June 25, 2010

Mexican Fiesta

My friend Courtney's recent visit was a great excuse to throw a Mexican dinner party and an easy solution to celebrating her new lifestyle: vegetarianism. I was so happy to finally have a reason to bust out my mismatched set of fiesta ware that I inherited from my grandma. Instant tables-scape (I hate to use a word coined by Sandra Lee, but is there an alternative?)! All of the elements were easy to prep ahead, and who doesn't like a taco bar, but I want to brag about a few especially impressive dishes. 1. Inspired by Rick Bayless, I made a jalapeno ginger Mexican Mojito. When isn't tequila better than rum? Special thanks to my stylish friend Chloe for helping me squeeze all of those limes! 2. Using a $9 bag of heirloom tomatoes, I made an especially delicious salsa. Worth it! And...drumroll please...3. I made cheese! This is a first for me, couldn't have been simpler and it's an excellent bragging right so try the recipe. Plus, fresh Mexican cheese isn't readily found everywhere (I'm not talking about here in LA but when traveling to lakes and what not) and this is a really easy solution. All in all, a very festive reunion!
The Menu

sizzling mexican ginger mojitos

heirloom tomato salsa - herby guacamole
tortilla, cucumber and radish chips

family style

grilled chipotle ceaser salad

chili relleno souffle

grilled corn on the cob with chili and lime

taco bar

drunken spicy black and pinto beans

roasted summer squash with oregano, caramelized red onion

fingerling potatoes with roasted anaheim peppers

fresh cheese

fresh mint tomatillo salsa - roasted tomato salsa - roasted tomatillo salsa

blue and corn tortillas

cinnamon flans

Welcome Home

Last night we had Amy and David over to celebrate David and Greg's return from a month in South Africa. Their trip was heavy on meat with a real lack of veggies so I focused on all things fresh and summery. I broke my rule that I always have a chocolate dessert for David Jones in order to conduct a cobbler experiment. Cobblers seem to be the dessert of choice for summer dinner parties so I tried two new recipes from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. We were split on the verdict. Luckily, David brought me a stack of his chocolate chip cookies to satisfy my own chocolate cravings.
The Menu

sheep's cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes with basil

zucchini polenta cakes with creme fraiche and zucchini blossoms

saute of bacon, corn, cabbage, spring onions and porcini mushrooms
with sea scallops and brown butter vinaigrette

spicy mixed greens with cucumber and lemon vinaigrette

mixed berry cobbler with cornmeal biscuits
mixed berry slurry with buttermilk biscuits

June 22, 2010

Grilled Pizza Party

This really is heaven. Grilled pizzas are just sooooo good and they are another super easy summer entertaining idea. I kind of want it every night! I assembled all of my toppings and sauces ahead of time and grilled different combinations throughout the evening. I think I invented a new classic. My mom's go-to winter appetizer is roasted garlic with blue brie. We all go nuts for it. So for Father's Day I grilled a pizza topped with roasted garlic, brie, Rogue River blue cheese and caramelized red onions. Amazing. It couldn't be simpler. Roll out your dough to whatever size and shape you like, and throw it on the grill at around 350. Close the lid for a few minutes until the bottom of the dough turns a light golden brown. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and flip the dough. Now you can put whatever sauce, toppings and cheese you want on the dough. Close the lid again and check in a few minutes until cheese melts and toppings are heated through. So easy and delicious. Next time I want to do a Nutella pizza for dessert.
The Menu

grilled asparagus

tomato, mozzarella, basil, vodka sauce pizza

morel mushrooms, thyme, ricotta, parmesan, pesto pizza

fennel salumi, mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce pizza

roasted garlic, caramelized red onion, brie, rogue river blue cheese pizza

tuscan melon with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper

affogatos with chocolate chip cookies

June 19, 2010

A Birthday Sit Down

Greg and I tag-teamed a birthday dinner last night. Greg kept the basil lime-aid cocktails flowing for a lively group celebrating their friend Josh. Since the birthday boy is a vegetarian, the farmer's market inspired my entire menu. I received as many compliments for my headband as for the food. So, I'm thinking the name of my catering company could be, 'The Girl in the Festive Headband Cooks'. Kind of catchy (and very accurate).
The Menu

basil lime-aids with vodka


zucchini rounds with roasted tomato, capers and basil
eggplant parmesan crostinis
fig jam, goat cheese and mint crostinis
quinoa and roasted pepper cakes with creme fraiche and zucchini blossoms
lemon goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms

sit down

minted english pea soup with creme fraiche

creamy polenta with ragout of corn, asparagus and chanterelles with sage brown butter sauce and farmer's sheep cheese
braised white beans with thyme, radicchio and caramelized red onion
spicy greens with lemon and extra virgin olive oil

gingered peach and cherry crisp
with cinnamon ice cream

June 12, 2010

Cowgirls and Cowboys

Sometimes food just isn't the main event. Such was the case this weekend for the Sisters Rodeo in Central OR. We all attended the parade Saturday a.m. with Americana at its finest. Rodeo queens, corvette clubs, fire engines and the Schwanz man entertained the crowd. Then, in our boots and hats (feathers for some), we enjoyed margaritas and burgers back at the ranch until it was time to see the cowboys do their thing. Calf wrangling and red, white and blue freedom chatter reminded me what a big country we live in. But despite all of the action, the best part of the weekend may have been having an excuse to serve Ritz spread with cream cheese and pepper jelly...Yee-haw!!!
The Menu

cowboy margaritas

ritz crackers with cream cheese and pepper jelly
mixed peppers crudite with cilantro ranch dip

cowboy burgers with pepper jack cheese, bacon and bbq sauce on jalapeno buns
grilled walla walla sweet onions
corn on the cob

cherry and peach pies ala mode