Sometimes you meet someone and it seems like you have known them forever. That was the way it was when I met Mieke Ten Have for the first time years ago. Her captivating personality and natural charm had me hooked. As I have gotten to know her, one of the things that surprised me the most is her love for cooking. Not only is she one accomplished chef; she also has the ability to bring her hallmark style effortlessly to the table as the “hostess with the mostest”
I am very excited to feature her at her country home in Maine, as shot by the fantastic photographer Darren Setlow, and her tipss for successful entertaining.
Mieke and her dog Hank. When Mieke is not in the kitchen or playing hostess, she is Design Editor at Large at Elle Decor magazine where she has her finger on the pulse of everything that is happening in the world of design.
Who or what has most inspired your entertaining style? Has anyone been a strong influence in teaching you the l'arte de recevoir?
My mother. She instilled in me a love for tabletop, place setting, flower arranging, and beautiful linens. She also taught me to think about dinner party seating plans, so few people pay attention to that these days and I think it is a real misstep. The table is a tableau. Food, entertaining, and design should have a symbiotic relationship.
She lived in Provence for many years and her culinary style is very French which is my foundation for most meals. I like to deviate and experiment, I often never make the exact same thing twice.
Mieke's stunning table.
Do you have a favorite china or tabletop item that you collect?
Antique linens. I am always looking for beautiful embroidery I don’t care if the monogram shares any letters with mine. It is so hard to find good embroidery on durable linen. They just don’t make them like they used to! I also like buying antique silver especially larger serving spoons. An elegant serving spoon goes a long way, presentation wise.
For china, I use Alberto Pinto, Astier de Villatte, and Marie Daage on a daily basis, the rest is all antique. I own lots of lusterware, antique Wedgwood, and some lovely 19th century Tiffany plates. Cobalt blue glass and silver salt cellars are also a favorite. Basically, I’m really a Victorian grandmother at heart.
What influences your menu choices when you entertain?
Seasonality and location. I try as much as possible to adhere to what I find at the farmers’ market which often means I don’t start with a set menu, I like to see what looks really good that day, especially in the summer when there is so much to choose from. When I am in Maine, I generally serve seafood because it is so good, fresh, and plentifully local. In New York, I have my favorite butchers and cheese purveyors, so it is really predicated on where I am entertaining and what time of year it is. It’s also really important to consider which flavor profiles go well together, I like mixing up unexpected elements. My version of the holy grail is the perfect bite of various tastes and textures, and I am always experimenting to find that balance.
Tell me about the occasion and meal you made.
This was an intimate, September luncheon for three friends. I love the late summer, early fall weeks where you can reap the benefits of both seasons still rich in tomatoes and basil, and finally excited to be eating root vegetables again. For this meal, I started with a small beet and bacon soup as an amuse bouche, which I served during the aperitif in petite Empire tea cups.
I love breaking up the first course into something smaller and serving it a bit more informally it’s a nice way of using your tea cups, too!
For the main course I made a variation on a sole meunière, which is my favorite fish dish to adapt and tinker with. I skip the flour entirely and use a good dose of salt, pepper and butter, which gives it a wonderful golden crust. For this variation, I roasted some cherry tomatoes in the oven, and threw in a lot of garlic and capers in the butter and oil for flavor. I topped it with tons of basil and lemon, which really brightens the dish up. I roasted purple and orange carrots, summer squash, zucchini, and tri color fingerling potatoes until they really softened and caramelized a bit, and made a homemade garlic and citrus rich aioli (another wonderfully adaptable stand by). I dressed the vegetables in the aioli with fresh cracked pepper.
Sole Meunière a la Mieke.