October 29, 2011

Trick or Treat...Give Me Something Good To Eat

In the current issue of Living, Martha Stewart describes two approaches to holiday meals: sticking to identical menus each year or changing it up. Martha is of the latter camp, aiming to always be "more interesting, more creative, more inventive." While I love experimenting with food year round, when it comes to holidays, I'm a traditionalist, with a slight twinge of Martha. Every year growing up, my mom made beef chili on Halloween, which warmed us up, and curbed the sugar highs. I can't imagine not having chili on Halloween. And while ingredients now come from the farmer's market and the beef may be grass-fed, the model is the exact same (with an expanded toppings bar!). This year, I helped my friend Marina put together a chili buffet for her friends & family before they embarked on trick or treating. There was cookie decorating, spiced cider and plenty of princesses & superheroes (another thing that never changes). As for the desserts, thank god I didn't attempt any spooky creations, or I would've been totally upstaged by Lucy (a Martha in training) with her eye-ball cupcakes & creepily life-like finger cookies. Heading into the holiday season, I'll continue to uphold traditions. I'll play with new menus for dinner parties & bake a new cookie recipe, but Christmas morning will always be that crazy casserole, always with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, possibly seeking an upgrade for the sausage that comes out of a tube...
The Menu


spiced apple cider


rosemary pumpkin seeds & caramel corn


beef & bean chili

white bean chili with butternut squash

fresh corn cornbread with butter & honey

toppings bar: scallions, sour cream, avocado, jalapenos, cilantro, tortilla chips, sweet onion, red rooster, medium cheddar, sharp white cheddar & fritos

romaine lettuces with creamy lemon dressing


swapped loot from trick or treating
finger cookies
eye-ball cupcakes

October 21, 2011


My miniature dachshund George (girl George) is the light of my life. What is a better way to celebrate her and her German heritage than with an Oktoberfest party? A drunken weekend at the real deal in Munich inspired my classic menu: sausages, sauerkraut, soft pretzels and plenty of mustards. And the farmers market inspired my asian pear applesauce which begged to be paired with potato pancakes, creme fraiche & chives. My husband Greg (aka George's dad) mixed fall cocktails (crowd favorite: 'the lederhosen' with muddled cranberry, apple cider, ginger beer, lemon & gin) and of course we also had a hefty selection of Oktoberfest beers. Amy set a beautiful table, shying away from a kitschy interpretation of the theme, instead focusing on all things October: white pumpkins, fall foliage, and greenery. Always the theme-a-holic, I managed to slip in a detail of kitsch with pretzel shortbread, tied up with red, black and yellow, for favors. You have one more week: celebrate Oktoberfest!
The Menu


the lederhosen
cranberry, apple cider, ginger beer, lemon, gin

the munich
hard cider, applejack brandy, dry vermouth, bitters, orange twist

das biers
franziskaner: hefe-weisse & hefe dark
ayinger: ur-weisse & weizen-bock
avery kaiser: oktoberfest


radishes, butter, sea salt

smoked trout, creme fraiche & dill on pumpernickel

wild mushroom crostini with thyme

hard cheese, gherkins, german dijon & salami on rye crisps


sausages: bockwurst, knackwurst, andouille & hungarian
with sauerkraut

soft pretzels

mustard assortment: sweet hot, stoneground, horseradish, sweet bavarian & extra hot!

potato pancakes with asian pear-applesauce, sour cream & chives

red cabbage braised in vinegar with caraway seeds

spicy greens with lemon and peppery extra virgin olive oil


apple streudel ala mode with caramel sauce

black forest cake

haribo gummy bears


pretzel shortbread