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Farm to Table

A Dinner Party With Farmhouse Flair

Home evokes thoughts of gathering with friends and family and savoring a meal over laughs and stories. A dinner party is a great way to enjoy an intimate evening with the people you love, share delicious food, and deepen the relationships that matter most to you. When planning your party, start with the star of the show—the food! Taking time to plan your menu well in advance allows you to keep your hosting duties stress-free. Focus your energy on the main course and dessert and keep the sides simple, such as a tossed salad of romaine, golden and red beets, a grating of cheese, and your favorite vinaigrette. Shopping for a variety of cheeses paired with baguette, toasted crostini, or crackers is another no-fuss option that guests will appreciate. The Cheese Lady (33041 Grand River Ave in Farmington) and Plum Market (6565 Orchard Lake Rd in West Bloomfield) offer adventurous selections of cheeses. Select a variety of types, such as a hard cheese, a semi-soft, and a soft cheese, and strike a balance between mild and more strongly-flavored cheeses. When it comes to décor, try a simple farmhouse theme. Keep the table simple and rustic, with neutral tableware, natural wood, and pops of color from floral or succulent centerpieces. Mother of Pearl, Aloe Vera, or Moonstones are good options for succulents that will add a unique touch to your table. A luxe touch, such as gold flatware, elevates the tablescape. Warm white string lights and plenty of candles set the mood and add to the relaxed atmosphere. While planning your décor, don’t forget to consider all the senses and put together a playlist to serve as your dinner party soundtrack. For the drinks, consider a wine-tasting theme with a variety of bottles to try or develop your own signature whiskey cocktail. Start with your favorite classic cocktail recipes and add your own touches to create something new and conversation-starting for your guests. Swapping out one sweet addition for another (such as simple syrup for a fruit juice) or adding a touch of sour lemon or lime juice can be a great place to start. A relaxed host is the best host, so don’t forget to set yourself up for a dinner party you can enjoy. Shop ahead, prepare dessert the day before, and start the party with an empty dishwasher and trash can to keep things from piling up. Treating yourself to a housecleaner before the event takes some of the dirty work off your plate as well. Ready to begin? Chef Eric Carter shares two delicious recipes to inspire your menu. First, Chef Carter prepares a flavorful rub for tri-tip steak, with the unusual twist of smoking the meat over grapevines. Grapevine imparts a mild flavor to meat and can be enhanced by soaking the wood in wine, beer, or tea for 15-20 minutes before adding to the smoke box. For the perfect finish, end the meal with a fresh apple tart. Chef Carter keeps this easy to prepare by calling for pre-made pie crust, but of course you could substitute your favorite pastry recipe. If you prefer, keep it simple by leaving dessert in the hands of your favorite bakery. Try Shatila (5741 W. Maple Rd in West Bloomfield) or Sweet Dreams (4153 Orchard Lake Rd in Orchard Lake) for sweet treats without the fuss. Steak Rub For Grapevine Smoked Tri-Tip 3 parts brown sugar 3 parts smoked sea salt 1 part smoked paprika ½ part coriander ½ part chili powder ¼ part cayenne pepper ¼ part dried thyme ¼ part cracked pepper Mix all spices and apply liberally to the tri-tip. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours before smoking over grapevines. Recipe by Chef Eric Carter Apple Tart 12-inch pie crust ½ cup sugar 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups chopped peeled apples 2 tablespoons sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon nutmeg 1 tablespoon butter Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the apples. The sugar and flour mixture will not completely stick to the apples, and that is okay. Spread the apple mixture uniformly from the center of the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Fold edge of dough over apple mixture; crimp edge of dough slightly. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, the nutmeg, and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples and the dough. Cut 1 tablespoon of butter into 5 or 6 pieces and spread on top of the apples. Bake 27-32 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm, drizzled with caramel sauce. Recipe by Chef Eric Carter