Maybe it’s no surprise that when local fashion designer Abbey Glass entertains, she plans the party around the clothes. “I like to get dressed up for any reason at all,” says Glass, an Atlanta native who designs custom gowns and a ready-to-wear line packed with party dresses and fun tops. “Let’s face it—it’s not every day you can wear a custom dress again, so why not give it another whirl at a holiday soiree?”
Abbey launched her line in 2015 after studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and summers spent working in New York. This year, she opened a new store at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta. She loves to entertain, which she says she inherited from her mother.
So, it was no surprise when Abbey told me she likes to gather clients and friends to celebrate the holidays in grand style, giving them a chance to break out their custom Abbey Glass gowns once more. In keeping with the opulent vibe, Abbey hosted the small group of clients this year at the Atlanta History Center’s Swan House, which the Inman family built during the Jazz Age with entertaining in mind. Originally designed by Philip Trammel Schutze and decorated by Ruby Ross Wood, it has the perfect atmosphere for mingling—swirling dresses in the classic black-and-white marble foyer, gliding down the spiral staircase, or chatting on the Baroque-inspired lawns.
The music suits the scene. “Music is really important for setting the mood,” says Abbey, “I like to queue up Spotify with Etta James, Franc Moody, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, and the Black Keys.” Abbey says she likes to keep the menu to bubbles and small bites. “I want everyone to be able to eat while moving around and socializing,” she says. “It’s more fun than a seated dinner, and you can see what everyone is wearing!”
From left to right, above: Shereen Timani, Sally Mitchell, Emily Sistrunk, Lee Williams, Kara Moody, Abbey Glass, Susie Viguerie, Sara Rouhi, Alice Park (Hair and makeup by Hope Ferguson)
Pink champagne with raspberries
Baby red potatoes with sour cream and caviar
Chilled shrimp with lemon aioli
Macaroons and tiny layer cakes from Alon’s
Baby red potatoes with sour cream and caviar
12 ounces (about 16–18) small red potatoes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
½ cup light sour cream
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1–2 ounces caviar
Add potatoes and ¾ teaspoon salt to medium saucepan; cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to boil, and reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes or until just tender but not falling apart.
Transfer potatoes to baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cool about 20 minutes or until room temperature. Once cooled, cut in half and, with a melon baller, scoop out a small indentation.
Meanwhile, whisk together sour cream, lemon juice, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Let chill. Arrange potatoes in even layer on large serving platter. Spoon ½ rounded teaspoon of the sour cream mixture onto each potato half; top with ¼ teaspoon caviar.
Peel and blanch shrimp until pink, about 3 to 5 minutes, then drain and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Combine all of the ingredients for the spicy aioli in a small mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Mix well, and chill before serving. You may make this sauce up to three days before serving to save time the day of your gathering. To serve: Surround a bowl of aioli with delicate pink shrimp and allow guests to serve themselves.
12 pre-made 2-inch tart shells
12 2-inch puff pastry shells
8 ounces cream cheese
Pre-made pesto, like Bella Cucina brand
Sun-dried tomatoes in oil
Canned Italian tuna in oil
Toppings: Hardboiled quail eggs, quartered
Canned anchovies, drained
Baby tomatoes, quartered
Cooked and drained pieces of pancetta
1½ tablespoons of salt
Divide the cream cheese into 3 parts. Place cream cheese into 3 bowls.
Add 1 tablespoon pesto to first bowl of cream cheese. Add 1 tablespoon pureed sun-dried tomato into second bowl of cream cheese. Add 2 tablespoons tuna to cream cheese in the third bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to each mixture. With a whisk, whip all three mixtures in their bowls until mixtures are smooth.
Place the mixtures into three separate piping bags. Pipe the mixtures into individual shells. Top with rolled anchovy and parsley, pancetta and quartered quail egg, or tomato. Serve immediately.
If you’re not from the Midwest, you could be forgiven if you don’t know how to play euchre. But for local designers Hillary Mancini of Peace Design (who is originally from Ohio), Jill and Steve McKenzie (Indiana), and Alison Weidner of outdoor furnishings shop AuthenTEAK (Michigan), the card game is a nostalgic throwback. The four met through design circles and bonded over their shared roots. Several years ago, they started gathering regularly for this four-player game of tricks and trumps, thought to have been brought to the Midwest by early German settlers. I love that the food fits the theme—classic family favorites and comfort foods like casseroles from the church cookbook and their moms’ old recipe cards. For years, this group has been getting together every other month or so, despite busy schedules with travel and installs, alternating homes, sharing the cooking, and always scheduling the next round before they part.
“Design is how we all met, so it would be easy to slip into ‘shop talk’ the whole time, but we don’t,” says Mancini, who hosted the game this month at her Brookhaven home. “There are usually funny stories about the recipe or what’s happening back in our hometowns—we are the ones from each of our families who left the area.”
Game night can allow friends to connect on many levels. I hope this inspires you to gather and play and reminisce too.
Walnut cheese ball
Swedish meatballs in sour cream
Place sugar in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add bitters and muddle together until combined. Add preferred amount of ice, and pour over whiskey. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Hold a piece of orange peel between your thumb and forefinger, and squeeze over the glass to release the oil. If you like, you can carefully use a match or lighter to flame the orange oils for a caramelized flavor. Garnish with the orange peel and a single cherry. Recipe contributed by Jill and Steve McKenzie.
Walnut Cheese Ball
Serves 10 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 6-ounce jar Old English Cheddar Cheese Spread
½ teaspoon horseradish, well-drained
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
In a small mixing bowl, soften cream cheese, and blend in sherry. Add butter, cheese spread, and horseradish; mix well. Cover, chill thoroughly—about 4 hours. Shape into a ball, and roll in walnuts. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve with crackers or vegetables. Recipe contributed by Jill and Steve McKenzie.
Serves 10 1 loaf pumpernickel rye, cut into cubes
8 ounces smoked or roasted turkey, cubed
8 ounces pastrami, cubed
8 ounces shredded Swiss and Gruyère cheese (find a packaged blend at Trader Joe’s)
7 ounces sauerkraut and pickles, drained (find a jarred blend at Trader Joe’s)
German mustard or Thousand Island dressing
Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Layer ingredients into dish like a Reuben sandwich: On the bottom, place half of the bread cubes, then half of the cheese and all of the turkey, sauerkraut, and pastrami. Then, top with the second half of the cheese. Bake covered for 18 to 20 minutes, then uncover and add second half of bread cubes. Bake another 5 to 8 minutes until cheese is bubbling and browned and bread cubes are toasted. Serve hot with German mustard or Thousand Island dressing. Recipe contributed by Hillary Mancini.
Swedish Meatballs in Sour Cream
Serves 8–10 2 cups breadcrumbs
½ cup milk
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons + ¼ cup of butter
2 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon beef broth concentrate
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups of bouillon (use a brand like Knorr)
1 cup sour cream
4 cups egg noodles
Soak breadcrumbs in milk, squeeze dry with a paper towel, and set aside. Add two tablespoons of butter to a medium frying pan, and saute onion until brown. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine salt, nutmeg, paprika, oregano, dry mustard, pepper, onions, and breadcrumbs with ground beef and fold in the beaten eggs. Stir these ingredients until well-combined. Form into 48 1-inch round meatballs.
In a large skillet add ¼ cup butter and warm, then add about 12 meatballs at a time, turning to brown. Once the meatballs have browned, set aside on a platter, and make the sauce. In the skillet, stir crushed garlic, flour, tomato paste, beef broth concentrate, and 2 cups of bouillon over low heat until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in sour cream. Add the meatballs, and serve with small forks or toothpicks.
Everyone in Atlanta knows King of Pops, the now-iconic local ice pop company founded by Steven and Nick Carse in 2010—but what about King of Crops? It’s the 67-acre, bucolic farm the pair bought in 2014 to grow the fruits and herbs for their pops, and it makes a great spot for a community gathering.
On a sunny day after a 45-minute drive west of Atlanta, I found myself in the countryside, turning into the gravel driveway. Before the party, which was hosted by KOP staff for friends and neighbors, I walked down to the fields where muscadines, melons, blackberries, blueberries, figs, and herbs like basil, ginger, and mint grow in abundance. Farmers had recently planted Asian and European pears and plums. King of Pops is the only ice pop company in the country that grows many of its own fruits and herbs, and they’re grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer. KOP works with local purveyors and sources in the neighborhood as well, like the nearby Working Cow Dairy for flavors like Cookies ’n’ Cream.
The party was set up with the brand’s signature ice pop cart and bright rainbow umbrella, with balloons and festive tableware to match. There were happy toppings arranged for a hot dog bar with all sorts of homemade pickles and, of course, an assortment of pops. Refreshing lemonade was served with ice pops for dunking. The whole spread would be easy to recreate at home, and the bright vibe inspired me to host my own popsicles and pickles party this summer.
Hot dogs with pickled vegetables
Summer King of Pops lemonade
Farm Ginger Lemonade pop
Blackberry Honey pop
Hot dogs with quick pickled vegetables
Makes 5 pint jars
1 ½ cups vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups thinly sliced radishes (about 2 bunches)
1 jalapeño cut in half lengthwise
2 cups thickly sliced jalapeños, about 8 to 12 peppers
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 teaspoon whole dry cloves
1 teaspoon dry juniper berries
2 cups red onion (about 1 large onion), sliced into rings about 1/8-inch thick
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 whole star anise
2 cups thickly sliced sweet peppers, about 8 small peppers
1 teaspoon whole dry coriander
Pack vegetable combinations into wide-mouth pint jars, leaving ½ inch of space at the top. Stir ingredients for brine into saucepan, and cook over high heat until boiling. Pour over prepared vegetables until covered. Let cool, then seal and refrigerate for 48 hours. Use tongs to apply liberally to grilled hot dogs—or just munch them on their own. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Summer King of Pops lemonade
4 cups cold water
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups simple syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
First, make the simple syrup by warming the water and sugar in a small saucepan until boiling. Turn off the heat, and let cool until ready to use, or store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Combine with cold water and lemon juice, and stir. Serve in a mason jar, and garnish with a pop.
Farm Ginger Lemonade and Blackberry Honey Pops
Serves 10 each
Farm Ginger Lemonade
2 ¾ cups water
5 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ginger juice 2/3 cup, plus 2 teaspoons organic cane sugar
Sea salt to taste
1 cup water
1 pound (or a bit more) blackberries
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Combine ingredients for Farm Ginger Lemonade pops and Blackberry Honey pops in separate pitchers; transfer each to ice pop molds. Freeze overnight. Enjoy two flavors from the King of Pops.
Farm to Pop
types of fruits and herbs King of Crops grows across 67 acres
weight in tons of fruit and food waste turned to fertilizer at the farm by CompostNow each month.
number of farmers, led by Stephen Dobek, who manage the bounty
number of fruit trees and bushes the company has planted so far in 2019. New experiments include goji berries, elderberries, and Asian pears.
cost to stay in the modern tiny cabin on the property (via Airbnb). For day visits to the farm, visit kingofcrops.com to book a tour or sign up to volunteer for farm work.
When I arrived at Hutcheson-Redwine Plantation around 11 in the morning, I was greeted by a magical scene. The 12-acre homestead was bursting with colorful floral abundance, the foxgloves in full swing. The circa-1841 farmhouse has been lovingly restored, brimming with antiques and curios and flanked by boxwoods, garden rooms, and an acre of vegetables. It’s just 30 or so minutes southwest of Atlanta, nestled in the rolling terrain of Chattahoochee Hills, but it feels worlds away.
Somewhere between the arbor of climbing roses and the tractor barn–turned–open-air living room, I found Keith Robinson waiting for me with a smile and a fresh watermelon spritzer. The event designer behind Gloriosa, Keith transformed the timeworn estate into an enchanting bucolic wonderland. He lives there with his husband, Scott Morris, and their dogs, Winnie the wirehaired vizsla and Axel, a miniature dachshund.
I have admired Keith since our paths first crossed many years ago at the wholesale florist Cut Flower Wholesale. (He’s very tall, so you couldn’t miss him in the floral walk-in refrigerator.)
For this small-but-sublime spring gathering of friends, Keith placed a large round table in the garden in front of the house, draped it in a simple rustic linen, and topped it with vintage china, mixed flatware, and an arrangement of garden roses and peonies. His signature brunch menu featured a bounty grown in the field behind his house.
Chilled melon soup with basil oil
Turkey sweet potato hash
Fresh English pea salad
Mascarpone tart with fresh strawberries
6 cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup mint simple syrup
1 bottle white Bordeaux or white Burgundy wine
½ bottle club soda
Fresh mint, lime slices for garnish
Puree watermelon in a blender; strain and reserve juice. Add water to get six cups liquid. In a pitcher, combine all ingredients, plus ice, and stir. Add fresh mint and slice of lime as garnish to each glass, and serve.
Roast turkey sweet potato hash
1 3–5 pound uncooked turkey breast on the bone
1 ½ tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Juice of one lemon
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 375° F. Pat turkey breast dry, and add salt and herbs de Provence to both sides. Heat cast-iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan on high until smoking, add oil, and reduce heat to medium. Place turkey breast skin side down in the pan, sear until skin is lightly brown, turn breast, and brown other side. Place skin side down again, and add butter to pan to crisp the skin (about three minutes), turn and deglaze with the lemon juice and white wine. Place the pan into a 375° oven for about an hour to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, until a meat thermometer reads 165°. Cool to room temperature, and reserve pan juices. The turkey can be made up to two days ahead.
Sweet Potato Hash
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
3 tablespoons dry sage
8 cups sweet potatoes, chunked
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups turkey stock and pan drippings, combined
8 cups roast turkey meat with skin, chunked
½ cup parsley, chopped fine
1 cup smoked bacon, cooked and rough chopped
In a large cast-iron skillet on medium high heat, sweat onion and celery in the olive oil, and add dry herbs. Add sweet potatoes and two cups of the stock and pan drippings. Add turkey meat, reduce heat to low, and simmer until potatoes are done. (You want the hash to crisp up on the bottom, while turning the mixture and scraping the pan with every turn.) Salt and pepper to taste, add the fresh thyme and remaining two cups of stock, and cook out the liquid. Stir in fresh parsley and cooked bacon. For a bonus: Add a fried egg on top!
Chilled melon soup with basil oil
2 ripe cantaloupe melons, peeled and chunked
Juice of two lemons
Juice of two limes
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tupelo honey or wildflower honey
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup olive oil
Place melon, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, puree in batches until smooth. Portion into bowls.
Roughly tear ½ cup of basil leaves; reserve the other half. Add torn leaves to olive oil and emulsify, then strain oil through a fine mesh sieve and reserve. Chiffonade the remaining ½ cup of basil by stacking the leaves, rolling into a log, and slicing very thin with a sharp knife. Lightly sweeten yogurt by stirring in honey.
To each soup portion, add a dollop of sweetened yogurt, dot with basil oil, and finish with a chiffonade of fresh basil.
Fresh English pea salad
2 ½ cups fresh English peas, shelled and blanched
1 cup celery with leaves, diced fine
½ cup parsley, chopped
6–8 medium radishes, sliced very thin
4 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and still warm
1½ cups Irish cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup baby arugula
½ cup Dukes mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lemon
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons very fine olive oil
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients until well blended, and toss. Just before serving, garnish with a ring of baby arugula.
Mascarpone tart with fresh strawberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix together the flour and salt in a bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, and add vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated; do not overmix. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Press the chilled dough into a false bottom 10-inch tart shell, and prick the bottom with a fork. Bake until lightly browned, around 40 minutes, then let cool completely in the pan.
Mix together all ingredients for the filling, and smooth into the cooled, unmolded tart shell. Top with fresh strawberries.
When San Francisco–based entertaining shop Hudson Grace opened its doors at Westside Provisions District last fall, no one was more excited than me. This beautiful brand of tabletop goods was founded by entertaining and retail experts Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton, alums of Williams Sonoma and Gap Inc., respectively, and features a divine array of European-made white serveware, bright table linens, and simple glassware. Both founders have roots in the South and admire its tradition of gracious hosting, so it was only natural that Atlanta host their first location outside of California.
With its shelves of platters, plates, barware, and silver, the store was a ready-made party location, and since Monelle and Gary live on the West Coast, setting it up as their own dining room for a casual, intimate holiday supper was a brilliant idea. The guest list was a veritable who’s who of Atlanta interior designers, who were greeted with a martini served in a chilled glass.
The menu included a starter of Monelle’s Louisiana gumbo in oversize bowls, followed by California Dungeness cracked crab, hot, buttery sourdough bread, butter lettuce with black lava salt, and Gary’s award-winning coconut cake—his grandmother’s recipe—for dessert. The table was set with the brand’s signature California-cool white dishes; vintage blue napkins found at a market in France added a special touch. Each place setting included a little gift: a magnolia scented candle that Gary developed just for the Atlanta store opening. Friends enjoyed laughter and conversation over glowing candlelight and no-fuss greenery—the perfect setting to kick off the holiday season. Turns out Monelle and Gary and I agree on the most important tip for hosting a gathering: Keep it simple so you can enjoy the evening, too.
Monelle’s Louisiana gumbo
Gary’s award-winning coconut cake
2 ½ ounces Cathead vodka
½ ounce dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat
Green olive for garnish
In mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin and vermouth. Stir well, about 20 seconds, then strain into martini glass. Garnish with olive and serve.
Monelle’s Louisiana Gumbo
4 bone-in chicken breasts, skin off
4 teaspoons Creole seasoning, divided
1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 quarts chicken broth
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, optional
4 green onions, sliced, plus more for topping
2 teaspoons filé powder, optional
12 cups cooked white rice
Coat chicken with 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Cook chicken in oil until cooked through and lightly browned, about 6 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
In the same saute pan over medium heat, add sausage and cook until brown, turning, about 6 minutes. Remove to same plate as chicken, set aside.
In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, stir together flour and remaining ½ cup oil with a wooden spoon. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or until flour mixture is very dark, similar to chocolate in color.
Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire, thyme, hot sauce, and green onion. Add reserved chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Remove chicken from soup, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone and shred, then stir back into soup with filé powder. Discard bones.
Serve gumbo over cooked rice and topped with sliced green onions.
2 heads of butter lettuce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Sprinkle of Hudson Grace Black Lava Salt
Wash and dry lettuce, toss with oil, lemon, and salt. Serve immediately.
4 large Dungeness crabs
Keep live crabs in the refrigerator in a large bowl, loosely covered with foil, up to 12 hours. Grasp crabs carefully from the rear end, between the legs, and put in a pot to make sure they fit, with 3 to 4 inches of clearance below pot rim. Remove crabs and fill pot with enough water to cover crabs by 2 to 3 inches. Cover pot, and bring water to a boil over high heat.
One at a time, grasp crabs as described above and plunge them headfirst into the boiling water. Cover pot, and start timing. When water resumes boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 1 ½- to 2 ½-pound crabs for 15 minutes; 3-pound crabs about 20 minutes.
Drain crabs. To be able to handle quickly, rinse briefly with cool water. Now, it’s time to clean, crack, and shell the crabs. Pull off and discard triangular flap from belly side. Turn crab belly-side down; pulling from the rear end, lift off back shell. Drain and discard liquid from shell. If desired, scoop soft, golden crab butter and white crab fat from shell into a small bowl to eat by the spoonful with crab or to stir into a dipping sauce. If using back shell for garnish, break bony section (mouth) from front end of shell and discard. Rinse shell well
On the body section, pull off and discard reddish membrane that covers the center and any loose pieces. Pull off and discard long, spongy gills from sides of body. Rinse body well with cool water.
Twist legs and claws from body. Using a nutcracker or wood mallet, crack the shell of each leg and claw section. With a knife, cut the body into quarters.
Break apart legs and claws. Using your fingers, a small fork, a pick, or a crab leg tip, remove meat. Pull body sections apart and dig out pockets of meat. Discard shells. One cooked, cleaned 1 ¾- to 2-pound crab (with back shell) yields 7 ½ to 8 ounces (1 to
1 ½ cups) of meat.
Serve with sourdough bread. (Monelle prefers Alon’s Bakery.)
Bake a simple yellow cake according to instructions on the box. Set aside to cool.
Toast coconut in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
To make the icing: In a standing mixer, combine whipped cream and sour cream with 1 cup coconut, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Frost cake, sprinkle remaining cup of coconut on cake for garnish, and serve.
Recipes provided by Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton.
My dear friend Liz Lapidus, whose public relations firm represents some of the city’s top restaurants and creatives, has a knack for inviting all the right people to just the right venue. The dinner she hosted one fall evening in the leafy courtyard of Susan Bridges’s Inman Park gallery, Whitespace, was no different. There, her intimate group of eight gathered to celebrate Birmingham-based artist Amy Pleasant’s show Writing Pictures.
“Susan has created an amazing experience in the neighborhood,” says Liz. “I love how the space evolves from a buzzy opening night venue to a quiet place to view art.”
Beneath a canopy of trees draped with string lights, guests sipped Unvanquished bourbon cocktails by Navarro Carr and nibbled on cornmeal crisps by James Beard Award–winning chef Scott Peacock, who created a thrilling fall-inspired menu.
Bridges and Katie Barringer, who founded (the sadly now-closed) Cover Books, decorated the long wooden table with fall flowers and branches. Handmade touches added to the homegrown affair: Chef Peacock brought napkins hand-dyed with indigo grown in his Alabama backyard. His garden provided the persimmons and pomegranates for the salad as well as the Carolina Gold rice for the panna cotta for dessert. The entire meal reflected the terroir of the topsoil-rich region of Alabama that the chef calls home.
Guests mingled in the gallery, which features a large sliding door that gives it a seamless indoor-outdoor feeling. Pleasant’s minimalist black-and-white works on paper, paintings, and ceramic sculptures of the human form inspired—but so did Liz herself. I always love watching her interact with guests, because she truly listens and asks all the right questions. She assembles all the perfect pieces.
Salad of fall fruits and spicy greens
Rich beef stew
Carolina Gold panna cotta with candied pumpkin and burnt honey
Cocktail from Navarro Carr: The Unvanquished
1.5 ounce bourbon
½ ounce Grade A maple syrup
½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
½ ounce Zirbenz (pine liqueur)
1 dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
2–3 cardamom seeds, muddled (reserve a small amount for garnish)
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake. Strain into a rocks
glass over ice. Garnish with a sprinkle of muddled cardamom seeds.
Menu from Scott Peacock: Cornmeal Crisps
1 cup finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½–2 ¼ cups boiling water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Optional garnish: Rosemary, finely chopped and sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Stir the cornmeal and salt together, and whisk in enough boiling water to make a smooth, spreadable mush with the consistency of loose mashed potatoes. Whisk in two tablespoons of butter. If it becomes stiff, whisk in a bit more boiling water until it is loose and smooth.
With a tablespoon of butter, grease two baking sheets. Divide the batter between the two baking sheets, and use a rubber spatula to spread as thinly and evenly as possible. (Dipping the spatula in water helps.) If desired, sprinkle lightly with chopped and seasoned rosemary—not too much—and a few grinds of black pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes or longer, turning pan as needed for even cooking, until crisp and golden brown. Do not be surprised if cracks develop as it bakes. They add to the charm.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets. If made with optional herb garnish, best to eat the day made but can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Salad of Fall Fruits and Spicy Greens
For the dressing: 1 shallot, finely diced
1 small clove of garlic, chopped, sprinkled with kosher salt and rubbed to a paste
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3–5 grinds of black pepper
Small pinch sugar
3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For the salad: 1 ½ cups persimmon, quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise (¼-inch or less)
1 ¼ cups pomegranate seed
1 ¼ cups cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and sliced ¼-inch thick
⅓ cup black, oil-cured olives, pitted and torn into ⅓-inch pieces
¼ fresh mint leaves, torn
6 cups arugula, carefully washed and dried
6 cups watercress, carefully washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put the shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar in a small, nonreactive bowl and allow to mellow for 10 to 30 minutes. Whisk in the mustard and olive oil. Taste carefully for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Put the persimmon and pomegranate seed in a bowl, squeeze the lemon over it, and toss. Add cucumber, oil-cured olives, and mint. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pour ¼ cup of the dressing over the mixture. Toss well. Add the arugula and watercress, drizzle just enough to lightly coat, and season to taste. (Maldon flakes are nice as a finishing salt.) Gently toss and serve immediately.
Rich Beef Stew
1 3 ½ to 4 pound well-marbled chuck roast (preferably grass-fed)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onion, diced
1 leek, white part only, split lengthwise and cut into thin slices
3 large cloves of garlic
1 bottle dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 stick cinnamon (Ceylon preferred)
7 fresh bay leaves (or 3 dried)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
10 parsley stems (leaves reserved)
Trim and cut roast into large 2-inch pieces. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, then cover and refrigerate overnight if possible. (This helps with flavor of stew, but it could be rushed!)
Preheat oven to 275F
Cook bacon in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until brown. Drain and reserve and pour all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan and add 2 tablespoons remaining olive oil to pan. Blot salted beef dry with paper towel and brown carefully in the skillet over medium-high heat. This is the most critical step in developing good flavor in the stew, so take time to brown carefully all over, working in batches as needed. Remove well-browned beef and set aside.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet and add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Add onions to pan, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook just until onions have softened; do not let them brown. Stir in the leeks and garlic, and cook for four minutes over low heat.
Transfer onion mixture to a 3-quart baking dish (I often use a Pyrex casserole dish). Pour wine into skillet and bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook until reduced by half. When reduced, whisk in the tomato paste. Arrange the browned beef and bacon over the onions and pour over the reduced red wine. Add stock to almost cover. Tuck in the parsley stems (tied with kitchen twine helps with their later removal), fresh bay and cinnamon. Sprinkle dried thyme over the whole. Cover with parchment paper and a double thickness of foil. Seal tightly. Place on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 2 hours. Exercising great care, unwrap foil, making sure not to let the steam released cause a burn. Test the tenderness of the beef with a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife. More than likely beef will require a bit more cooking. If it does, recover with foil and bake 20 to 30 minutes longer until meat is just tender.
Uncover, remove parsley stems and cinnamon and increase oven temp to 350 and cook 15 to 20 minutes longer, basting occasionally, to further brown and glaze the stew. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes or so before serving with torn (not chopped) parsley as a finishing garnish. This stew, like most, is especially good made the day before and reheated.
Carolina Gold Panna Cotta with Candied Pumpkin and Burnt Honey
For the panna cotta: 2 cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons Carolina Gold or other fragrant rice
3 strips orange zest, all pith carefully removed
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 scant packet unflavored gelatin, softened in 3 tablespoons cold water or milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the candied pumpkin garnish: 2 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes (small cooking pumpkins work best)
1 cup sugar
½-inch soft cinnamon stick (Ceylon preferred)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup dark honey (buckwheat is beautiful)
Put the milk, two cups of heavy cream, rice, orange zest, sugar, and salt in a heavy nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or longer until the rice is very soft. Remove orange zest, and gently stir in softened gelatin until dissolved. Pour through a fine strainer, using a rubber spatula to press the rice through. Whisk gently to blend. Stir in the remaining ½ cup heavy cream and vanilla. Pour into a serving bowl or individual servings, cover, and chill for at least two hours until set.
Toss the pumpkin and sugar together and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to draw out the liquid. Put in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan, and add cinnamon, lemon juice, and salt, and simmer, partially covered, until pumpkin is tender and translucent and syrup has thickened. Cool and refrigerate. Add to the panna cotta as a garnish. Boil honey in a saucepan or small skillet over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Let cool slightly, and drizzle ½ teaspoon in very thin threads over the panna cotta and pumpkin just before serving.
My husband, Frank, and I spent 12 summers on the Italian Riviera in the picturesque town of Alassio, with its colorful buildings and terracotta rooftops overlooking the sparkling sea. Here, we were introduced to the charming ritual of aperitivo. Every evening around 6 p.m., just before dinner, friends and family pause to relax and socialize over spritzy cocktails and small bites.
Quintessential aperitivo cocktails, like the pleasingly dry and bitter negroni and the Aperol spritz, are meant to stimulate the appetite. In fact, Italians rarely drink without eating. My book explores this easy lifestyle, covering the Italian Riviera’s bars, hotels, and beach clubs along the famous coastline, and is peppered with recipes for simple but sophisticated snacks and classic Italian drinks.
HOME’s editor, Mary Logan Bikoff, asked to try some cocktail recipes with an artisan vermouth that her husband, David, and his friend Chase craft in small batches with earthy herbs and botanicals. We decided to make a party of it, and they invited friends to the beautiful courtyard at the Westside’s Summerour Studio (home to architecture firm Summerour & Associates and a stunning event venue) for an al fresco gathering after work. The Italian cypress trees, romantic creeping vines, and arched entryways evoked a rustic Tuscan estate that set just the right scene.
In addition to spritzes and negronis crafted with housemade vermouth, the menu included prosciutto and melon, herby olives, salami puffs, focaccia, and potato chips, an essential Italian snack. Try them at your own aperitivo party this summer—preferably al fresco!
Herby marinated olives
Prosciutto finger sandwiches with homemade aioli
Prosciutto with melon
Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled highball glass. Garnish with
a twist of orange peel.
Herby Marinated Olives
4 cups mixed olives
3 whole cloves of garlic, smashed
¼ cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
In a saute pan, warm the olives, garlic, peppers, and oil. Toss in the herbs with the olive mixture. Serve warm.
3 cups double zero flour or bread flour
1 package dry yeast
1 ⅓ cup water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet, 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, and 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus 1 teaspoon for finishing
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, let the yeast proof for a few minutes in ⅓ cup of warm water. Once a bubbly foam forms on the surface, it is ready. Add flour, oil, salt, and the remaining water. Combine in mixer until it forms a sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead gently for approximately one minute. On an oiled 10-by-14-inch cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples across the top of the dough. Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest again for 30 minutes. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, letting the oil soak in as the focaccia cools. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be stored sealed for up to 3 days.
Serving suggestion: I love to use focaccia as an appetizer with olive spread, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, and a crisp rosé. It makes the perfect start to the evening.
Prosciutto finger sandwich with homemade aioli
Focaccia bread (see recipe above)
¼ pound prosciutto, sliced thin
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced thin
2 cups of baby arugula
1 teaspoon salt
Makes ½ cup
1 garlic clove
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mash the garlic clove to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large, heavy knife, and set aside. Whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.) Whisk in garlic paste, and season with salt and pepper. If aioli is too thick, whisk in a few drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use. Can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in a sealed container in
Assembly: On top of the focaccia, spread aioli, and top with arugula, prosciutto, and sliced eggs, then sprinkle with salt. Cut the sandwiches into eight 2-inch squares, and serve immediately.
12 slices Genova salami slices cut in half
1 sheet puff pastry
½ cup cream cheese (Fun fact: In Italy, cream cheese is called Philadelphia.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Thaw the puff pastry, and unroll on a board covered in parchment paper. With
a rolling pin, roll the pastry into a 12-by-12-inch square. Then, spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry. Cut the pastry with a sharp knife into 3-by-3-inch squares. Place a salami half on top of each pastry square, then fold corners of the square together over the salami until they meet in the center, forming a small pouch. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve at room temperature.
Prosciutto with melon pops
½ ripe cantaloupe, seeded (Shopping hint: The tip of the fruit will smell like melon when it is ripe.)
½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 1-inch sections
Using a melon baller, scoop out around 25 to 30 melon balls from the cantaloupe. Wrap the melon balls with prosciutto slices like a belt, and then, secure with a skewer. Place the melon “lollipops” on a platter, and serve immediately.
Ashley Woodson Bailey is a force of nature. Her first career was creating high-style floral designs in places from New York to her native Texas. But when a serious car accident left her in constant pain, she had to give up staging large-scale events. To amuse herself during recuperation, she began taking photos of flowers with her iPhone. The hobby turned into a business, and she started producing limited-edition prints; more recently, she has even branched into fashion and home furnishings.
Ashley and I discovered each other online while she was living in Austin. I admired her creative drive and featured her in a couple of blog posts. Overcoming mammoth physical obstacles, she’s continued to re-create herself year after year. I was thrilled when she moved to Atlanta and hoped we would be able to collaborate in person.
Last winter we ran into each other at the wholesale florist, and she began describing her unconventional way of decorating for the holidays. Ashley uses fresh flowers and nontraditional colors like black, gold, and hot pink. She decorates the tree with white silk roses, carnation balls, and camellia blossoms. I was so intrigued that I wrangled an invitation to her home.
Ashley lives in a cute, quirky house in Marietta with her husband, Brad, and their kids, Byrd, Woodson, and Lane. I joined the family and their friends for a sweet soirée of holiday desserts: a pavlova wreath drizzled with fresh berry coulis, salted caramels individually wrapped in white parchment, velvety handmade chocolate truffles, and their favorite whiskey pie. A coconut cake was decorated with a giant dahlia the size of my head. We toasted the old and the new year ahead.
The menu Cocktail
Pavlova wreath with blackberry sauce
Bowle Makes 10
1 bottle Champagne
1 bottle Chardonnay
1 cup brandy
1 cup sugar
1 bag frozen strawberries
Combine first four ingredients in a pitcher; top with frozen strawberries.
Pavlova Wreath with Blackberry Sauce Serves 8
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2½ cups sugar
8 egg whites, room temperature
Preheat oven to 225°F.
In a bowl, mix cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. Put sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment; blend on low speed until combined, then raise speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Add the cornstarch mixture and beat until glossy.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, pipe meringue onto a cookie sheet in a 14-inch round wreath shape. This can also be done freehand with a large spoon. Bake for 45 minutes, then let cool.
2 pints blackberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
Add all ingredients to a saucepan set over high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, pour through a sieve into a bowl, and set aside to cool.
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
In a bowl, beat together until stiff peaks form.
1 cup whipped cream
1 pint blackberries
With a spoon, crack the meringue and drizzle the wreath with blackberry sauce. Top with fresh blackberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
Easy Chocolate Truffles Makes 2 dozen
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ teaspoon salt
Cocoa mixture for rolling
1/3 cup powdered sugar (plus a little extra for your hands to prevent sticking)
1/3 cup cocoa
In a two-quart microwavable glass bowl, microwave cream, butter, and sugar on high for 1½ minutes. Stir well, then microwave on high an additional 1 minute. Add chocolate, vanilla, and salt, and stir until creamy. Chill until firm, about 3 hours. Shape into one-inch balls by rolling bits of the mixture in your hands. In a bowl, stir together powdered sugar and cocoa, then roll the balls in the mixture. Store in a container in the refrigerator.
Coconut Cake Serves 10–12
This cake has the consistency of a pound cake. Once frosted, it looks very much like a giant snowball.
2 sticks butter, softened (plus extra to grease pans)
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
3 cups flour (plus extra to grease pans)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cup milk and juice of 1 lemon, combined
5 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup prepared lemon curd for filling
16 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease two round 9-inch cake pans with butter, dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, combine butter and sugar until creamy (2 to 3 minutes). Mix in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and coconut extract. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, then add milk mixture and coconut. Distribute batter equally between the prepared pans. Bake for 45 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them onto a rack to finish cooling.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, combine cream cheese and butter. Add salt, vanilla, and coconut extract. Slowly add powdered sugar until completely combined.
Place the flat side of the first layer on a plate. With a bread knife, slice off the rounded top so it becomes flat. Spread lemon curd on top and let stand for 5 minutes until the curd sets up a bit. Spread a half-inch layer of frosting on top of the curd. Sprinkle with about ¼ cup sweetened coconut. Place the other layer, flat side down, on top and frost the entire cake to seal the crumbs, then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Remove the cake and frost the entire cake. Press the coconut all over until the cake is evenly coated.
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon milk (for brushing crust)
Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface. Incorporate the butter using your fingers, rubbing it into the flour mixture until the pieces are smaller than a pea. Make a hole in the center of the flour and pour in the cold water. Using your hands, gently mix the water into the flour to form a dough. Shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 45 minutes.
½ cup whiskey
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup walnuts, whole pieces
Generous pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough and carefully fit it into a pie pan. Trim the excess dough around the rim with a sharp knife. Refrigerate the pie pan with dough while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the whiskey and cornstarch until the cornstarch has dissolved. Whisk in eggs, corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and chopped walnuts. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. On top of the filling, arrange the whole walnut pieces in concentric circles. Brush the exposed edges of the pie crust with milk. (This will help the crust brown.) Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the pie. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pie has puffed up and browned. Let cool for at least an hour before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Rodgers
This article originally appeared in our Winter 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.
Six years ago, when the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail was still unpaved, New Orleans native Chantelle Rytter dreamed up a lantern parade as a way to inaugurate an annual display of visual and performing art along the budding corridor. Now every year, on the Saturday after Labor Day, Rytter and her Krewe of Grateful Gluttons lead tens of thousands of revelers past more than a hundred works of art—all part of the city’s largest temporary public art exhibition, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Wilma Sothern, vice president of marketing for Central Atlanta Progress, and her husband, Scott Almendarez, were early cheerleaders for the BeltLine—moving into a spacious townhome overlooking the multiuse trail. When their first September came, a longtime friend, art consultant Marianne Lambert, offered to bring over some Chick-fil-A sandwiches so they could have cocktails and watch the spectacle from the balcony. PR maven Liz Lapidus soon got in on the fun too.
Over the years, the menu has gotten more sophisticated, and that simple celebration has grown into an annual tradition. Friends gather in the late afternoon, enjoying nibbles like bags of sweet and salty popcorn. Wilma provides art supplies and blank lanterns for guests to decorate.
The signature cocktail is an apple Old Fashioned served in lantern-shaped glasses with flowing ribbon stirrers. A self-serve buffet catered by Wilma’s friends at Bantam + Biddy brings a casual vibe to the mix. The Southern menu includes pimento cheese dip with vegetables, watermelon salad, and chicken salad sandwiches. The Texas cake is always a hit. The magical, mystical light parade takes more than an hour to pass, but guests linger on to welcome the fall season.
Sothern Apple Old Fashioned Makes 16 (6-ounce) cocktails
• 1 gallon hot water
• 16 individual-sized Earl Grey tea bags, such as Tea Stash
• ¼ cup honey
• 2 Meyer lemons, sliced
• 2 apples, sliced (use a firm variety, like a Gala or Red Delicious)
• 1 cup Apple Cardamom Shrub by 18.21 Bitters (available at 18.21 Bitters at Ponce City Market)
• 3 tablespoons Tart Cherry and Saffron Bitters by 18.21 Bitters
• 2 cups (16 ounces) bourbon whiskey
In a large pitcher or dispenser, combine water, tea bags, honey, lemons, and apples. Let steep until cool, about an hour. Remove tea bags. Stir in shrub, bitters, and bourbon. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.
Pimento Cheese* Serves 4
• 1 pound grated mild cheddar
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 2 roasted red peppers, peeled and diced
• 1 tablespoon Peppadew Sweet Piquant Pepper and Cilantro Seasoning
• 1 dash Louisiana hot sauce
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Chill until ready to serve.
Watermelon Salad* Serves 4
• 2 cups watermelon, shaped into balls with melon baller
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
• ½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
• ½ teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
Toss together watermelon, olive oil, lime juice, mint, and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
• 1 pound chicken breasts, cooked and diced
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 2 slices bacon, cooked and finely minced
• 1 shallot, finely diced
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
• 1 teaspoon white truffle oil
• ½ teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
Texas Cake* Cake
• 16 ounces unsalted butter
• ²⁄³ cup cocoa powder
• 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 cups water
• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 4 cups sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; whisk in cocoa. Add oil and water; bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Combine cocoa mixture, flour mixture, and egg mixture. Pour into a greased and floured half sheet pan. Bake at 350˚ until center is firm, about 12 minutes.
• 1 cup unsalted butter
• ½ cup cocoa
• ²⁄³ cup whole milk
• 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 6 cups powdered sugar
• 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in cocoa and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir until very smooth. Pour frosting over the top of cake and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Chip Wade and I first met about seven years ago when we were both cast on an HGTV pilot called 1010. The show was never picked up, but luckily our friendship has endured. When we met, Chip had just become a father. His adorable wife, Pauli, would bring their son Mac to the set every day. Now seven, Mac has been joined by sister Mara, age four, and brother JT, age two.
Star of several HGTV shows, including the Emmy-winning Elbow Room, Chip has also appeared with the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah. He and Pauli, a CPA turned real estate agent, met when they were both cheerleaders at Georgia Tech, where Chip earned a degree in mechanical engineering and Pauli graduated first in her class in the School of Management.
Off camera, the creative couple have collaborated on running a comprehensive architecture, design, real estate, and production company called Wade Works, as well as on building their dream home in Cumming. With their tricked-out kitchen and beautifully landscaped yard, it’s obvious that entertaining is a priority for this family. Recently I was fortunate to join them for a summer cookout.
Pauli and Chip’s mom, Jill, put together a beautiful spread. In the kitchen, two sinks and a large center island with a custom drink basin make it easy for several cooks to work at once. A dining area is conveniently right outside—where a massive grill and two Big Green Eggs prove that Chip loves to barbecue.
We had a grand time playing outdoor games with the children and Chip’s family and friends, and the food was delicious. We started with homemade guacamole and salsa, along with watermelon margaritas. And as we gathered at the table, the summer sun bathed us in a warm glow—a picturesque setting from a couple who know a thing or two about a well-designed life.
Sun-dried tomato grilled flank steak with pickled onions
Grilled corn with cilantro butter
Watermelon Margaritas Serves 6
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
• 3 wide strips orange peel
• 8 cups watermelon, cubed, with seeds removed
• 1 cup fresh lime juice
• 2 cups white or silver tequila
• 6 watermelon wedges, for garnish
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, water, and orange peel to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Let syrup cool in a bowl, then discard orange peel. In a blender, puree watermelon cubes until smooth. Strain into a pitcher through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids (this should yield about 1 cup of juice). Stir in syrup, lime juice, and tequila. Fill salt-rimmed glasses with ice, then pour margarita mixture over the top. Garnish with watermelon wedges.
Guacamole Serves 6 to 8
• 4 ripe avocados
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• ½ cup chopped tomatoes
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• ¼ red onion, finely diced
• ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• 5 drops hot sauce, optional
Halve avocados and scoop flesh into a bowl; smash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine with the fork.
Salsa Verde Makes 3 cups
• 12 to 15 tomatillos, husked
• 5 garlic cloves
• 2 green chiles
• 1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, toss tomatillos, garlic cloves, chiles, and onion in olive oil and salt. Transfer the mixture to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Place roasted vegetables into the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade. Add cilantro and lime juice and pulse for 5 seconds. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to marry.
Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter Serves 6
• 6 ears of corn, cleaned
• 1 stick of butter, slightly softened
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 teaspoon salt
Combine butter, cilantro, and salt. Shape into a disk and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Parboil corn for 10 minutes, then finish cooking it on the grill for 5 minutes, until grill marks form. Serve with the butter.
Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Flank Steak Serves 4 to 6
• 1 (3-pound) flank steak
• 4-ounce jar of sun-dried
tomatoes in oil
• 4 cloves garlic
• 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup ketchup
• Salt and pepper
Put all ingredients except the steak into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 1 minute or until ingredients form a paste. Coat the steak completely in the marinade, then place steak in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.
To cook, grill the steak for 5 to 8 minutes on one side, then turn and grill 5 to 8 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 130°F to 135°F (medium well). Let meat rest for 15 minutes, then cut into thin slices against the grain. Serve warm or at room temperature with pickled
onions (recipe below).
Pickled Onions Serves 4 to 6
• 1½ cups red wine vinegar
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 5 whole cloves
• 1 large red onion, sliced
Place vinegar, sugar, salt, and cloves in a saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes. Add onion slices and simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let the onions sit until cooled, then transfer onions and liquid to a mason jar. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Serve with the flank steak.
This article originally appeared in our Summer 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.
Since 1961, Atlanta magazine, the city’s premier general interest publication, has served as the authority on Atlanta, providing its readers with a mix of long-form nonfiction, lively lifestyle coverage, in-depth service journalism, and literary essays, columns, and profiles.