Monthly Archives: August 2015

I Love Lemons…

images- lemons III 1aled.fotomaps.ru- LEMON COLOR CHANGE

(photo credit- 1aled.fotomaps.ru)

Hi everyone, 

I am back. I came home from vacation and had a bad bout with bronchitis. I missed setting my tablescapes and also sharing them with you. I hope you are all enjoying the end of summer. This season seemed to fly by so fast.

Todays tablescape is all about Lemons!

At the end of the post I have included a recipe for a Limocello Tart from my dear friend Marie Renello. Her website is Proud Italian Cook and her recipes are always fantastic. Check out her website at http://prouditaliancook.com

I just love lemons. I love the color, the smell, the taste. They are so bright and cheerful. And after being sick, I need some cheering up. I lost a full week of the summer being ill. So let’s start the tablescape full of lemons…

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-08-23 23.31.51 - INTRO

The dishes I am using today are a very simple pattern ceramic dish with a creme background, brown border and 2 lemons with a lemon leaf on each dinner plate. It has the look of Italian ceramics (which I collect as well). I bought both the dinner plates and bread plates. The salad plates and bowls were not available, but this is a start.

2015-08-24 01.59.49 - DISHES

 I think I will use the bread plates as dessert plates.  

To start us off, I am using a lemon pattern tablecloth and matching napkins. Very cheery all by itself. I bought the tablecloth last February in the middle of the freezing snowy weather. It gave me hope that the better weather was ahead where I could be lounging in the sun and drinking lemonade. I just couldn’t pass up the lemon pattern. I am using clear napkin rings so nothing takes away from the lemon pattern.

2015-08-23 23.35.21- LEMON TABLECLOTH

2015-08-23 22.56.57 -NAPKIN

I am using a large 15 inch sandalwood colored woven placemat without a charger. The color of the placemat is the same color that borders the dishes. I couldn’t use a charger plate because the dishes are 11 inches instead of the standard 9 inches. The charger plates I have are too small.

2015-08-23 23.35.34 - PLACEMAT LEMON

So now I have the dishes, tablecloth, napkins and placemats. I need to start looking through all of my dish collections and accessories for any additions to this table or start shopping.

Once I see the pattern of a dish, my mind starts designing a tablescape in my head but a lot of times I cannot find what I wanted originally and adjustments have to be made.

You have to have patience with a tablescape. Sometimes it all comes together quickly and other times it’s the product of many months of picking up pieces here and there until you feel it is done to your liking.

It took me a long time to find the right glassware to go with these dishes. I have everyday tumblers with lemons on them but they looked awful together with the dishes because the yellow on the glass was too bright.

And then one day I walked into Pier I and on the clearance table no less, there were glass goblets with lemons painted on them that matched the dishes. I think this is where the sky opened up and the angels started to sing. I bought every goblet they had. Okay, things are coming together, slowly but coming together.

2015-08-23 23.36.50 - GOBLET

While visiting my son this Summer, I found two more additions to my lemon table. The first find are lemon teacups – absolutely precious and they match the dishes and have butterflies as part of the design. I just love butterflies. To me they are a kiss from heaven.

The design of the teacups match the dishes so perfectly that you would think that they were part of the original dish collection.

2015-08-23 22.49.03 - TEACUP

I might have to display these teacups in my kitchen china cabinet so I can look at them every day. I just love them. They are so beautiful and delicate. I think I need a tea sandwich and a scone to go with them.

I will be using both the teacups and the bread plates for dessert.

2015-08-23 22.48.11 - TEACUP AND BREAD PLATE

The second find is a beautiful yellow cake stand that picks up the exact yellow of the lemons in the dishes perfectly. Not too bright and not too gold. The ruffled design around the cake stand edge is what caught my eye.

2015-08-23 22.49.43 - CAKESTAND

The tablescape is coming along. Now we need flatware and a centerpiece. For the flatware, I chose yellow. I know, no big surprise. What other color can you use with lemons? 

2015-08-23 22.57.33 FLATWARE

My centerpiece was an easy choice; of course I am using lemons. I filled one of my favorite glass bowls with artificial lemons and used a few scattered magnolia leaves to give the look of lemon leaves. Remember what I always say, shop the house first for your tablescape accents. This time I shopped my yard. I tried to match the design on the plate.

2015-08-23 23.06.17 CENTERPIECE

I used to buy fresh lemons constantly to keep on my kitchen counter in a ceramic basket and they never lasted too long. So one day in Homegoods I spotted artificial lemons and my problem was solved.

They really do look real, even close up. I have had many friends come in the kitchen, pick one up to smell the lemon scent and then are shocked that they are not real. (I never say anything until they are done sniffing).

2015-08-24 02.00.22 - LEMON CLOSE UP

Now what to serve?

I purchased some lemon soft macarons that I will set out with dessert. I just loved the way they were wrapped and thought they would look nice on the table.

2015-08-23 23.00.37 COOKIES

For beverages, the hot beverage could be lemon tea. But for the cold beverage, it has to be lemonade in my beautiful lemon goblets and I have the perfect lemonade. I bought it in my favorite grocery store – Wegmans.

2015-08-23 23.03.30 - LEMONADE BOTTLE 2

A little serving tip: make your ice cubes out of the beverage that you are drinking. That way, when the ice melts, it doesn’t dilute the flavor of the beverage the way plain ice cubes would.

For those who know me well, know I just love Wegmans. After the excitement of seeing my son, the thought of Wegmans makes the long ride to my son not so hard to take. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I am not alone when I say that this is the best grocery store, EVER. There has to be a Wegmans fan club somewhere.

The men in our lives will just never understand our devotion to Wegmans. I wish they had one where I live.

Anyway, back to the menu. I have decided to serve a traditional English Tea with assorted tea sandwiches and scones. For dessert I will serve mini fruit tarts and also make Marie’s Limoncello tart. 

 I’ll keep a bottle of Limoncello on the table as well – just to keep the theme going.

Well, I am all done with my lemon tablescape. Thank you for letting me share it with you. I hope it brought you some cheer and some ideas for your tablescapes.

2015-08-24 02.04.19 - BUFFET

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Place Setting

2015-08-23 22.52.51- PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Lemon pattern tablecloth and napkins from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Lemon dishes are from Magenta Dinnerware- Farm to Table collection

Woven placemats from Homegoods

Lemon Goblets from Pier I

Yellow cake stand from Homegoods

Lemon teacups from Homegoods

Artificial Lemons from Homegoods

Glass centerpiece bowl  from Crate and Barrel

Yellow flatware from Christmas Tree Shops

Clear napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Lemon soft macarons from Homegoods

(Don’t forget the recipe at the end of the post.)

2015-08-23 23.31.34 - TABLE EXTRA

Recipe for Limoncello Tart 

courtesy of Proud Italian Cook

Ingredients
  • 1 – 9″ tart pan with removable bottom
  • 1-7 oz. bag of amaretto cookies, (for the crust)
  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of limoncello liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 pint of fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • a little limoncello to flavor berries when finish cooking down
 
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter
  3. In a food processor, whirl the package of amaretto cookies then pour in the melted butter and process until it all comes together.
  4. Pat crust into tart pan, place on a baking sheet and pre-cook crust for 5 minutes, then let it cool down.
  5. While crust is cooling, mix together the egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice, limoncello and the zest, blend with a hand mixer until creamy.
  6. Pour into prepared crust and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, it should be firmed up but not overcooked.
  7. While tart is baking pour berries into a small saucepan along with the sugar, keep stirring and cook down until it becomes a sauce, nice and thick.
  8. Add a little zest and limoncello to flavor it up a bit.
  9. Completely cool down the tart and the sauce and refrigerate both, both should be nice and chilled before eating, it needs to cool several hours so it cuts nice, or you can even make it the day before eating it.

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Eggplant Parmigiana

Hi everyone, 

I had a request for a recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana, so here it is…

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-08-14 19.13.46- eggplant DISH FOR THE GROUP

Eggplant Parmigiana is a labor of love.

If you fry the eggplants like I do, it can take a long time and is a little back breaking. But once you have your first bite of parmigiana, it is all worth it.

While frying the eggplant, the smell and the crunchy eggplant are hard to resist. I have been known to take a few cutlets and sprinkle them with grated cheese for a little snack while cooking.

2015-08-13 21.38.20 - EGGPLANT CUTLETS

 And I always keep a few cutlets on the side to be enjoyed on ciabatta bread for lunch the next day with broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic and olive oil.

With sauce and cheese or without, enjoy your eggplant!

I usually serve my Eggplant Parmigiana with a side of pasta.

2015-08-14 19.57.29- EGGPLANT DISH

Ingredients:

2 medium size eggplants or 4 smaller eggplants

6 eggs, lightly beaten

Flour for dredging

Italian flavored breadcrumbs or homemade breadcrumbs

Grated Locatelli cheese (you can also use Parmesan)

Salt and pepper

Dried oregano

¾ lb. shredded mozzarella or thinly sliced fresh mozzarella 

Pot of cooked tomato sauce – 2 quarts or more – (hopefully homemade)

Olive oil for frying

Fresh chopped basil to add to each layer (optional)

Directions:

Slice the eggplants into ¼ inch rounds.

Set up a breading station.

Set out a plate of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Place the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl with a rim. Add a little water to thin out the egg.

Blend grated cheese into the bread crumbs and add dried oregano.

Once my breading station is set up, then I preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Lightly flour the eggplant slices, shaking off any excess. Dip into the eggs, then into the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a cookie sheet. Be careful not to overcrowd the cutlets on the cookie sheet; the breading could fall off the cutlet.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the eggplant in batches, turning them when the edges get brown. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper lined cookie sheet.

Change the oil in the skillet when it starts to get black from all the cooked breadcrumbs that fall off. You don’t want that burnt taste on your eggplant slices.

Start to layer the ingredients in a 9 X 15 X 2 baking dish.

Begin by spreading some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.

Add an overlapping layer of eggplant.

Follow with more sauce, grated cheese and some mozzarella.

(If using, add the chopped fresh basil now)

Add another layer of eggplant and continue the same layering.

End with a layer of sauce and mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil (not too tight otherwise the cheese will stick to the aluminum foil) and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until the cheese starts to brown.

For extra crispiness, 1-2 minutes under the broiler. Watch this carefully so it doesn’t burn.

If you want to get a little fancier….

You can add a ricotta mixture to the layers. This is optional…

Ingredients:

1 medium container of whole milk ricotta, drained

Dash of nutmeg

2 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper

Mix ricotta, nutmeg, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and beaten egg in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Spread a few dollops on top of the mozzarella in the layering stage.

Enjoy!

Until next time post,

Stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Watch for new tablescapes posts coming soon to DishingwithDiane.com

New Posts Will Be Here Soon

MayJune 09 068 - PEONIES

Hi Everyone, 

New posts will be here soon. Now is the perfect time to ask your family and friends to become members. If they join now, they will never miss a tablescape.

They can follow me on Facebook or the website directly at DishingwithDiane.com

The more members the merrier, so spread the word.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Stuffed Eggplants with Mushrooms

2015-07-17 19.26.10 - Eggplant boats with mushrooms

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer so far.

I know that many of you have vegetable gardens growing with tomatoes, basil, zucchini and eggplants. Well, here is a recipe to use some of your vegetable harvest.

Stuffed Eggplant Boats with Ground Beef and Mushrooms 

This is another winner in my book and a nice change from using your eggplants just for Eggplant Parmigiana or Caponata.

 This recipe works the best with small tender eggplants.

 Depending on the size of your eggplants, you may have some extra stuffing you could use for a quick lunch the following day. 

I hope you try this and enjoy.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

2015-07-17 19.23.10- EGGPLANT CLOSE UP

Ingredients:

2 small long eggplants

14 oz. mushrooms (I use a combination of white button, cremini and oyster)

2 (1 lb.) pkgs. of ground beef or ground turkey

3-4 fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped

4 tbsp. grated cheese

6 basil leaves, shredded

Sprigs of parsley, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

Mozzarella cheese, shredded for topping eggplants

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Wash the eggplant, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh. Salt the cavities, put the eggplant in a baking pan, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes (they should be soft but not mushy)

Trim the roots from the mushrooms, wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth, and dice them lengthwise.

Add the mushrooms and the flesh from the eggplant to a food processor and pulse just a few times to make small pieces to fill the eggplant.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil with the garlic. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper. Add the ground meat to the oil and sauté until it begins to turn brown.

Add the diced eggplant and diced mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium flame, then increase the heat and add the tomatoes and the basil leaves.

After 5 minutes, turn off the burner, stir in the parsley and grated cheese. Check the seasoning.

Stuff the hollowed out eggplant with the filling, top with shredded mozzarella and heat them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Serve them hot or warm