Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Changes to the Blog!!!

We are so excited about our new blog, and wanted to take a moment to thank
each and every one of your for spending a little time out of your busy day
to look at what we are doing.

We appreciate and really look forward to reading all of your comments, and have added a
'follow by email' button to the top of our page.  You can get updates and new posts
automatically in your inbox by subscribing to A Graceful Table.
We don't spam you, we promise.  It's just a quick way to know when we've posted something new.

We've also added a poll for you to vote on your favorite post, and search labels to make it easier to navigate the site.  And, finally, the most popular posts will appear at the bottom of the blog page so you can see which posts are being viewed the most often.

Today's recipe is for our Impossibly Delicious Cheesy Garlic Bread.  Not exactly ideal if you're counting calories, but if you live by the 80/20 rule of eating healthy, delicious food 80% of the time, it leaves you a little wiggle room for special occasions.

A Graceful Table's Cheesy Garlic Bread

2 T mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, please!)
2 T butter, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup feta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, saving a bit for dusting before baking
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
12 slices of french bread or baguette

Mix the first three ingredients in a large bowl, then add cheeses and onion.  Stir together, spread on bread slices, then dust with reserved Parmesan cheese.  Bake until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.  Serve immediately.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Winter Supper with an Old Friend

A weekend guest means a Saturday night dinner.  Our dear friend, Mike, is visiting and it was an excellent excuse to pull together an informal table and use my new set of dishes for our guest.


The cute Pfaltzgraff "Winterwood" dishes seems so apropos for the snowy winter night.

The tablecloth was a find at a Goodwill, and I just knew it would bring out the colors in the dishes.

The tone was to be 'for the boys', or at least as masculine as chickadee dinnerware could be, so I threw on the jute runner and the rope-y placemats.

Green straw placemats, topped with braided rope placemats, topped with my architectural chargers that pick up the sage green in the plates.

The grapevine napkin rings were a gift from Kimberly, and the green and burlap napkins were found at Goodwill.  It makes the table feel more rustic.

A bird's eye view.  I hope I never have to post photos of me in a cast after falling off the chair trying to take 'aerial photos'.

This is a shot of how the placemats were layered....

.....then the chargers......

.....the dinner plates.....

...and finally, the salad plate.

Again, am mixing the colors in the water and wine glasses for some visual interest.  Often, I love a monochromatic theme, but not always.

These napkin rings remind me of a bird's nest.

Another shot of how the napkins and the runner compliment one another.

I added my little cast iron birds to keep the chickadees company.

These candles look like sticks, and were a gift long ago from my sister-in-law, Martine.  I can't bear to light them.  And, while they mysteriously look crooked in the photo, I swear they are not!

See?  And, do you also see Santo in the background snooping around for his dinner?  Please ignore the countertop, you'll see what I was up to shortly in this post.

Dinner salad of butter lettuce, pears, blue cheese, and candied pecans.  One of my favorites.

Boursin potatoes are so delicious and easy!  Mix the boursin cheese with some milk (or heavy cream if you are being decadent), add some chopped garlic, finely minced shallot, and chopped chives.  Peel and slice the raw potatoes thinly and evenly, and add them to your cheese mixture, stirring to cover the potatoes completely.  Just prior to cooking, add a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.

Freshly ground black pepper and a dash of sea salt before they go into the oven.  By the way, did you know that you can cut your chives all summer, put them in a zippie bag in the freezer, and pull out what you need all winter long?

The grilled rib eye steaks.

Bon Apetit!

In case you'd like to know:
Tablecloth - Goodwill find
Burlap and cloth napkins - unknown
Jute Runner - Pottery Barn
Green straw placemats - HomeGoods
Ropey placemats - Consignment shop find
Architectural Chargers - Pottery Barn
Dinner and salad plates - Pfaltzgraff "Winterwood"
Green silverware - Cambridge 
Green wine goblet - Artland Iris
Gold water/milk glasses (ha ha) - Artland Iris
Individual Ramekins - Palm Restaurant at HomeGoods

 The Dedicated House

We're joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday, the Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays, Make it Pretty Monday, and Kim at Savvy Southern Style for  Wow Us Wednesday. 

Click the links below for more tablescape inspiration!

 Savvy Southern Style
Wow Us Wednesdays

 Between Naps On the Porch




Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bibimbap - The National Dish of Korea

There are few things I love more than Bibimbap - very few.  It's an undertaking to make, but soooo worth the effort.  Please try this at home, if you can't find the bibimbap cookers anywhere (I got mine at Kim's Grocery on Van Buren and Snelling in Saint Paul, Minnesota), do it in a cast iron skillet.  The results will be the same and will blow you away!

The first step cook up a batch of brown rice.  When the rice is done, set it aside and begin with the vegetables by lightly sauteing  matchstick zucchini.  I have seasoned them with black sesame seeds, sea salt, and some Korean hot pepper flakes (which you can omit if you are not a chili head like me).

Then, caramelize some cleaned and sliced shiitake mushrooms in some sesame oil, garlic, and brown sugar.  Remove from heat and set aside for assembly later.

These are bibimbap vegetables, mainly mung bean sprouts and seaweed.  If you live near an Asian grocery, you will find them in the refrigerated section. 

Next is the garlicky spinach.  Quick saute some chopped garlic in sesame oil, then add the spinach and wilt.  Remove from heat and set aside with sprouts and mushrooms.

A quick saute in the pan for the matchstick carrots and bean sprouts (I use fresh and the prepared vegetables in my bibimbap)

Almost ready for assembly.  From top, scallions chopped and marinated with sesame oil and cider vinegar, sauteed zucchini, bibimbap vegetables, garlicky spinach, and carrot/bean sprout mix.

Korean hot pepper flakes and Shoyu, a light soy sauce

Starting to layer the ingredients in the bowl:  a swirl of sesame oil, a half cup brown rice, then the veggies in any order that suits your fancy.  I like the caramelized mushrooms on top for their visual appeal.
Korean bibimbap bowls can sit right on the burner so you get the rice to crisp up a bit on the bottom and heat the dish throughout.

This can be vegetarian, or not.  I have added ground beef on top that was seasoned with soy, ginger, garlic, and honey.  The last step is to top the bowl with an over-easy fried egg.  You can't believe the taste when the yolk runs down and blends in with the other ingredients in the bowl!

Prior to serving, sprinkle the pickled onions on top.

Kimchi on top is optional.  If you are not comfortable with the loose instructions here (which is how I usually cook), there's excellent step by step instructions here:  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Bibimbap-at-Home-51140460

Snowy Night Dinner

We woke up to -44 this morning.  I guess it's something that we all have to learn how to live with, but the thought of the outside temperature being 80 degrees colder than the inside of my fridge is frightening.  We stay inside on days like this, hope everyone is safe and warm, and dream up tablescapes to while away the time.

Cedar log centerpiece made from a dead cedar tree in Kimberly's back yard by her husband, Kim.
Botanical and earthy, we loved putting this together!

This is one of the coolest table runners we've seen in a while -- a long runner down the center and then the perfect sized runner for placement across the middle.  The wood of the table felt right with the woodsy feel of this table.

That's right!  Kimberly also got the blingy over the top placemats in green! 

We added a gold lame napkin on the inside for texture and drama.

Although we used these napkins for Christmas, they are season-less and work for many occasions.

One of the few photos (for some reason) that shows the color of the bowls in perfect harmony with the chargers.  Other photos are picking up too much of the gold and they look too green.

These brass napkin rings are older than the hills, but they really work with the brassy gold in the plates and bowls.

And yes, it won't be long until the dining room is painted a beautiful honey beige.  You can see that Kim has started trimming already, and we had to work around him and his big ladder all afternoon.

Placemats - Pino Fine Paper Creations
Table runner - consignment shop find
Gold beaded napkins - personal collection
Gold sheer inner napkin - Goodwill
Blingy placemats - Tren D. Gifts
Matceramica turquoise chargers - Home Goods
Plates and bowls - Turkish Delights from Home Goods
Water glass - Artland Iris
Wine Goblet - Pier One
Candles - Marshall Field's
Cedar Candelabra - Kimboo Creations