A Gathering of Old and New: How to Create a Simple Dinner Party as Featured in The Pioneer Issue

A Gathering of Old and New: How to Create a Simple Dinner Party as Featured in The Pioneer Issue / Jen Huang Photography / cottagehillmag.com

How to Create a Simple Dinner Party by Sierra Steifman of Poppies & Posies

Hosting a dinner party doesn’t mean that you have to toil away in the kitchen all day. Inspired by our love for cooking and learning new recipes we invited over our closest friends for a cooking class followed by a dinner party featuring the fruits of our labor. Have a local chef join your party for the first half of the evening to bestow their best tips and tricks for a home cooked meal. Since we were hosting in the late Spring we chose to roast a fresh whole fish in Sierra’s enamel pan that she picked up on her most recent trip to the Elephant Flea.

Did you know: Enamelware became popular in the early 19th century and held a prominent position in most kitchens in Europe and North America through the end of World War II.  It was developed as an ‘easy to clean’ alternative to previously uncoated cast iron.  

Preparing for your party: Each fete you host can be as casual or as formal as you choose. We thought it would be fun to enjoy our home cooked meal at a beautifully set formal table leaving our guests feeling spoiled at the end of the evening. This is easier than you may think. Create custom seating cards or buy some at your local paper store to write each guest’s name on. Creating a menu for each place setting will create a slightly more formal look and don’t forget to give your guests recipe cards to note any ingredients and/or tricks they learn during the cooking class.

Decorating your dinner table: We never miss an opportunity to play with flowers and a dinner party is the perfect time to work on your floral arranging skills. Each season has its own gems, check out your local farmers market or flower shop to find the freshest blooms.  For our late Spring party we picked up peonies, ranunculus, hellebores, lilac, frittalaria, parrot tulips and poppies.

Tips: When choosing your flowers make sure you have one larger focal flower (we used peonies), at least 3 secondary flowers which are typically smaller in size to your focal flower, and some unexpected details to weave throughout. We love shopping our local market’s produce section and incorporating fruits or vegetables in our arrangements.

If you’re goal is to create a formal tablescape choose candlesticks and taper candles for a touch of elegance.  If you’d prefer to set a more casual table votives may be the perfect touch.

Cooking Lesson: As your guests arrive you’ll want to greet them with a refreshment that they can enjoy as the cooking lesson begins. We chose a light, sparkling wine that goes well with fresh fish.

Fish Rub Recipe

Ingredients: Black Pepper, Tarragon, Dried Thyme, Garlic Powder & Kosher Salt.

Followed by directions: Combine the ingredients of your fish rub in a small bowl. Drizzle olive oil on the skin of the fish and rub your spice mix all over the surface of the fish.

Place your fish on a bed of fresh veggies and herbs in a baking pan. Roast on 375 for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the fish.

Tip: Remember- people eat with their eyes first.  Visit a local fresh market to find all of the seasons best ingredients! While you’re there ask them to clean the fish for you since this is not an easy task

Did you know: Pairing knives should be used for intricate work in the kitchen while chef’s knives are used for less precise chopping and prep.  Always use a serrated blade when cutting tomatoes.

Artistic Credits: Photographs by Jen Huang Photography Flowers & Styling by Poppies & Posies Food and Recipe by Private Chef Michael Steifman of Michael Stuart NY Guests, Juliet Totten, Miya Hirabayashi, Matt Martin, Caitlin Becker, Sierra Steifman