A Warm, Relaxed Autumn Dinner: The Party Plan

A Warm, Relaxed Autumn Dinner: The Party Plan

Nov 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

We like to think of Autumn as dinner-party season: that time of year when the wind picks up, the light dims and the best way to pass an evening is around a candlelit table full of food and friends. For artists and crafters Corrin and Jake, that means a warm, welcoming gathering in their gorgeous Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft — complete with a delicious, comforting menu and cozy, homey decor. This week, we'll be showing you how they did it, from planning to prep to the party itself.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

The Party Idea: A Warm, Relaxed Autumn Meal

Fall means hearty meals that satisfy our souls and nourish our bodies, and there's nothing more soul-satisfying than gathering friends around the dinner table on a chilly late afternoon.

For the menu, Corrin and Jake wanted to feature comfort food, but with a twist. They centered their main dish around a lean, tender flank steak with two creamy dipping sauces on the side: yogurt-horseradish and blue cheese. When entertaining, you are often met with a variety of tastes and sometimes dietary restrictions, too. In Corrin and Jake's case, they knew they were hosting a guest with lactose intolerance, so with the help of our sponsor, National Dairy Council, they made easy, smart ingredient choices – which we'll be sharing in this series – that are delicious as well as lactose-intolerance-friendly to appeal to their guests.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

The Party Menu: Savory and Satisfying

Corrin and Jake whipped up a cozy dinner that was informal and impressive, starring flavorful but budget-friendly flank steak, tenderized with yogurt (yum!) which enhances tenderness and flavor.

The steak was then topped with guests' choice of blue cheese or yogurt-horseradish sauce (or both!). Since both sauces included non-fat yogurt, they were able to keep both nutrition and tastiness in mind. For sides, they served creamy mashed potatoes (made even creamier by adding non-fat Greek yogurt and milk) and Parmesan-flecked roasted broccoli — and to top it all off, a savory-sweet apple pie with sharp aged cheddar for dessert.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Including lactose intolerance-friendly dairy foods in various menu items helped contribute to a flavorful yet nutrient-rich spread, while providing options that allow guests to eat confidently, including those with lactose intolerance. What you may not know is that there are solutions for those with lactose intolerance from the range of cow's milk products available, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Many people with lactose intolerance can probably digest about 12 grams of lactose (the amount in an 8-ounce serving of milk) without significant symptoms – which some find more helpful when combining small amounts of milk as a part of other meals or combined with other foods to slow digestion.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Yogurt contains live cultures that help break down lactose, making it easier to digest. The mashed potatoes were made with Greek yogurt and lactose-free milk, which has all the same nutritional benefits of traditional milk, because it is real milk...just without the lactose. The blue cheese, Cheddar and Parmesan were no problem either, because they — like many natural cheeses — actually contain minimal amounts of lactose (less than one gram per ounce), so recipes that include them are a friendly option for those who are lactose intolerant.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

A Warm, Relaxed Autumn Dinner Party Menu

  • Baguettes with assorted natural cheeses
  • Flank Steak with yogurt-horseradish and blue cheese dipping sauces
  • Chive mashed potatoes with low-fat Greek yogurt and non-fat milk
  • Roasted broccoli with almonds and Parmesan
  • Apple Pie with natural Cheddar
  • Black Lily cocktail
  • Cranberry Fizz mocktail (non-alcoholic)

TIP: Did you know having lactose intolerance often means you can still have some cow's milk and milk products, allowing you to benefit from their nutrition and health benefits? Lactose intolerance is an individualized condition, and people often can handle different amounts of lactose. Work with your doctor and/or registered dietitian nutritionist to find out what works for you.

The Party Look: Wood, Brass and a Stunning Indigo DIY

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Corrin and Jake are artists and designers, so they had great ideas on how to set a cozy scene in their airy, light-filled home: They married wood accents — like their beautiful dining table and bench seating — with gorgeous DIY table linens in deep indigo, brass flatware and low arrangements of crisp white hydrangeas, and then scattered mercury-glass tealights for a warm glow. The effect worked beautifully with the couple's own art: especially the impressive peacocks Jake drew on their huge chalkboard wall.

That DIY project — a shibori tie-dye table runner and matching napkins, which Corrin did outside on their balcony — is as easy as it is eye-catching. Here's the how-to:

Indigo Tie-Dye Table Runner How-To

What You'll Need:
one white table runner (we used an old cut-up sheet)
one packet fabric dye (we used this one)
cardboard
rubber bands
rubber gloves
bucket or other plastic container (for dyeing)

1. Fold runner in half lengthwise, then fold one corner over to the opposite side to create a triangle. Repeat down the length of the runner, folding alternately over and under, to create an accordian-style triangle.

2. Cut two scraps of cardboard to the size of your folded runner and place one on either side of the fabric. Bind tightly with rubber bands. More rubber bands means less indigo coverage, so you might want to experiment with this a bit.

3. Dip one side of the bundle into dye mixed according to package instructions. When the dye has climbed about 3/4 the height of the bundle, remove it and rinse in cold water until the water runs clear.

4. Wash on the delicate cycle and and tumble dry low.

* Corrin also tie-dyed her napkins, rolling each one around a pencil and binding with a bunch of rubber bands.

Stay tuned for the recipes and the big party reveal!

Visit EatConfidentlyWithLI.org and follow @NtlDairyCouncil on Twitter to learn more about enjoying dairy.

Photography: Pablo Enriquez
Styling: Sara Weissler
Food Styling: Martha Tinkler
Gathering Sponsor: National Dairy Council
Hosts: Jake Messing and Corrin Acome
Guests: Ujjainy Lahiry, Tux Loerzel, Sara Miller, Peter Townsend.

More posts in A Warm, Relaxed Autumn Dinner Party: Gatherings from The Kitchn
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