Friday, August 31, 2007


Supperclub Night

My favorite part of having company for dinner is setting the table, choosing dishes, staring at the linens for an hour deciding which to use. Okay my favorite 3 parts. And I like wrinkled white, almost sheer linens the best. At least for summer. Even though the mood of our get-togethers is never formal, I just like setting. I was always the setter in our family. Presentation. Presentation. Presentation.

Showy Myrtle

I also like the flower hunt in the yard. With very little time for any gardening this year I resorted to one of my faithful crepe myrtles. She is so trusty. Whether she's dressed in white, autumn red, or scantily clad in bare branches, I can rely on her showiness. In the summer I like to deleaf the part of the branch that will go in the water and let them float instead of tangle. They look happier like that.

Summer Salad

We are kind of saying goodbye to summer almost aren't we? It's still really warm but I can hear fall knocking on the door. So I considered our dinner a transition meal that should bid a nice adieu to the sweetness and freshness of summer. Which sounds like I thought about it way hard. But really I didn't. The salad. Mixed field greens, sliced strawberries, honey-roasted sliced almonds, croutons and cubed feta (I don't buy crumbled, I like to cut it myself).

The dressing. We need to talk about this for a minute and our conversation should begin with an apology if you don't live within driving distance to Nashville. Emily's Kitchen Sesame Vinaigrette is so, so, so good. Which should explain the homey looking bottle, inkjet label and the $6.99 price tag. Its just sweet enough, just tart enough, and so mellow I would swear it must have liquor in it. When you put it in your mouth it's like someone just told you you're beautiful. Actually its better than that. It's like someone just told you you're brilliant. It's liquid gold. It was made, served and sold at a favorite lunch spot of mine which ended up closing a few years ago. Then I happened to find it in the refrigerator case at Granny White Market, our neighborhood convenience store. Emily, I don't know who you are, but, thank you.

Alrighty. For dinner. Orzo and chicken with tomato, fresh basil, garlic and lemon.

With fresh cooked tomatoes I am very picky about the skins. I don't like them. I only eat skins when its cold tomato salad. But for fresh tomato sauces, or purees, byebye skin. You know the trick to easy deskinning? Drop them in a bath of boiling water, the one you're about to cook the orzo in. It only takes about 30 secs and those suckers pop, then you can peel off with one swoop. If they're already on a vine, leave them that way, cause its easier to fish them out. And don't worry about the yellowy stained water, it makes the orzo taste better.

In an iron skillet I piled up chopped tomato, tons of chopped fresh basil and garlic, juice of 4 or so lemons, salt, pepper, a spiral of olive oil and about 3 tablespoons of butter. If I'm making it with chicken I add about 1/2 cup whole milk, if I'm making it with fish I add white wine. Meanwhile I am skillet cooking chopped chicken breast which was first doused with salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, dried oregano, dried basil. The cooked orzo is just kinda hangin out back there staying warm.

When the chopped sauce is nice and bubbly, I add some parmesan to make it thicker.

I pour all three components together in a big stainless bowl and toss together. Then taste, and add lemon, salt or parmesan as necessary. You could top with feta.

I am the worst when someone asks for a recipe for anything, because I absolutely never follow one, nor do I measure anything. I'd rather just have you over when I cook. Really. Come on. I can tell you how big the heap was with a hand motion or how tart something should taste with a weird expression on my face, probably. I don't think I'll be writing a cookbook anytime soon, unless someone can follow me around and figure out what I'm doing. That would actually be nice to have anyway. What am I doing?

Summer setting
Dinner was great suppergirls. The conversation even better. Come back soon. And thanks Janna for the lemon icebox pie. I think theres still a sliver of that summer in the fridge.



  1. Anonymous10:02 AM

    Oh, we drive right past that market, but I never would have guessed it would have gourmet salad dressing.

    Thanks for the recommendation...and your inspiring blog!

  2. Such a great dinner, i also love dinner at home with my friends, we always have a great time...
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yummy! I was always the setter in my family too...I was the seven year old making centerpieces and placetags at thanksgiving :)

  4. my stomach is growling, orzo is the absolute best, I put parm cheese and zucchini & onions in it.

  5. oh my that looks and sounds so yummy I can almost taste it!

  6. OH MY! Sounds wonderful! I must try it!! Glad you had a pleasant evening!

  7. I love the setting part too. I LOVE the color of your dining room wall. It's one of my favs! It looks great with the pop of orange against it.

  8. Love all of this! The colors in your house must be so fantastic! The food, what an added bonus. It looked like a very yummy dinner.

  9. Oh yummy!!--I'm salivating--you're inspiring me to cook and eat some really fine food! I love your blog!!


  10. Hi! I too am Mom to 5 (all girls) and love to cook. The "recipe" sounds wonderful - we'll have to try it sometime soon. Thanks!


  11. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Will you please invite me to your next dinner party? Delicious food and a beautiful table!

  12. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Your cooking instruction is great! It's how I cook as well, I'm going to make this soon, before the wealth of tomatoes are gone. Thanks for the "recipe"

  13. Anonymous3:27 PM

    Wow! Dinner looks simply amazing.
    The S&P are pretty too.

  14. Looks great!! My mom lives in Nashville, so I'm going to be checking on that dressing!!

    Have a great weekend!

  15. I think it's your Greek gene that makes you so good at this. I have never eaten a meal by someone who is Greek that wasn't fabulous! Now I'm hungry!!!

  16. Your dinner looks beautiful and yummy! I might give it a try; I think your directions are clear enough even without exact amounts. I have never had a tomato sauce with milk, but it does sound delicious.

  17. Anonymous9:02 AM

    I live in Indiana, so it'll take me about 7 hours. What time does the store close? I love a good salad dressing!

  18. Anonymous1:12 PM

    Feel that? BIG ((((HUG)))) for this DELICIOUS post in every way - drop-dead gorgeous dining room, table setting, food, every itty-bitty detail... So Anna Maria - that's why I love this post so.


  19. I love to visit your blog. This time you have inspired me to go cook dinner for my family and include a super yummy salad too. And bravo to not buying the pre-crumbled feta! :D

  20. Anonymous7:57 PM

    omg...your blog. makes me tired and energetic at the same time (!!) love it! fantastic posts!! I do have a recipe to share with you,, but I'll email it to you. xo

  21. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Oh ! That dinner sounds divine! I am always looking for something new to try out on my family as they like the same OLD stuff.
    This one should be a hit!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Kim J

  22. I really want to start cooking more and using fresh ingredients. This post is very inspiring. Thanks for the "recipe".

  23. Anonymous12:02 AM

    So, so mighty fine. Thank-you. I feel as though I have been to your house for dinner. It sure was tasty!

  24. I have enjoyed reading through your posts! I am so sorry about the fires in Greece, such a tragedy. And I can relate to not cooking with a recipe! I always get flustered when someone asks how I made it and they are waiting with a pencil and paper! It just doesn't go down easily on paper! I'm going to try your chicken dish and I understand exactly your directions...from one eye-baller to another :)

  25. Just want you to know that reading about your love for table setting and seeing the photo gave me the oomph I needed to go and buy our first real tablecloth. Yes you read that right. After 8 years of marriage and 3 kids, we have a tablecloth LOL! Why did I not do this sooner? It's awesome!!!

  26. Anonymous7:32 PM

    First, I live in Nashville so I will take you up on that offer of cooking for me! ;-) That dish looks so YUMMY! I'm not much of a cook but I need to try that.
    Second, I'm going to try to find that salad dressing. I wonder if they have a website? Otherwise I'll have to hike down from Hermitage to your local market and pick some up!
    Third, your recipe reminded me of a recipe my aunt sent to me for Feta and Spinach stuffed chicken. It's so hilarious -- she writes like she is having a conversation with you. I've encouraged her to write a cook book because it would inspired a non-cook like me to whip up some dishes! I'll try to find it and send it to you.
    Last, I love your blog! It's always so fresh and homey. :-)

  27. Love that last picture of the blue salt and pepper shakers! Fabulous!

  28. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Oh my gosh! You made me so hungry :) I made a salad this summer that was similar, you might like it if you like seafood. It consists of baby spinach, strawberries, a lemon poppyseed vinigrette, pan-seared scallops doused in Balsamic vinegar and garlic, and topped with crumbled goat cheese. My mouth is watering again. Yes, I am a lover of food :)

  29. Wow the food looks so good! I noticed your gold chandalier. I have the exact same one and was wondering how old mine is. Do you know anything about yours?


  30. Anonymous4:19 PM

    Oh my gosh that looks so good.

  31. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Ok, reporting back. I made this the other night and it was WONDERFUL. I have a severe weakness for fresh mozzerella so I mixed that in too, and it was so so good. :)


  32. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Finally catching up on my blog reading and found this wonderful post! Who needs a recipe when you have such great pictures? I'm ready to give this dish a try myself. I hope you'll share more of your cooking in the future.

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