FOOD BY Francie Rudolph, FR Custom Catering
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Christina Hussey
On a beautiful night in May I hosted a garden party for my closest friends. It was a lovely evening that was filled with laughter, shared stories and spending time with old and new friends. It was a perfect way to gather to start the summer, celebrate life and enjoy each other’s company. The table was set with beautiful, vibrant flowers, flickering candles, and luxurious napkins and blankets from Turkish-T—all creating an elegant, bohemian aesthetic.
The whole night was beautiful—the freshly cut flowers, the handwritten place cards and menu cards by Minted, the smiles on every face, the aesthetic and taste of the food, and the glow from the lights and candles. No detail was left untouched!
Sydney is wearing Kimchi Blue Picnic Smocked Midi Dress from Urban Outfitters ($79) and Minimal Lace Up Heel by Jeffrey Campbell + Free People ($178). The girls are seated on the Lisa Roundie Beach Blanket from Turkish-T ($98).
Beautifully-created place cards, menu cards, invitations and announcements from Minted are the perfect touch for any event. Their fun stationery designs can also help encourage at least a few camp letters this summer. Now through July 5th, take 15% off baby & kids and wedding essentials with code JULY4.
We sat in the garden under an allée of trees and surrounded by plantings and blooming flowers. Twinkle lights hung above the table. When the sun set, the combination of the lights and candles enhanced the beautiful, festive atmosphere and setting. The food, catered by Charlotte, NC, chef Francie Rudolph (FR Custom Catering), was amazing. Passed appetizers in the garden included prosciutto cups filled with a dollop of mascarpone and a macerated cherry, an amazing burst of flavor.
Once seated, we enjoyed a delicious carrot and lemongrass gazpacho. The rest of the meal, served family style, included grilled flank steak, shrimp skewers, heirloom tomato tart, street corn and a simple salad. Dessert was a pound cake with a rhubarb and berry compote that had a tangy whip.
- ½ tart dough recipe (see recipe below)
- Olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
- Variety of tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
To make the tart crust: On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 16-inch round. Fit dough into a 1-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, gently pressing it into the sides. Using a sharp knife, trim the dough evenly with the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; chill tart shell until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the tart dough with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Transfer to oven and bake until light brown, about 25 minutes. Remove weights and parchment paper and continue baking an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
To make the tomato tart: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions. Sauté for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and caramelized. Add salt, pepper and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Spread the goat cheese in a thin layer on the cooled tart shell. Spread the caramelized onion mixture on top. Sprinkle with half the grated Parmesan cheese. Arrange sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and more grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve hot or warm.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup ice water
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a small bowl, mix together salt and water. Keep very cold until ready to use. Place flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly until mixture forms large crumbs. Add the salt-water mixture and continue pulsing until a dough has just formed but is not smooth. On a lightly floured work surface, evenly divide dough. Form each piece of dough into a disk about 1 inch think. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Rhubarb and Berry Compote
- 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
- 6 ounces fresh blueberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- Pound cake or ice cream for serving (see pound cake recipe below)
Heat all ingredients over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes. Pour into a fine strainer set over a bowl. Return juices to saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until liquid is thickened and reduced, about 30 minutes. Pour sauce over fruit and stir to combine; let cool to room temperature. Serve with your favorite pound cake recipe or with vanilla ice cream.
Olde English Pound Cake
Francie uses her mom’s secret recipe which is to die for, but we also love Food and Entertaining Editor Tamberlyn Dobrowski’s favorite pound cake recipe shown here.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powde
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Cream butter and shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until just blended after each addition. Stir in flavorings. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.