October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Party

Halloween has been dead to me for many years. I lost interest when the allure of charming DIY costumes (um, Anna Blessing starring as ketchup and I as mustard) was replaced with slutty insert-noun-here costumes out of plastic bags! But this year is different. Halloween rebirth. For our pumpkin carving party, we ventured into projects usually judged as 'Who really does that?!' Amy set up stations for each guest featuring pre-hollowed pumpkins, incredible carving kits, black bibs and plenty of stencils and other tricks for inspiration. We had snacks (chicken liver mousse on crostini with bleeding shallot jelly--had to have an offal for Halloween!) and cocktails (black vodka martinis with dry ice!) while carving and then moved in to the living room for an autumnal dinner. With everyone's newly carved pumpkins on display, alongside Amy's more show-off detailed white pumpkins, it was a spookily lit affair. And on their way out, everyone got Trick or Treat take-home bags filled their toasted pumpkin seeds, both spicy and sweet, respectively. Happy Halloween!
The Menu

black vodka martinis on dry ice

bleeding heart martinis with pickled beets


hot artichoke crab crostini

aged gouda, fried sage, black grape crostini

chicken liver mousse with shallot jelly crostini

bacon wrapped figs

to start

puree of wild chanterelle soup

followed by

braised duck legs and smoked breast
pinot noir sauce with black pepper and dried cherries
parsnip and asian pear puree and wilted purple kale

to finish

pumpkin praline pie
flourless chocolate cake
spiced whipped cream

October 17, 2010

brezn, bretzel, pretzel

Amy and I celebrated Oktoberfest late this year with a little shin dig at her store Apartment Number 9 . Shoppers enjoyed a variety of beers and hard cider while trying on cozy cardigans. Though mini caramel apples and caramel corn may not have been the smartest of snacks (um, little kids, sticky fingers, luxurious fabrics...), they certainly are festive. And if you've never made homemade soft pretzels, do it! Martha Stewarts were very simple and kind of out-of-control good. Greg and I just had pretzel sandwiches with sweet hot mustard, Tillamook sharp cheddar and crisp asian pears. Not sure it gets much better on a rainy Sunday (in Los Angeles!!!).

October 4, 2010

High Tea

During college I spent a rainy month in London. Without a real purpose for being there, I aimlessly strolled through museums, read The Bell Jar in Hyde Park, saw American Psycho in a fancy movie theatre and as many West End shows as I could. But despite the great surroundings, I was lonely, lost. I found great comfort in the ritual of the afternoon tea. Who couldn't be charmed by dainty finger sandwiches, crumbly scones with globs of clotted cream and fresh raspberry jam, flecked with seeds? It was heaven. Those delightful afternoons were my inspiration for this weekend's baby shower. All of the nibbles and treats were artfully displayed on tiers of crystal and floral cake stands. Amy embraced shades of pink and lady-like floral and ribbon touches to celebrate the near arrival of Frannie's little girl. Guests brought baby photos of themselves, which Amy displayed above the assorted teacups and everyone filled their ballots with their matching guesses. All in all, a proper and lovely afternoon tea.
The Menu

pink champagne
iced moroccan mint tea
iced pink rose tea
english breakfast, earl grey, green, and peppermint teas

pickled quail eggs
steamed asparagus with green peppercorn champagne dip
minted english pea soup shots

tea sandwiches
cucumber and watercress on white bread
curried egg salad with roasted tomatoes on wheat
gravlax, cream cheese, capers and dill on pumpernickel
smoked turkey and cranberry on orange currant muffins

rose water scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream

carrot cake cupcakes
raspberry french macaroons
pink coconut macaroons
raspberry filled chocolate cups
fig and pomegranate tarts
chocolate espresso cookies
almond sugar cookies
lavender lemon squares
white chocolate petit fours