September 15, 2011

Bridge Club

My friend Ahna O'Reilly is perfect as Miss Elizabeth Leefolt in the film The Help. When Ahna originally told me that she had been cast in the role, I almost died with excitement. So when it came time to celebrate the movie, I was thrilled to get to make a party in its honor. While the obvious choice would've been a Mississippi themed spread, the whole cast was too spoiled by the real stuff while filming to compete. Instead, I made a Californian buffet with lady-like touches, served in a charming garden. I had fun with new versions of finger foods--e.g. blt tea sandwiches and savory cornmeal shortcake sliders with white cheddar, creme fraiche and chives-- and dainty individual desserts. Amy also kept the decor sweet and elegant with lush garlands, white lights & lanterns, and plenty of gorgeous flowers (after all, there were Southern women in attendance!). I couldn't be more proud of Ahna and think the party managed to hold a candle to her performance.
The Menu


cucumber mint gimlets

blackberry thyme margaritas


savory cornmeal shortcake sliders with creme fraiche, sharp white cheddar & chives

blt tea sandwiches

chilled zucchini soup shots with cumin scented bay shrimp

pickled cherries, ricotta & basil crostini

dinner buffet

grilled lamb skewers on rosemary branches
with feta salsa verde

roast shrimp with roasted garlic lemon boy tomato sauce & purple basil

sprouted shelling beans with pecorino, shallots & thyme

big green salad with little gems & cucumbers will dill yogurt dressing

shaved summer squash with pine nuts & mint

tomato bread pudding


dark chocolate pot de cremes

lemon blueberry parfaits

September 8, 2011

Urban Picnic

Our friend Ashley loves a picnic and so do we. For her 30th birthday party we created a picnic themed party on the roof of her apartment building. With no sand or itchy grass to distract us, we totally focused on the food & packaging. Each guest got their own picnic box to fill with whichever mains (fried quail--big hit!) and sides they preferred. There were plenty of options; I went a little nuts! This was the most collaborative party that Amy and I have ever done. Some of the menu items were inspired by her packaging ideas--for instance, fresh corn soup with jalapeno cornbread--while some of the dishes had Amy scrambling to find just the right container: e.g. the heirloom tomato shortcake with creme fraiche & basil. The final result: a delicious and eye-catching spread. It's my very favorite party that Amy has done because she elevated everything to such an impressive level. (She's a real whiz with paper products.) Be sure to check out the menu below...I forgot to take photos of all the great things that were inside of the boxes!

The Menu


padron peppers. olive oil. sea salt.

blt crostini: cherry tomatoes. arugula. bacon. basil mayo. sourdough


bratwurst. portugese linguica. peppers & sweet onions.

buttermilk fried quail

fresh sweet corn soup. jalapeno cornbread.

heirloom tomato shortcake. white cheddar biscuit. creme fraiche. basil.

tongue of fire fresh shelling beans. rhubarb. thyme.

french potato salad. mustard salami. blue lake green beans.

curried chickpeas. cucumber. greek yogurt.

summer berries. arugula. marcona almonds. reggianito argentna.

fennel. buttermilk. coleslaw

farro. english peas. ricotta salata. hazelnut oil.

shaved zucchini. spicy pesto.


baskin and robbins ice cream cake

September 5, 2011

Labor Day, Lobster Day, Lazy Day Lunch

If I could blink my eyes and be transported to anywhere in the world, today, I'd pick Maine. I've never been, but my whole month has been leading up to my all-consuming desire to go. First, my friends, who go every August, left for their trip and I longed to tag along. To calm my jealousy, I read J. Courtney Sullivan's latest novel, Maine, about three generation of Irish Catholic women who summer at their family's cottage on the shore. Each time the ladies drove to a different town to lunch on lobster rolls and sample saltwater taffy, I'd resist an impulse purchase on kayak! Finally, taking action, I decided to make a Maine-inspired meal for a labor day weekend pool party. In researching Maine desserts, I stumbled upon a Travel and Leisure article ranking the top ten lobster shacks along Maine's coast. Pure torture! Each one looked more enticing than the last. (As it turns out, ice cream, pies and whoopie pies are all popular selections.) Until next year, I am using my imagination and taste buds for a weekend getaway. For the main event--the lobster roll--I went fairly purist, adding only diced celery, tarragon and mayonnaise to big hunks of steamed lobster. I baked the rolls using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, shaping the dough into the shapes of hot dog buns. Before filling, I lightly buttered the inside of the buns and gave them a quick grill. It's pretty incredible that a meal, or even just a bite, can take us to another place; thankfully, my lobster roll did just that.
The Menu

drinks & snacks

dark 'n' stormy: rum + ginger beer + lime

blt filled cherry tomatoes

tuna tartare with avocado on cucumber rounds


lobster rolls with tarragon, celery & bibb lettuce on brioche buns

buttered corn on the cob

sliced early girl tomatoes with sea salt & basil

buttermilk coleslaw

homemade potato chips


blueberry crisp with vanilla ice cream

September 3, 2011

Goodbye to Summer: Crostini Party

Crostini--"little toasts" in Italian--are my go to appetizer. They are the perfect base for showcasing simple ingredients and favorite flavor combinations. The seasons are about to change so I wanted to give summer's bounty a final hurray. Some of these are repeat offenders...I can never get enough of that fig jam, cheese & mint combo! To make crostini, slice a baguette 1/4" thick, brush with olive oil and baked on a cookie sheet @ 375 degrees for ten minutes, or until lightly brown. Top as desired.
The Menu


ricotta, arugula, peaches, balsamic syrup

early girl tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, garlic olive oil

fig jam, sharp white cheddar, mint

lemony tahini smashed garbanzo beans, sun dried cherry tomato

crema mexicana, corn, chili powder, lime, cilantro

spicy basil pesto, grated zucchini, pecorino, walnut

smashed avocado, red pepper flakes, lemon, olive oil

roasted artichoke spread, sauteed peppers, golden raisins, parsley