April 30, 2011

Waity Katie Waits No More: A Royal Tea Party

What could be a more appropriate way to view the Royal Wedding than with a tea party? We all approved of the dress, were charmed by the kiss, and swooned over William's compliments to Kate at the alter. And the hats, oh the hats!! The menu was very proper: classic tea sandwiches and, taking a little help from the store, biscuits, shortbread and angel food cake. Courtney made the day especially festive by making everyone paper crowns (I, of course, got to be 'Queen Mum'). Favors: British fixings for an afternoon spot of tea. The hope of princess life remains in all of our hearts as long as the 'fun' prince, Harry, is still on the market...a girl can dream.
The Menu

mint iced tea

lady grey tea

sparkling wine

salted nuts

tea sandwiches:
cucumber, arugula, cream cheese
egg salad with sun dried tomatoes
smoked salmon, capers, dill cream cheese

spring strawberries with creme fraiche and brown sugar

shortbread & biscuits

angel food cake

April 25, 2011

Mad Men 40th Birthday Party

A classic, manly, red meat and martini vibe felt like the right backdrop for our friend Richard's 40th birthday party. For the cigar aficionado, Amy customized match books and made all of her arrangements in an array of wooden cigar boxes. Keeping in theme, we did a martini bar, all shaken, not stirred (I'm suddenly a big fan of 'signature names' for 'signature cocktails'). I went traditional steak house with the menu, loving an excuse to serve iceberg wedges with buttermilk blue cheese dressing. And, instead of bananas foster or cherries jubilee, we did our own version of a theatrical dessert: individual tabletop roasted s'mores. We simply lined terra cotta pots with tin foil and filled them with hot charcoals. Seeing as how s'mores are my all-time favorite dessert, I'd call this a home run. And while I considered using fancy chocolate and homemade marshmallows, some things are best left in their original form, as a classic is a classic for good reason.
The Menu

martini bar

"the richard"
vodka, dirty sue premium olive juice, olive

vodka, apple liqueur, house sour

vodka, lemon twist


caprese crostini

artichoke, green olive, arugula, lemon crostini

lamb meatballs with minted yogurt dip


iceberg wedge with buttermilk blue cheese dressing & chives

family style

grilled flank steak
horseradish cream & chimichurri sauce

wilted spinach, wild mushrooms & green garlic

roasted truffled fingerling potatoes

grilled asparagus, lemon, parmigiano reggiano


roasted s'mores

April 17, 2011

Spanish Tapas Party

The great thing about taking inspiration from someone other than yourself is discovering new likes. This weekend I threw a birthday dinner for my friend Jen incorporating her favorites: Spanish tapas (I think bland), sangria (my tequila, the worst hangover I've ever had, can't even smell it!) and lilacs (I hate purple). BUT, to my surprise, I ended up loving them all (mostly). Incorporating farmer's market vegetables into the menu added the freshness I usually miss at Spanish restaurants and lilacs proved beautiful and fragrant, the new exception to my zero purple policy (the jury is still out on sangria). Amy made the birthday girl a lilac corsage and fastened flowers to the place cards. Simple, pretty, perfectly steamlined. And because the evening was ladies only, small plates were perfect as girls are better at sharing. So thanks to Jen for reintroducing me to the delicious flavors of romesco, saffron, chorizo, and my new favorite, tortilla espanola!
The Menu


spanish corn nuts

calamari fritto, aioli

sardines, fennel, capers, lemon zest, saltines

asparagus, jamon serrano

wilted spinach, pine nuts, golden raisins

jaume serra Cristalino cava
dry, toasty, crisp, citrus, minerality

saffron rice, english peas, garlic, paprika shrimp

grilled baby artichokes, mint

tortilla espagnol

fingerling potatoes, chorizo, romesco

luzon jumilla spain 2009
plum, spice, herbs, smoke, peppercorns, licorice

tangelo sorbet

membrillo, iberico sheep, cow, goat, spain

blood orange, navel, little gems, cano de onja sheep, spain

bacon, date, manchego sheep, spain

tres picos garnacha 2008
floral, blackberries, leather, vanilla, peppery

chocolate cake
honey lavender and salted caramel ice creams

volver tempranillo 2009
red currants, black cherries, oak, tobacco, spice

April 11, 2011


One thing I don't miss about living in NYC is Sunday brunch. I always felt like I wasted the day on mediocre eggs benedicts and cheap mimosas. But sitting here I wonder why I despised those brunches so much. After all, I've never met a menu I didn't want to order from and, while I don't love aggressive day drinking, I can't say I mind a little midday buzz. So what is it? I realize, I love to be at home on a Sunday! Plus, I can never decide between sweet or savory on a brunch menu; I want a bit of eggs and to end with maple syrup drenched pancakes. Hence, brunch is the most important meal to host at home! So that's what we did this Sunday. And truly, if if I had to pare this menu down, all you need for a perfect brunch: bagels, cream cheese, gravlax and accoutrements, fresh fruit and sticky buns. And while store-bought gravlax or lox does the trick, homemade couldn't be simpler. Take a 2 1/2-3 pound salmon fillet, cover with 1/4 C. sugar and 1/4 C. salt and scatter a bunch of dill on top. Wrap it all up with plastic wrap, place in fridge, cover with a few cans and flip it over every day for 3-4 days. Voila, you've made gravlax. Sometimes I use brown sugar, salt, 1 T. paprika and 1 T. coriander for 'pastrami' gravlax. This also makes a great hors d'oeuvres on pumpernickel with a little creme fraiche or mustard sauce with dill. And people are always impressed with the house curing!
The Menu

morel, pea shoots, ricotta frittata

sausage, chard, white cheddar frittata

gravlax two ways: dill and pastrami
toasted bagels and cream cheese
cucumber, dill, tomato, red onion, capers

mixed greens with grapefruit and cava cava oranges

roasted asparagus with lemon zest, parsley

morning glory muffins

raspberry rhubarb muffins

sticky buns

mixed berries with honeyed yogurt

dessert bar

carrot cake, meyer lemon olive oil cake, almond tea cake, mini chocolate souffles, strawberry-rhubarb eton mess