In the Kitchen with Carmen BondA Very Social Holiday
Story by Sandi Butler Hughes
Photography by Kathryn Painter & Mark O. Ramirez
When the owner of a premiere home and gift store prepares for the holiday season, she starts early and she has a collection of magnificent pieces for celebrating the season. For Carmen Bond, owner of Social: A Shop for Gracious Living, she began her holidays with a fresh start including new decor, tableware, and new recipes while keeping with meaningful family traditions from her Christmas past. “This is a new beginning. Out with the old, and in with the new!,” Carmen smiles with a wink. This will most likely be her last year to spend Christmas in her home of 21 years - it is going on the market (at press time, it was not officially listed). She is looking forward to the holidays, and one last celebration in her home surrounded by her children, their spouses, her new beau Nash, plus a multitude of family and friends. Part of her celebration transformation will include all her new, favorite finds, many of them from where else, Social. Drinks will be served in new barware by Artel. For more formal dinner gatherings, her table will be set with Sasha Nicholas (locally available exclusively at Social), and for a casual evening in, she will be using her new place settings from Montes Doggett and Vietri.
While Carmen may be using new table- and serveware, she is also including sentimental touches. She tucks in copies of her Christmas sheet music from her youth, a unique tribute for her mom. Her mother would always ask her to play “White Christmas” on the baby grand piano. As Carmen prepares to move, the piano has been dispersed to her daughter Lee Anderson’s new home in Washington, D.C. Her grazing board includes sweet hand-crocheted doily bowls. “These are family heirlooms. They are perfect to use for nuts or crackers on a grazing or cheese board,” Carmen said. A fabulous cook (and photo stylist as well, I might add), her menu for the holidays also reflects the newness in her life. Last year on Christmas Eve, she prepared a new recipe for bolognese. “I created this recipe from reading countless recipes one night last fall and then adding my own ingredients to make it my own. I had about 20 plus tomatoes from the final crop of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Donny’s garden. I had eaten all of the tomato sandwiches I could handle for one summer season, but I didn’t want them to go to waste! The fresh tomatoes became what is the wonderful base of this amazing and delicious recipe!,” Carmen shared. It was a huge success so she is making that her family’s new tradition for their casual Christmas Eve supper. “This year, I will be serving the bolognese over Nash’s homemade pasta,” she said.
While she is making a new entree, she is also making a family favorite - her Great Aunt Zula’s recipe for a scrumptious Southern Chocolate Pie. “There is a family secret ‘ingredient’ passed down to me that I can NOT share!! But this recipe will be wonderful!,” Carmen promises. She uses her mother’s homemade pie crust recipe that dates back to 1965 and tops the pie with her own whipped cream recipe.
Carmen’s extensive group of friends are a large part of her holidays, and they are reflected in her culinary selections. She prepares a Beef Tenderloin, using Nick Vergos’ recipe and seasoned with Nick’s Mix Seasoning. “After trying many recipes for the best beef tenderloin, I always come back to this one given to me by my late, dear friend, Nick Vergos.”
For Carmen, the holidays are a special time, especially when surrounded by loving family and friends, sweet memories and traditions, and celebrating her new beginnings. “Cheers to a new year!,” she beams.
20 fresh tomatoes, chopped (any variety will be fine, and
even canned are ok if fresh are not available)
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 large whole carrots, finely chopped
2 pounds ground beef (or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork or
4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
Heavy cream, approximately one cup plus a few
A pinch of each: cayenne pepper, nutmeg, garlic, and
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons butter
3 olive oil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 bottle very dry - and very delicious - red wine, for recipe
and for sipping while cooking
In a large pot or deep dutch skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat, but do not scorch. Add pancetta and cook until browned, 5 minutes or so. Add ground meat and cook until browned, 6-7 additional minutes. Next, add onion and carrots, saute until tender. If any excess grease needs to be drained, do so at this time, but save some drippings (at least a few tablespoons). Stir in ½ cup red wine. Reduce to simmer, making sure to scrape any browned bits into the mixture. Add another ¼ cup red wine, continue to stir until liquid reduces. (Remember to enjoy sipping while stirring!) Stir in tomatoes slowly, a few handfuls at a time; next add salt, pepper and pinches of the other seasonings. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add another ¼ cup of red wine, or more if desired, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes and continuing to stir on occasion. The sauce should slowly be turning a beautiful dark red. After simmering, start to add the cream very slowly, mixing while pouring. Let simmer for another 20 minutes so all of the flavors can truly blend and meld into a rich and delicious bolognese.
Aunt Zula’s Southern Chocolate Pie Filling
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons milk
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
This pie recipe makes either 2 lesser thick pies or 1 thicker filled pie. Separate the egg, beat the yolks, and let stand at room temp. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) to medium heat. Add milk and butter. Stir occasionally and watch not to overheat or scald. When butter is melted and blended add the combined dry ingredients and stir constantly until blended. Do not let stick or overheat! It will scorch! Turn heat to low once blended. (more milk can be added slowly to keep from sticking….) Take out a few tablespoons of the chocolate mixture and quickly beat into the egg yolks. Then, quickly add back into the chocolate mixture and stir until blended well. Add the vanilla a bit at a time and blend; add more to taste if necessary. “Our family likes the rich chocolate taste, so we tend to use it sparingly! Top with homemade whipped cream - it adds a vanilla taste for the perfect combination,” said Carmen. Pour the filling into the cooked pie crust(s). (Here is where you can make a meringue for the pie and cook in oven. If your family prefers meringue, please email Carmen@social-memphis.com.)
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