Entertainment aficionado par excellence Rebecca Gardner spills her secrets for staging a splendid, simple and sophisticated soiree.
Excerpt from Be Her Guest from the May/June issue’s special Salted & Styled feature.
By Andrea Goto
“I think in order for the host or hostess to feel comfortable in their home, they have to be proud of it,” explains Rebecca Gardner of Rebecca Gardner Houses and Parties with an air beyond her 30 years. ”And that doesn’t mean you have to have a fabulous house and that doesn’t mean that you have to have the coolest loft. It just means that you have things that reflect your self and that it’s clean and that you’re organized.”
Rebecca maintains some firm rules about entertaining, the first of which assures me that I can never invite her to my house: ”You always have to have a cotton or linen napkin. I think paper napkins are disgusting.”
There are other rules that alternately make me giggle and cringe, knowing that I’ve committed countless dining indiscretions: ”Napkins should be placed, folded, on each plate. Putting a napkin to the side of a plate in order to display it is like wearing a cocktail ring over glove. Those who know, don’t.”
I’d like to dismiss these rules of engagement as superfluous, but I know better. I know there’s power in selecting the fish fork without having to first consult the guest to your left. And I know that proper etiquette can mean the difference between opportunity and dismissal, especially in the South.
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Inspired by Rebecca Gardner’s easy-breezy dinner party, Salted & Styled’s Libbie Summers created this cool and colorful dish.
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
¾ cup fish (or vegetable or chicken) stock, heated
1 pound fresh salmon, poached or steamed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
Zest and juice of one lemon
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup crushed ice
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Prepare 6 one-cup fish molds or 1 six-cup mold by rinsing in cold water.
In the bowl of a blender, add the evaporated milk. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and allow it to set for 2 minutes.
Add the hot fish stock, cover and blend for 30 seconds at high speed. Add the salmon, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, and celery. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the crushed ice. Add the dill and cayenne pepper then pulse until just combined. Add salt to taste.
Immediately pour the salmon mixture into the molds, cover and refrigerate until the mixture firms, approximately 30 minutes.
Unmold the salmon mousseline by running a sharp knife around the edges of the molds then turning upside down onto the serving plate. Serve the mousselines cold with a sprig of fresh dill for garnish.
Note: The Salmon Mousseline may be made the day before.