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Welcome to Honeysuckle Hill

Welcome to Honeysuckle Hill began as a labor of love, one that was actually built upon another labor of love and one which evolved in the most organic way.  What began as a humble desire to collect and preserve treasured family recipes for my daughter developed into an individual expression of my self-styled culinary and entertaining vision: a fun loving feast for the eyes and palate alike.  But this book is more than an invitation to pull up a chair at our bountiful table and experience delicious traditional food enjoyed in elegant settings. It is a tribute to the beating heart beneath it all.

I grew up in a historic village in Michigan known as “The Town That Time Forgot.” I spent much of my childhood immersed in the bounty of each season – wild raspberries in the summer, crabapples in the fall – all transformed in our home kitchen into steaming pies, sweet jellies and jams – thanks to the self-taught culinary skills of the remarkable women in my family whose talents and recipes would, unknowingly, later inspire my creative passions.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles to chart a new course in life. Yet, as destiny would have it, I met and married a man who coincidentally also grew up in that very same Midwestern town.  I spent the next decade building a career in Hollywood and then my husband and I embarked upon two major projects; the renovation of our first home – Honeysuckle Hill – a dilapidated eyesore loved and named by former resident, Bette Davis, followed shortly thereafter by our greatest accomplishment – the birth of our daughter.

As I shifted from career building to nest building, the nostalgia for my own childhood grew deeper.  I started searching for a route back to my roots as I longed to feel connected to those I had loved and lost. I gathered together my most cherished family recipes and began serving favorite meals as a way to introduce our daughter to her extended family through the simple, sustaining food they created generations ago.  We planted a garden and I started collecting antique tableware and accessories, which fueled my enthusiasm for designing unique table scapes with vintage flair. And finally, we began inviting people to enjoy sumptuous buffet-style meals at our home, because more than anything I wanted “home” for our daughter to be a place of warmth, happiness and beauty, with a tradition of friends and family gathering for joyous celebrations. In the end, all of these elements fell seamlessly into place and provided a meaningful and authentic way to live in the present while remaining linked to our past.

Welcome to Honeysuckle Hill ultimately emerged as a reflection of these unions; it represents not only an homage to preservation and reinvention, but also, at its core, offers a culinary roadmap of my heart’s journey home.

Each of the 10 chapters in this book offers a thoughtfully constructed buffet menu suggestion followed by recipes, which are classic, simple and unpretentious. They are amazingly uncomplicated to reproduce and accessible to everyone – even the most novice cook or baker.  And while in most cases I have remained true to the original recipes, I encourage everyone to experiment, tweak and substitute to make these recipes their own. It is my great pleasure to share all of this with you, and I can only hope that some will become your own family favorites that will endure for generations to come.

Kick off a great weekend with fruit-infused cocktails, sweet pastries and savory morning dishes like blintzes and quiche.

Easy outdoor dining favorites, ever so slightly elevated with unexpected (yummy!) additions like Peppered Candied Bacon.

This traditional buffet-style spread includes our family’s most-requested dishes PLUS three extra-special dessert options.

The lively flavors in this chapter are best enjoyed outdoors—including salads, fresh fish and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Mediterranean favorites sure to transport you to coastal Italy, from homemade limoncello to the absolute PERFECT simple pasta.

A complete from-scratch artisan pizza menu created by Chef Louise Leonard, winner of ABC’s The Taste (Season Two).

Get your priorities straight with this impressive cocktail hour spread dedicated to bite-sized eats and generous pours.

Our versions of traditional holiday favorites—including turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans and no fewer than FIVE pies!

Edible heirlooms that have earned a permanent place on our family’s table—and which we hope will earn a place on yours.

On the last night of the year, more is more—this menu delivers on its promise of absolutely delicious decadence.

Bringing The Book to Life

Finally, I must mention that without the contributions of a few incredibly talented people, this book would have been a lot less lovely to look at. Food photographer Renee Anjanette makes everything look so delicious in print, you want to devour the actual page. Louise Leonard, food stylist, winner of ABC’s The Taste and my personal pizza guru, not only provided her delicious pizza recipes for the “Pizza Party with Chef Louise,” chapter but also styled the meals in these pages. Photo and prop stylist Amy Paliwoda encouraged all of my vintage treasures to play nice with one another—no small feat, considering the depth of my deluxe hoarding habit. The lush floral arrangements in the book were handcrafted by Holly Vesecky and Rebecca Uchtman of Hollyflora, often using fresh blooms and greens from the gardens here at Honeysuckle Hill. Art director Nanette Furlong Bercu had the vision to masterfully piece together all of these elements and elevated this project in every way.

Renee Anjanette / www.rafotostudio.com
Louise Leonard / www.worldofweezy.com
Amy Paliwoda / www.amypaliwoda.com
Hollyflora / www.hollyflora.com
Nanette Furlong Bercu /www.studiojpms.com