A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘entertaining’

Ice, Ice Baby

In Drink, Recipes on December 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

We are officially in the holiday season having logged two parties this past weekend with four on the docket this week. The highlight of my own holiday party is a Champagne Pomegranate Punch (the most requested recipe in my arsenal). We serve it in a big punch bowl with a sliver punch ladle from my mother, and the night before I make an ice mold. What goes into the ice changes based on mood, so get creative! First you’ll need a bundt pan. Place lemon slices, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint leaves—or really, whatever fruit and herbs suit your fancy—in bottom of pan.

Fill with water about 2/3 full as the water will expand when it freezes. Freeze overnight, and remove about 1/2 hour before serving so that it slightly melts to loosen sides.

Turn into punch bowl. The ice will slowly melt, which is a good thing considering how much white rum I sneak into that punch. Happy holidays!

A Little Thanksgiving Something on the Side

In Drink, Food on November 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

This year—more than most—Thanksgiving’s pending arrival has caught me completely by surprise. Perhaps that’s because for the first time in over a decade I won’t be cooking, or at least I won’t be cooking the main event. I’ve been asked to bring a side dish—so I’m bringing two. My friends Vanessa’s excellent Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine, Pomegranate Molasses, and Mediterranean Herbs and Nicki’s favorite Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Pine Nut Bread Crumb Topping were standouts last month at our cooking club. We all made our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and while I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from the lineup, these two were particular show stoppers.

Photo by Tim Morris via bonappetit.com

Photo by Elinor Carucci via bonappetit.com

Looking back through the archives, I thought I’d share a few other ideas from Thanksgivings past. And would love to hear what you’ll be bringing to the table this year. Something tells me I’ll be back in the kitchen next year and really, when it comes to my favorite meal of the year, it’s never too early to start planning…

I LOVE these Pearl Onions Glazed in Port with Bay Leaves. They provide a nice bright note to some of the heavier flavors on the Thanksgiving table.

My go-to and totally decadent Escarole Cornbread Stuffing—rich with prosciutto, fresh ricotta, parm and wild rice. What’s great about this is that it’s all prepared stove top so you’re not fighting for oven space, and then you stick it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the parm just after you’ve taken the turkey out to rest.

This is my all-time favorite Brussels sprouts recipe that’s rich with butter, shallots and fennel—from my friend Carolynn (who cowrote Nancy Silverton’s latest book, The Mozza Cookbook). I’ve made this for the past 10 or so Thanksgivings, so I’m taking a break this year and making the Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts Gratin (which is epic).

And for heaven’s sake, let’s not forget about cocktails! This Champagne Pomegranate Punch is probably the most-requested recipe in my arsenal. I blogged about it last year over on Herman Miller’s LIFEWORK blog. For recipe, click HERE.

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.

Lulu + Lonny

In Design, Fashion, Food, Media on December 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

How great is Lonny Magazine? And why isn’t anything on the newsstands this much fun? I was already a fan, but then came the December issue and I nearly lost my marbles when I discovered that my friend Lulu Powers is on this month’s cover in a gorge photo by Patrick Cline! Lulu and I belong to the same cooking club, and I can tell you first hand that Lulu is the bomb. You’ll love taking a peek at her chic WeHo bungalow in this month’s Lonny, but the story will leave you wanting more. So whether you’re gifting yourself or another foodinista, Lulu’s new book, Lulu Powers Food to Flowers: Simple, Stylish Food for Easy Entertaining, is a must for your gift list!

Holiday Party Menu

In Food on December 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Okay, so the food disappeared before I could get any good shots of it last night. But here was the menu:

Tea Sammies:

Radish with Irish Butter and Sea Salt

Andrew Knowlton’s Pimento Cheese

Bacon, Momofuku Pickles, Cilantro and Hoisin

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Sriracha Shrimp Cocktail

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Sara Stein‘s Homemade Latkes with Applesauce

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Deviled Eggs with Salmon Roe and Garden Chives

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Crabbies by Lizzie

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Bone-in Virginia Ham with Sweet Potato Biscuits

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Crudité with Green Goddess Dip

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Champagne Pomegranate Punch

And then there were the desserts that people brought—Alex’s Rum Balls, Nina’s Chocolate Crinkles (which, thank you very much, she happens to know is my favorite cookie on the planet), Claire’s Triple Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Lesley’s Bacon Caramel Popcorn, Petits Fours and Seasonal Nougat from Valerie Confections (thank you Dana and Jessica!) and to-die for cookies from the special holiday-only Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills (thank you Magda and Alex!), and much more yumminess.  I made little menu cards, which I stuck into little holders I picked up at Surfas, a restaurant supply store in Culver City. The menu cards turned out to be a lifesaver, literally, since a few of the guests were allergic to shellfish and might have otherwise accidentally downed 10 crabbies that were better served on my plate! Biggest regret? I really wish I’d taken photos of the tea sammies, the surprise hit of the evening. More on those tomorrow.

Cooking Club with Lulu Powers

In Drink, Food on April 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Earlier this week, my friend Carrie invited me to her ultra-chic cooking club hosted by Sally Horchow (above, right). The group was honoring another member, Lulu Powers (above, left), and her fabby new book, Lulu Powers Food to Flowers. Lulu is a local celebrity, having catered for everyone from Madonna to Bill Clinton. Needless to say, the woman can cook. For Wednesday night’s cooking club, the theme was “breakfast for dinner” (a well-documented favorite around our house) and we all picked a recipe out of Lulu’s book. Check out the table Sally set with newspapers for a tablecloth (a decorating tip from Lulu), oranges for place card holders and mini boxed cereals as a centerpiece. Lulu says she likes to “buy newspapers from several cities, as well as a few tabloids for fun (otherwise known as my “periodicals”)! Whenever I throw a brunch like this, I find that everyone really starts talking about world events and reading from the papers and starting friendly debates, which makes it like a morning roundtable.”

Okay, now for the food. Let’s start with Sally, who made a killer vegetable herb frittata that was the hit of the evening. A word about the photo below. Sally is standing next to a photo of her grandmother, Fay Pfeifer, who was a finalist in the Flour Division of the 1970 Pillsbury Bake Off for her Toffee Treasure Cake, which Sally describes as “more coffee cake than dessert, though made with Heath Bars – and progressive for that year because of her use of the bundt pan! She was from Little Rock, Arkansas, and every cook in my family has a book of her recipes called ‘Our FAYvorites.’ ”

Here’s a close-up of the frittata, and reason alone to buy the book.

Carrie made Lulu’s Granola for party favors plus a bowl for nibbling, and Stacy made awesome Chocolate Banana Bread with ice cream for dessert (sadly I don’t have a photo) as well Lulu’s Body Scrub made with coffee and lavender, which she put in these little canisters from Cost Plus. I’m keeping mine by our kitchen sink as it’s great for softening hands and smells divine.

As for the rest of the lineup, Sally also did Spicy English Breakfast Sausage Rolls; Alix made Green Salad with Orange Cilantro Dressing; Jess made Mini Turkey Breakfast Patties; Megan did Sugar-Crusted Raspberry Muffins; Nicky brought Cheddar and Ham Biscuits; I brought a Fruit Salad with Rosemary Syrup; and Lulu arrived with a tray of Bloody Mary fixings. Here’s a taste:


A seriously fun evening where the company was every bit as delicious as the food!

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!