December 20, 2012

Holiday Hostess Gift

This holiday season I've cooked for a dozen gatherings but attended very few.  Luckily, this invitation carried the weight of many parties and filled me with inspiration for the entire month.  My very special friend threw a dinner that was put together for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  Suzanne Goin (my culinary idol), Nancy Silverton, April Bloomfield, Giada De Laurentis, Sherry Yard and, drumroll please, Alice Waters all came to her home and prepared our dinner, each serving and presenting a course.  The food was, duh, delicious (Alice's sunchoke and celery root soup with black truffles was the star), the room gorgeous (thanks to Amy's special touches) and the company of the guests was truly delightful.  What I loved the most was the spirit of the evening.  We all wandered back and forth from the table to the kitchen to see the chefs' preparations and to watch them all assisting one another with their dishes.  Really a dream come true.  What does one bring as a hostess gift for such a once in a lifetime experience?  Well I could have driven myself crazy trying to come up with the most perfect of all perfect gifts; instead, I brought my go-to gift: breakfast for the hostess.  Granted, this was a slightly tricked up version with Amy packaging the cinnamon maple syrup and granola for me and using her pretty jars for the fig jam and yogurt.  Alongside the basket of goodies, I brought a sausage & spinach frittata with oven roasted tomatoes (Christmas colors).  Since this party was over the top, so was the basket.  But I also like bringing a dozen fresh eggs, great bacon and a loaf of bread for toast.  If you want to make one thing, I suggest granola and then put yogurt and honey in jars to accompany it (or do as Amelia did and buy addictive granola from The Granola Project).  Depending on your hostess, bloody mary's or bubbly might be on the menu.  Choose your own adventure.  Thank you Judith for such a magical evening.  One that I will never forget.  xx  

The Menu


freshly squeezed orange juice

good coffee


sausage & spinach frittata

homemade yogurt

gingered granola with cranberries

cinnamon maple syrup

fresh fruit

apple spice muffins

fig jam


ginger cookies

chocolate espresso cookies

December 13, 2012

Gingerbread House Class: aka Heaven

 After last year's Swedish Christmas gingerbread house fiasco (I lost a week of my life to the cause), I thought I decided to swear off gingerbread houses for good.  But when Jenni Kayne asked me to help her put together a gingerbread making class for her kids and their friends, how could I say no?  I'M OBSESSED WITH GINGERBREAD HOUSES!!!  This year I baked my own gingerbread from scratch and assembled them with homemade frosting (after last year's glue fiasco).  And because the houses were for Jenni's Hanukkah dinner, the color palette was silver, white & blue.  For the month leading up to the class, I bought any candy in sight that fit the bill.  What struck me most about the experience, from baking to shopping to setting up, was watching the kids decorate their houses.  Some kids went crazy with frosting and quick mosaics, while others were far more methodical in their processes, with a clear plan.  All of the kids started decorating on the roof, while one girl focused on well designed pathways on the ground.  Just watching their creativity and enthusiasm felt really magical--the true feeling of the holiday season.  So thank you Jenni for bringing me out of my gingerbread house retirement.  While this isn't an activity I grew up with, I'm now committed to maintaining it as the best new holiday tradition in my life.  For my gingerbread house recipe, how-to tips and the dinner I made for the parents and kids after class, please check out Jenni's amazing blog Rip Plus Tan.  Happy Hanukkah!
The Menu


rice milk punch


eggplant & butternut squash spreads on crostini

to share

vegetarian lasagna

white beans with rosemary

roast broccoli & cauliflower with lemon

winter greens with artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers


(duh) gingerbread houses

(and chocolate chip cookies)