Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TV Dinners

TV Dinners for Two

The four table settings in this episode of my blog were taken over a period of time but saved so I could do one with several ideas for pretty TV dinners.
I admit it, my husband and I do like to watch TV during dinner.   He helps me with dinner preparation every night so that's our chance to chat about our day, ask questions, discuss concerns and share experiences.  During dinner it's TV time!  We love Survivor, The Amazing Race, and all of the cooking competition reality shows (except Hell's Kitchen which is just Jerry Springer with food).  
This dinner was in our den in the basement level of our house.  We are eating on a pine, peeley red coffee table that we found many years ago in North Carolina.
The base layer is new quilted place mats in a soft chartreuse with a floral pattern and scalloped edges.

For dishes, I chose "Pomeroy" a multicolor transferware by Royal Daulton, an English pottery started in 1815.

Trivia: John Daulton contributed greatly to the end of the cholera epidemics that killed thousands by producing sewer pipe that greatly improved water quality.
A really pretty Pomeroy companion piece is this white salad or dessert plate with a fancy edge.  I'm using it as a base for the bowl for our first course of fresh garden tomato soup.
The depression glass bowl is pink with a green base.  (Caution: if using crystal or thin glass for a hot food, warm it first under running water and don't serve anything that has to be "piping" - save it for foods that can be served not quite so hot.)
For flatware, I chose grape patterned silverplate in three patterns - La Concorde ca 1910 by Wm Rogers  for the dinner fork, La Vigne ca 1908 by 1881 Rogers for the tea spoon, and Vineyard ca 1913 by Puritan Silver for the knife.   The soup spoon is Wildwood ca 1908.
The vintage cotton napkin has a pink carnation that goes well with both the setting colors and patterns.
Because or dinner location is beside our soda fountain, I put white grocery store roses in a tall soda fountain handled glass.
Our antique backbar that we turned into a showcase for all of our soda fountain collectibles.

Wine and water glasses are two different patterns but in the same colors.  The pink and green soup bowl is a third pattern that I mix and match.  The 1940's pink glass salt and pepper shakers with metal tops, while being very different from the pink crystal, mix well.  Keep an open mind.  Matchy-matchy is boring!
After the tomato soup starter, the menu for this TV dinner was roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, with fresh whole green beans.  
The wonderful couch in the background is a Magnolia Pearl work of art!  If you don't already know about her, check out her clothes on her website or on eBay.  She sells her clothes twice a year at the Marburger Farms antiques show which starts the Tuesday before the Round Top Show.  The Round Top show starts on the Wednesday before the first weekend of April and October.
Serving dishes include a plate, which I often use when it's just the two of us instead of a platter, a bowl for mashed potatoes and a gravy boat.
Lidded pink and green Depression Glass pitcher used this time for water.
I used the square salad plate as a base for our cookies and ice cream sundaes dessert.
One of our many kinds of vintage soda fountain dishes.
Just because it's so pretty, I used a "Vintage" pattern buffet spoon to scoop vanilla bean ice cream and served it with "La Vigne" tea spoons.
I used the early 1900s hotelware silverplate sauce boat for the hot fudge sauce.
The dessert set-up.

Recipe for Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

1 Tbsp EVOO
3 cups diced yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1-32 oz box chicken broth (Use homemade if you have it!)
2 1/2 lbs fresh homegrown or heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced including any juices that
    accumulate (May substitute 1-28 oz can diced tomatoes)
Small pinch of saffron (Don't over do it!)
Salt and white pepper
1/2 cup raw orzo cooked in boiling water for 7 mins.  Drain.
1/2 cup heavy cream
     In dutch oven, saute onion over medium heat in the EVOO until translucent, apx. 15 mins.
     Add garlic & cook, stirring, 1 minute more
     Stir in stock, tomatoes, saffron, salt & pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer 15 mins.
     Add in orzo and cream.  Simmer 10 minutes.
     Serves 8  (I make batches of soup and freeze it in 2 person, 2 cup containers so I always have a first course on hand in the freezer.)

Another TV Dinner for Two

Another coffee table dinner but this time in the family room.  The first layer was a new gold and cream damask cloth put on the table asymmetrically with an antique green velvet runner with a gold embroidered edge arranged where the place settings will go.
On top of the runner is a dark green plastic charger.  You can find these inexpensively in many, many colors at your local craft store.  For our first course Caprese salad, with fresh tomatoes from our garden, I used an antique over-sized bone dish in green transferware.  In Victorian times, when there was tableware for absolutely everything, bone dishes were placed at the top of the dinner plate, matching the curves, for the diner to place bones on during the fish course.

The bone plate's back stamp indicates it was made in Colony, England while the little salt dish was made in Burslem.

The "Maine" salt dish with a Lily of the Valley sterling salt spoon was placed on the charger in the hollow left by the curve of the bone dish.
Glassware consisted of a new water goblet with gold spatters and for wine, antique pressed glass with an etched leaf pattern.  Pressed glass is another of my collections but I never buy more than two of any pattern because I like the way the table looks with all different shapes and patterns.  I generally do not do this with both glasses.  If I mix up wine glasses, I keep all the water glasses matching to keep it from looking overly busy.
The silverplate forks are two of my favorite patterns.  The salad fork is "Charter Oak," by 1847 Rogers, ca 1906.  The dinner fork is called "Narcissus," ca 1908, by Oxford Silver Plate, which later became Oneida.  The napkins were new gold silk with brown borders that complimented the gold spattering on the water glasses.

For the main course I continued to use green transferware in another pattern called "Fern."  One of my favorite places to buy all colors of old English transferware is "Clutter," a shop that is only open in Warrenton, Texas, during the antiques fair there.  She always has lots of green & white, black & white, brown & white, purple & white, and blue & white, as well as more unusual colors like pink and yellow.

TV Dinner in a Third Location

Our basement has a 15 seat theater and we often eat there on TV trays to watch the big screen.
  Here, the place settings are on walnut trays, transported to the theater doorway from the kitchen on a tea cart.
The first layer inside the tray is a vintage crocheted place mat.   The plate is antique purple transferware on which I'll serve panko crusted pork chop, diced and sauteed butternut squash from the garden, and fried okra, also from our garden.
Lime green glassware, purchased at a wonderful furniture store in Norman, Okla,  in the 1960's, was used for shrimp cocktails and water, and a new white wine glass was added.  
The knife and fork are dark olive green Bakelite while the cocktail fork and tea spoon are silverplate.
The Bakelite salt and pepper has buttons on top that are pressed to release whichever one you want from the bottom.
All set up and ready for a modern version of the TV Dinner!
"Dessert" in the theater, popcorn by Robert or junky candy.  The cup is sitting on the soda fountain bar and behind it are tiles made by our friends and family that decorate the front.
We have our snacks displayed in the tiny theater lobby.  Looks like someone likes peanuts and pickles since the jars are empty!

Butternut Squash Saute

1 medium-large butternut squash
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/3 cup chicken broth
Leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
     Peel squash and cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds.  Cut into 1/2" dice.
     Heat EVOO and butter over medium heat in cast iron skillet and add squash, tossing to coat with the oil.  Add salt, pepper, and ground thyme.  Turn heat up to med-high and saute until browning on all sides, tossing often with metal spatula.  Turn heat to med-low, add broth, cover with lid and steam to cook squash through.  Remove lid, turn heat back to med-high and continue cooking and turning until liquid disappears and squash is browned and crispy.
    To serve, add thyme leaves and toss.  Garnish with drizzle of good quality EVOO.
Serves 4

One Last TV Dinner 

We have a sun room with a TV area, a fun place for a change of pace dinner.
The dinner setting on the 1940's rattan coffee table begins with orange cotton place mats and Crown Ducal transferware, probably from the same era.
The beginning of a table setting always varies.  Could be I need a set that has an egg cup or a soup bowl.  Maybe it starts with the vintage cloth and I choose dishes that go with it.  I have new glassware and work a whole setting around them.  I'm serving Mexican food and want dishes and linens to match the theme.  In this case, it started with the beautiful, fresh orange roses and worked out from there.
The vintage linen napkins are printed with nasturtiums that have a perfect color combination for the plates and roses.
Yellow is one of the easiest to find colors of Bakelite so I have a lot of it.  Because I don't worry about buying sets, I have several different handle shapes.  For this dinner I'm using a salad fork for dessert, the dinner fork and knife, and the tea spoon.
For our first course I used the berry bowl for guacamole and the small bread plate for chips.  Turning it on an angle made it fit prettily between the plate and napkin and added a bit of interest to the setting.

Each setting had its own Bakelite salt and pepper shakers.

The orange roses, that started the whole setting idea, were $5 a doz at the local grocery store.
Vintage water and wine glasses have orangy-amber stems and bases.  Amber glass was out of favor for quite a while, but seems to be coming back.  I especially like to use it in the fall.

I love the unique rimmed serving bowls that show off the floral pattern.

For our main course of chicken tacos, made with grocery store rotisserie chicken, Mexican rice, and steamed broccoli, serving pieces included a Bakelite table spoon and a silverplate meat fork along with a 2 tone Bakelite pie server for our cheesecake dessert.  The meat fork is the "Fleur de Luce" pattern by Community ca 1904.
All set up for dessert cheesecake with cherry topping.  (For a quick TV dinner, use frozen cheesecake with canned cherry pie filling for the topping.)

Mexican Rice for 2

2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced fresh jalapeno or serrano, or to taste
1 tsp Lawrey's seasoned salt
1/2 cup Texmanti rice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup canned diced tomato with juices
     Saute bell pepper and onion in oil over med heat in skillet that has a tight fitting lid until translucent, apx. 5 mins.  Add garlic, jalapeno, and seasoning salt and saute 1 min. more.  Remove all to bowl.
     Add rice and another Tbsp of oil if needed and saute over med-high heat until rice browns lightly.  
     Add veggies back in along with broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over very low heat 20 mins.