Monday, March 30, 2009

Even Canadians Get Old... er

Attendees: Peanut, Sparkles, George, Mountie, Cliff, Baker, and Eliza (who took the picture)

Hors d'oeuvre:
Olive bar

Cheese Fondue

Main Course:
Devil's Chicken Thighs with Mustard

Braised Leeks

Chocolate Fondue

When Mountie told me it was his birthday, I was aghast. I can't believe that Canadians get old. Well, I guess it's up to me to make sure they do it gracefully. And what's more graceful than a Sunday night dinner party with a main course from my new favorite,
Sunday Suppers at Lucques?

Eliza came over early to help me prepare and with our hors d'oeuvre, an olive bar featuring olives and my new favorite red peppers (this coming from someone who doesn't even like peppers)! But we didn't get a picture!
(Coincidentally, K-Dog and her family came over for brunch on Saturday and I forgot to document the entire meal! I guess I was just too excited to see her)!

Back to Mountie's dinner: We did get snapshots of the rest of the meal, beginning with the cheese fondue appetizer. For some reason, I thought it would be something Mountie would enjoy, which he did.

For the main course, I made devil's chicken thighs. To make, one marinates thighs overnight in some vermouth and fresh herbs, pan fries them to brown, rubs them in a mustard and herb base, covers them with fresh bread crumbs, and bakes on top of the braised leeks (below). Peanut told me that they exceeded his expectations. Anyone who knows Peanut knows that that's about as good a complement as you can expect!

My new favorite way to prepare leeks: braised (they don't look pretty but they tasted damn good)!

We all decided that Baker had the prettiest plate:

And to take the meal full circle, I served chocolate fondue for dessert.


P.S.: I almost forgot! It was one of my colleagues birthdays on Friday, so I made a dozen of Ina's chocolate ganache cupcakes to help her celebrate!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Year Younger

Gop, Peach, Belle, Bean, Sheik, Dolly, Beat, Nico, & Peanut

Chips and Dip

Main Course:
Lobster Rolls (Hot Dogs/Mac & Cheese for the little ones; Italian Sausage for Peanut!)

Side A:
Spicy Sweet Potato & Celery Root Fries

Side B:
Old-Fashioned Carrot Salad

Birthday Cake (White cake with white chocolate frosting)

Take-Home Dessert:
PB&J Bars

My brothers are born one year and a few days apart, so I decided to host them and their families over for an early dinner (to accommodate the little ones)-joint birthday celebration! And what better way to celebrate springtime than a trip to the fish market!

This is DC in the spring, however, which means that every weekend there is some sort of marathon or festival or walk-a-thon that closes roads- and makes chores that should last 30-minutes take an hour and a half. But, I suppose, the lobster rolls I served made it worth the effort!

I've been dying to try celery root, and when I saw Sunny Anderson make spicy celery root and sweet potato fries, I decided that I had to make them, too, and they proved to be a great accompaniment to the rolls.

The scene-stealer, however, was Ina's old fashioned carrot salad, with pepper to add heat and pineapple and golden raisins as fun, sweet surprises!

Some of the guests, however, preferred other options:

I busted out the "Baked" cookbook again because I really like their way to make buttercream. The "White Out" cake is a white cake with white chocolate buttercream. I even used a pastry bag to add some elegant decorative touches.

And so that they had something sweet on Sunday, I sent everyone home with some baked comfort: Ina's PB&J bars!

It was hard to get a picture of everyone, but here is a bunch of us, without Dolly, Bean, and Peanut (who was taking the picture)!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Me with My Ladies

Attendees: Betty & Vixen
Juice of a few flowers

Stilton & Quince, Crackers & Bread

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Salad with warm mushrooms

Semifredo with Rhubarb Compote

It was high time Vixen took a break from hanging out with those Dogs in Virgina and meet Bindi for herself! I took it upon myself to invite Betty over, too. I met Betty last weekend at our Budokon workshop. When I saw that girl punch through a wooden board, I knew she had to be my new best friend.

Peanut had no idea what these were when i brought them home:

Typically Ina's cocktails rock, but Juice of a Few Flowers was a bit tart for my guests. But I did feel inspired using an edible flower as garnish.

Stilton is a pretty mild bleu cheese, and I thought it would be fun to pair it with quince. But, again, not a huge hit. See, I miss every now and again.

Thank god the rest of the meal was good! Risotto isn't the best idea for a dinner party, unless you don't mind putting your guests to work. I knew Vixen was up for the challenge.

What an awesome way to celebrate spring! (OK, fine, it's not spring yet).

Another Ina showstopper: a bed of arugula, topped with a slice of prosciutto, sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomato, and a chunk of parmesean. This salad is perfect for those vegetarian friends of yours who eat bacon (not that I have any of those... well, except for those two).

For dessert: I splurged the other day and bought for myself Sunday Suppers at Lucques (which, btw, has the prettiest cover for a cookbook ever). I think that Semifredo may be my new favorite dessert- it's essentially whipped cream mixed with custard and then frozen to resemble a cake. I served it with fresh rhubarb compote.

And Vixen took this amazing, iceberg looking shot:

RSVP to Peanut?

Attendees: George, Cliff, and who is that other beauty in their arms?
A Roast

Salad and oven-baked rosemary french fries

LL's Chocolate Chip Bars

So, I joined the ranks of Budokon sensei's last weekend at a 3-day training workshop. I made new friends, saw some fierce folks break boards, and did lots and lots of Budokon! I was surprised, then, when Peanut invited George and Cliff over for dinner on Saturday night. He knew I wasn't going to be there to help out- what did he have up his sleave?

If there's one kitchen appliance Peanut enjoys, it's his mandoline; one of his favorite flavor combinations? Olive oil and rosemary.

If you have ever eaten with me you know that there are only two things I don't care for: olives and raw peppers. But, Peanut likes the latter and since he was in charge, featured some yellow and red bells in his salad.

Ah.... the main course: A perfectly prepared roast!

When I came home from my Budokon workshop, Peanut told me that I was responsible for one thing: dessert. He had the recipe and ingredients for a lemon creme brulee ready for me. And in the middle of making the custard, in my dazed state, I remembered: these will take at least 4-hours to chill. Good thing my mother had sent some homemade chocolate chip bars earlier that week, which were a HIT (and we had the creme brullee the next day)!

And now, for that beauty you saw above? Peanut and I got a puppy! Bindi, who brings so much joy to our lives, our home... and our dinner parties!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Oh, to be young again. It's my dear friend Del's 25th birthday on Tuesday, so Javier and some friends had a party this weekend in his honor. My gift was the cake, and he said that the idea of a red velvet cake (w/out the red food coloring) with cinnamon buttercream frosting (care of my new cookbook) sounded appealing.

I decorated it with the suggested cinnamon imperials, using the one word that best describes Del.