Sticky Wicket

7 Jun

croquet 4+Croquet-rockwell It’s June. You know what that means: Summer whites. Cucumber sandwiches. Pimm’s Cups.

It’s croquet time.

Time to haul ass to the grandest green space you can find and beckon your besties for a summer afternoon playing the waspiest of lawn sports.

Bonus points if you can navigate the course while holding a drink at the same time.

Make sure you have blankets, a parasol, vases with flowers, and a small table for a portable bar. We’re all for picnicing on the ground, but by god, there’s no excuse for spilling a drink.

Sip, snack, do crossword puzzles while you wait for the game to begin. While we may not be playing on the lush grounds of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Newport mansion The Breakers, we’ll have a grand time wherever we are.gardenparty-vanderbilt

For the first time, we’re offering suggestions for a playlist, see bottom of post.
Now on to the menu.



croquet 1(Pimm’s is also mixed with champagne for a Pimm’s Royal Cup.)

It’s easiest to mix a pitcher: fill with ice, mix one part Pimm’s Cup No. 1 to either three parts chilled sparkling lemonade or gingerale (or two parts lemonade and top up with seltzer.)
Stir or shake.

Serve in Collins glasses and garnish each with:
1 cucumber spear
1 strawberry
1 thin orange slice
1 thin lemon slice
1 thin lime slice

“In the summer of 1882, Harper’s Bazaar listed salads, cold birds, ham, tongue, pâté de foie gras, cold patties, salmon dressed with a green sauce, jellies, Charlottes, ices, cakes, punch, and champagne on the proper menu to offer. Also, a cup of hot tea in the house would always be offered to those who desired it.”

We’re thinking of a few platters of tiny bites to satiate our crowd:

Stuffed snow peas (recipe below)
Chilled grilled asparagus spears
Skewers of bocconcini, grape tomatoes and basil leaves, with a balsamic syrup
Assorted tea sandwiches: Cucumber and watercress with mint butter
Curried shrimp (recipe below)
Beef tenderloin with yogurt-horseradish sauce on sliced baguette (recipe below)
Assorted pastries and squares
Thermoses of hot clear tea, honey and lemon on the side.

croquet louise abbema

with creamy horseradish sauce

(serves 15 as a main dish, 30 to 40 as an appetizer)
1 filet of beef, about 5 pounds
butter to spread over beef (about 4 tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cold plain yogurt
1/4 cup loosely packed, freshly grated horseradish
2 French baguettes, about 10 ounces each
Remove meat from refrigerator about 1 hour before using. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Remove surplus fat and skin and spread beef generously with butter.
Place on a rack in a greased roasting pan in the oven. Do not cover or baste. Reduce the heat immediately to 400 degrees and bake 30 minutes. A filet is usually cooked rare when the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Season with salt and pepper to taste when done. Allow to cool and then slice thickly into pieces about the size of a silver dollar.
For horseradish sauce: : Combine the yogurt and the horseradish. Stir to blend and chill.
At the picnic, slice the baguettes into rounds and top each with a slice of tenderloin and 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons horseradish sauce. Serve on a silver tray.
Courtesy of Casey Pingle of Annapolis. Tenderloin recipe adapted from “Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker; horseradish sauce from “Craig Claiborne’s Gourmet Diet,” by Craig Claiborne with Pierre Franey


1/2 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder or paste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon lemon juice
8 large slices sandwich bread
Butter, softened
14 cucumber slices
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, mayonnaise, curry, herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Using a 5-cm (2-inch) circular cookie cutter, cut the bread into 32 crustless rounds.
Spoon the shrimp salad onto 16 rounds and cover with the remaining rounds. Lightly butter the top of each sandwich and place a cucumber slice on top.
1 can (6 ounces) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 drops hot pepper sauce
Dash pepper
Old Bay seasoning
16 fresh snow peas
In small bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, chili sauce, salt, pepper sauce and pepper.
Place snow peas in a steamer basket; place in a small saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 30 seconds for until softened. Drain and immediately place snow peas in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
With a sharp knife, split pea pods along the curved edges. Spoon 1 tablespoon of crab mixture into each. Refrigerate until serving.
We’ve created a croquet playlist – yes we are that demented. We’ve taken this from the 1930s, to some wartime standards, and marched onward, throwing in just enough jazz for scandal. It’s a rollicking good mix.

Ink Spots: If I Didn’t Care, I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire, Java Jive
My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone 58
Puttin’ on the Ritz Fred Astaire or Benny Goodman
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree Glenn Miller
You’re the Top
It’s De-Lovely
Well, Did You Evah Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby
When the Saints Go Marching In Louis Armstrong
In the Mood Glenn Miller
Night and Day Frank Sinatra
Sentimental Journey Les Brown & Doris Day
All of Me
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) Duke Ellington
Get Out of Town: Ella Fitzgerald
Too Darn Hot: Ella Fitzgerald
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah James Baskett
The Whiffenpoof Song Bing Crosby
Benny Goodman
Ellington at Newport from his 1956 performance, including the amazing “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” with the astonishing Paul Gonsalves saxophone solo.
Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Sweet Georgia Brown Anita O’Day )

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