Fingerbowls, Placement, Escort Cards and other Arcana of Formal Dinners at the White House

Some people love to hear about the tiniest details of formal entertaining, and I’m happy to oblige.  At a seated dinner at the White House a guest may encounter social traditions that may be unfamiliar to them: 1.)    Escort Cards and Placement: A little envelope with the guest’s name will be presented to each person as they arrive.   Inside they will find their table assignment.  At this point, guests usually begin comparing notes on where they are seated, wondering if Table […]


Easy Summer Hors D’Oeuvres

This is such a luscious time of year!  The stone fruits, the bountiful green vegetables piled up at roadside stands and farmer’s markets – they beckon to us to cook for ourselves and enjoy the sensual pleasure of creating something delicious.  It’s a great time to invite a few friends over for a drink, and whip up some hors d’oeuvres out of all this irresistible produce.  (By the way, “hors d’oeuvres” is one of the hardest words to spell, and […]


Caramel Coconut Birthday Cake

Serves: 8 Prep time: two hours In the photo I used a springform pan, to see how it would come out. That was a mistake because it took much longer to bake and the top was uneven. It didn’t affect the flavor, and the frosting hides cake flaws very easily, but the original two-layer method is the way to go. Meringue Icing From the Betty Crocker Cookbook