December 28, 2010

I Heart NYC...A Farewell to Chloe

Our sweet, charming, stylish friend Chloe is moving to the big apple, so we threw her an NYC themed soiree as a send off. Courtney hosted and creatively decorated with red apples and paper chain linked garland made from the NY TIMES. We potlock'd courses inspired by New York's distinctive neighborhoods and traditions. My favorite: Courtney's pigs in a blanket wrapped in foil to represent NY's infamous hot dogs. Best wishes to sure to embrace the NY deli fried egg sandwich (with Tobasco!!). Can't wait to visit.
The Menu


on platters

lower east side
pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles, mustard, rye

vegetarian dumplings with soy dipping sauce

time square
pigs in a blanket

bagels, lox, cream cheese, tomatoes, capers, onions

late night everywhere
pizza by the slice

I Heart NYC sugar cookies

new york cheesecake

Home For The Holidays

Whenever I'm at my mom's house I have a habit of digging through old photos; I can't resist. This habit always yields a scolding as I disturb my mom's neatly filed, organized boxes with messy piles. This year I didn't let my disruption go to waste. Under everyone's napkins on Christmas Eve, I hid holiday photos from years passed. Spouses got childhood photos of their significant others, some embarrassing, some sweet. We passed the photos throughout the meal and everyone laughed enough for my mom to forgive me and my disorderly ways.

December 23, 2010

Merry Little Christmas

A french bistro inspired menu for a quaint holiday dinner with friends. A small group meant extra luxurious ingredients: caviar, plenty of champagne and lobster. I love bouilibaisse so much I made it for three different dinners! The amazing flavors of fennel, tomato, orange and saffron, filled with generous portions of lobster, dungeness crab, sea bass, halibut, rock shrimp and clams, plus crusty baguettes for dipping, need I say more. It has all of the characteristics of great dinner party fare: make ahead, delicious, one pot, simple yet special. Plus people appreciate a healthier and lighter menu during the food-filled holidays; no fun, but true. The abundance of greens Amy used throughout filled the house with aromas of eucalyptus and Christmas alike. Merry eating to all, and to all a good night.
The Menu

radishes with herbed butter and fleur de sel


potato chips with white sturgeon caviar and creme fraiche

steak tartare with white truffles on crostini


christmas salad of persimmons, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and arugula in a rice wine vinaigrette

boullibaisse with lobster, dungenous crab, sea bass, halibut, rock shrimp and clams
toasted baguette with saffron aioli

peppermint ice cream with hot fudge and candy canes

December 13, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

After decking my halls and discovering Pandora's Christmas station (Nutcracker tunes and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus on loop at my house!) I am in full blown holiday cheer. So, I just had to have another Christmas dinner party. It all had to be made in advance, so a red and green lasagna and simple salad were perfect solutions. With the boxes of greens I picked from my mom's in Central Oregon, I made swags for everyone's setting and favor. And my Christmas cards served double duty as place cards. The glow of a tree, the smell of fresh greens, the taste of warm ginger cookies and the company of loved ones, really do make this the most magical time of the year.
The Menu

for sitting by the tree

champagne cocktails

fennel salami, noccellara olives, rosemary cashews, kale chips

roasted garlic white bean spread on zucchini and cucumber rounds

for sitting at the table

red and green bibb lettuces with a balsamic fennel vinaigrette and parmigiano reggiano ribbons

red and green spinach lasagna with burrata

back by the tree

santa platter: ginger cookies, almond frosted sugar cookies, spice drops, almond rocca and candy canes

'Tis the Season

I've never been in a book club, a gourmet restaurant group or a knitting circle. As a former scoffer of all things 'girl power', I can now say, I'd really like to be. This weekend I threw my favorite kind of a party. A group of girlfriends came over all day Sunday to prepare a holiday brunch to serve 100 women the following a.m. at the Downtown Women's Shelter. By six we were sitting in front of the tree, stuffing treat bags, sipping champagne. We moved into the dining room for dinner, laughter (that Jen can sure tell a good tale), and girl talk usually reserved for romantic comedies. I don't often do brunch (a mimosa buzz can ruin my Sunday) but as a menu planning enthusiast, it was fun to plan this meal and have an excuse to try eggnog french toast. A big thanks to all of my gal pals who reminded me what this season is all about. Merry Christmas!!
The Menu

eggnog french toast
with cranberry apple compote

maple syrup glazed ham

rosemary russet and sweet potato hash

clementine and pomegranate seed salad

peppermint hot chocolate

December 11, 2010

Gift Guide: 2

I didn't realize what a Yule log technically was and now that I do, I think they make a very thoughtful Christmas gift. A Yule log serves as Christmas decor, usually placed on the mantle, and is burned on New Year's Eve for a year of good luck. I decorated mine with greens, nuts, pine cones and cinnamon sticks: glue gun heaven. For friends without fireplaces, I made wreaths. Since my crazy mom owns a wreath making table, I made my wreaths with Oregon greens. But, if you don't have such a mother with a forest full of cedar, juniper, pine, fir and holly, buy simple wreaths and personalize them with your favorite embellishments--clementines, meyer lemons, persimmons, flowers, ribbons, moss, twigs, spray paint--by wiring in or glue gunning. Mine makes me happy every time I open my front door.

December 10, 2010

Best Dressed

For Christmas shoppers at men's store Apartment Number 9 I made well dressed gingerbread men, each sporting spiffy looks. As cute as their cardigans, button downs, ties and vests were, I think they were slightly embarrassed to be bottom nude. Still dapper, nonetheless.

The Best

Our friend Jamie brings these rosemary cashews every Christmas Eve and they truly are out of this world. They have the perfect blend of sugar and spice. Since she passed on her (um, Ina Garten's) recipe, I make them all the time; they are all you need with cocktails. Irresistible served warm out of the oven, they are also delicious packaged as gifts. Really, really truly a must try!!

December 8, 2010

"On Hand"

Martha has 'Now that's a good thing'. Barefoot Contessa has 'How easy was that?" And, Giada has generally aggressive Italian inflections as her marking. Now, were I to develop a signature 'phrase', it might just be '...on hand.' Greg has made fun of me for years for all of the Sara Lee pound cakes, jars of artichoke hearts, indulgent cheeses, gluten free crackers, bottles of bourbon, and extra batches of soups, sauces and cookies that I have made and bought in the interest of having them 'on hand.' It's not my fault; my mom always taught me to be prepared for the uninvited guest and I have taken her words to heart. Now is the perfect time to ease into this practice. My 'on hand' holiday grocery list: bottles of bubbly, a bag of cranberries in the freezer to garnish drinks with, clementines, green olives, cashews and pistachios, spicy pickled green beans, a great cracker, a goat's cheddar, a blue veined camembert, a head of garlic for roasting, fig jam, sweet hot mustard and a fennel salami. It's so simple it seems silly to write but I've found that having these items 'on hand' inspires me to have more impromptu get togethers and that's the whole point. Can't forget the peppermint ice cream!