February 17, 2010

Thai New Year

Tonight I hosted part of the Blessing Family Clan to a Thai New Year's dinner. The original inspiration for the meal was a craving for Pok Pok, an oh-so-tasty Thai restaurant in my hometown of Portland, OR. While I didn't aim to replicate Pok Pok's famed chicken wings, the food was pretty damn good (if I do say so myself). But the highlight of the evening was Dr. Blessing's wise life advice. His prescriptions for healthy living: protect the heart with healthy boundaries. My words, not his, but I'm sticking to them. With hoisin. Everything better with hoisin.

The Menu

Blood Orange Margaritas
Salad Rolls with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Pork Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Baby Back Ribs with Honey Glaze
Green Curried Shrimp with Red Peppers and Cucumber
Egg Fried Rice with Shitake Mushrooms
Braised Bok Choy and Red Cabbage
Green Papaya Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Beans

Treat bar with various Thai cookies, cakes and gummies
Make your own sundae:
Coconut, Tart and Acai Berry Frozen Yogurts
Toppings: sour worms, gummy bears, fruity pebbles, mochi, oreos, vanilla wafers, nerds, sprinkles, coconut, animal crackers and yogurt covered pretzels

February 15, 2010

Lady and the Tramp

The first romantic meal I ever made was spaghetti with meat sauce and a Ceasar salad. It was the fourth grade and Courtney Sterling and I were determined to set the perfect stage for her single dad and our music teacher, Ms. Madden, to fall in love. My mom took us grocery shopping and taught us how to enhance our jar of Prego with fresh herbs and toss our salad out of a bag, complete with croutons and dressing. Somehow, despite our simple menu, we managed to destroy the kitchen. There were red roses to be arranged. A Barry White cassette tape to be played. We crossed our fingers and hoped for a Lady and the Tramp 'oops we've stumbled upon the same noodle, we should kiss' moment'. Our cupid efforts didn't quite yield our desired results but they did teach me the connection between the heart and stomach. Last night I set a similar stage for my and Greg's romantic double Valentine's date with our friends Amy and David. When I first moved to LA, I lived with Amy and David and to say that I 'third wheeled' is a great, great understatement. That first February I made the three of us Valentine's Day dinner and we all exchanged sweet gifts. To prove my 'third wheeling' to the nth degree, it didn't feel awkward at all. It was nice. Ever since, I try to spend the day with A and D...plus G!

The Menu

Roasted red peppers stuffed with sundried tomato pesto and goat cheese
Grilled 'hearts' of romaine salad with artichoke 'hearts' and Ceasar dressing
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Heart shaped brownies with chocolate covered strawberries and ice cream
Prosecco, Chianti, Limoncello

February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Holidays just aren't holidays in my book without the appropriate sugar cookies. They have become my signature treat, my go-to party favor. It's the hint of almond in the frosting that makes everyone wonder 'why is this the best sugar cookie ever?!' This year I did classic hearts as favors for Valentine's Day shoppers at my friend Amy's store Apartment Number 9. It happens to be my high school sweetheart's mom's recipe and somehow all of my girlfriends around the country make them. It makes me so happy that each holiday, I have a new friend requesting the recipe. Courtney A. made them for the first time this week, impressing her 'Valentine' Meg in NYC and realized cookies truly are the key to the heart.

February 5, 2010

French Fries

French fries are my favorite food on earth. Fat or skinny, fast food or fancified with truffle oil, sweet potato or russets...I love them all. The only thing I am strict about: I want them fresh and hot. Yes, I've been known to send my french fries back at McDonalds and wait for the 'next batch'. If I'm going to splurge, I want it right. And I love to cook so I should be able to make my favorite, right? Well, despite numerous attempts, I ALWAYS fail. My mom, who taught me how to cook, insists it is soooo easy but whenever I follow her method (and every other recipe I can find) I end up with pale, limp, very sad fries. I optimistically invited friends over for 'fish and chips' and ended up serving fish and fried potato mush (with delicious tartar sauce). So you can imagine my excitement that I have figured out the perfect, fool-proof french fry recipe. You have to fry it two stages...thanks Chefsky!!!!


1. Clean and peel russet potatoes...3 for 4 people
2. Cut into your desired shape and size and soak in ice water for around 30 minutes
2. Dry thoroughly with paper towels
3. Get your vegetable oil up to 300' and throw in your fries. As soon as they float remove with a slotted spoon. They will will still be very pale.
4. At this point you can put them on a tray and back into the fridge covered for several hours until guests arrive and you are ready to eat.
5. For serving, bring your oil up to 325-350' and throw in your pre-blanched fries. Remove from oil as they turn golden brown. Throw them into a brown paper bag and toss with salt and you have perfect french fries!

Plain or jazzed up, you cannot beat Heinz...

Serve with hamburgers, steaks, roast chicken or all alone with glasses of champagne. On Oprah last week, Michael Pollin (author of Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules) said we can enjoy french fries (and all other 'junk food') as long as we make them at home. His theory: if you have to do all of the work yourself, you won't indulge more than once or twice a month. But with this new sure fire technique, I'm thinking weekly...