Farm to Plate Supper

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I absolutely love throwing dinner parties at my house. Especially since we got the double oven and put in the patio in the backyard, entertaining has been incredibly easy. So when I saw that for the next challenge of Project Food Blog I was to create a dinner party, I was thrilled.

Except I wouldn’t be at my home, with my double oven and my patio. Or, as it turned out, with even half the kitchen tools I am used to.

Remember these two girls with me?

I mentioned them in my 30th birthday post. This weekend, I was lucky to be able to travel to Madison to spend some time with them and do wedding-planning activities, because Asha is getting married in May. These are my oldest, dearest friends – Kim and I became friends the second day of kindergarten and Asha became our friend the next year. They’re the perfect people to share in my dinner party.

Along with a few others, on Saturday night we sat down to a meal prepared almost entirely from what I had found at the farmers’ market that morning. It was fantastic to be able to explore a market in another city, and I was really surprised and pleased with the variety they had there.

Tip: If you’re planning a party based on the farmers’ market, check to see what is in season. You can loosely plan your menu based on the season, and then tweak it according to what you find.

For me, planning the menu was easy. I knew I wanted to try the Maple Souffles from Sugarlaws. With farm eggs and pure Wisconsin maple syrup, I was sure it would be a winner. From there it was easy – apples are in season, so dessert became an apple tart. I had just had a fantastic corn bisque from Urban, and I wanted to re-create that if I could manage to find some fresh corn. If not, no big deal: the bisque would be deftly changed to winter squash-based. I lucked out, as there was more than one vendor with fresh corn.

I had no idea what I wanted to do for the meat course, but was confident the market would have something to share. I was tempted by the offer of rainbow trout, but by the time I got some cash and continued on my way around the market (it circles the state capital) I had my eye caught by a bison vendor and was toting a package of medallions, and completely forgot about the trout.

Not hard to do when you’re lugging a giant stalk of Brussels sprouts! There was no way I was turning down this beauty. Into the bag it went, along with a winter squash and small potatoes.

I picked up Honeycrisps to make the tart, and a beautiful sheep’s milk cheese to go with a fresh baguette. Fully laden down, I hurried back to the rental car with plans flying furiously around my head.

It’s almost funny how different this dinner party was from a typical one I have, if only because I didn’t spend the entire day prep cooking. Normally I would be in a crazed mood trying to get everything done all day long. For this I didn’t even get started on the cooking until after 5. And why?

Yep. Trying on bridesmaid dresses.

After we finished that, had lunch, ogled over Asha’s wedding dress, went to Pier1, Target, the grocery store, and the liquor store, finally I was ready to start!

It might sound odd, but you really can have a lovely dinner party without cooking all day long. While I do love fancy food, I didn’t want to get caught up in tiny fussy things, and because I had gotten the ingredients at the market, I really wanted to make sure everything shined. I wanted to highlight the season’s offerings, not try to explain to my guests (who are decidedly not cooks) what everything was.

Tip: Keep things simple. If you want to show off, you can do so in the presentation.

Whoever designs products for Pier1 is obviously paying attention to the food blog trend. I picked up a few items from their Tasting Party line – tiny little bowls and glasses that are perfect for bloggers.

Aperitif – blackberry liqueur with sparkling wine

Corn bisque
Tip: Don’t sweat the mistakes. Chances are, no one will know it was a mistake, especially if it tastes good.

Because my friend’s kitchen has pretty much nothing in terms of tools (I had to buy cutting boards!) it meant I had to beat egg whites to peaks by hand for the souffles. Needless to say it didn’t quite get to the point it should have, and the souffles suffered as a result. Luckily, the combination of maple syrup and beaten, baked eggs turns out to be wonderful, no matter the texture.

I would have loved to make sauces for my dishes, but time and lack of equipment ensured that was not to be. However, no one noticed. I am always grateful for our farmers’ markets in Austin, and it’s great to know that I can travel across the country and keep my local-food-loving ideals still going. I cooked the food simply, bringing out the flavors – and as it turns out, served Brussels sprouts for the first time for my friends. And they all said they wanted to make them for themselves. In my opinion, there’s no better dinner party than being able to combine the eating portion with a little bit of learning.

Tip: Take shortcuts.

I have made puff pastry from scratch before, and it was sinful, but no way in hell was I going to do that again for this challenge. Sorry, guests! You’ll have to have tart thanks to Pepperidge Farm and their wonderful invention of pre-made puff pasty.

Apple tart
Thanks everyone for joining me in a memorable night full of laughs and memories. It’s hard to beat the company of your oldest friends, especially when combined with delicious foods.

This post is for Challenge #3 of Project Food Blog. Please consider voting for my post from October 4 to October 7. Thank you!


  1. You made all of this in one day? That would have taken me a whole week! A beautiful post and your dishes look incredible. And the fact that you used ingredients from the farmer’s market is just wonderful!

    I have no doubt you’ll make it to the next round.

  2. Your menu was beautifully creative and to use all products from the Farmer’s Market at this time of the year was a top notch idea. Creating a fabulous meal can be challenging enough but to do it without being in your own kitchen with all that you are familiar with is going above and beyond.
    You are amazing and you certainly have my vote!

  3. It looks like most of the stress in that post came from posting it. You’re a natural. The food looks delicious and the creativity to snag a few cute items for serving was a great choice. Having a friend with an empty kitchen helped in that choice I’m sure.

    The best part? I think showing a friend who is going to be married soon, that being in the kitchen and throwing an impromptu party is fun. Almost easy and can be done without too much advanced prep.

    Great job! Now I want some of that corn bisque!

  4. Another great entry. You are a force! GREG

    PS are you still going to be in Madison later this week? I am going there on Wednesday as part of a cheese tasting tour for the Wisconsin Dairy Board. I’ll be there 4 days. It would be fun to meet up.

    1. Thanks Greg! I returned to Austin on Sunday. Too bad we won’t be able to meet up. A tour with the Dairy Board sounds awesome! Enjoy your time in Madison – this time of year it is really lovely (if a bit brisk!).

  5. You did it even without kitchen appliances! Hitting up the farmers market and letting it guide your menu was a great idea. I really want to try the bison–post the recipe and soon (or else I will snark at you daily on twitter)

  6. no better farmers market to pick up the haul for a harvest supper! looks amazing, and sometimes mistakes turn out better than planned. such a nice gift to share with old friends.



  7. This looks so great! I’m so excited you tried my recipe — it looks like it was part of an amazing meal! And oh my gosh, that corn bisque looks delicious!

  8. Everything looks and sounds delicious! I can’t believe you made all that lovely food using ingredients from my local farmer’s market. I should really get more serious about this cooking thing!

  9. Megan, I think the challenge you had to pull this off was huge…and you showed how creative you are in keeping it simple yet in keeping with the idea of luxury; a most unpretentious and doable menu for anyone!

  10. fantastic job for working outside of your kitchen! everything looks wonderful – and whipping egg whites by hand is no joke! good luck – you’ve got my vote!

  11. This looks like such a lovely, laidback, and delicious dinner – perfect for a night spent with girlfriends! I’m so impressed you put together such a fabulous dinner even though you were on the road! Are you going to share the maple soffle recipe with us??

  12. I don’t think it sounds remotely odd that you can have a lovely dinner party without cooking all day long. Besides, I think you’ve just proved that in spades, nicely done.

  13. i’m floored that you not only arranged and cooked this whole meal in someone else’s kitchen but put it all together from local, farmer’s market finds. great post and i hope to see you in Round 4!! you’ve got my vote!

  14. If I could eat farm to table everyday I would. The menu is simple but really, really good food. Again, my favorite way to eat. Sidebar, I had a wedding last weekend meaning I was officiating the ceremony and I squeezed in a dinner party just in case and it was beyond crazy hectic so I feel your schedule pain! Congrats and good luck (again).

  15. Oh, gosh. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
    Life is good when you can eat locally and seasonally, and you’ve captured that here. We’ve spent much of the late summer & early fall stocking up on local delights so we can do more of this — even in the winter.

  16. I still get a little confused whenever I see brussels sprouts on the stalk, it’s something I’m ashamed of. I wish I could’ve tried your bison medallions, they look fantastic. Good luck this week, voting for you!

    Lick My Spoon

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