Patti Harris, left, the homeowner and host on Super Bowl Sunday, with cooking teacher extraordinaire, Barbara Tenney.
It was Super Bowl evening and some folks were surprised that I was going to one of the Knoxville Symphony League’s “Elegant Dining” fundraisers. “Wow, how did sales go for that one?” several people asked incredulously. “Actually, it was a sellout,” I said.
Here’s the reason: Barbara Tenney, cooking teacher, caterer and all around fun person was the main attraction. She whipped up a delicious four-course dinner in a matter of minutes, seemingly effortlessly. And she had us out in time to see the second half of the big game, if we wanted. She’s amazing.
Come along for the meal details, and I’ll share with you some tips Barbara has for us home cooks.
Patti and David Harris live in this lovely home off Rudder Lane in West Knox County.
Even though it was misty, the view still was spectacular. Here, Dean Farmer, left, and David Harris chatted on the back porch.
And, inside, Lee Ley offered Reggiano Parmesan wafers.
“It’s nice to have hors d’oeuvres when people get there,” advises Barbara. “It gets things going and causes people to start talking.”
Guest Mary Farmer, left, with one of the hosts, Theresa Stone.
Debbie Emery, left, and Robin Smith are co-chairs of the entire Elegant Dining series.
From left, Tina Hatcher, and Gary and Joan Boyd.
Jay Mounger, left, with Gay Lyons and John Butler.
Here are those wafers, again. Love those giant glass pills on the cocktail table. Very appropriate since Patti is a pharmacist!
The tables were lovely with Valentine’s themed flowers.
“Flower arrangements on the table should be low enough that you can see the person across the table,” reminded Barbara.
In the kitchen, Barbara was adding red grapes to the steamed Brussels sprouts.
“As far as I’m concerned, grapes can’t do anything except improve Brussels sprouts!” quipped one gentleman.
Barbara also added lemon to the Brussels sprouts.
Soon, we were asked to take our seats! At left, Jim Ley. At right, Lewis Kinnard.
Bloody Mary shrimp cocktails are on the way! From left, Nancy Bosson, Sandra Butler and Lee Ley.
Rudy and Elizabeth Koester.
Barbara begins assembling the cran-apple spinach salads.
“If you are going to have any kind of party, do everything in advance that you can,” says Barbara. “Did you notice I had the salad partially assembled and just added the dressing in the kitchen?”
“Always put your salad plates in the freezer,” Barbara said. “Have you ever had a salad on a hot plate that just came from the dishwasher? That’s not good.”
Isn’t it beautiful? The candied pecans were added at the last minute, as well.
An unusual side dish: vertical stuffed potatoes.
“I make them vertical because it’s something a little different. It makes the plate look pretty because it adds some height. Everything is not flat,” Barbara noted.
Paul and Tina Hatcher.
Time to cut the filet!
A finished plate: beef tenderloin with red wine orange sauce, vertical stuffed potato and Brussels sprouts with red grapes.
Marla and John Peterson.
One of the most fantastic desserts I’ve ever had! Poached pears in amaretto cream.
Barbara finished the meal with a wonderful treat called “David Duncan’s Coffee.” It was a signature item from longtime Knoxville caterer David Duncan, who lives in Florida now.
A word from Barbara on menu planning. “You don’t want too many heavy things. If you are having something heavy for the main course, like meatloaf, you don’t want chocolate layer cake for dessert! You want something light.”
Four of the hostesses: from left, Theresa Stone, Debbie Kinnard, Joanne Mounger and Nancy Bosson. Great job, ladies!
Rudy Koester, left, and Brian Bosson getting ready to head out.
Barbara sent us home with four homemade truffles, which were delicious.
“I always have a little something for people to take home,” Barbara said. “When they leave, they have a little remembrance of the evening. Just a little something extra.”
Here’s the recipe for that amazing coffee:
3 cups strong brewed coffee
4 strips lemon peel
4 strips orange peel
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
½ vanilla bean
2 tblsp. sugar
Simmer 15 minutes.
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Benedictine
3 ounces white crème de cocoa
Serve with whipped cream & shaved chocolate (if desired).