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Polished Summer Dinner Party

This summer, impress guests with a table that is effortlessly chic

Written and produced by Krissa Rossbund
  • Peter Krumhardt

    Menu and recipes start here

    With summer comes a more relaxed way of living. For example, a linen shirt that is normally pressed to extreme smoothness seems more appealing with just a few casually set creases. And mornings formerly jolted to life by the buzz of a programmed alarm give way to slow awakenings set in motion by the melodic sound of birds.

    A table set for a summer dinner party adopts those same laid-back sensibilities for a scheme that reads polished without the kind of formality that might detract from summer’s ease.

    Atypical of summer design where bright or beachy colors guide palettes, charcoal and black were used to anchor an assembly of light and white elements. Painted black chairs with caned backs surround a table covered with a cloth that sports a graphic chevron pattern. Set in a cream-colored room highlighted by white moldings, the stylish dark base was primed for primping.

    Dining chairs are from Restoration Hardware. 

    Photography: Peter Krumhardt

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    Summery Tabletop

    First came the light. Linen placemats in a subdued shade of apple green bring the slightest hint of color to the table. The soft pastel hue is matched in centerpieces of pink and yellow stock flowers casually arranged in clear vessels. A trio of amber-colored stemware at each place setting extends the range of color.

    Next came the white. Scalloped porcelain dinnerware—minus the chargers that are generally used at a formal dinner—exudes simplicity, as does its matte finish. Gold-colored flatware, also in a soft matte finish, adds glow and frames the plate and soup bowl with luxe style. Resin coral sculptures, rendered in white, subtly reference water, which is so often the focus of summer activity and decorating.   

    The menu includes a roster of classics like a cherry cocktail and vichyssoise, but touches of lemon in ravioli and peach chutney on pork add a summery flair.  Profiteroles filled with coffee custard provide an appropriately light finale.  

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    Double Your Pleasure

    Double-Stuffed Ravioli are filled with both a walnut-ricotta mixture and a lemony zucchini purée, then dressed with butter sauce. Lenox’s “Prismatic” plates rest on placemats made of Schumacher’s “Barressa” linen. 

    Recipe here

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    Makeshift Marvels

    Summer is about minimal fuss. Don’t fret over finding a precious vase for casual garden flowers. In this presentation, stemless wineglasses weighted with garden stones hold freshly picked blossoms.  

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    Seasoned in Style

    Function and form play equal parts in the “Birdbath Salt Cellar & Snake Spoon” plated in 24-carat gold from Michael Aram. To reduce passing, the table should be fitted with salt and pepper containers for every two guests. 

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    Save Room for More Style

    Juliska’s “Bistro Gold” flatware in a matte finish blends with the soft swirl of vintage Annieglass dessert plates. The setting contrasts with the geometric tablecloth made from Schumacher’s “Dudley” cotton.

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    Amber Allure

    The substantial presence of Cristal D’Arques-Durand’s amber water glass with clear stem makes a grand distinction from the delicate etching of Fostoria’s “Vesper” wine goblet and champagne coupe. All are from Replacements.

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    White Hot

    Adorned with a coordinating dotted place card and striped ribbon, Juliska’s “Medallion” napkin provides a cheerful accent to the matte finish of Mottahedeh’s “Prosperity” dinner plate and rimmed soup plate.

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    Specially Stocked

    With guests receiving numerous invitations this time of year, prepare to impress those who can only stay briefly at your gathering with a wide choice of libations set up on a bar cart like this “Lisbon” model from Arteriors.

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    Summer Crush

    Summer is the season to enjoy a light-bodied Beaujolais from the Rhone region of France. We paired it with black cherries and ice for a refreshing crusher, then poured it into “Viv” martini glasses from Crate & Barrel.

    Recipe here

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    Get the Look - Light Green

    We assembled variations on the subtle table scheme to give you  options that are equally stylish.

    “Fidji Velvet” porcelain rimmed soup plate and cloche; Haviland “Oahu” in Guava printed linen fabric; Raoul Textiles. “Whipstitch” pistachio linen placemat and “Incanto White Pearl” service plate; Vietri.

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    Get the Look - White and Gold

    “Collette Gold” bread plate and “Versaille White” bisque dinner and salad plate; Robert Haviland & C. Parlon through Mottahedeh.  “Perlée Gold” charger; L’Objet. “Vanilla Glacé” square placemat; Saffron Marigold

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    Get the Look - Floral

    “Luiza” printed linen fabric in Mimosa; Romo Black. “Incanto” swirl stoneware salad plate; Vietri. “Forest Leaf” bisque dinner plate; Michael Aram. “Rabat” linen placemat with Fortuny border; L’Objet

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    Senior style editor Krissa Rossbund’s slightly-formal-but-definitely-not-fussy design for a height-of-summer dinner inspired Chef Mary Moran’s (marypaynemoran.com) menu. Start with a sangria-like cocktail, and then enjoy a classic chilled soup, a succulent pork accented with summer peaches and corn, and finish with light pastry puffs filled with coffee custard.

    Menu

    Cherry Crusher

    Vichyssoise

    Double-Stuffed Ravioli

    Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney

    Corn Gratin

    Profiteroles filled with Coffee Custard

    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.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    • Granulated sugar (need 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon plus more for rimming glasses)
    • Brown sugar (need 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon)
    • Honey (need 2 teaspoons)
    • Olive oil (need 4 tablespoons + 1-1/2 teaspoons)
    • Salt (need about 3 teaspoons plus more for seasoning)
    • Ground black pepper (need 3/4 teaspoon plus more for seasoning)
    • Vanilla extract (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)
    • All-purpose flour (need 1-1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons plus more for dusting)
    • Eggs (need 10)
    • Unsalted butter (need about 1 cup (2 sticks)
    • Canola oil (need 3 tablespoons)
    • Non-stick cooking spray

    Specialty grocery store

    • 1 (32-ounce) bottle unsweetened black cherry juice
    • 1 (250-milliliter) bottle sherry vinegar
    • 1 (2-ounce) jar instant espresso powder (available at Mexican groceries, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur La Table)

    Produce

    • 2 limes
    • 1 lemon
    • 2 to 3 ripe medium peaches (need 2 cups chopped)
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 large leek
    • 1 large shallot
    • 1 bunch green onion
    • 1 bunch celery
    • 1 large zucchini
    • 3 ears corn
    • 3 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
    • 1 bunch chive
    • 1 bunch basil
    • 1 small knob ginger (need 1 teaspoon grated)

    Grocery

    • 1 (8-ounce) jar Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
    • 1 (15-ounce) box golden raisins

    Meat counter

    • 2 (1 pound each) pork tenderloins

    Bakery aisle

    • 1 (2-pound) package pastry flour (need 1 cup)
    • 1 (24-ounce) package semolina flour (need 1 cup)
    • 1 (24-ounce) package polenta-style cornmeal (need 1 cup)
    • 1 (8-ounce) package panko bread crumbs
    • 2 (2-ounce) packages chopped walnuts (need 3/4 cup)
    • 1 (4-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate squares (need 3 ounces)
    • 1 (4-ounce) bar dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) (need 4 ounces)
    • Ground ginger (need 1/2 teaspoon)

    Cheese and deli counter

    • 2 (4-ounce) packages pancetta circles
    • 1 small piece Parmesan for grating (need 1 tablespoon plus more for garnish)
    • 1 (8-ounce) block Monterey Jack cheese (need 1 cup)

    Dairy

    • 1 (1/2-pint) container whipping cream (need 1 cup)
    • 2 (1-quart) containers milk
    • 1 (1-pint) container half-and-half (need 1/2 cup)
    • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (need 3/4 cup)

    Alcohol

    • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Beaujolais-Villages wine
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    Cherry Crusher

    A light-bodied Beaujolais-Village from the Rhone region of France is the base of this refreshing crushed-ice cocktail.

    • Lime wedges
    • Granulated sugar
    • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Beaujolais-Villages wine
    • 1 to 1-1/2 cups unsweetened black cherry juice
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • Ice cubes (6 cups)
    • 8 lime twists

    Rub lime wedges around rims of 8 martini glasses. Dip rims into dish of granulated sugar to coat; set aside. In large bowl combine wine, cherry juice, and brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Cover; chill 2 to 24 hours.

    To serve, place wine mixture in blender. Add ice cubes, a little at a time, blending until mixture becomes slushy. Pour into prepared glasses. Garnish each drink with lime twist. Makes 8 servings.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

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    Vichyssoise

    Chilled soup is so delightful on a summer’s night. The rich potato base gets a salty snap from a garnish of roasted pancetta.

    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup chopped leeks
    • 1/4 cup chopped celery
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 5 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes (about 1 pound 10 ounces)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1 cup milk
    • 8 pieces round lean pancetta circles
    • Snipped fresh chives

    In large pot cook onion, leek, and celery in hot oil 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in potatoes, salt, and pepper. Add chicken base and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly.

    Using handheld immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Return pot to heat. Heat through. In large bowl combine cream and milk. Add 1 cup of potato mixture to milk mixture. Add milk mixture back to potato mixture.

    Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover; chill at least 4 hours.

    Meanwhile, for pancetta preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat. Place pancetta in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crisp.

    To serve, spoon chilled soup into bowls. Garnish with pancetta and snipped chives. Makes 8 servings.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

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    Double-Stuffed Ravioli

    Double-sided ravioli offer an interesting take on the classic Italian pasta. The fillings are complemented by a lemony-butter sauce.

    Pasta Dough:

    • 1 cup pastry flour
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup semolina flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup water
    • All-purpose flour
    • Semolina flour

    Walnut Filling:

    • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
    • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Zucchini Filling:

    • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons shallot, chopped
    • Zest of one lemon (2 teaspoons)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
    • Salt and ground black pepper

    Lemony-Butter Sauce:

    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil

    For garnish:

    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
    • Grated Parmesan cheese
    • Fresh basil, thinly sliced

    For Pasta Dough, in medium bowl combine pastry flour, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup semolina flour, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In small bowl combine one egg and 1/2 cup water. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine.

    Sprinkle clean kneading surface with additional all-purpose flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Cover; let rest about 15 minutes while preparing walnut and zucchini fillings.

    For Walnut Filling, in small bowl combine walnuts, ricotta, and salt; set aside.

    For Zucchini Filling, in medium skillet cook zucchini, shallot, and lemon zest in hot oil about 5 minutes or until tender and fragrant. In food processor combine zucchini mixture, ricotta, and Parmesan. Process until nearly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.

    To assemble, generously sprinkle work surface with additional semolina flour. Divide dough into four equal portions (keep dough portions covered until ready to use). Pass one portion through pasta machine according to manufacturer’s directions until dough is about 24-inches long, 5-inches wide, and 1/16-inch thick, dusting dough with additional all-purpose flour as needed.

    Place dough sheet on floured surface. If needed, trim ends to form a rectangle. Leaving 1/2-inch border on bottom of pasta sheet, place about 1 teaspoon portions of filling at 2-inch intervals on bottom half of pasta sheet, alternating between walnut and zucchini fillings. In small bowl combine remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush edges of pasta sheet and in-between fillings with egg wash. Fold top half of pasta sheet over fillings. Using your fingers, press dough around each mound of filling to adhere pasta together. Using pastry wheel or paring knife, trim edges of pasta sheet. Cut pasta sheet into six double raviolis (each ravioli will have 2 mounds of filling). Place filled ravioli on baking sheet dusted with semolina. Cover; set aside. Repeat with remaining pasta and fillings, until you have prepared 24 double raviolis.

    To cook ravioli, in 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, bring large amount salted water to boil. Gently drop about one-fourth of ravioli, one at a time, into boiling water; stir to prevent from sticking to bottom of pan. Simmer gently 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Remove ravioli with slotted spoon; set aside. Repeat with remaining ravioli.

    For Lemony-Butter Sauce, in large skillet bring lemon juice just to simmering. Remove from heat; stir in butter and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add raviolis to sauce; toss until well coated. Serve three raviolis on each plate. Garnish with chopped walnuts, Parmesan, and basil. Makes 8 servings.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney

    Treating pork tenderloin to a milk bath yields tender, succulent slices. Contrast that velvety texture with a slightly tart peach chutney and sweet summer corn baked into a gratin.

    Pork Tenderloins:

    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
    • 1-1/2 cups milk
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 recipe Peach Chutney (recipe below)
    • Cracked black pepper

    Peach Chutney:

    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 green onion, minced (1 tablespoon)
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, minced
    • 2 cups peeled, chopped peaches
    • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    • Pinch salt
    • Cracked fresh black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons honey

    For Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloins, preheat oven to 425°F. In large self-sealing plastic bag combine flour, salt, ginger, and pepper. Place tenderloins, one at a time, in flour mixture. Seal bag. Shake well to coat, shaking off excess flour. Set tenderloins aside.

    In small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup milk and remaining flour mixture; set aside. In extra-large cast iron or oven-going skillet melt butter together with oil over medium high heat. Add tenderloins; sear 5 minutes, turning twice to brown on all sides. Add milk mixture to skillet. Bring to boil, stirring until thickened and bubbly. Turn tenderloins to coat in sauce. Add remaining 1 cup milk to skillet. Bring to boil. Cover skillet; transfer to oven. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until pork is 145°F when tested with an instant-read thermometer, turning once halfway through baking time. Remove tenderloins from skillet. Over medium-high heat, cook and stir milk mixture, whisking briskly until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Return tenderloins to skillet and turn to coat in sauce.

    Transfer tenderloins on cutting board. Cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

    To serve; place tenderloin slices on each plate. Top with Peach Chutney; sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Serve with Corn Gratin. Makes 8 servings.

    For Peach Chutney, in medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add green onion and ginger; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add peaches, raisins, water, brown sugar, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 5 minutes. Stir in honey. Set aside; cool to room temperature. Mixture will thicken as it cools. Makes 1-3/4 cups.

    Corn Gratin

    • 3 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup half and half or light cream
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup polenta-style cornmeal
    • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 1 recipe Roasted Corn (recipe below)
    • 1 cup Topping (recipe below)

    Add milk, half and half, butter, and salt to large pot; bring to simmer. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Cook 15 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir Monterey Jack cheese and Roasted Corn into polenta (cornmeal).

    Polenta should be fluid and creamy. (If too thick add more milk or water until creamy.) Season with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour polenta into pan. Sprinkle with Topping. Broil 5 inches from heat 4 minutes, keeping a close eye on it and rotating pan while broiling to evenly brown entire crust. Serve with pork and peach chutney. Makes 8 servings.

    For Roasted Corn, remove kernels from ears and measure 2 cups. Coat fresh corn kernels with cooking spray. Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet. Spread corn across surface. Cook corn 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly blackened (be careful as corn will start to pop). Season corn with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

    For Topping, in small bowl combine 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Recipes from Chef Mary Payne Moran

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    Profiteroles with Coffee Custard and Chocolate Drizzle

    These light, airy pastry puffs can also be stuffed with ice cream.

    • 1 recipe Chocolate Glaze (see recipe below)
    • 1 recipe Coffee Custard Filling (see recipe below)
    • 1 recipe Olive Oil Profiteroles (see recipe below)
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    Chocolate Glaze:

    • 4 ounces dark chocolate (60% cocoa), chopped (3/4 cup)
    • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/4 cup)
    • 3 tablespoons canola oil
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    Coffee Custard Filling:

    • 1-1/2 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
    • 2 eggs and 4 egg yolks
    • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    Olive Oil Profiteroles:

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • Pinch salt
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 eggs
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons good-quality olive oil

    Prepare Chocolate Glaze, Coffee Custard Filling, and Olive Oil Profiteroles as directed.

    To make Chocolate Glaze, in small saucepan combine chocolates, oil, and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to bowl; cover and chill until ready to use.

    To make Coffee Custard Filling, prepare an ice bath. In small saucepan combine milk, sugar, flour and espresso powder. Cook and stir until heated through.

    In another bowl mix together egg and egg yolks. Whisk in 1 cup of milk mixture into eggs. Add all back to the saucepan. Add chocolate. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Place in ice bath to cool. Chill up to 24 hours or until ready to serve.

    To make Olive Oil Profiteroles, preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease two baking sheets. In medium saucepan combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to boil. Immediately add flour all at once; stir vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. In small bowl whisk eggs. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, slowly, beating well after each addition. Stir in olive oil.

    Drop by teaspoons 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm. (If you only have one baking sheet keep remaining dough covered while first batch bakes.)

    Place Profiteroles in refrigerator until ready to serve (do not chill more than 5 hours or they will lose their crispness). If assembling profiteroles immediately after baking, allow them to cool prior to cutting and filling.

    To assemble, use a paring knife to cut each Profiterole in half, cutting one third of the way across, making sure top remains attached to bottom. Add Coffee Custard Filling to piping bag; cut off small end of tip so you can control filling. Pipe the Coffee Custard Filling into Profiteroles.

    In small bowl beat whipping cream and vanilla with electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. To serve, spoon small amount of Chocolate Glaze onto plate. Top with two Profiteroles. Drizzle with additional chocolate glaze and spoonful of whipped cream. Serve immediately. Makes 30 profiteroles. Unfilled profiteroles may be frozen for up to one month.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

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