Let the great outdoors lend you a hand with your autumn entertaining. Woody hues become warm and golden against fall foliage and nothing evokes the scents of the season like the fragrance of candles. I love using copper accessories for shimmery highlights. We stirred up a little drama by planning our table decor based on our luncheon theme.
We chose rustic, birch candles, twigs (I always love the look of twigs) and a few unique birdhouses. We filled copper containers with potted evergreens which we purchased from our local farm nursery.
We stacked birch logs in the fireplace and just varied the heights for interest.
Dining at The Maine House can have many moods. Sumptuous meals in our dining room overlooking the gardens, featuring Maine produce and fine wines. We love hosting old-fashioned picnics, pancake breakfasts, or a traditional New England lobster boil!
This week we are hosting an autumn luncheon for the Audubon Society. I used both of these hearty casseroles last year using seasonal produce from local farms. They have since been frequently requested for our dinners on cool autumn evenings!
Creamed Cauliflower with Farmhouse Cheddar
2 large heads cauliflower cut into florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced green onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Farmhouse Cheddar cheese or sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Bring 4 qt. salted water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add cauliflower; cook just until crisp-tender, stirring often. Drain; rinse under cold water. Let cool in colander.
Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add green onions and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk and cream; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in 1/2 tsp. each salt and nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. each pepper. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat; add cauliflower, stirring to coat well. Spoon cauliflower into a greased 13" x 9" baking dish.
Combine breadcrumbs and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle over cauliflower. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Estelle's Roasted Apples and Sweet Potatoes with Honey-Bourbon Glaze
5 large sweet potatoes
3 Golden Delicious apples
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Wash sweet potatoes, and place on a baking sheet; prick with a fork. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until almost tender. Remove from oven. Let stand 45 minutes or until cooled.
Meanwhile, peel and core apples.
Slice apples into 1/3" thick wedges; toss with lemon juice in a bowl.
Peel cooled potatoes, and slice 1/3" thick. Arrange potatoes and apples alternately in a greased 13" x 9" baking dish. Pour remaining lemon juice over potatoes and apples.
Combine brown sugar and next 6 ingredients in a saucepan, stirring well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; boil 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour glaze over potatoes and apples. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven; baste with glaze in bottom of dish, and sprinkle nuts across top. Bake 14 to 15 more minutes or until apples look roasted. Baste with glaze just before serving.
"Be grateful for luck.
Pay the thunder no mind --
listen to the birds.
And don't hate nobody."
-- Eubie Blake, (1887 - 1983) composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music