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The Wachtmeister Years

Mini Meatballs and Spaghetti!

Don’t worry, I’m not dead. We have taken off to Annecy, France for the week. Remember that I mentioned there was a little old house I found on the lake for rent? Well, good news, we are going to go look at it today. But in the meantime, back to The Art of Entertaining series. I am continuing today with more hors d’oeuvres because I love hors d’oeuvres. Sometimes my caregivers ask me what I would like for dinner and my answer is, “hors d’oeuvres.” No wonder they want to poison me.
Do you want to hear a funny story about hors d’oeuvres? Okay, so on the eve of my 21st birthday, I met Count Erik Wachtmeister. The world may know him as the dashing Swedish playboy who started A Small World, the private Facebook equivalent for the “jet setting, wealthy, well-traveled and well-heeled few.” I know him as “my roommate.” Erik rented a big house in Bel Air, California and invited me, a snobby girl named Julia, and the actress Elizabeth Hurley to rent the house with him. All we ever did was entertain. God, if those walls could talk!

Erik was the ringleader and the girls and I were the hostesses with the mostesses. We had a dinner party nearly every weekend. These were no normal cocktail parties or dinner parties. Before A Small World debuted, our house was the small world. Celebrities, musicians, royalty,  notorious playboys, models, actors and actresses, socialites, philanthropists, nobility, an heiress or two, various bon vivants, business tycoons, and more than one infamous “character”…you name it, they were at our house. Believe it or not, we did everything on our own for these parties. We had a housekeeper but that was it. Erik, obviously, organized the guest list and took care of the entertainment. The girls and I did all of the decorating, setting the table, shopping and cooking. We had a great kitchen that was the hub of the house so I liked to be there. I would search through cookbook after cookbook to find interesting hors d’oeuvres. You cannot just serve Nicholas Berggruen a lil' smokie on a toothpick, for God’s sake. We had standards…or did we? Let me explain…

 Elizabeth Hurley is one of the chicest, loveliest, most beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, well-dressed, polished, cosmopolitan fancy pants women on earth. There is no attesting that. However, the girl cannot cook. This is the funny part of my story. So on this particular day, we were preparing for a dinner party, looking forward to entertaining Prince and Princess So-And-So. I was preparing the actual dinner so I asked Elizabeth if she could take care of the hors d’oeuvres. “Absolutely, darling,” she replied. Great, I thought, a few things off of my plate and I could focus on the dinner. Elizabeth left for about five hours and finally returned with the “hors d’oeuvres.” Wait for it… She walked into the kitchen with five grocery store bags filled with… Swear to God, Puffy Cheetos! Elizabeth Hurley! Puffy Cheetos!
So, in honor of dear Elizabeth, I dedicate this hors d’oeuvres blog post to her.

My other favorite trend in entertaining is the “mini hors d’oeuvre.” The concept has been attributed to the legendary New York caterer, Peter Callahan.

Martha Stewart cannot say enough good things about Peter Callahan. Watch the video HERE
Okay, let’s take a look at some of these adorable and très chic hors d’oeuvres from Peter Callahan and others…


Mini Croque Monsieurs!

Mini Pulled Pork Sandwich & Mini Onion Rings!

Mini Cheese Burgers and Fries!


Mini Cotton Candy!

Mini Fish Tacos & Mini Margaritas!

Mini Caprese Tea Sandwiches!


Mini Baked Alaskas!

Mini Fried Chicken & Mini Coca Colas!

Mini Chinese Chicken Salads!

Peter Callahan’s book, Bite by Bite, is an absolute must have. Do not have another party before you get this book. That artichoke dip just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Neither is your seven layer dip. Nor your charcuterie platter. Nor your stuffed mushrooms or stupid pinwheels. Those days are over. This is the future. :-) But I would hurry because this trend is going to get obnoxious real fast.


Bite by Bite by Peter Callahan

Purchase HERE

Mini Cheese Corn Dogs!

Mini Berry Cobblers!

Mini Muffulettas!

Mini Pancakes with Blueberries!

Mini Oysters with Tabasco!

Mini Buckwheat Blinis with Caviar & Vodka!

Mini Crispy Clams & Mini Bloody Mary's!

So that’s it for today. Keep your fingers crossed that I get my little house on the lake. If I do, you are all invited to a cocktail party chez moi!

*In case you were wondering… My sweet Erik and his beautiful wife Louise have launched a new website called Best of All Worlds. Read the articles HERE. And for the record, even if I did serve Nicholas Berggruen a little smokie with a toothpick, he would have eaten it with a smile because he is an absolute gentleman.

"Hors d'oeuvre: A Ham Sandwich Cut into 40 Pieces."-Jack Benny

  Shrimp Satay Skewer Shooters with Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce
 Recipe HERE
So today is the official start of my Art of Entertaining series. The table is set and our manners are in place. Now, it’s time for the party. No matter what type of party you are having… Cocktail, brunch, baby shower, bridal shower, holiday, wedding, dinner, luncheon, or funeral :-), you have to have appetizers. It would be gauche and rude not to and everyone will hate you. Appetizers/hors d’oeuvres are the fun part of the party. It’s where you can get a little bit creative. Some new trends have been emerging in the world of appetizers. Today, let’s talk about this new fad of appetizers called “shooters.”

 I am all about these shooters, even though the name is super white trash. Gone are the days of messy appetizers on napkins. Shooters are the new black. It seems like it is a “classic with a twist” phenomenon. Grilled cheese sandwich/tomato soup shooters, French toast shooters, french fry shooters… Comfort food “movin’ on up” like the Jeffersons. I think it’s rather genius and you know what, I would assume that all the men at the party would love this because it’s familiar, flavorful and easy. Women, I would assume, would like it as well because it’s not going to spill all over their new Lanvin cocktail dress. Let’s take a look…

Caesar Salad Shooters

Panko Crusted Shrimp with Chive Aioli
Recipe HERE

Veggie Shooters
Recipe HERE

Chicken Skewers Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Shooters
Recipe HERE

Tomato Soup Shooters With Mini Grilled Cheese
 Cucumber Lime Gazpacho Shooters with Seared Ahi Tuna on Crisp Tortilla

Spring Rolls with Soy Sauce Shooters
Clam Cakes with New England Clam Chowder Shooters
Recipe HERE
Powdered Doughnuts with Milk Shooters

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Milk Shooters

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho Shooters with Basil Crab Salad Crostinis
French Toast with Syrup Shooters
Recipe HERE

French Fries with Sauce Shooters
Recipe HERE

Aren’t those fabulous! But here’s the thing… You’ve got to be careful with these shooters. Here are a few rules…
       Serve them fast and fresh.

Be cognizant of texture. These little shooters can get mushy fast. You don’t want that.

Always offer a spoon. It’s not a tequila shot for God sake.

Mix shooters with other appetizers. It would be too contrived to have all shooters. Remember, it’s all about the juxtaposition.

Take a classic and embellish it a bit. For example, take the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup and take it up a notch. Maybe use Gruyere cheese and a yellow heirloom tomato soup with basil.

So that’s it for today. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on The Art of Entertaining. Hint: “Mini.”

A toute!

*Since we are on the subject of “shooters” today, it is anyone as appalled as I am regarding the little girl who was allowed to shoot a machine gun at a rifle range and accidentally shot the instructor? WTF! I’m pretty sure the little girl’s parents should have their ill-gotten “parenting license” revoked. By the way, do to you know it’s legal for an eight-year-old to shoot a gun? Yep, good old America. Unbelievable. My prayers go out to the instructor’s family and to the little girl’s retarded parents. Do you know what the name of the rifle range is? Bullets and Burgers. Enough said.

It’s Called Manners. Look it up.

Not to be all holier than thou, but if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s throw a dinner party. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. Now that I am 44, I have quite a bit of experience under my belt. I am aware of the quote: "The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones" but for today’s blog…we’re going to talk about it for God’s sake. Sometimes when I go to a dinner party (even at my fancy friend’s house) sometimes I think, “Oh my God, were these people raised by wolves?” We all know the basics of dinner party etiquette but I have my own suggestions…

As a hostess…

1. The most important role one has as a hostess is to be present. There is nothing ruder than inviting guests for an 8 o’clock party and waltzing into the living room at 8:45 because one was in the bedroom putting on false eyelashes. So rude. One needs to be ready at 8 o’clock when the first guest arrives.

2. Have everything ready before guests arrive. Do not run around the house as the guests are arriving, lighting candles, setting the table, tasting the hors d’oeuvres, screaming at the caterer or trying to put the children to bed. Get organized for God’s sake or don’t have the party.

3. Make everyone feel welcome. Make sure everyone has a drink and a comfortable place to sit. Make everyone feel special. Make sure to introduce the guests to each other. Start the conversation for them with a little funny story and then move on to the next couple. It is necessary to be the ringleader of this party and one does not want the party to be stagnant. Sometimes the hostess will have to break the ice for people because some people are socially inept.

4. Do not split up couples at the dinner table. They came together…they want to sit together. We are not in preschool where we need to learn how to talk to others. Besides, David would be lost without me at the other end of the table. He’s not really a people person (he’s French), if you catch my drift. We are better as a team and by team, I mean I do all the talking.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, usher guests out of the house after dessert because one “has to get up early.” So rude. Even if a guest overstays his welcome by two hours, just endure it.

 Now, as a guest, there are some rules as well…
1. Do not arrive early, late or empty-handed. Arrive with a hostess gift and a smile. Keep it simple… a white orchid, an appropriately scented candle, a lovely coffee table book. If there is confusion about this, check out my blog posting titled Polite Society for some good ideas/inspiration for a hostess gift.

2. One should not ever ever ever ever get drunk. Drunk people scare me and if a guest were to be drunk at one of my dinner parties, they would never be invited back. Ever. One word: Blacklist. Don’t even get me started on the use of a toothpick. I swear to God, one of my aunts (father’s side, obviously) brings her own toothpicks to a dinner party. I don’t even know how we are related. Oh, now I remember, by marriage.

3. Do not dominate the dinner party. It’s not a stage, for God’s sake. One must try to be interesting, witty, engaging and slightly demure. Always introduce yourself and look people in the eye. This is no time to be bashful (learn how to fake it if necessary.) Additionally, do not mention a guests’ plastic surgery. Do not talk about Botox, chemical peels, implants, tucks, nips, lifts or ones favorite plastic surgeon (even if he is at the party).

4. Do not eat loudly, animal. Do not put your napkin in your shirt, toddler. Do not push your plate away when you are finished, brat. Do not leave your soup spoon in the bowl, fool. Do not butter an entire piece of bread, pig. Use your utensils appropriately, hillbilly. Do not reach for food, ask for it to be passed, heathen. Do not start eating until everyone has been served, egoist. Don’t share food, hippie. If you are a vegetarian…shut up because no one cares.

5. Dress appropriately, for the love of God. If one shows up to my dinner party in a tank top, I will poison ones gazpacho.

(Sorry I seem so grumpy today. I woke up not feeling well, hating all my caregivers because they either talk to me too much or completely ignore me or expect to be congratulated for doing their job, worried my daughter was on an airplane today to Spain, had a dream that my apartment caught on fire and I couldn’t save my cat, disappointed that someone was mean to my favorite person Tom, could not find my favorite pajamas, we were out of milk for my morning latte, and the Real Housewives of Orange County concluded.)

 So those are my personal dinner party suggestions but oh, there are more, there are many many more. If, on the off chance one was indeed raised by wolves, fear not, there are lots of books to help sort oneself out. Here are a few of my favorites…
Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?
By Henry Alford
purchase HERE
by Kate Spade
purchase HERE

Tiffany’s Table Manners For Teenagers
purchase HERE

A Butler’s Guide to Table Manners
by Nicholas Clayton
purchase HERE

The Fabulous Girls Guide to Decorum
by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh
purchase HERE

A Guide to Elegance
by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
purchase HERE

The Charleston Academy Of Domestic Pursuits
by Suzanne Pollak & Lee Manigault
purchase HERE

Good manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*CK
by Amy Alcon
purchase HERE

How to Be a Lady
by Candace Simpson Giles 
purchase HERE

Okay, now that we all know how to behave, let’s start this little series on The Art of Entertaining. Stay tuned for tomorrow. Hint: “Shooters.” By the way, I’ll try to come back tomorrow with an attitude adjustment. :-)

“Mom! Which side does the fork go on?”

I have probably said that sentence 4 billion times. I have been setting the table since I could walk. We always had a “sit down” dinner at our house and my sister and I would always have to set the table. The same with my daughter, Grace. It is a running joke in my family that everyone knows I cannot remember which side the fork goes on. It’s just a mental block that I have. I also cannot remember the difference between cantaloupe and melon or fiction and nonfiction. No matter how many times somebody tells me the difference, I cannot remember it. I also cannot subtract, nor do I care to. Even though I can’t remember which side the fork goes on, I love setting the table. But do you know what I despise? I despise the word “tablescape.” It just makes me cringe with suburban terror. I despise it almost as much as I despise the words “water feature” and “white noise.” I do, however, love the word “despise.” :-)

To conclude our series on dishes, I’ve put together a little compilation of some of my favorite table settings and some more of my favorite dishes. How could I leave out Juliska, Royal Copenhagen, Blue Willow, Anna Weatherly, Oscar de la Renta etc.! Jadeite, earthenware, transferware, Fiesta, McCoy, stoneware, enamelware! OMG, it’s endless. You can also check out my Pinterest board for more HERE and HERE

Whew! That was a lot! Setting the table is definitely an art. Color, scale, placement, layering…dinnerware, flatware, stemware, flowers, napkins, tablecloths, candelabras etc. There is a lot to learn from the basic table setting to the extraordinary. Good news, there are a few good books out there for guidance and inspiration…here are a few of my favorites…

 Table Settings by Alberto Pinto
Purchase HERE

 Flair by Joe Nye
Purchase HERE

 Tablescapes by Kimberly Schlegel Whitman
Hate the title. Love the book.
Purchase HERE

I have just realized that I have opened up another can of worms… The Art of Entertaining. I realize there is a lot going on in the world right now in Syria, Israel, Palestine, Iraq and good old St. Louis and I understand that it could be a bit shallow to talk about entertaining. However, one of my doctors gave me some really good advice. He is a very gentle Indian neurologist named Dr. Siddique, specializing in ALS, so he is faced with the tragedy of his patients illness every day…. As all of us are aware of the sufferings of others by watching the news around the world unfold every evening. He told me the best way to survive is to take five minutes every day and focus on my illness. Cry, scream, meditate, pray, worry and throw in a panic attack for good measure. Then, he told me, to “put it away.” Put it away and spend the rest of the day with positive thoughts and positive actions. I think this is good advice for everyone. So, let’s say our prayers to whomever you answer to for all of the despair that the world is faced with and then let’s lift our spirits and be thankful that there is some joy and beauty in life. Like dinner parties. :-)

I think we should start with the basics tomorrow. Hint: “Good Manners: The noise you don’t make when eating your soup.”- Bennett Cerf