Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rose Chintz on the Patio

Grilling on the Patio for Four

A dinner grilled on the patio by my husband means I have time to do the part that is the most fun, for me anyway, setting a pretty table.  All I had to do was the prep because the whole meal, except dessert, was to be grilled.  Our menu started with a first course of "Wedding Shrimp."  We call it that because we catered our own wedding reception and this was one of the dishes.  The main course was all on the grill - pork tenderloin with pineapple-serrano salsa, whole asparagus, and halved new potatoes tossed  with garlic, rosemary, and EVOO.
The first layers were a new pink checked cloth and a vintage one in pink and blue.
I was going to use Johnson Brother's Rose Chintz dishes and chose a cloth with prominent blue so the table wouldn't look totally pink.
The Rose Chintz dinner plate has a distinct rose, larger then the rest; therefore, I am careful to place each plate at the same angle so that the stem of the rose points down.  This is a good thing to keep in mind with all patterns.  It is obvious when a plate has a scene in the center, but is also important with prints.  Sometimes, especially with real old transferware like the esthetic period, it is hard to tell what was meant to be the correct placement.  Generally there's a flower or fruit with a stem or some other object somewhere in the print that gives you a clue which way the design should be placed.  It just makes your table look more balanced, or orderly, to have the direction of all the plates match.
The napkin is a lovely blue with an eyelet lace embellishment.  This set belonged to my mother, who loved lace of all kinds.
Because the china is feminine, I decided to use ivory, mother-of-pearl, and floral silverplate flatware patterns.
For our first course I chose an ivory set.  Almost a tea or luncheon size, it would not work for a main course but was just fine for our grilled shrimp.
The main course flatware was an antique mother-of-pearl fork and a steak knife in the "Daffodil" pattern by International ca 1950. 
Whenever you consider buying anything ivory make sure the seller is willing to certify that it is antique, more than 100 years old.  Newer than that and it is illegal to sell/buy due to the protection of the animals that the ivory comes from. 

For the first course I used a new companion piece for the Rose Chintz 
that has a mottled pink border.
The complete first course place setting including a pink rose centerpiece (what else!) in the teapot.
For water, I used new Waterford "Lismore" iced tea glasses and for wine, beautiful crystal goblets with a pink bowl, probably produced in the 1960's.
With the 6" bread and butter plate I used a vintage white English tea knife.  I have tea knives in lots of colors and like to use them for hors d'oeuvres and cheese platters, as well as for butter knives.
Rose Chintz has been being produced for decades and they change a little.  The pattern changes a little, but color can change even more.  The one on the left is vintage and the other two are newer.  Ordinarily I would stick to only vintage but due to a sad story, I also have new - while we were at the Warrenton Antiques Fair one fall our son went by our house, just to check on things, looked in the kitchen door and saw broken dishes covering the floor.  He went in and discovered a raccoon, who apparently had been living in the attic, had fallen through the kitchen's antique tin tile ceiling.  In an attempt to get back out, he climbed the dish shelves my husband had built in the kitchen that covered one whole wall from the counter up and were 14' wide.  He didn't break too many on the way up, but the Rose Chintz was on top of the shelves, taking up about 7' because I had so much of it.  He walked around the top, trying to get back to the hole in the ceiling and knocked off 30 or 40 pieces.  

These are the back stamps from the 3 bread plates.  The pink is the oldest I have.  The black is a bit newer, which you can tell by the addition of the words about the decoration being permanent.  The blue is the one being currently used so if you see it you know the dish is brand new.  If you are buying on line and want vintage, but the seller has not shown the back stamp, ask to see it or ask what it says so you will know whether the piece is old or new.
The complete main course place setting just removes the plate and flatware used for the first course.
Vintage pressed glass salt bowls and spoons were at the top of each plate.
The front, more rectangular, platter was used for our first course shrimp and the larger oval was used for the main course meat and veggies since they were all on the grill together.
Flatware serving pieces all had Mother of Pearl handles.  I find most of my mother of pearl in England where we go on guided antiquing trips.

For the pork's pineapple-serrano salsa, I used an antique ivory sugar shell.

I served our strawberry shortcake dessert in the Rose Chintz rimmed soup bowls.
I used a different pattern of mother of pearl knife and fork for dessert.  Washing mother of pearl flatware is tedious.  You should not get the handles wet.  If they get wet, and particularly if they sit in water, it will turn brown.  Cover them with your hand and just wash the silverplate parts with mild liquid dish soap on a cloth.  It looks so pretty on a table that it's worth the trouble!
It's a good thing my husband likes all of my tableware and isn't too "macho" to eat at a pretty table!

Wedding Shrimp Recipe

3 large shrimp per person
1-3" piece of green onion, white and green parts (you get 2 per onion), per shrimp
1/2 slice bacon per shrimp
1/2" slice fresh ginger, peeled*
1/2 cup soy sauce*
2 Tbsp grape seed oil*
     Half cook bacon in oven on a foil covered cookie sheet - put cookie sheet in cold oven, set on 400 degrees, close door and let cook 12 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.
     Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tail shell on.  Lay piece of onion along the back length of each shrimp.  Wrap with bacon and secure with a toothpick.
     Crush the ginger in a mortar/pestle or in a garlic press.  Mix the juice with the soy sauce and oil.  Mince the solids finely and add to the soy sauce mixture. 
     Using the same cookie sheet but without the foil, lay out the shrimp in a single layer and pour the soy sauce mixture over all.  Turn and "brush" each shrimp through the soy so that all sides have some.  Let sit 15 minutes or up to an hour.  If leaving the shrimp in the marinade longer than 15 minutes, turn it over every 15 minutes.
     Cook over hot coals just until the bacon is crisp and the shrimp is pink and opaque.  It should only take about 1 minute per side if the coals are hot and the grill is close to coals.
     *Keeping the same proportions, change the amounts to fit the number of shrimp you are grilling.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Card Table Chic

Breakfast for 4 on the Balcony

Even in July some mornings in Central Texas are beautifully cool.  (Of course "cool" is subjective.)  I took advantage of this to serve breakfast on our front balcony.  Since I haven't put any furniture there, except for my swing chair that I read in and its side table, I used a good ol' card table with folding chairs.
The first layer was one of my vintage 1940's tablecloths in white, green, and brown.  I chose it to go with the pale green roses I wanted to use as a centerpiece and then added the bronze pin-tuck chair covers since they worked in with the brown in the cloth.

The cloth was purchased from Michelle Piccolo at the Red Barn, part of the Round Top Antiques Fair.  The chair covers were purchased fairly inexpensively on line.

The place setting starts with 11" oval Jadeite platters that I like to use as plates.  They are by Fire-King in the Jane Ray pattern, first produced in 1945.  I have a lot of these and use them for big parties too as they make a great buffet plate.
The next layer is for our first course of strawberries with balsamic vinegar and black pepper.  I used a small custard cup because I wanted to control the serving size.  Because our main course was to be fairly heavy, I wanted the first course to be light with an appetite stimulating sweet and sour flavor profile.

I used the tea spoon for coffee and the smaller coffee spoon for the strawberries.  The pattern is Tudor by Rogers & Hamilton.  It fit the size of the custard cup better and the size of the serving.  
The complete first course place setting.  When the custard cup and underplate are removed, it's ready for the main course of eggs benedict and roasted cherry tomatoes.
The new linen napkins are white with a gray border that worked well with both the cloth and the silver pieces being used.
Napkin rings, though each a different pattern, are all from the Arts and Crafts era, late 1800's to 1910. 
I used four patterns of knives, but again, all of the same era so they mix attractively.  Mix and match is great, but I probably wouldn't mix, for example, 1950's with Victorian on one table.

For water, I chose a vintage etched crystal tumbler and for juice, a green footed goblet with silver leaf overlay.

The fork and tea spoon are the same pattern - 
"Narcissus"ca 1908.

The centerpiece of pale green roses is in a new silverplate ice bucket.  Bloomed out roses are prettier than tight buds so I try to buy them a couple of days ahead and let them have time to open.  If they get too open too soon they can be refrigerated to slow the blooming.
Jadeite restauantware mugs come in three shapes/sizes.  This one is the most narrow and holds the least, but I like its graceful shape that turns out a little at the top.

The bottom of the mug is marked "Fire King Oven Ware."

The salt and pepper shakers at each setting are vintage pressed glass and have plastic lids that match the Jadeite color.

Each person gets their own toast rack.  A cube of Irish butter goes on the glass container along with a dollop of homemade "Pear Honey" jam.
The table is now set for dessert, something that may not normally be considered a breakfast course but great if you're having guests and have time for more than one course.  We're having pineapple upside-down cake.
The cake was served on an 8" restaurantware oval plate.  Restaurantware is heavier and smooth, without the ribbed edge that Jane Ray has.
Serving pieces, though they didn't fit on the table, included this silverplate water pitcher,
coffee server,
and individual coffee press which may have been from a railroad dining car.  I used it for cream and sugar.  It's marked "ENGLAND" on the bottom.
We enjoyed our shady, slow balcony breakfast and look forward to another.
Our view of the front yard and drive over the balcony railings.

My oldest and his wife vacationed in Italy this summer and for my July birthday sent me wonderful EVOO and balsamic vinegar.  This recipe made beautiful use of some of the 15 year old vinegar.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground coarse black pepper to taste
     Sprinkle berries with sugar, vinegar, and pepper in a glass bowl and toss gently to coat.  Allow to macerate at least 15 minutes.  
     Makes 4 small servings.