May 15, 2014

The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits + Giveaway

The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits

Last month my friend Barbara introduced me to a new book, The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits: A Handbook of Etiquette with Recipes, and the authors Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault. It is undoubtedly the whittiest, most fun, informative, and inventive cookbook I’ve read in a long time. Chock full of southern charm, Suzanne and Lee manage to get right down to the brass tacks of eating, entertaining, and house-keeping without seeming overbearing or bossy. To cap it off, instead of photographs the book is dotted with cheeky illustrations reminiscent of New York cartoons.

My personal favorite part of the book are the observations on entertaining which ring 100% true. Here are a few of my favorites:

 “Get in the habit of the proper mise en place! The Deans’ mantra is “Don’t sleaze your mise.” Cooking cannot be fun or relaxing when the fear of catastrophe looms overhead, so it’s no wonder people can drink a whole bottle of wine while cooking their nightly meal if they never got in the habit of a proper mise.”

“If you have gone to all the expense and trouble to make a sumptuous, labor-intensive meal, do not be shy about tooting your own horn a bit at the time of presentation. A quick, “This is not cans of baked beans with weenies thrown in. It is a cassoulet from southwestern France, which has lamb, pork, duck, and European sausages, and it takes two days to assemble. Please enjoy eating it as much as I did making it!” will put every guest in a properly reverential state of mind.”

‘The lifeblood of the party flows from the bar and people must be able to see it at all times. If you are going to have a bartender hire a hottie – easier on the eyes for all.”

“You’ve all seen Downton Abbey and noticed that the Granthams have copious staff. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that you have staff, too. And, good news, they are live-in. If you have children, you have helpers. They are difficult to train, crabby, and not necessarily very good, just like all staff, but these people exist and should be indoctrinated accordingly.”

Luckily, Suzanne and Lee, The Deans of the Academy, generously agreed to an interview and we had a great time chatting. After you read this I can guarantee you are going to want a copy of this book. Enter to win one below!:

TNC: There are so many entertaining books out there but this one is really out ahead of the pack. You don’t mince words when it comes to the nitty gritty which is why it is so helpful – a real breath of fresh air! What inspired you to write this book and pull back the curtain on proper entertaining and kitchen-keeping.

The Deans: We see so many people uncomfortable with entertaining because they think there is a right and wrong way. That is one reason why there are two Deans – two voices to highlight more than one right answer to many questions.

TNC: Between the two of you it sounds like you entertain nearly every night! Realistically, how often do you host people in your homes?

The Deans: We really do host three to four nights a week. But don’t get ahead of yourself. This can mean just one person, some friends of our children, a drinks drop in……..

TNC: Since a lot of my readers have small children I’d love to hear some of your tips on entertaining families. It is a whole new ball game when the little ones are added to the mix.

The Deans: One of the best ways to entertain with small children, use your house, and make friends for a lifetime is to invite other mothers over and do what giraffe’s do –  a day care but with wine, instead of acacia leaves. Two moms can take care of exponentially more children than one mother can, and have much needed adult interaction at the same time.

TNC: Once you get in the routine of entertaining it gets easier. What tips can you give to entertaining novices to get them over the hump of their first soirees? Hosting people at your home can be a little nerve-wracking when you’ve never done it before!

The Deans: You question captures the whole reason for the book!

TNC: Your recipes are the perfect mix of easy and fancy. I love that! What would be your ideal spring cocktail party menu based on your book? Anything else inspiring you this spring?

The Deans: Pickled local spring onions are perfect for martinis and Bloody Mary’s.

The best cocktail party tip is making batches of your specialty cocktail before start time to help get drinks in people’s hands as quickly as possible.

Whole Foods has little round fresh goat cheese with flowers embedded in the top. We are only sorry we didn’t think of this ourselves! It’s the cutest idea we ever saw and puts us in the mind of getting our own herd of goats.

This spring we are seeing red – cherry tomatoes stuffed with the fore mentioned goat cheese, radishes served with sweet cream butter and sea salt, and Campari and sodas. Dean-licious.

TNC: What is next for the CADP? Personally,  I think you need a tv show and series of entertaining classes around the country. Wouldn’t that be a blast?! Please, please, please at least write another book.

The Deans: This is the biggest compliment we have ever received!

TNC: A sidenote: Last night I told my husband that we are taking the dining room table out the backyard for a dinner party and I am serving onion rings from the freezer for snack every single night. I think his eyes glazed over.

The Deans: Dean Manigault served the onion rings last night! They are indeed fabulous.

Thank you, Deans!

To enter the win your own copy of The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits:

1) Share your favorite whitty piece of entertaining advice!

2) Subscribe to Kelsey Banfield on Facebook

3) Subscribe to The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits on Facebook

4) Contest runs from May 15th at 7:00am ET through May 22nd at 7:00am ET…winner will be announced in the May 23rd newsletter!