June 3, 2009

easter 2009

We had 70! people to Easter Brunch. All of the planning, baking, crafting and making was as much fun as the actual party. Wishing every weekend had a holiday...

We blew eggs and Amy wrapped them with fabrics from her men's store Apartment Number 9
LA's downtown flower district is a heaven...painted grass on blown eggs
No bartender needed. Make your own bellini, mimosa, screwdriver, greyhound, bloody mary or virgin cocktail bar. The freshest twist: farmers market strawberry and peach purees
Crostinis with artichoke spread, radish and micro greens salad
Devilled eggs three ways: basil pesto, curried and spicy paprika
Sweet strawberries with creme fraiche and brown sugar for dipping
We almost decided to have children after having so much fun making our younger guests' Easter baskets and hiding the eggs for their hunt
We went a little nuts with Easter candies, cookies and chocolates. We offered a range of treats: from classic drugstore Peeps, chocolate eggs and jellybeans to Mary See's petit fours and truffles to our homemade sugar cookies. It was the ultimate dessert bar.
Our favors: mini Easter baskets with homemade sugar cookies and candy to go

The Menu

H'ors deuvres

Devilled eggs three ways: basil, curried and spicy paprkia
Crostini with artichoke spread, radish and micro greens
Shot glasses of carrot ginger and curried minted pea chilled soups


Honey Baked Ham with assorted mustards and chutneys
Twice Baked Potato Casserole with greek yogurt
Mushroom, Leek, Ricotta Tarts
Grilled Asparagus with parmesan, olive oil and lemon zest
Mixed Greens with champagne tarragon vinaigrette and honeyed pine nuts
Mini Muffin Basket: rosemary corn, blueberry and carrot cake
Citrus platter with navel oranges, grapefruit, kiwi and ginger syrup
Fresh strawberries with brown sugar and creme fraiche
David Jones' famous sticky buns
Lemon bundt cake

Dessert Bar

Assorted candies, chocolates, petit-fours and cookies
Coffee and tea bar

Day of the Dead Blood Orange Margarita Recipe

Blood Orange Margaritas
makes 8 strong drinks

2 1/2 cups silver tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 cup cointreau
1/4 cup simple syrup

Stir all ingredients in a pitcher. Put out glasses, a bowl of ice and lime & blood orange wedges, for garnish. Let guests pour over ice and enjoy.

We like an especially tart margarita, if you like something sweeter, increase the amount of simple syrup, up to 3/4 of a cup.

Margaritas can be made the night before and refrigerated.

Day of the Dead Churros with Dulce de Leche Sauce Recipe

Buy churros at a nearby bakery, or bake frozen churros (we like the ones at Smart & Final), following the directions on the box. Be sure to roll them in plenty of cinnamon & sugar.

Homemade Salted Dulce de Leches Sauce

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, we like Maldon

Combine whipped cream, brown sugar and white sugar in a sauce pan, over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half and thick. Take off heat and add sweetened condensed milk and sea salt. Serve with hot churros. Enjoy.

Sauce can be made one week in advance and refrigerated in an air tight container. To reheat, place sauce in a medium saucepan over medium low heat, until hot.

Day of the Dead Enhanced Rice & Beans Recipe

Spiced Bean Recipe
serves 8

1 sweet onion, diced or sliced
1 red onion, diced or sliced
4 cloves of garlic, diced or sliced
2 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
4 T. olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained
2 (15 oz) cans of pinto beans, drained
1/2 cup chicken broth, optional
salt and pepper

Sautee sweet onion, red onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne in olive oil over medium heat for ten minutes, until softened. Add black beans and pinto beans. Add chicken broth, or 1/2 cup of water, and simmer for 15 minutes until flavors are blended and beans are heated through. Add salt, pepper and any additional seasonings, to taste.

Herbed Rice Recipe
serves 8

1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup scallions, sliced, white and light green parts only
5 cups of cooked brown rice

Add cilantro and scallions to freshly cooked brown rice. Fluff and serve.

Beans can be made the night before and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat on the stove over medium low heat. Rice is best freshly cooked.

Day of the Dead Pumpkin Mole Stew Recipe

Pumpkin Mole Stew with Chicken, Poblanos and Kobocha Squash
serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pastured organic if possible, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
6 poblano peppers, seeded, cored and sliced
2 medium kobacha squash, roasted and cubed (butternut squash also works)
1 cup prepared pumpkin mole*
2-4 cups chicken broth
4 T. olive oil
salt & pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large stock pot over high heat for two minutes. Add 2 t. of oil and wait one minute. Add sliced chicken thighs to pot, reduce heat to medium high, and stir until all sides are nicely browned. You may have to do this in two batches, so as not to crowd the chicken. Remove chicken from the pot onto a plate. In the same pot, heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium high heat and add the sliced poblano peppers. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add the prepared mole to the pot, with the poblanos, and cook 3 minutes. The mole should break up and coat pans. Whisk in 2 cups of chicken broth and stir until mole is incorporated into broth. Add browned chicken and roasted squash into the pot. Add more broth, if necessary, to cover the chicken, squash and poblanos. Bring stew to a boil and then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove one piece of chicken and cut to make sure chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with corn tortillas, hot sauce and bowls of chopped cilantro, crumbled queso fresco & lime wedges.

* We get our moles downtown at Grand Central Market in a spices stall. If you can't make it downtown, any prepared mole will do.

Stew can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated in an air tight container. For the party, reheat stew on the stove over medium heat until hot all the way through. Serve hot.

Day of the Dead Nachos Recipe

Oozy, Gooey, Melty Nachos Recipe
serves 8, make more for hearty eaters

1 bag of tortilla chips
1 (15 oz.) can of refried beans
12 oz. blend of grated monterey jack and cheddar cheese
assorted toppings

Spread a bag of tortilla chips over a tin foil lined cookie sheet. Top chips with refried beans and cheeses. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and gooey. Remove from oven and top with your favorite toppings. We like sour cream, salsa, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, chopped cilantro and scallions. Basically everything but black olives! Cut the nachos into four sections and then stack each section onto one another on a serving platter. Serve hot and enjoy!

April 30, 2009

Vegan Pumpkin Praline Pie Recipe


inspired by my Great Grandmother Francis’ pie recipe which won honorable mention at the first Pillsbury bake-off at the Waldorf-Astoria, Grand Ballroom, in New York in 1933


pumpkin custard filling
1 – 15 oz can of organic pumpkin
1 ½ cups of rice milk, or milk of choice
¼ cup of corn starch
½ cup of brown sugar
1 T. molasses
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
¾ t. ground ginger
½ t. ground clove

praline layer
4 T. earth balance butter, softened
½ cup of pecans, finely chopped
½ cup of brown sugar, packed

1 vegan pie crust

to make the pie:  Press or roll pie crust into a 9’’ pie dish.  To make the praline layer, combine earth balance butter, pecans and ½ cup of brown sugar in a bowl.  Gently press the praline combination into the bottom of the prepared pie shell.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cool at least 2 minutes.

Once you remove the prepared pie shell from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees!!

Meanwhile, prepare the Pumpkin Custard Filling.

to make the pumpkin filling: Combine the rice milk and cornstarch in a medium bowl and beat until the cornstarch is blended without lumps.  Add ½ cup of brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves.   Once well blended, add the pumpkin and mix well.

Pour the Pumpkin Custard Filling into the slightly cooled prepared pie shell and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, until just set in the center.  The pie shouldn’t jiggle if slightly nudged.  Cool and refrigerate overnight.  Serve with maple whipped topping.

tips: Pie can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated.



1 ½ cups flour*
3 T. sugar
¼ cup of vegetable oil
¼ cup organic applesauce

* For a gluten-free pie crust, substitute ¾ cup of almond flour and ¾ cup of brown rice flour

to make pie crust: Combine flour and sugar and add oil and applesauce.  Gently mix with a fork and press into a 9’’ pie dish.  Gently press crust up the sides of the dish. 

if the pie recipe calls for a pre-baked crust: Bake crust for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

April 11, 2009

Vegan Kabocha Squash and Fennel Soup Recipe

inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
serves 8


3-4 pounds kabocha or butternut squash, 2-3 squashes
4 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced
6 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of sliced onion
2 t. fennel seeds
1 T. thyme, sage or rosemary, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups of vegetable stock or water, more or less depending on desired thickness
1 t. cayenne pepper, optional
toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional
fresh herbs for garnish, optional
salt & pepper

to prepare squash: Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place on a cookie sheet, covered with tinfoil, cut side up.  Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until tender.  Let cool slightly.  Once cool enough to handle, peel squash and roughly chop in cubes.  Reserve.

to make soup:  Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion, fennel and fennel seeds.  Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked and lightly browning.  Add herbs and sauté for a couple of more minutes.  Add white wine and bring to a boil.  Cook for a couple of minutes, until wine has slightly reduced.  Add roasted squash and vegetable stock or water.  Stock should cover the vegetables by 2-3 inches.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Blend soup with an immersion blender until smooth, adding more water or stock, if necessary.   Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and any other desired spices (e.g. ginger or cumin).

to serve:  Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toasted seeds or nuts and fresh herbs.

tips:  Squash can be roasted 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated.  Vegetables and herbs can be chopped 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated.  Soup can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated.  Soup can be frozen 3 months in advance; thaw in refrigerator overnight, or on the countertop.  This soup method can be used with any vegetable or bean (e.g. white beans, English peas, tomatoes & more); celery, onion, leeks and garlic can all be used as the aromatic base.  This soup also makes a great hors d’oeuvres served in shot glasses or small mason jars.

March 9, 2009

Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail Recipe

makes two cocktails


for the rhubarb simple syrup:
4 cups roughly chopped rhubarb, about 10 stalks
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

for the cocktail:
4 oz. Hendrick’s gin
1 ½ oz. rhubarb simple syrup
1 ½ oz lemon juice
dash of celery bitters
1 egg white, optional
soda water

to make rhubarb simple syrup: Combine rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir, dissolving sugar into the water.  Once sugar is dissolved, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once the rhubarb has infused the simple syrup, strain syrup into a bowl, through a fine sieve mesh strainer.  Reserve rhubarb for another use, such as a jam or savory compote.  Transfer simple syrup into a bottle.  Can be refrigerated for up to a month.

to prepare the cocktail:  Preparation is key to cocktail making.  Always have all elements of the cocktail prepped and labeled in advance of the party.  All elements can be put into pretty glass bottles, alongside a recipe card for guests to make their own cocktails.

to make the cocktail:  Combine gin, rhubarb simple syrup, celery bitters, lemon juice and egg white into a metal cocktail shaker.  Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds.  If you are omitting the egg white, the cocktail can be either shaken or stirred.  Pour over ice and top with as much soda as desired.

tips: Rhubarb simple syrup can be made well in advanced and kept refrigerated for up to a month.  Lemon juice can be squeezed a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.  Egg whites can be separated and put in a container a few days in advance and kept refrigerated.