Thursday, December 27, 2012

link-o-rama, new year's eve edition

Happy (almost) New Year!

Dan and I will be ringing in 2013 at home, dreaming of balmy New Year's Eves past spent with friends in Florida. There's nothing like cocktails and sparklers on the back patio in December. But then again, there's something nice about bundling up and heading out into the cold for dinner at a cozy restaurant that's bursting with happy, red-cheeked diners. Or eating a big cheese plate in your toasty apartment as you watch all those shivering Times Square fools on TV.

If you're staying in, I found lots of recipe inspiration for you. Starting with these lovely little chocolate croissants. It's an absolute no-brainer recipe (just three ingredients!), and absolutely delicious. I made some for a party recently and debated making a double batch to store in the freezer (AKA, eat all by myself later). Shoulda, but didn'ta.

The recipe, by Nigella Lawson, is here, but one extra key thing to add is a little sprinkling of flaky salt on top of the croissants as soon as they emerge from the oven, all puffed and golden. See, they are so good I'm reverting to Nigella-speak. Make them for New Year's Eve and eat them warm with some sparkling wine. You'll go to bed very happy.

More links after the jump!

Monday, December 17, 2012

surviving the party-party

Not too long ago I was longing for a party-party -- a gathering more party than dinner party, where people outnumber chairs. And last weekend, I got my wish. Friends filed into our apartment after work, bearing wine and cheese and potted plants and suddenly the house was full. Mabel had so many laps to choose from, she didn't know what to do with herself.

Cooking for a real party-party can be a tricky thing. My friend Casey, who is cooking for freaking 75 people(!!) this New Year's Eve, told me that she prepares a variety of food in shifts because people come and go throughout the night. Instead of making a Costco-sized vat of onion dip, she makes largeish portions of several different recipes and serves everything in stages. Cold appetizers might come first, followed by some hot mains, and then maybe some desserts. What you eat depends on when you arrive. If I was invited, I would arrive before dawn so I wouldn't miss anything.

Unlike Casey, I only hosted 10 people, so I didn't need to plan with military precision. But I did a few things that you might find helpful the next time you find yourself with a crowd to feed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

the dinner party is dead. long live the dinner party.

I wanted to dismiss it as just another bogus New York Times trend story, but it got me thinking. How often do I go to dinner parties, other than my own? Forget the term “dinner party,” how often do I go to someone else’s house for a meal, any meal?

Now, the article describes a world I have never, and will never inhabit. It’s dinner party as theater, where every component of an evening is orchestrated down to the serving utensils. It’s society ladies in caftans, seating arrangements and salad forks. It’s about as far away from the way most people eat and entertain as the moon. If this style of entertaining goes the way of the finger bowl, so be it, in my opinion. But does that mean the intimacy of having someone over to your home, feeding them and sharing real face-to-face communication is slowly dying?

Friday, November 16, 2012

link-o-rama, and being thankful

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next WEEK? I have been living in a deep, dark hole called Thanksgiving at work, and even I can't believe the actual holiday is a few days away. Thank God I'm not cooking this year. Well, maybe a pie. Or two. And some appetizers. And cranberry sauce.

If you, like me, are still cobbling together this year's menu, I've got some helpful links for you to check out.

My girl Casey over at Good. Food. Stories. is my personal Thanksgiving guru. She knows exactly how to time your turkey and side dishes and gravy and all that business so that everything hits the table at just the right time. Here's her Thanksgiving timeline and some pro tips.

Appetizers that don't fill people up but still keep them out of the kitchen and out of your hair are key. Here are some winners from iVillage. (The first slide deserves some sort of special award for appetizer brilliance.)

Also from iVillage, 50 side dishes for the still-undecided.  

Food + Wine has potluck-friendly dishes to bring if you're not hosting this year.

And some pretty wonderful-looking cockails.

If you can't splurge on Thanksgiving, you have no reason to continue eating and therefore living, and these "splurge-worthy" desserts from Southern Living certainly fill that bill. Sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue!

If you don't want to go the pumpkin dessert route this Thanksgiving, try one of these tasty-looking "alt-pumpkin" desserts from Bon Appetit. I think alt-pumpkin should be the next big music genre.

This year, more than ever, I am feeling grateful for having a home, a job, friends and family I love. I'm also thankful to have this little corner of the Internet and that people like you read it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

what's for dinner, jenny park?

It's a cliche, I know, but it was love at first sight when I first visited the blog Spoon Fork Bacon. The gorgeous photos! The instantly appealing recipes! The crazy-awesome animated GIFs! It's no surprise that Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park, the women behind the site, landed a cookbook deal. And it's no surprise that Tiny Food Party is as wonderful as their site. Today, Jenny, the food stylist half of the team, answers the usual Dinner Party questions about how she entertains at home. (And if you still haven't visited their site yet, go now!)

1. Name, occupation, and city
Jenny Park, food stylist/recipe developer, and co-author of Tiny Food Party: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals, Los Angeles

2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?

The last time I threw a dinner party was about a month ago...taco bar night and it was with a small group of my LA friends.

Monday, October 22, 2012

a party-party

In our house, five is the magic number for dinner parties. Part of this is out of necessity -- we can only squeeze five people around our dining table. It also makes menu planning easy. Most recipes feed six to eight people, so you're always covered food-wise. But I also think five is a good number for conversations. It's intimate but still lively enough that it feels like a party. You never go to bed feeling like you didn't get a chance to talk to everyone and missed out on good gossip.

But like many people who love to entertain at home, I've held onto a fantasy of hosting a really big party. Not five people, more like 25. I would swan around, refilling drinks and setting out tray after tray of delightful finger foods, dropping into conversations here and there. Now, this is unrealistic for many reasons, mostly because our circle of friends has been whittled down over the years thanks to people moving out of New York (losers!). Also, I don't own 25 forks. And don't really like making an entire menu of finger foods.

So when I decided to throw a housewarming party for our new apartment, I struck a compromise with myself and invited eight people for a party of 10, counting Dan and myself. Ten seemed do-able. I would make a ton of food and it would be an actual party. Not a dinner party, a party-party.

In the end, it ended up being five adults and one toddler. And did I make less food? Absolutely not.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

a note fromm mabel

Mabel heer.

Woh. Anunthr day, anuthr partee.

Evr sence we muved into the noo hous ther hav ben so manee partees. As the peeple lik to sey, Mabel is al parteed out.

It taks alot to be a good hostee. Wen I heer the buzz sownd thet meens peepl are heer I run to the dor to tel them with lowd barks to say Im heere, up Here. Becus maybee they dont kno wher to go.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

fall favorites

Even though I haven't been blogging that much, I have been cooking a ton. If summer is about doing as little as possible to fresh ingredients, fall is about baking, and braising, and struggling to cut butternut squash. (Pro tip for the lazy: buy it pre-cut.)

Whether or not it feels like fall where you are, you can fake that wonderful chill-in-the-air feeling with food. Here's a roundup of some really good fall recipes I've been making lately:

Dan's parents were in town for a long weekend, so I hosted dinner one night. Being that they were up from Florida, I wanted to make a meal that really felt like October in New York. Which is exactly what this pumpkin pilaf tastes like. I'm sure you're skeptical already. A pilaf, with pumpkin in it? It is wonderful, and it can be made all in one pot. Let me break it down for you: tender rice, savory onions, Indian-inspired spices (tumeric, cumin, cinnamon), sweet chunks of squash, plump raisins and grassy parsley. I substituted butternut squash for the pumpkin and also added a handful of almonds. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

grilled cheese, please

I’m not a huge grilled cheese person. I like the sensory pleasure of crunching into dry, buttery toast and melty cheese, but it's not something I crave. I'd rather eat cheese on a pizza, or just straight up with some cured meat.

However, as a kid, it was often my standard order in restaurants, along with chicken fingers and Shirley Temples. Ah, to be a budding lush, oblivious to calories. I remember the thick, oily toast and oozy American cheese at Denny’s in particular. It was cut into two triangles and served with a pile of wavy-cut fries the same color as the toast. Maybe that’s why I’m not such a fan now.

But then fall rolls around, and I start thinking soups, and autumnal salads, and what goes better with those two things? You got it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

good things

So this happened last week.

Can you see the look of intense concentration on my face? I am whisking a pot of béchamel, trying to make sure I am whisking at approximately the same speed as Martha, praying she will not scold me in a room full of people, like she does to Marcus Samuelsson in that Macy’s commercial. I love that commercial, and I love Martha. But I really didn’t want a scolding.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the first supper

Readers, we made it. Barely.

We arrived at our new apartment while it was still under construction. Surprise! A day and a half later -- and two gas leaks in the kitchen (surprise!) -- we started getting settled in. I forgot how utterly exhausting it is to move. Everyone knows moving's not fun, not something you want to do every year, or even every seven years, but the physicality of it! The lifting and bending and reaching and scrubbing and shoving a too-big clothing rack down three flights of stairs. Whew!

Monday, August 20, 2012

goodbye, kitchen

Goodbye, kitchen.

Goodbye, countertops. You measure a little less than two feet across but were just wide enough. (Okay, not quite.)

Goodbye, pitifully small Modern Chef gas oven that produced slanted cakes, countless meals and on one occasion, stopped working right before a dinner party. Modern Chef, I wish I knew how old you were. At what point in time were you considered modern? How many meals have you cooked in your lifetime? You seem as permanent as our apartment’s crown molding and wood floors; an old fixture that should never be changed. Sorry, new tenants.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

summer drinking

In the summertime, all around New York City, you'll see happy people drinking on sidewalk cafes, front stoops and in restaurants that have flung open their doors and windows. Just seeing a cold glass of rosé in someone's hands makes my mouth water. It's so Pavlovian, it's downright scary.

Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better, but it's also the social aspect of summer drinking that's so appealing. The idea of shrugging off your day in the early evening or late afternoon, meeting a friend or two somewhere and wrapping your hot palms around a glass of something cold and refreshing. Now, that thing could be a soda, but more likely I am fantasizing about a glass of white or a tall, Belgian-style beer.

With that in mind, here's some links from around the web to make summer drinking more interesting and enjoyable.

Bon Appetit's 12 rules to drink (wine) by this summer. Some highlights: make white sangria with Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Gruner Veltliner (my favorite white), drink vermouth on ice and chill that Beaujolais.

Also, BA editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport drinks his beer on ice. Thoughts?

Quite possibly the girliest drink ever, this strawberry rosé spritzer from Food52 has my name written all over it.

How pretty are these frozen fruit skewers? Now imagine them in a glass of champagne. 

Food + Wine rounds up 25 affordable wines for summer grilling.

And for your drinking and viewing pleasure, I have compiled 50 summer drink recipes (both hard and soft) over at iVillage.

Photo from the bar at Husk in Charleston, where we drank very well, on a recent vacation.

Monday, July 2, 2012

deviled chicken drumsticks

Some foods are just made for summer. Like these deviled chicken drumsticks. They deserve a spot at your next picnic, barbecue or alfresco fire escape dinner, right next to the giant pitcher of mojitos.

The chicken is perfect fresh out of the oven, when the savory-spicy breadcrumb coating is hot and extra crispy. But it's also a winner eaten at room temperature or even the next day, if you're lucky enough to have leftovers.

Yes, call me a hypocrite. One day I'm telling you to walk away from your stove, the next I am telling you to make these awesome drumsticks. But they only need 30 minutes in the oven, so crank up that AC and get it done. Or at least wait until the temperature isn't in the 90s.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the no-cook dinner party

Now is the time of year when our oven goes into hibernation. As much as I love homemade pizza for dinner, I don’t like cranking the entire apartment up to 500 degrees.

And nothing’s worse than going to someone’s house for a dinner party and finding a sweaty, harried cook rushing around a hot kitchen. Don’t be that person. Keep a cold drink close by, wear something breezy that’s made of cotton and use your stove as little as possible. (No roasted chicken unless you have an industrial strength air-conditioner.)

But what should I serve that doesn't require cooking, you ask? I’ve rounded up some heat-free recipes that are more assembled than cooked. All you have to do is mix and match these recipes to put together your own no-cook dinner party menu. These dishes are all on the lighter side, but isn’t that what you want when it’s sweltering outside?

Tuna-stuffed peppadew peppers
Mango with spicy, salty sugar
Pineapple salsa
Spiced yogurt dip

Butter lettuce with oranges, fennel, and olives
Kitchen sink salad
Simple tomato salad
Melon with cucumber, feta and basil

Main dishes
Martha’s chicken salad with herbs (with store-bought rotisserie chicken)
Chicken tacos (with store-bought rotisserie chicken)
Shrimp rolls (use pre-cooked shrimp)
Pan bagnat

Mini frozen key lime pies
Framboise ice cream floats
A nice cheese plate
Fresh fruit, cookies and a broken-up chocolate bar
Ice cream!

Monday, June 11, 2012

the rules of salad

As soon as the weather turns warm, my mind turns to salads. (And cute sandals.)

You might not think a salad is special or substantial enough for a dinner party, but I want to change your mind about that. Look at this salad, it served four people generously and isn't it pretty? It made a beautiful centerpiece. Which was handy because I was lazy and didn't buy flowers at the bodega.

A big salad is an excellent thing to serve company, if you keep a few things in mind. After the jump: Lisa's Dinner Party Salad Recommendations. (Aren't you curious?)

Monday, June 4, 2012

chocolate puddle cookies

We all have our strengths in the kitchen, and mine does not involve sugar, flour and butter. Sure, I can make a good batch of brownies and sweet, sturdy quick breads. And I have been known to brag about my Key lime pie (regular and frozen), which is awesome, but I think it's also my birthright as a Floridian. Beyond that, my desserts often fall into the "ugly but tasty" category. And Dan and I eat them anyway.

We had some friends over for lunch about a month ago (more on that later) and I wanted to make something homemade for dessert. In this case, the issue was not my lack of baking skillz, it was that one of the guests was gluten-intolerant. So I decided to pull out my trusty flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, which never, ever fails me. (And is only five ingredients!) Then I decided to make a second cookie in case one of our friends didn't like peanut butter. And because I can't leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

on laura

I don’t have a sister, but if I did, I would choose my friend Laura. I love everything about Laura, her enthusiasm, her smarts, her ability to make people feel at ease, her sense of humor and her lighthearted nature. If we were sisters, I’d get to see her over the holidays, and on family trips and we’d call each other on the regular. Although there would also be the typical in-fighting and tension and rivalries that sisters share, so maybe we wouldn’t even like each other as much.

Laura lives outside of St. Louis and I flew there recently for a girls’ weekend. The timing happened to be almost ten years since we met as interns for a magazine in Birmingham, Alabama. We spent those golden months taking weekend trips, eating Southern food, meeting guys, drinking too much and wondering what we were going to do with our lives post-internship. I had a semester of college left, but Laura had already graduated and quickly scored a job as a business reporter in Arkansas. Which seemed as far away from Florida, where I was living, as the moon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

a note fromm mabel

Mabel heere.

A teep frum me too yu. Wen yur mammee and daddee hav peeple ovr and yu dont wont to hav a partee (be-cus they dont ask yu) fynd a gud plas to hyde lik thee londree bas-kut. No won wil no! And thee kloths smel gud, a boneus.


ps: Mammee ses I hav an arkive now, whutevr that is.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

rhubarb upside-down cake

Isn't it pretty? Let me tell you, though, this cake is a shape shifter.

I was expecting the traditional upside-down cake, which usually tastes like a basic yellow (or vanilla) cake with caramelized fruit. Somehow, probably because of some ingredient tinkering on my part, it was dense and moist, like a rhubarb upside-down cheesecake. Which is nothing to complain about!

The rhubarb, which had turned caramel sweet from a mix of brown sugar and butter, was tender but still held its shape. After our spring feast, we ate the cake with plain whipped cream and everyone sang the praises of its weird deliciousness.

The next day, it changed again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

springing forward

In spite of tormenting tree pollen, in spite of the warm-cold-freezing-warm-cold weather, in spite of April showers, I love spring. I can't help it. The leaves on the trees outside of our apartment came back this week and I can't stop looking at the bright tangle of yellow-green filling our front windows. When Dan and I walk Mabel around the neighborhood, I routinely force him to stop and admire a particular patch of tulips that are so deep purple they almost look black. (He humors me.) And at the vegetable market near my office, I squealed over baby artichokes and tiny little carrots as if they were a bin full of puppies. I bought them and a dinner party menu started to take shape.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

weeknight dinner: kale-ricotta pasta

Last week, I hiked up the front steps of my friend Adrienne's house and rang the doorbell. Somehow I was right on time (I always seem to be too on time), in spite of a late train and lugging a ton of stuff. My arms were loaded down with my purse, a tote bag full of cookbooks -- if you're a friend, you're getting cookbooks from me whether you want them or not -- and another bag with wine, a lush bunch of lilacs and various post-work items like a pair of heels and an empty Tupperware container. Living in New York makes you want to grow a third arm.

Although you'd think I was fully prepared for dinner at a friend's house or some sort of cookbook-reading, wine-drinking binge, I did not have my trusty camera on me. So I was not able to take a photo of the lovely dinner she made for us while also managing to keep an eye on the baby, walk two dogs around the block, set out some appetizers and pour us glasses of wine. I pitched in by petting one of the dogs and feeding her little daughter a dinner of applesauce, airplane-style, two things that I was delighted to do after a long day of work.

The photo above was taken at home, where I recreated the dish with my trusty assistant.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

what's cooking

Sorry, folks. I have not yet fully come out of dinner party hibernation. I blame my horrible spring allergies. The flowering trees are so pretty but being hit over the head with pollen does not inspire socializing. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been at my stove, sniffling, cooking, and wondering whether it is smart to mix wine and Allegra. Living dangerously!

In the meantime, here are a few recipes that have worked their way into our weeknight rotation:

My friend Casey Barber develops fantastic recipes for me at iVillage, including these terrific white bean and avocado enchiladas. A few tweaks: I replace the white beans with pintos, and swap out the parsley for cilantro. I also add a nice dose of lime juice to the sauce to perk it up. But even if you don’t make those substitutions, the recipe is a tasty and filling (vegetarian!) main dish.

Monday, March 26, 2012

one-pan wonder

I haven't posted much lately because, frankly, there haven't been very many dinner parties to write about. We've been holed up on the couch with the dog, ordering in take out, having friends over for a drink before having dinner out somewhere. And having our usual weeknight eating-in-front-of-the-TV suppers. But warmer weather is here, which always renews my enthusiasm for being social. I'm not sure why -- shrugging off the hibernation mentality that comes with winter, I guess.

I did make something recently that would be perfect for a dinner party. It's chicken but it's not boring, there is minimal clean-up, and it's basically a one dish -- or pan -- meal. It's from a Bon Appetit story on "one-sheet" dinners and it's smart in a "Why didn't I think of that?" kind of way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

past and present

Dan and I were in Florida a few weekends ago visiting family. Whenever we go home there is a family dinner of some kind. Lucky for us, our parents live in the same city -- and even luckier, they get along -- so everyone gets together for a meal at one family's house or the other. This time, my grandparents were in town visiting, so it was a large gathering: parents, grandparents, great uncles and cousins.

These dinners aren't about the food, although the food is always good. They are about sitting around on the patio or porch, talking before dinner. They are about playing dice games around a long table. They are about laughing, and catching up, and being annoyed at one another, and taking lots of photos. Just like any other family.

A few hours before dinner, my parents were setting the table for 14, grabbing chairs from every room in the house. We were short a few chairs, as usual. So they called my grandparents, who were staying at my great uncles' house to ask them to bring chairs and a bag of ice. "What? Isn't dinner tomorrow night?" was the response.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

giveaway! win a copy of the 'joy the baker cookbook'

Hi all! Today I'm giving away a copy of the brand-new, just-released-today Joy the Baker Cookbook! It's full of delicious-looking photos and even more delicious-looking recipes -- it definitely deserves a place on your bookshelf. Unless you hate butter and sugar. And if that's the case, we can't be friends.

To enter, please leave a comment here. I'll pick a winner by 5 P.M. E.S.T. Good luck!

UPDATE: Gab, you are the winner! Please email me your address. Thanks for playing!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

what's for dinner, joy the baker?

Oh, Joy the Baker, how I admire you. You have such a breezy, charming blog, you've got a talent for making anything made with butter and sugar (and other things as well), and you have this great looking, sunshine-filled life in California. At least that's how it seems to this reader, anyway.

If you haven't discovered Joy's blog yet, do yourself a favor and click on over there. And once you've become hooked, like me, you'll probably want to pick up her brand new cookbook, which out this week. (Stay tuned for a giveaway!) Here, she shares all of her dinner party secrets.

1. Name, occupation, and city
Joy Wilson a.k.a. Joy the Baker. Baker, author, butter appreciator. Venice, California

2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
I threw a dinner party to celebrate Valentine's Day. It's was super simple: oysters and champagne. Every couple got an oyster shucking glove, an oyster knife, and a lesson in shucking. Shuck, eat, sip, retreat.

3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
I'm such a sucker for a solid brunch menu. My favorite brunch involves homemade Bloody Marys and fresh waffles with a sweet and savory waffle topping bar. People just about lose their minds for this brunch.

4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
I love a well-crafted cocktail. Right now I love gin with elderflower soda and a few slices of cucumber.

5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
I'm so immersed in food preparation that music is sometimes the very last thing that crosses my mind. My friends know this and usually come with their iPods to play. Yeah...I'm that bad when it comes to music. Does crackling cooking bacon count as a soundtrack?

6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
Easy! Grab a baguette, greek yogurt, cucumber, olives, and lox. You can spice and season the yogurt with whatever you have on hand: ground cumin, smoky paprika, fresh parsley, lemon juice and zest, or a bit of minced garlic. On a big board, arrange sliced bread, sliced cucumber, olives, yogurt spread and lox. Open a nice bottle of white wine and have people arrange little salmon bites for themselves. Throw together a quick salad for a more substantial dinner situation...but above all, keep it simple!

7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I usually cook everything. Maybe I'm a bit of a control freak in the kitchen... maybe.

8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
I make most everything from scratch, or buy it from places that make it from scratch. Good, quality, real food is super important to me.

9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
Dark chocolate chunks. Coarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts. Soft, sweet whipped cream. Simple and comforting flavors.

10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
Easy... Julia Child.

[Photo credit: Michael Friedman]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a note fromm mabel

Mabel heere.

Woh, look at me. I am soo sleepee. Mommee tuk thes peechtur after thes peeple-dog cam to my haus. They colled it a baybee. Wot is this? I thot. It loked like a leetle peeple but crowled on the flor and stol my toys lik a dog. And it beet Mommees fingur with its shorp teth. Wot was this theng theenking? Onlee I can do thees to Mommee!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

link-o-rama, valentine's day edition

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day, but I love any excuse to make something sweet. So if you're looking for last-minute treats to make for your valentine, or friends, or co-workers, here are some fun ideas.

Food + Wine
's most beautiful desserts
[via F+W]

Two-ingredient chocolate mousse [via Food52]

15 easy dessert recipes for Valentine's Day [via iVillage Food]

The Kitchn's best chocolate recipes [via The Kitchn]

Love potion cocktail [via Eat Make Read]

Salted caramel pretzel pie(!) [via Good. Food. Stories.]

Gorgeous chocolate desserts from Bon Appetit [via BA]

In the box (above):
Candied orange peel
Candied ginger-topped bourbon balls
Mint chocolate truffles
Chocolate blocks

And from the Dinner Party archives:
Chocolate-hazelnut semifreddo
Chocolate peanut butter squares
World Peace Cookies
Oatmeal coconut raspberry bars
Best-ever brownies

Monday, February 6, 2012

sleeper hits

Another weekend, another brunch. Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Brunch Party?

Thankfully, this brunch was more successful, food-wise, than the last one. There was also a bottle of prosecco involved, which makes everything taste better.
Our friend Julie came over to meet Mabel (and see us, of course) so I made a sausage and chard frittata, a pretty winter citrus salad with pomegranate seeds and chive biscuits. Which were not as puffy as I'd like. They were more like chive discs. Tasty, though.

Monday, January 30, 2012

bad news brunch

Cute baby strikes again!

Cute baby (Aya, to the rest of the world) and her parents came over for brunch last Sunday and I had a very nice menu all planned out. And then they arrived and Mabel went a little nuts and I was so bewitched by Aya’s cuteness that I overcooked the fancy baked eggs.

I bought special ramekins to cook those damn eggs, and they ended up being practically hard boiled. D’oh!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

crostini with pears, goat cheese, thyme and honey

Is really, really good. You should make it now. And don't skimp on the black pepper. That is all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

the vegetarian question

Vegetarian dinner guests are often met with a mixture of disdain and contempt. Many chefs outright loathe people who don't eat meat. Vegans? Forget about it.

All this hatred is so misguided. Vegetarians, in my experience, are downright apologetic about their lifestyle choice. "Oh, don't go out of your way," they'll say. "I'll eat around the meat!" I found myself saying this when I was temporarily gluten-free. (Did I mean it? No.) Eating around things does not make for a fun meal, no matter how much your guests smile and swear that they don't mind.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

what's for dinner, sarah schiear?

People, I found someone who likes to throw dinner parties as much as me. Or possibly more! Sarah Schiear, food editor and author of food blog 20something cupcakes, is a dinner party machine. Food Network, give this woman her own show! Whether she's hosting a cocktail party, a boozy brunch or a fancy dinner for two, she's an expert at crafting delicious menus (and cocktails, lots of cocktails). I'll let her explain in her own words...

1. Name, occupation, and city
Sarah Schiear. By day, editor at Mr. Food. By night, author of 20something cupcakes. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
The last dinner party I threw was in early November; it was something of late brunch that went into the night. We had a couple of friends over because I had just discovered a fabulous new fresh seafood market, and I had a burning desire to make ceviche. This is how menus are usually born for me — I get an idea in my head, and the rest follows. I made a glorious ceviche by Rick Bayless, from whom I also discovered the most wonderful idea for a champagne margarita. I wanted to make huevos rancheros, as I knew a few guests to absolutely adore them, but I also knew I didn't want to be standing over the stove frying eggs up to order. My solution? A huevos rancheros bake in the oven. I added the eggs at the end and cooked them just enough to achieve those delightfully runny yolks, and topped it all off with a quick avocado salsa. It was delicious.

Monday, January 9, 2012

dinner party inspiration for 2012

I put up our new calendar in the kitchen last week. Nothing makes you feel more aware of the possibility and uncertainty of a new year as a blank calendar. Leafing through our 2011 calendar, I noticed all of the dinner dates and parties written on so many little white squares. What will this year bring? What friendships will be forged, which farflung friends will pay us a visit, how many precious meals will we share with our family? And what will we eat?

I don't know about you, but I need some fresh inspiration for this year. Here are some places I go to be inspired and, well, steal ideas.


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