Fall is a wonderful time for entertaining at my farm.
Last week, I hosted a very special dinner gathering at my home for a group of business colleagues and associates. My friend, Chef Pierre Schaedelin, from PS Tailored Events, and I, planned a delicious menu for my 25-guests. The first course was Bisteeya, a traditional Moroccan dish, followed by Couscous Royale, made with chicken, Merguez sausage, lamb, and root vegetables from my garden. The dessert course was a mouth watering lemon tart I baked earlier in the day, served with fresh citrus fruits, and homemade lemon ice cream. It was a most delectable meal.
Enjoy these photos.
My Brown Room dining table was set for 19-guests while a smaller table nearby was set for an additional six. I love the palette of whites my housekeeper Laura used to decorate the table – white feathers from my peacock, white pumpkins and white linens.
Here is a view of one of the table settings – so simple, yet so elegant.
The white domed dishes are Moroccan tagines. The base is wide and shallow, and the tall lid fits snugly inside. As the food cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, and then trickles down the sides back into the dish.
Meanwhile, inside my Flower Room kitchen, my friend, Chef Pierre Schaedelin from PS Tailored Events, is busy preparing our delicious meal. http://pstailoredevents.com
The first course is bisteeya – a traditional Moroccan dish similar to an elaborate meat pie and encased in phyllo dough. Bisteeya combines sweet and savory flavors all in one. Here, chicken is simmered in broth with onions, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, cumin, and saffron until it was falling off the bone.
Once it was cooked, the chicken was cooled and then the bones were all removed.
For some of my guests who keep Kosher, Chef Pierre and I are always careful to make separate dishes – here is a bowl of the Kosher chicken.
The chicken was placed into two bowls – one Kosher and one not Kosher. Plenty of fresh chopped herbs were added and mixed with the chicken.
Eggs were scrambled in butter with lemon juice, salt, and pepper until fairly stiff, and then drained through cheesecloth to remove the excess liquid.
Blanched slivered almonds were sauteed in olive oil until slightly browned. The almonds were tossed with confectioner’s sugar and a bit of ground cinnamon.
Once the chicken, eggs and almonds were complete, everything was ready to assemble the bisteeya.
Pierre butters the copper dish for the bisteeya – this dish is the perfect size for the bisteeya – I love using it.
Phyllo is paper-thin sheets of dough used for baking pastries in Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Moroccan cuisine. Pierre carefully placed the first buttered sheets in the round pan, draping the excess over the edges.
A layer of egg mixture is added.
Then Pierre sprinkles in some of the sweet almonds.
The chicken is added next, followed by more eggs and more chicken until the dish is full.
Pierre folds the excess phyllo up and over the filling.
Brushing each sheet of phyllo with butter is important so that it bakes golden, crisp, and flaky.
Next, Pierre covers the bisteeyas with more sheets of buttered phyllo.
And then carefully tucks the overhanging layers down the inside edges of the pan, sealing the bisteeya. A final brush with clarified butter is added to the top so it shines.
Chef Pierre made two additional bisteeyas – one was Kosher, and instead of butter, he used olive oil. The bisteeyas are baked at 425-degrees Fahrenheit until the tops become golden brown.
Chef Pierre cooked an assortment of fresh vegetables for the Couscous Royale.
After cooking the vegetables, Pierre strained off the rich broth.
Here are the meats for the couscous dish – lamb, sausage and chicken. A separate tray of Kosher meats is also prepared.
The meats are all seared in the Flower Room kitchen, before they are finished in the oven in my Winter House.
Ground lamb burgers are seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, spices and mint.
Slices of lemon are placed on a lined cookie sheet. Each slice is about one-eighth of an inch thick.
They’re sprinkled with a layer of confectioner’s sugar, and roasted for dessert. The lemon chips recipe is from my latest entertaining book, “Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations” – from simple breakfasts to lavish dinners, it is a wonderful source for menus, recipes, and tips for planning all your special occasions. goo.gl/Zw45fp
Oranges are also peeled, and sliced for the special citrus dessert.
Inside my home, finishing touches are done on my Brown Room dining table. A nice fire was built to warm everyone on a cool, autumn evening.
Dinners always include a menu printed on off-white card stock with a small illustration of the great sycamore tree, which is the symbol of my farm, Cantitoe Corners.
Each dinner menu listed bisteeya – Couscous Royal with Chicken, Lamb, Merguez sausage, and Vegetables – Tagine of Lamb and Eggplant – Lemon Tart and assorted citrus.
My Moroccan tagines are ready to be filled.
On the other counter, stacks of dinner plates all ready for service to my guests.
The bisteeyas look so beautiful and golden brown.
The tops were sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.
The bisteeya was sliced into pie-shaped wedges and served. It was so savory, sweet, and fabulous!
And the meats are all perfectly cooked.
On each plate, Pierre placed a bed of couscous and topped it with perfectly roasted tender lamb chops and Merguez sausage, chicken, a small Moroccan hamburger and the vegetables.
Our dinner was ready to serve.
Preserved lemon and harissa were also on hand for the couscous.
Two of my dear dogs – my French Bulldogs, Creme Brûlée and Bete Noire resting in their bed nearby.
Here are the roasted lemon chips – cooked just until the sugar dissolved.
For dessert, a fresh bowl of citrus.
Or, a piece of delicious lemon tart. This delectable tart is also from “Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations” – delicious in fall and in spring, or whenever you want a refreshing citrus treat. goo.gl/Zw45fp
Dessert was topped with homemade lemon ice cream – everyone loved it.
We all had a wonderful evening and a most delicious dinner.