April 12, 2010

A Mossy Affair

I've been a bit homesick for Oregon so I created an evening themed around the Pacific Northwest. All of the greens, pine cones and moss created the cozy setting for the flavors of home: berries, hazelnuts, blue cheese, salmon, trout and pinot noir.
My mom shipped me pine cones from Oregon which served as place cards with muslin tags
Moss from Tillamock, OR was an amazing find at the flower market
I asked Amy to write out menus to put at each place setting as I have rather challenged handwriting. I almost died when she suggested taking it to another level. She used iron-ons to print the menu on muslin which then doubled as our napkins. She giggles each time she recounts my jaw drop and delighted face. Better than any Christmas!
Making gravlax at home couldn't be easier and it's fun to play with different herbs and spices. I wrapped one wild salmon fillet up with salt, brown sugar, paprika and dill and the other with salt, white sugar, fennel seeds and fennel fronds. Always a crowd pleaser.
The LA Fungi stall at the Calabasas Saturday farmer's market was well worth the drive. I really wanted to buy everything but I limited myself to a trio of mushrooms. Morels are just coming into season and such a spring luxury. The Frenchman at the stand suggested I fill the hollows of the mushrooms with a salmon mousse. I already had salmon curing at home so I opted for a soft sheep's milk cheese with fresh chervil and set the morels on a salad of shaved white asparagus. I then sauteed the hen of the woods mushrooms with blackberries and thyme and served on grilled brioche, brushed with truffle oil. Rounding out the plate, a shot glass of shitake mushroom soup.Sampling Oregon blues at the Artisinal Cheese Gallery on Ventura was heaven. I'm a bit of a sample glutton. I selected Echo Mountain blue and paired it with smoked trout and hazelnuts on a bed of wilted arugula and spinach in a warm hazelnut sherry vinaigrette.
I braised the duck legs in pinot noir while Greg smoked the breasts on my new smoker. The cherry-port compote pulled it all together. And swiss chard has become to me what corn was last summer: the thing I want to eat at every meal!
And finally, the party favors. Last weekend I canned jars of agave sweetened, meyer lemon-strawberry compote sweetly labeled to take home.

the menu

house cured spiced wild salmon gravlax on pumpernickel with dill mustard sauce
house cured herbed wild salmon gravlax on cucumber rounds with cream cheese and capers
house pickled spicy dill fennel and cucumber

trio of mushrooms
morels stuffed with fresh sheep's milk cheese and served on a shaved white asparagus and chervil salad
hen of the woods mushrooms sauteed with blackberries, thyme and truffle oil on grilled brioche
shitake mushroom soup

wilted greens with smoked trout, echo mountain blue cheese, hazelnuts

duo of duck
legs braised in pinot noir, smoked breast, parsnip puree, swiss chard with a cherry port sauce

spiced buttermilk cake with pinot noir berry sauce and whipped cream
three chocolate hazelnut tart

dark and stormy cocktail
oregon's king estate pinot grigio and argyle pinot noir
deschutes brewery seasonal ipa

inspired by the Wildwood cookbook...a must buy for any lover of food

April 11, 2010

Idol Moment

This week I got to cater a dinner for thirty for the most amazing couple ever! Making and serving food in their beautiful home was a real treat. I was beyond intimidated when I found out that Suzanne Goin (my favorite LA chef) had sent over chicken and salmon to put out on the buffet alongside my food. Would anyone bother with my spread? It was the thrill of my life that people enjoyed my food and came back for more. For my food to be in the company of Suzanne Goin's was a real life moment for me.

The Menu

wild mushroom crostini with thyme
smoked trout on toasts with creme fraiche, beet horseradish and dill

braised beef short ribs with horseradish creme
pork tenderloin with ginger chutney and mustard
fennel salad with blood oranges, olive, mint
asparagus and snap pea salad with basil, walnuts, parmesan and vinaigrette
roasted carrots with lime and parsley
rosemary corn muffins

cookie platter:
strawberry shortcake, double chocolate espresso, lemon ricotta

TGIF with Jamie

Another Friday night with Jamie. This curry recipe was kind of ridiculous! Amy and David came over last minute so I threw together some Indian dishes that were way easier than leaving the house for takeout. I almost didn't have them because I had already planned on crab curry and David (though he tries to deny it) is crazy allergic to crab! Luckily I hadn't stirred the crab into the curry yet and portioned out David's separately. Though I wanted more Alice in the episode, my crush on Jamie prevails!

The Menu

Potato and Pea Cakes with cucumber and yogurt raiti
Lentils and Garbonzo Beans in spicy tomato sauce
Jamie's South Indian Curry with crab (pork for David)
Couscous with pine nuts
Garlic Chive Toasts

April 7, 2010

Sunday Supper

I'm not one to mess with tradition but growing up our Easter menu was less strict than other holidays. The only musts were deviled eggs and lamb. Since we had a smaller Easter gathering this year, I wanted to have a cozy menu to match. My solution: lamb meatloaf and fresh spring vegetables. It was the right call as dinner was delayed to watch the opening game...Go Red Sox!

The Menu

Easter radishes with butter and salt
Green crudites, garlic cheese curd and minted yogurt dip
Deviled quail eggs

Mario Batali's Lamb Meatloaf
Shaved asparagus salad with creamy parmesan dressing
Roasted purple, orange and yellow carrots with parsley
Roasted garlic parsnip puree

Lemon trifle with limoncello soaked pound cake, lemon cured, whipped cream and fresh strawberries

Freshly Squeezed

I'm not really a fan of mimosas. I'd rather take it straight. But this weekend Greg squeezed half of a minneola tangelo into our glasses and it was the perfect bit of fresh sweetness for a brunch cocktail. For a party I want to put out a bucket of citrus halves and let guests squeeze their own juice of choice to enjoy with their champagne.

April 4, 2010

Le petit deviled egg...tres chic

I am drawn to quail eggs. They are so adorable and I always want to buy them when I see them in their little crates. But what to do with the little guys? Well for easter, I did deviled quail eggs. Tip: hard boil your quail eggs in half water/half white vinegar and they'll be way easier to peel. The little labors of love are a fun twist on the classic but save the idea for a small crowd!

April 3, 2010

A trinket for my basket

My friend Deirdre created Candy Shop Vintage and sells charming and glamorous vintage jewelry. I have been coveting this hand painted egg necklace (being the Easter lover that I am) and just received it in the mail from Charleston!! Check out her website as it is a perfect source for Easter Baskets and all gifts for girlfriends, sisters and moms. Thank you Deirdre...I am sure to be the hostess with the mostess tomorrow wearing my lovely egg.

I have a crush on Jamie...

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is amazing television. I mean, Alice just may be the best tv villain of all time. I'm inspired to make a Jamie dinner each week for Friday's viewing. If you haven't watched, you can catch up on all episodes at abc.com and read more on Jamie's website. (and get simple and tasty recipes) Last night I swapped English peas for the asparagus in Jamie's risotto recipe and used meyor lemons. All was delicious.

The Menu

Spicy mixed greens with cucumber, shallots, and a mustard vinaigrette
Jamie's Fish Cakes with a touch of dill
Jamie's pea, mint and lemon risotto
Lemon Souffles with blueberry compote
Greg's Minty Vodka Cocktails
Cakebread Chardonay

April 1, 2010

Jemima Puddle Duck

Growing up we always had an Easter tree decorated with the same ornaments: glittery chicks and bunnies. This year I simply stuck a few flowering apple tree branches into a vase and decorated with some of last year's eggs which Amy wrapped in fabric scraps. Very exciting that we used plastic eggs that didn't rot throughout the year! I live for traditions and putting up my 'tree' reminds me of all my childhood Easter memories: hunting for my basket which always featured a Beatrix Potter book and stuffed animal, the year my little brother and I discovered live bunnies on the hunt, stuffing my face with deviled eggs and eating a lamb dinner with the Brodie family. Getting excited for Sunday...