Hostess with the Mostess: Fall Entertaining

In Brittany Strickland, Jessica Comegys, Louisiana Ladies by Lola Magazine

I have to admit, I am a sun worshiper. I adore the warm rays soaking into my skin all summer long. After winter, at the first hint of spring, you bet I am on my back patio “thawing out” in the sun. But summer doesn’t last all year… that’s debatable in Louisiana of course. And with the salutation to the heat, every fall, I fall in love with the season all over again. Who doesn’t love the warm, sunny days and the crisp, cool nights? I look forward to everything cozy; fires in the fireplace, soft throw blankets, sweatshirts and snuggling under a warm quilt after a night of sleeping with the windows open. Let’s not forget how much I love a big bright harvest moon!

It’s the time of year when the kids have started a new grade, the crockpot comes out of the pantry and football games with tailgating are in full swing. My son starts begging me to put the Halloween decor out in mid-August. He’s so excited for costumes, candy and the celebration that comes with it. We always host a fun little party at our house for “trick or treating” and tummy-warming food. Surprisingly it’s always chilly on Halloween night, which really symbolizes fall to me. Those are the memories that last a lifetime. And the food that goes along with that memory stands out even more. My favorite cool-weather dish to eat is chicken pot pie like my mom used to make. I miss my mom like crazy for many reasons, but I won’t lie, I really miss her cooking. I’ve never been able to make things quite the same way.

Not every fall gathering needs to be formal, stressful or grand in nature. As a matter of fact, fall is the time of year when people may need a break from big plans the most, opting instead for more casual, relaxed, low-key meals with loved ones. This is the perfect time to take your gathering outside and enjoy dinner in the crisp air. Backyard entertaining doesn’t have to be boring. Use a soft linen runner and gold flatware to elevate the vibe to relaxed elegance.

Speaking of needing a break, while you’re trying some new recipes or tweaking some old ones this fall, it’s always nice to have help from the professionals too. Never feel guilty about getting a couple of side dishes or desserts from your favorite restaurant or grocer to make things easier on yourself. Remember what we always say in this section? A party isn’t any fun for the Hostess if she can’t enjoy it herself! So if you are feeling the fancy vibe (like I do most times), put out your sparkly pumpkins, best china and grab some beautiful food from your favorite chef. Decorate with nature, fresh greenery from your flower bed and dried lavender or other herbs. I love to pick up a few artichokes and pomegranates from the store because artichokes and other fall produce make a great festive tablescape and a yummy meal a few days later.

Harvest Moon Cocktail – makes 4

4 oz Tanquray Seville Orange Gin

1 lemon, squeezed

2 blood oranges, 1 squeezed – 1 sliced for garnish

1 oz simple syrup

8oz good quality club soda (I like fever tree)

  • Add all ingredients except the soda to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
  • Strain over ice in 4 cocktail glasses. Splash a little club soda on top for fizz.
  • Garnish with an orange slice.

Nightmare on Bourbon Street – makes 4

6 oz bourbon

1 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

2 lemons

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

12 oz bottle sparkling hard apple cider

8-12 oz bottle ginger beer

Apple slices, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks for garnish

  • Rim a cocktail glass with cinnamon and sugar, fill with ice.
  • Add bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon with ice and shake to combine. Strain into the glasses.
  • Top with hard cider and a splash of ginger beer.
  • Garnish!

Black Friday Turkey & Wild Rice Pot Pie

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons salted butter

2 small shallots, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

kosher salt and black pepper

1 parmesan rind

6 carrots, chopped

1 cup roughly chopped kale or spinach

1 cup cooked wild rice

1-2 cups cooked shredded turkey or chicken

zest of 1 lemon

2 pie crust rounds

1 egg, beaten

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, and thyme and cook, stirring often, until shallot is fragrant and golden – about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes, until golden.
  • Gradually whisk in the broth and wine, and season with salt and pepper. Add the parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and kale, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add the turkey, wild rice, and lemon zest, season with salt, and pepper. Remove the parmesan rind and discard.
  • Transfer mixture to a shallow 2-qt. baking dish or to 6 (8 ounce) ramekins. Alternately, if using a cast-iron skillet, you can bake the pie in the skillet.
  • Gently roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface to just the size of your baking dish. If using ramekins, cut the crust into smaller circles to fit. Place over the baking dish. Brush with beaten egg, and cut 2 or 3 slits into the pastry with a sharp knife.
  • Place the pies on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Serve with fresh thyme.

Vegan Game Day Chili – serves 8

2 onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 cup chopped celery

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 carrot, small diced

2 -28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

2 -15 oz cans black beans, or any bean you like

1 – 15 oz can pumpkin puree (this just adds thickness, don’t worry!)

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped or 1 tbsp of dried

1 tsp dried oregano

4 tbsp cumin

4 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tsp salt, to taste

2 tsp black pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper if desired

Garnish: avocado, cilantro, lime, vegan sour cream, tortilla chips

  • In a large pot, sauté the onions, garlic and carrot until softened.
  • Add in the chopped celery and bell pepper and sauté a few minutes more until soft and cooked through.
  • Add in the spices–from the chili powder to the black pepper– and stir until all the veggies are coated in the spices. Continue stirring and cooking the spices for a few minutes.
  • Add in the canned chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans and pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Bring the chili to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the chili to simmer for 10-20 minutes. If you like your chili a bit runnier, add in some vegetable broth to thin it out. I love mine thick so I don’t add any extra liquid.
  • Towards the end of the cooking process, taste and add more salt and spices to your liking. Once all the flavors have melded together and the chili is warmed through, serve it topped with your favorite garnishes!

Thanksgiving Menu

Starters

Ultimate Glow Grazing Board*
small $65 medium $85 large $125

Bourbon Cask Hot Smoked Salmon
w/accompaniments* $125

Bacon Wrapped Dates
with Balsamic Glaze* 2 dozen $21

Classic Spicy Cheese Sticks
½ lb $15

Salad

Fall Harvest Brussels Sprout Salad
w/Candied Pecans & Blood Orange Vinaigrette $35-55

Traditional Broccoli Salad
raisins, apples, crispy bacon, grapes, onion, vegan mayo $35-55

Sides

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole
(GF) $38 half pan

Delicata Squash Tian
(GF) – $42 half pan

Leek & Potato Gratin
(GF) $38 half pan

White Wine Gravy
1 quart $18

Cornbread Dressing
w/housemade cranberry~satsuma chutney $25 half pan serves 10-12 ~ $38 full pan serves 15-20

Classic Croissants
w/pumpkin butter $32/dozen

Cranberry Satsuma Chutney
pint $9.50 quart $18

Desserts

Caspiana Pecan Pie
(chocolate optional) $32

Pumpkin Pie
w/Bourbon Chantilly Cream $32

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake $44

Orders must be submitted by Saturday, November 20.

Orders are picked up on Wednesday, November 24 between 11 am and 2 pm.

A confirmation email will be received within 24 hours of submitting an order, orders pre-paid by online invoice sent after order is received.

All orders by email at jessica@caspianacatering.com

*denotes items available all year round!