Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 2010 Dinner Party at "Maison Noel"

My friend Teresa and her husband hosted their annual holiday dinner on Saturday, and once again I was like a kid in a candy store at their home!
This is the much anticipated event which we look forward to every year! I like to call it the "Maison Noel" Dinner Party!

Teresa's home is like the Dicken's House! It truly is a Christmas wonderland! Every surface is decorated with her Santas, collected over the years. I love how she grouped them together on her family room buffet.

Teresa loves Tartan too! She found the lampshades at Williams-Sonoma Home.
However, they are no longer available!

Besides the Santa collection, she uses fresh greens and flowers to decorate too. The house was filled with white amaryllis and hydrangeas.
I love this little vignette under the stairs...

....because it leads your eye to the turret with their collection of antique dog paintings.

There are a few more paintings that they added to their collection this year, waiting to be hung in the turret.
In the meantime, they are on the dining room buffet.
The black dog is front and center. This photo does not do this painting justice. It is absolutely wonderful!

Next to him is an oil of a cute little Maltese.
Notice the lamp! Like me, Teresa has a thing for wonderful and unusual lampshades.

The dining room table!
The centerpiece was a simple bay leaf garland with pepper berries. Candelabras flanked the ends of the table.

We were all seriously coveting her leopard chargers from Ralph Lauren!

After a delicious Greek inspired dinner of lamb shish kebob, rice pilaf, Greek salad, avogolemeno soup and pastitsio (recipes to follow), we retired to the living room to admire the tree and talk until 1 am!

The ladies had much to discuss! Reminiscing about our trip to Houston and Round Top in the spring, and making plans for a trip to New York in 2011!
It was such a fun evening at "Maison Noel!" It is truly my favorite Christmas tradition!
You can read about last year's dinner party here.



8 C. chicken stock
2 C. uncooked orzo
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
3 T. Cornstarch
4 large eggs
3/4 C. lemon juice

In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of chicken stock to boil. Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water. Heat remaining 2 cups of stock until hot. Do not boil! Beat eggs until fluffy. Add cornstarch mixture and lemon juice. With mixer on medium low, slowly add 1 to 2 cups of hot stock until mixed and thickened slightly. Add any remaining stock to orzo. Over low heat, slowly add egg mixture to orzo, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Do not boil! Serve immediately.

Armenian Lamb Shish Kebab:

(Mr. A made the shish kebab from his Grandmother's recipe. It is the traditional Christmas entree for Armenians and Greeks)

Cube and marinate boned leg of lamb 6 to 8 hours ahead.
Onion, thinly sliced
Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Red wine or red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
Kosher salt and pepper
Cover and stir occasionally.
Skewer the lamb with the onions (and red peppers if desired) and barbecue.


Ingredients for the meat sauce:
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground lamb
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can (28 ozs.) crushed tomatoes in puree
Kosher salt and pepper

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek style yogurt
3/4 pound small shells

For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.

Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.

I'm linking up to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday


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