I can’t believe it – I think that summer has actually arrived in England! I’m not sure we even had springtime over here, so the arrival of sunshine, warmth and outdoor activities over this last weekend was a welcome relief!
Each year on the coast of England, about an hour outside of London in the town of Folkestone, there is an amazing and fun airshow. It’s something that I really look forward to throughout the year. It’s a time to mark the beginning of summer – but more importantly, it’s a time to see old and new friends and to enjoy getting a bit of fresh air along the coast. I love that we all get together for a typical English garden party – and we get to watch a spectacular airshow – with the highlight seeing the British Royal Air Force ‘Red Arrows’ do a 20-minute show that really knocks your socks off – all along the part of the English coast that when it’s clear, you can actually see the shores of France!
This year was a little different though. For the first time, it was decided that we would do a good old-fashioned American potluck lunch rather than having just one or two people make the entire meal. Now ladies, are you sitting down?!? Believe it or not, potluck meals really are not done here in the UK – seriously!!! When I moved here over 13 years ago, I was amazed that when I mentioned potluck meals, no one knew what the heck I was talking about – they just don’t do them over here that much! But guess what, we changed all that this weekend – and it was wonderful!!
Now as the sole American at the garden party, you just knew that all eyes were on me and what I was making. After all, this is something that we REALLY do well in America! I grew up in a family that probably went to more potluck picnics, dinners, lunches and block parties than most other friends of mine, so I just HAD to bring the right dish with me! So whom did I turn to?! Our dear Jeanne Bice and her Christmas recipe book titled Christmas – Simple Recipes, Fabulous Parties and Decorations to Put Sparkle, Not Stress, into Your Season. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Is Patrick CRAZY using a recipe from a Christmas cookbook?!” Let me assure you that Jeanne’s cookbook is full of great dishes for the entire year, so I decided to make one of my favorites from her book – her Quack-A-Licious ‘Eat Your Green Beans Casserole’. If you’ve never tried the recipe, you do NOT know what you’re missing – and I recommend you make it right away. Her recipe is SO easy, and it’s all from scratch – no cans of mushroom soup in this one! And you know what? You can really taste the difference!!!
First, I gathered all of the ingredients – here’s a picture of them all – you can see that we definitely have different brands over here in the UK! (Notice Jeanne’s book right there in the middle?!)
I then sautéed the green beans and the mushrooms just like she tells you in the recipe – easy peasy!
Then it was time to add the cheese, dried and crispy onions, and other ingredients – and voila – a masterpiece! It really is one of the easiest dishes to make, and you can double or triple it depending on how many guests you’re serving.
Here’s Jeanne’s recipe:
“Eat Your Green Beans” Casserole
Makes about 12 servings
6 Tablespoons butter, divided
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup onion, chopped fine
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pound fresh green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large can French fried onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and cook for about a minute. Stir in salt, sugar, onion and heavy cream, and the mixture will start to thicken.
In a separate skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the mushrooms and green beans. Cover and simmer slowly for about 6 minutes or until beans are starting to soften.
Pour the mixture in the first skillet into a 2-½ quart casserole dish. Add the mushrooms and green beans and stir gently to coat. Spread shredded cheese over the top and bake for 20 minutes.
Open the oven and spread the French fried onions over the top; back for an additional 10 minutes.
As I said, easy peasy!!!!!!
Now I certainly can’t steal the thunder from all of the others, because the entire group of guests contributed some pretty amazing dishes to make this English potluck garden party a success!!
Here’s a picture of some of the goodies:
And here I am holding one of my favorite dishes of the day – my friend Stephen’s homemade meringue drizzled with chocolate – can you all say YUMMY at the same time!?
Speaking of desserts, take a look at what people brought – how beautiful is all of this?! It looks like it belongs in a fancy food magazine!
In all honesty, we were so worried about the weather because there were thunderstorms predicted for the day, but as you can see from this picture of the tables set up in the garden, the weather was stunning for us.
And here we all are enjoying each other’s delicious dishes!
And look at the flowers in the garden! I guess the great thing about having so much rain in England this year is that the garden looked beautiful!
Even the roses were in full bloom for the party!
Now, as you all know, usually there are plenty of leftovers at the end of potlucks, but I’m afraid that wasn’t the case this time! I don’t think anyone left hungry! Even our furry four-legged friend Oscar was doing his best to help make sure that any scraps that had ‘accidentally’ dropped were cleaned up right away!
As I wrote earlier, the highlight of the airshow were the ‘Red Arrows’ from the Royal Air Force. As you can see from this picture, there were 9 of the best of the best pilots in the United Kingdom putting on a show for us. I just LOVE that the national colors for the UK are the same as in America – red, white and blue!!!
Even though I was here in England, I couldn’t have felt more proud to be an American. After all, I had Jeanne Bice’s American recipe; the red, white and blue colors of our flag; and was attending a true American tradition of a pot-luck lunch with the best of friends. It doesn’t get any more American than that!!!!
Happy, Happy Beginning of Summer to you all! I’d love to know what YOUR favorite dish is to make for potluck meals.
Please share your favorites in the comments below – along with your recipes!!
And tell me what your favorite Quacker Factory item is to wear at your summer garden parties and BBQ’s!!
Quacker Love & Hugs From Across The Pond!!!
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