1 My long marble dining table is actually two separate tables. Each one was set with a spring-like theme.
2 I used ranunculus, tulips, and narcissus in the colorful arrangements.
3 More tulips and narcissus
4 Hellebore blooms and unusual fern fronds look fantastic in these gilded vases.
5 Roasted and unroasted almonds and cashews for nibbling
6 Andy Postman - Alex Postman's husband, Jeff Young - Elizabeth Graves' husband, Pilar Guzman - VP Editor-in-Chief of MSL, and her husband Chris Mitchell
7 Raymond and Meesha Haddad - VP Executive Managing Editor Publishing, Elizabeth Graves - VP Editor-in-Chief of Weddings
8 Chris Mitchell, Alex Postman - VP Editor-in-Chief Whole Living, and Andras Szanto - Alanna Stang's husband
9 Alanna Stang - Executive Editor of MSL
10 Early in the day, Pierre simmered dried chickpeas until tender to make his rich and sesame-laced hummus.
11 He also slow-roasted eggplant halves studded with garlic cloves in preparation for baba ghanoush, or eggplant dip.
12 Lamb shanks for the braised leg of lamb, called run-e-barreh - The lamb was flavored with advieh (a very fragrant Persian spice mixture), saffron, turmeric, garlic, onion, citrus zest, and honey.
13 The lamb was rubbed with the spices before browning.
14 Browning the shanks
15 After browning, the lamb was braised slowly in the oven until it was succulent and tender.
16 Finishing the piquant gravy for the lamb
17 The lamb was a real crowd pleaser.
18 The filling for the grape leaves - bulgur, carrots, celery, pine nuts, currants, parsley, cilantro, and dill
19 The grape leaves were blanched for a few minutes and plunged into cold water. Blanching makes them softer and easier to roll.
20 To begin rolling, Pierre laid out the leaves flat with undersides facing up.
21 He placed a spoonful of filling in the center of each leaf.
22 The bottom of the leaf was folded up and over the filling.
23 Next, the sides were folded in over the bottom.
24 The leaf was rolled up towards the tip.
25 And continued the rolling to completely encase the filling.
26 The rolled leaves were placed in a dutch oven where they were covered and steamed for 30 - 40 minutes.
27 The ingredients for the jeweled rice - basmati rice, barberries, raw almonds, golden raisins, slivered orange peel, and carrot sticks
28 Caramelizing the carrot sticks
29 Combining the ingredients
30 Sauteing fava beans
31 The basmati rice was rinsed before cooking to remove excess starch before partially boiling it.
32 After parboiling, some of the rice was mixed with saffron-orange blossom water and spread in the bottom of a skillet. Parboiled rice was spooned over that base.
33 The skillet lids were wrapped with clean towels, which prevented steam from escaping during the final cooking process.
34 The rice was inverted onto a platter revealing a golden crust. The 'jeweled' ingredients were spread over the top.
35 And then the sauteed fava beans. It was spectacular looking and even better tasting!
36 The first course ready to be placed on the dining tables. Warm pita bread was passed for the baba ganoush and hummus.
37 Another view of the baba ganoush and hummus
38 Dessert was an amazing coconut tart with freshly shaved and toasted coconut. The recipe is from my new Pies and Tarts book.