February 25, 2013

"Crabbies & Homemades": An Oscar Viewing Party

For my favorite menu of the year, there is a bit of a process.  First, there are the nominations and then the viewing of all of the films (thank you screeners!!).  The best part is the brainstorming: a course for each Best Picture nominee.  If nothing else, this party is pure bragging rights, a show-off moment for imaginative food.  However, this year, I cannot take all of the credit.  In fact, the two most creative courses were inspired by friends' suggestions.  So thank you Van for suggesting something 'aged' for Amour (French cheeses, of course).  And Ahna inspired my very favorite: 'north vs south' for Lincoln; Greg made it a fair battle by picking 'clam chowder vs shrimp gumbo'.  Amy's film poster food cards brought each course together and make the night all the more festive.  Even though she impresses me with the decor every year, this got my vote for best (anemones are a new favorite).  Dessert is usually the highlight of this party: a little kid dessert bar for Toy Story 3 and last year's black and white extravaganza for The Artist set the bar pretty high.  Lucky for me, Life of Pi was a sweet inspiration and Djagno Unchained screamed for a coconut white cake.  
The Menu

"crabbies & homemades"

crab, tarragon & creme fraiche crostini 
caceo e pepe homemade pasta twists

"aged french cheese platter"

"loaf of french bread"

"hushpuppies & wild boar salami"

"north vs south"

clam chowder vs gumbo

"iranian mezze platter"

hummus, cucumber yogurt, eggplant caviar, pita, fattoush, stuffed grape leaves, persian rice

"pakistani spiced 'catch of the day' "

cedar planked halibut with cumin, coriander & preserved lemon

"coconut white cake"

"assorted pies"

lemon shaker pie, peanut butter pie, banana cream pie & chocolate ganache tart

February 15, 2013

I Heart Valentine's Day

For what other occasion could I make such a girly Valentine's Day meal, than for a ladies luncheon?  It was fun to flip through all of Martha Stewart's books and February issues of Living for inspiration, and then to do my own takes on pink and heart shaped food.  The salad of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, heart shaped beets & croutons with a pink peppercorn champagne vinaigrette was especially fun to prepare (maybe tied with the crudites!).  And, of course, the whole meal was even better served at Amy's pretty table, a white take on Valentine's Day with cut out hearts and classic roses.  Hope that everyone had a sweet Valentine's day; if Instagram is any indication, it looked like a good one! xoxo
The Menu


pink champagne


pink & red crudités: radishes, currants, goji berries, red peppers, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, dried cherries, red delicious apples, red carrots & radicchio 

savory coeur a la creme with cucumber hearts

pink radish tea sandwiches with french butter

to start

salad of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, heart beets, heart croutons and baby kale with a pink peppercorn champagne vinaigrette


lobster risotto with tarragon & fennel


strawberry shortcake

February 12, 2013

Breakfast in Bed. For Dinner.

This year I partnered up with The Chalkboard to create a new way to celebrate Valentine's Day: breakfast in bed, for dinner.  While Valentine's Day is all about the sexy lingerie, it's also a fun excuse to wear pj's to dinner and stay cozy under the sheets.  Greg is normally the breakfast maker in our house, so I needed a new menu item to impress him.  Crepes were a fun solution and really couldn't be simpler (I learned how to make them in my seventh grade home-ec class!).  In order to avoid any up and down between the bedroom and kitchen, I served an assortment of chocolates for dessert.  After all, when else are you going to treat yourself to such a pretty treat?  Amy made me a very sweet menu that also served as my valentine to Greg (check our her pretty valentines at The Chalkboard).  You can also get my how-to's and recipes for ham & gruyere crepes and the frisee, bacon & egg salad at The Chalkboard.  Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day filled with love, hearts and romance!

 The Menu


champagne cocktails


ham & gruyere crepes

frisee salad with bacon lardons & egg


assorted ococoa chocolates

photos by Yayo Ahumada 

champagne cocktail recipe

place a sugar cube in champagne flute.  
splash the cube with a few dashes of bitters.  let soak a moment.
add a lemon twist.
top with bubbly.

February 3, 2013

Winter Dinner. Food that was fun to serve.

For this family-style feast, I started with a food memory: a perfect bite.  My mom and I had dinner at Prune in NYC ten plus years ago and ordered an appetizer recommended by our waitress.  A plate with boquerones (aka white anchovies), shaved celery, marcona almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.  I had never had a marcona almond, nor a cured anchovy, and the combination blew my mind.  The plate had texture, acid, surprise and I've never forgotten it.  So it was exciting to put the elements together, with a little fennel, atop a grilled piece of bread.  Once I figured out the bruschetta, the rest of the menu fell into place.  Ribs in the winter felt fun and chocolate pots de creme are always a perfect finish.
The Menu


serrano margaritas


gherkins & curry pickled carrots

radish & butter tea sandwiches

duck prosciutto, finocchiona & soppressata

to savor & amuse 

pacific gold oysters with champagne mignonette 

to start

little gems with garlicky lemon vinaigrette

fennel, celery, boquerones & marcona almond bruschetta

fresh ricotta, pickled mushroom & shallot bruschetta

to share

baby back ribs with balsamic espresso bbq sauce

andouille sausage

creamy rosemary polenta

brussel sprouts with kimchi sausage

wilted kale with chili & citrus


dark chocolate pots de creme