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Posts Tagged ‘dinner party’

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

In Food on October 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

A couple of weeks ago we had a dinner party that included a couple of serious Barolo fans and so we worked backwards from there. There was the wine, and glasses big enough to hold a LOT of it.

The main course was Bistecca Fiorentina, which we served with balsamic marinated radicchio, basil and fresh ricotta, and a warm wild mushroom salad with toasted hazelnuts. To start, my friend Laurie brought over a couple of bottles of Casa Coste Piane Valdobbiadene Prosecco. It is totally gorgeous—a light, dry bubbly with pear and white peach flavors.

 

But back to the food. We needed some nibbles for the bubbly, and I wanted to riff on the baby peppers stuffed with tuna that are served at Pizzeria Mozza. However I did not want to poach ahi in olive oil and make my own aioli. So…here is my highly modified version (think canned tuna and good old Best Mayo, or Hellmann’s depending on your zip code). My advice is to make more than you will need for the peppers so that you have enough left over to spread generously on onion bagels the next day.

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

Adapted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño

For the peppers:

  • 48 baby peppers (preferably assorted colors), stems attached
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the tuna stuffing:

  • 2 250-gram tins of Ortiz El Velero Bonito Tuna, drained
  • 3/4 cup Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 heaping tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For assembling the peppers:

  • Finishing-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Maldon sea salt or another flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the Garlic Mayonnaise:

  • 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

To make Garlic Mayonnaise, combine champagne vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use (can be made a couple days in advance).

To prepare the peppers, adjust the oven racks so one is in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, rub them all over with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread them out in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 30 minutes, turning them occasionally, until their skins are wrinkled and slightly charred in places. Remove the peppers from the oven, leaving the oven on at the same temperature, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

 

Combine the Garlic Mayonnaise, parsley, capers, mustard, anchovy paste, vinegar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add tuna. Use a wire whisk as you would a potato masher to break up any large chunks but you do want the tuna to have texture. Fold the tuna and other ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.

To assemble, slice each pepper almost in half lengthwise, leaving them attached on one side. Carefully scrape out and discard the seeds, and spoon a scant tablespoon of stuffing into each pepper. Arrange the peppers on a platter. Drizzle with finishing-quality olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.

 

Dinner Party in Less Than Two Hours

In Food on February 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Friday afternoon I had a last-minute work meeting that ended sometime in the 4 o’clock hour, putting me back at home closer to 5 pm. Guests would be arriving—with illegal Chinese ham—at 7:30 pm. Two of these guests would be food bloggers, which kind of freaked me out. Pressure was on. And one of these guests would be 33 weeks pregnant so I didn’t want to take my chances with shellfish. And so, I did what any pork lover in her right mind would do. I served more pork. This Herb-Roasted Pork Loin could not be easier and presentation is sooo pretty. Simply mix up a little dijon, chopped shallots and minced garlic and smooth over the roast. Set roast on a bed of herbs, and cover with some more and let it do its thing for a couple hours while you go into high gear on the sides.
This roast also means that you’ll be able to hang out with your guests rather than fussing last minute—it comes out of the oven picture perfect and so damn good.
So while the roast was roasting, I made up a batch of Suzanne Goin’s salsa verde with French feta that takes about two seconds in a mini Cuisinart (a bunch of Italian parsley, fresh marjoram, basil, anchovy, olive oil, lemon juice—blend it up and then add chopped capers and crumbled French feta). I took another page out of Goin’s book for her awesome salad of blood oranges, dates, parmesan, and almonds that she served at the SAG Awards last weekend. And because this evening was designed around the contraband ham I broke out a little contraband of my own: I drizzled some smuggled South African olive oil over the salad. (The recipe calls for almond oil, but the olive oil was plenty dreamy.)
Also, I pulled out one of my favorite quickie sides—an onion and Gruyère tart—using a secret WEAPON: frozen puff pastry from the supermarket. I’ll post that recipe tomorrow, but here’s a pic of the tart. I usually use bacon or lardons, but given our heavy handedness with the pork already, I went with cured black olives instead.
And because I had the time and the ingredients, I made a super-fast batch of tuna rillettes from Dorie Greenspan’s new Around My French Table cookbook to nibble along with the contraband ham. Recipe to come, but wouldn’t these make a great hostess gift?
Finally, I’m cheating just a little when I say I had dinner ready in less than two hours. Because I didn’t make dessert. Fittingly, since I’d borrowed from Suzanne Goin at every turn on Friday night, my friend Robyn brought “Snickers Bars” from the Larder at Tavern in Brentwood and some vanilla ice cream. There are no words. Well, maybe just two: THANK YOU!

Party Hotline

In Drink, Food, Media on December 19, 2010 at 10:54 pm

There are some girls who make it all seem so effortless. You know, the ones who log a 60-hour work week, look like supermodels and can cook for a crowd without batting a lash? I worship at the 4-inch stilettos of these women. And so, as we head into the hullabaloo that are the Christmas and New Years holidays, I checked in with three haute hostesses for their top three secrets for holiday entertaining. And, as always, I learned a new trick. My fave might be from my friend Tanya, who builds in time for a quick escape before her guests arrive. And check out how my cooking club amigas Sally and and Lulu set the scene. Read on!

Tanya Steel, award-winning Editor-in-Chief, Epicurious.com and co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids

Because I end up cooking almost the entire meal for every holiday, there are a few ways I ensure I will not be a crazed, exhausted, stressed-out person the day of—well, only somewhat crazed, exhausted, and stressed:

I prep every single possible part of every recipe the day before.

I force, I mean, ask my children to set the table the night before.

I get up early the day of the meal, finish prepping and cooking, and then go for a walk, by myself, so I can get 45-minutes of me time.

Lulu Powers, celebrity caterer and author of Lulu Powers Food to Flowers

Cocktail Ornaments: Store cranberries in the freezer to adorn cocktails with. These frozen delights will give any gathering the holiday spirit.

Festive Details: Details as small as festive cocktail napkins can make a big impact, so be prepared for any occasion by keeping a few readily available.

Jack-of-all-Toppings: Always have a bag of Sargento Artisan Blends shredded Parmesan on hand. It is perfect on soup, pasta, salad, chicken and so much more.

Sally Horchow, Lifestyle and Trend Expert and co-author of The Art of Friendship

Be smelly! We often focus so much on festive looking & tasting decor, cocktails, and nibbles, but the olfactory sense can make the most impact. Brew some mulling spices on the stove, decorate with fragrant paperwhites, pick one candle scent to burn in bathrooms and corner tables, or bake some gingerbread cookies just before showtime.

Prep for your conversations. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by hosting and end up disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to truly connect with anyone. Looking at your guest list in advance and preparing a few things you’d like to learn and/or say can help you cut to the chase and be a more thoughtful host.

Mix stationary and passed hors d’oeuvres. It’s easy for you and fun for your guests to have a central place to gather round to eat, but giving yourself at least one hors d’oeuvre to pass gives you the perfect excuse to weave your way through the party and interact with every guest.

And what’s The Foodinista’s top trick? When in doubt, serve more wine—and then a little bit more.

Dinner in the Grand (Beachwood) Canyon

In Drink, Food on February 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

After a week up in St. Helena, we got back to LA on Saturday afternoon just in time to head to a southwestern flavored dinner party that night at newlyweds Lizzie and Matt’s. Any dinner party that starts with Crabbies (a family recipe involving microwaved Old English cheese, mayo and English muffins) and Iron Horse bubbly from Sonoma is something worth saddling up for. I’m livid that I forgot my camera so that I couldn’t surreptitiously snap photos of their gorgeous Beachwood Canyon apartment so I did what any polite guest would do and snagged Lizzie’s new Canon Powershot G10 a clicked a few of the food. But back it up, let’s start with the reclaimed Douglas Fir and Hemlock dining table from District Mill Works:

Beautifully set with these chic ash-colored porcelain dishes from Mud. (Not surprising for a hostess who writes a blog called DESIGNwatcher) And look at how gorgeous the plates are loaded with cheesy grits, crispy kale, green chili cornbread and chile-spiced ribs:

Here are a few pics that Lizzie shared, starting with Matt and the braise for the Braised Chile Spiced Short Ribs.

Matt was in charge of the wine and we went from a Sea Smoke Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills (be very, very jealous) to a velvety Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Cabernet Sauvignon (why we love California Cabernet), ending with apple pie and Sauternes for some and Oban for others. And near amputation for the hostess, but I’ll let Lizzie tell you about that. I’ll leave you, instead, with a few pretty close-ups of the food:

Thank you, Lizzie + Matt!

The Ramen Diaries

In Drink, Food on February 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Where to begin? The lost hours shopping for ingredients in Little Tokyo, the multiple visits to Jacob at Huntington Meats in search of pork bones, the phone calls and texting between me and my coconspirator Alex, the recipe that redirected us to no fewer than seven other recipes, or the mountains of dishes occupying every last inch in our kitchen? Well, let’s begin at 7:30 am yesterday, when I ignited the gas flame on our monster of a Wolf range and started this damn broth.

7:30 am Chang’s ramen recipe begins, apparently without irony, by saying “First, get everything ready.” Yeah, thanks. So the way Alex and I divvied up labor meant that she spent the previous evening slow-roasting pork butt and belly for HOURS on end. I was starting a broth that would take over 10 hours to make. It begins with rinsing konbu and then simmering over high heat.

8 am … feed Tiny G breakfast, remove konbu…shiitakes simmering for 1/2 hour.

8:30 am … spoon out mushrooms with a spider…chicken legs go into the broth, pork bones go into the oven to roast for an hour

9 am: flip pork bones, back into oven

9:30 am: pork bones come out of oven

9:45 am: chicken legs come out of the broth; pork bones and bacon go in. Mr Foodinista and I walk over to Larchmont for bagels and run into GastroKid’s Hugh Garvey with Violet and Desmond at Sam’s Bagels, continue up street and run into Alex and her kids. Alex pulls a tupperware of pickled vegetables for our dinner from her daughter’s stroller for us to try. They’re insane! Particularly the pickled Asian pear.

10:45 am … back home in time to remove bacon (don’t worry – Tiny G and his Aunt Claire were at home keeping an eye on the broth)

11: 30: Tiny G goes down for nap. Shower. Drive to….

12 pm: Chanel “Blue Satin” manicure with Sandra on Wilshire x Crescent Heights (310-292-2263)

1 pm: bring dashi and mirin to boil, simmer pistachios for one hour (for salad course)

2pm: fry ground chicken patty, reheat puréed cauliflower and chop apple for Tiny G’s lunch

2:10 pm: drain braised pistachios and purée with water … chop radishes and toss with salt and sugar (for salad)

3 pm: write out place cards and set table for 10.

4:30 pm: chop two bunches collard greens and simmer with water, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, brown sugar for 40 mins.

5:20 pm: change into Dolce & Gabbana ghetto gold leaf bracelet, J Brand black twill and an Anna Sui top—the latter is not only Chinese red but a nod to Chinese New Year!

5:30 pm: add scallions, chopped onion and carrot to broth

6 pm: test water for temperature (140 – 145 degrees) and add eggs to slow poach for 45 minutes—Chang’s signature technique is also known as onsen tamago, or “bath eggs”

6:15 pm: Alex and her husband Greg arrive with roasted pork butt and pork belly. I remove bones and veggies from broth and strain thru cheesecloth into pot. As you may have ascertained, I’ve also uncorked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc…

6:25 pm: Alex removes layer of fat from pork belly.

6:30 pm: Greg preps sashimi course with spoils from Fish King in Glendale:

6:45 pm: Remove eggs from hot water and put into ice bath. My sister’s date arrives to take her to Avatar at the Cineramadome and a late dinner at Street. Claire has spent most of the afternoon outdoors so as not to smell like rendered fat when he picks her up…

7:05 pm: Neighbors Martha and Alex A. arrive with Sapporo.

7:10 pm: Neighbors Alyssa and Chris arrive; Chris is pulling his kids’ radio flyer wagon with a cooler full of assorted Hitachino Nest beer. Here he is serving our very chic neighbor and documentary film producer Martha.

7:10 pm: Tokyo expats and neighbors Whit and Jen arrive with Yebisu beer and sake. Jen designs the MOST amazing Japanese baby clothes under her NOKO label.

8 pm: Sashimi course, beautifully assembled by Greg…

8:20 pm: Fry oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil and finish with sherry vinegar. Plate salads…pistachio purée, radishes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, radish greens, pickled sunchokes and braised pistachios…

8:40 pm: Whit delivers treatise on saké. He knows his stuff. And we toast to living on the greatest block in all of Los Angeles!

9 pm: Alex D. and I sneak out to kitchen, aided by Jen, to assemble ramen. Water boiling for ramen, running long poached eggs under hot water, seaweed torn and distributed among bowls, broth ladeled into bowls, stewed bamboo shoots (prepared previous evening) reheated and distributed among bowls along with ramen, chopped scallions, collard greens, eggs, INSANELY good roasted pork belly and pork butt…

9:10 pm: And here’s a funky one of me peeling and liberating all those damn eggs…tricky…

9:20 pm: Ramen is served! Was it worth it? OH. MY. GOD. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. What followed involved mochi for dessert, an ill-advised late-night decision to crack some Champagne, 30 Year Balvenie single-malt for some, vodka + tonic for others, more beer and Cuban cigars. Yowza.

1 am: And the aftermath? Happy Valentine’s Day!

World Dinner Maps

In Design on February 13, 2010 at 7:19 am

Was freaking out last night that I didn’t have enough of my favorite Taïr Mercier translucent polypropylene place mats that I got in Paris a few years ago and then I remembered! For Christmas, my sister got Tiny G a set of 50 groovy disposable place mats featuring maps of four cities: Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. As it turns out, I’ll have enough of the Tokyo maps to set the table for our party of 10 tonight!

Haven’t yet nailed down flowers for the table, tick tock tick tock, but got great suggestions from Matthew in New York:

Florence Bond Peonies (white) with tulips. Forsythia (so simple, but so springy!) with wisteria wrapped around the stem, or falling from the vase to the table.

Here Comes the Sunchoke

In Food on February 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Can you believe this gnarly thing is a sunflower? Well, the root of it anyway. Known as sunchoke, Jerusalem artichoke, earth apple or sunroot, this tuber is destined to be pickled and served in a salad at tomorrow night’s Valentine’s dinner party. So let’s get down and dirty.

First I made the pickling liquid: sugar dissolved in hot water and rice wine vinegar.

Next you boil the pickling liquid and peel/slice all those ‘chokes. Not fun—plus I sliced my finger, which almost always happens when I’m peeling. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Finally I mixed a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder) into the boiling pickling liquid and poured over the sunchokes. They’ll sit in the fridge and think about their behavior until tomorrow night when they are called to action!

The Romance of Ramen

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on February 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm

What, I ask you, is more romantic than a big old hunk of pork belly?

My friend Alex and I struck out this morning to shop for our Valentine’s Day dinner party this weekend and the first stop was Huntington Meats at the Farmers Market on Third/Fairfax. We’re doing a Japanese-themed extravaganza, and the main event is the ramen recipe from Momofuku, my favorite restaurant in NY. The broth alone takes 10 hours to make. Here is our menu:

Sashimi + Champagne

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Roasted Mushroom Salad with Braised Pistachios, Pickled Sunchokes + Radishes

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Momofuku Ramen with Roasted Pork Belly + Slow-Poached Egg

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Japanese Pickles

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Mochi

It’s a ridiculous undertaking, but we plan to divide and conquer. This morning’s mission: pork. Alex picked up 6 lbs of pork belly (above) and butcher Jacob deboned a 6+ lb pork butt, below. Alex is slow-roasting the belly and butt; I’m making the broth so I snagged the pork bones and have asked Jacob to hang onto any more bones, which I’ll hopefully pick up tomorrow morning. I need 5 lbs. I have .75 lbs. Stress.

From there, we headed to the Little Tokyo Market Place on Alameda (an enormous Japanese/Korean supermarket) to do a serious shop. Thank god, Alex was with me or I would’ve been there for HOURS. (I don’t read Japanese, PS.) So here’s what we got: konbu, dried shiitakes, fresh ramen noodles, nori, fish cake, radish shoots, canned bamboo shoots, instant dashi, mirin, oyster and enoki mushrooms, shichimi togarashi…

Now all that’s left is to secure the rest of those pork bones, find some sunchokes to pickle and get my hands on some Japanese feathered “fleur-ever” eyelashes from Shu Uemera:

Dinner Party Envy

In Food on April 27, 2009 at 8:32 am

terrineSaturday night we went to what has to be one of the best dinner parties in memory at our friends Katie and Matt’s. Let’s just say that when one of your fellow guests shows up with vacuum-sealed terrines of pheasant pâté—made with pheasants he hunted on his father-in-law’s ranch in Oregon and topped with thinly shaved black truffles, which we enjoyed with a Louis Bouillot sparkling rosé—that the bar has been set pretty high. But yet rise to the occasion our hostess did. Yours truly did not wish to be rude by showing up with camera in hand, so I’ll simply describe the menu to you here. I’ll be cribbing parts of it this weekend when my sister is in town to visit Tiny G.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Porcini Mustard

Balsamic-Marinated Radicchio with Basil and Fresh Ricotta

Fennel Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Tuscan Beans in Summery Tomato Ragu

Served with 2006 Patz & Hall Chenowith Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

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Candied Fennel-Topped Lemon Cake

Served with 2005 La Tour Blnache Sauternes

Some of the boys got into the Talisker on the porch after dinner, but for once in my life I made the sensible decision to abstain. There’s a first time for everything.

One final note about those Tuscan beans. Katie used heirloom Peruvian Mayocoba beans from Rancho Gordo, and they were nothing short of exceptional. She had ordered a bunch, and “loaned” me a bag of Vaquero beans, which I experimented with yesterday and will post about later today. Finally, no matter how close I come to approximating the above menu, I will be missing two key elements—Katie and Matt’s gracious hosting and their incredible Craftsman home. House envy will be another post…

Diary of a Foodinista

In Design on December 29, 2008 at 7:28 am

redbook1

One of the most fun wedding gifts we received a couple years ago was an entertaining diary from our friend Vincent. It’s great to look back and see who sat where, and what we ate and drank. Browsing online at Smythson (which is, incidentally, where we had our wedding invitations engraved!), I stumbled upon this über-chic BRUNCHES, LUNCHES, SUPPERS, DINNERS BOOK on sale for $145 (admittedly, not exactly a bargain even at 50% off, but such a pretty keepsake).  It’s red pigskin with gilt-edged pages, and has space for seating plans, menus and comments—like what you wore!