Supper in the Courtyard

An alfescro dinner party with simple, yet modern and sophisticated dishes makes the perfect housewarming celebration for an old abode brought back to life.


Local renovator Taylor Atchison turned a tiny, tired, neglected, old house into something functional and fabulous.

The small, sort of stodgy Victorian shotgun has been brought back to life and repurposed as his own personal abode. Now, it is sleek and ultra chic — and that’s something to celebrate. So, to toast the recent renovation, a party with a similar twist was planned.

Atchison took an age-old entertaining idea — the casual communal supper with friends — and updated it with more cutting-edge cuisine to create a smart, stylish repast.

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Everyone has a hand in the cooking, so it’s an ideal way to entertain, especially on a weeknight or Friday evening after a long week. It makes the gathering relaxed, less overwhelming for the host or hostess and decidedly much more fun!

Click here to tour Taylor Atchison’s Oakleigh renovation

Garlic Rosemary Rib-eye Caps

If you want to make your guests feel decadently spoiled, serve these seared steaks. They are a delectable splurge, reminiscent of a Ruth’s Chris specialty. Ask the butcher to make this particular cut and request that the caps be tied with twine.

4 (8-ounce) rib-eye caps, tied with butcher twine
vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 small sprigs of rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Pat rib-eye caps dry. Rub each with a small amount of vegetable oil, just enough to create a very light coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as the pan starts to smoke, place steaks in skillet. Let sear for 3 minutes, then flip. Sear for 2 minutes on other side. then add 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter and let it melt for a few seconds.
4. Add smashed garlic and rosemary. Once garlic and rosemary have cooked for about 30 seconds, start spooning the butter onto the steaks. After another 30 seconds, transfer hot skillet to oven.
5. Bake in oven for 3 minutes, spoon more butter mixture onto the steaks and continue to cook until desired doneness, about 2 more minutes for medium-rare.
6. Remove from oven, transfer steaks to a cutting board, pour butter over steaks (including the garlic and rosemary), and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Remove twine and enjoy. Serves 4 – 8.

Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad 

Kale and Brussels sprouts, both formerly underappreciated, are now considered up-to-the-minute ingredients. This splendid salad, made by Elizabeth Zarzour, combines the dynamic duo with incredibly nutritious, delicious results. Double the recipe to feed more folks.

2 – 3 cups thinly sliced kale (approximately half a bunch)
1 pound Brussels sprouts, finely sliced or shaved (A food processor fitted with the slicing blade makes this easier.)
3 – 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, finely shaved or grated
Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (see below)

1. Mix kale and Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
2. Sprinkle in bacon, almonds and cheese. Toss to combine.
3. Pour dressing over mixture and toss to coat. Serves 4.

Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until emulsified. (May use a mini food processor.) Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

Cauliflower Mash 

Together forever, meat and potatoes have always been considered a supper staple. However, over the past couple of years, cauliflower has powered its way into the spud’s former spotlight by offering a tasty alternative to the throngs of carb-conscious cooks.

1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh rosemary, chopped
fresh chives, chopped, if desired

1. Separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the core finely.
2. Bring about 1 cup of water to a simmer in a pot, then add all the cauliflower. Cover pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook the cauliflower for 12 – 15 minutes or until very tender.
3. Drain well and discard the water. (The drier the cauliflower,  the better.)
4. Add milk, butter, sour cream, garlic salt and pepper and mash with a masher until smooth and creamy. Top with chopped rosemary and  chives, if desired. Serves approximately 6. 

Easy, Pleasing Bread Pudding

This is a simple yet sumptuous version of a crowd-pleasing classic, making it a grand finale.

1 cup regular or golden raisins
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 loaf day-old French bread
4 cups milk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 tablespoons melted butter
Whiskey Sauce (see below)

1. The day before serving, put raisins in a small bowl, pour whiskey over top and toss to coat. Let soak overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Tear bread into pieces over a large bowl. Combine milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla and pour over bread; sprinkle in raisins.
4. Mix all together with hands until well combined.
5. Pour melted butter into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish to coat. Pour bread mixture into dish.
6. Bake for about 1 hour, or until firm.
7. Cool and serve with warm Whiskey Sauce spooned over top. Serves 10 – 12.

Whiskey Sauce

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons milk
2 jiggers whiskey, or to taste

1. Cream together butter and sugar in a mixer. Add in milk and whiskey. Beat to combine.
2. Before serving, heat mixture slightly so it is warm and sauce-like but do not allow to boil. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

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