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

    Assembly:
    • 2 ounces white chocolate
    • Grapefruit, orange, blood orange and/or other citrus sections

    Tart Dough:
    In medium bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat until smooth. Add egg; beat until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with wooden spoon. Wrap dough; chill 1 hour or until easy to handle. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll to 1/8 inch thick. If necessary, chill rolled sheet of dough until firm enough to handle.

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Using 3-1/2-inch round cutter, cut 10 rounds
    from tart dough, rerolling scraps as necessary. Transfer rounds to 10 (3-inch) individual tart pans* (measure across top). Ease pastry into
    pans, press into sides, and trim edges. Prick bottoms and sides of tart
    shells. Place on large baking sheet. (Cover and chill any remaining dough for another use.) Bake tart shells 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack. Remove shells from pans.

    Meyer Lemon Curd:
    In small bowl sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water. Let stand 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in medium saucepan combine granulated sugar, crème fraîche, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Place egg yolks in small bowl. Gradually whisk about half of hot mixture into egg yolks. Return egg mixture and gelatin to saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in butter until melted. Strain finished lemon curd through fine mesh sieve into small bowl. Place bowl with lemon curd in larger bowl of ice water; stir for a few minutes to cool mixture. Cover surface of lemon curd with plastic wrap. Store cooled lemon curd in refrigerator until ready to use. (Curd will thicken as it chills.)

    Blood Orange Gelée:
    In small saucepan combine blood orange juice, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bring to boil.

    In small bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons gelatin. Whisking constantly, slowly pour sugar mixture into boiling liquid. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute to dissolve gelatin. Transfer mixture to shallow bowl. Chill 45 minutes or until partially set. (You should be able to spread mixture onto plate, where it should hold its shape. If mixture thickens too much in refrigerator, place bowl of gelée into larger bowl of warm water and whisk until softened.) Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of partially-set mixture onto center of 10 salad plates. Using small offset spatula, spread mixture on each plate. Cover plates; chill until gelée is firm.

    Assembly:
    In small heavy saucepan melt white chocolate over low heat. Using pastry brush, lightly coat inside of each baked tart shell with thin layer of melted white chocolate. (This will prevent any moisture from lemon curd from making tart shells soggy before serving.) Let stand until set. (To speed process, place coated tart shells in refrigerator for a few minutes.) Spoon curd into each prepared tart shell. Use small offset spatula to smooth top of lemon curd to edges of shells so it forms an even surface. Decorate top of each tart with citrus segments. Place tart on top of gelée on each plate to serve. Makes 10 servings.

    Tip: If you do not have 10 tart pans, bake as many tart shells as you have pans for. Cool slightly and remove shells from pans. Bake remaining shells. Once tart shells have cooled, they can be tightly wrapped and stored overnight until you’re ready to use.

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