Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weekend Entertaining with Bill Blass

After weeks of traveling, I'm looking forward to spending a quiet Memorial Day weekend at home. I'm sure that many of you, however, are planning to spend the holiday at beach cottages or country retreats, where you're likely to have a house full of hungry guests who require feeding. With that in mind, I thought today would be a good day to show you how the late Bill Blass liked to entertain at his bucolic Connecticut house, which was built in 1770 as a tavern.

Had you been a weekend guest of Blass, you might have started the day with a breakfast tray, which would have been elegantly set with breakfast china, linen, and a copy of The New York Times. After a morning spent doing I don't know what, you would have ventured off to the garden for a picnic lunch of hamburgers with Stilton crumbled on top, watercress slaw, tomato and onion salad, potato chips, and beer. I'm assuming that after a meal like that, afternoon naps were in order.

Late afternoon might have been spent enjoying tea in the room that once served as the tavern's private dining room. (The room's corner cupboard was constructed by one of Paul Revere's carpenters.) But the most memorable meal of the weekend would likely have been dinner, served in Blass's charming dining room, because that was the meal which would have involved one of Blass's claims to fame: his meatloaf, which Blass liked to serve family-style with mashed potatoes and succotash. (Have you ever made his meatloaf before?) Blass believed that a first course wasn't necessary when serving a hearty meal, so seconds were encouraged. And for dessert? An all-American lattice-top strawberry pie.

Doesn't that sound like a delicious way to spend the weekend?



Afternoon Tea:


All photos from House Beautiful, October 1992, Antoine Bootz photographer


  1. Many versions of that recipe, but here is the definitive version of the Bill Blass Meatloaf, from the man himself evidently, as the blog entry states. Nothing is better than a good meatloaf; enjoy:

    Bill Blass' Meatloaf
    Serves 6

    1 egg
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 cup chopped celery
    1 cup chopped onion
    2 pounds ground sirloin
    1/2 pound ground pork
    1/2 pound ground veal
    1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
    1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Pinch of dried thyme (I actually use ½ teaspoon)
    Pinch of dried marjoram (I use ½ teaspoon of this, too)
    1 12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
    5 strips uncooked bacon

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    In a small bowl, beat egg, stir in Worcestershire sauce and reserve.

    In a large pan over low heat, melt butter and sauté celery and onions, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent.

    In a large bowl, combine onion-celery mixture with sirloin, pork, veal, parsley, bread crumbs, beaten egg mixture, salt and pepper, thyme, and marjoram.

    On a baking sheet, form mixture into an oval loaf shape. Top with chili sauce and bacon strips.

    Bake 75 minutes.

    Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

    Note: Some versions of the recipe also include 1/3 cup sour cream in the meat mix.

  2. I must add, I use a similar base, but include sauteed ground mushrooms (or mushrooms duxelles), heavy cream and catsup in the meat mix and then completely cover the meatloaf (which is free-formed on a tray and not squashed into a loaf pan) with bacon strips, rather than the chili sauce. Not for the diet conscious...

  3. A great man who will never be forgotten, taste, panache and class always!

    The Arts by Karena

  4. Jennifer,
    These are lovely pictures of a wonderful way to enjoy both food, company and nature. I love looking at the china, the tea table, the outdoor buffet and the dogs!

  5. love BB + great weekend

  6. Ah, the make-belive world of old shelter magazines, where they had Bill Blass serving up hamburgers for lunch, and then his famous meat loaf for dinner-- and all, presumably, in the course of a single day.

    Still, it's always nice knowing that the great tastemakers of this world had unpretentious taste when it came to food.

  7. Jennifer,
    What a fun post! BB gave the commencement speech at my FIT graduation ceremony- in 1983 -It was a speech with inspiration, courage, words of encouragement, bravado, and drama, all rolled into one- in short, it was simply, FABULOUS !!! Style, style, style!