Filed under: Feast
HO HO HO and YUM YUM YUM!
This year my commander and chef and I put out quite the Italian spread for our guests. We started our day with some delicious salumi and cheese from our favorite shop Salumeria Italiana in the North End.
Our primi course was Fusili Lunghi Con Pomodorini al Forno compliments of Lidia Bastianich. Translated this is long fusili with roasted tomatoes. This pasta dish requires a lot of prep work and time, but it is absolutely scrumptuous. Simple ingredients (panko crumbs, chopped capers, freshly grated pecorino romano, fresh basil and garlic, dried oregano and EVOO) that make every bite unbelievable. You roast the tomatoes first topped with the bread crumb mixture and then set them aside to cool, slice into quarters and later add to the cooked pasta. The only sauce for the pasta is a garlic infused EVOO that you do yourself earlier in the day. The little grooves and spirals in the long fusili capture it all when mixed – truly genius. We feasted on this for lunch the next day too.
Our second course was a slow roasted tenderloin that can be found in Barbara Lynch’s new book Stir. Cooking classes and this book were two gifts to Mike. Key ingredients here are thyme and time – you need a lot of both to properly cook. We ordered 8.25 pounds of meat from Sulmona – a little butcher shop in the North End. It was by far the biggest and best piece of meat we have ever had. Oh and they only take cash.
With the tenderloin we served sautéed green beans with tomatoes and basil and a butternut squash gratin with pesto – both recipes from one of our favorites to watch and try, Giada de Laurentiis.
An Italian caesar salad (its made with sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts) finished our meal.
We served a champagne punch made with champagne (hence the name), pomegranate juice, simple syrup, white rum and garnished with lemons, cranberries and mint. And then with dinner some Veuve for our holiday toast and two delicious wines – a Forman Cabernet and of course a 2005 Barbaresco.
Tradition in our home calls for a huge dessert buffet that is devoured by our ten and then many more family and friends. This year’s highlights were home-made cookies – my Moms charmelles and pizelles and Ms. Lynch’s assorted chocolate and sea salt, shortbread and sugar cookies, my favorite bow ties and macaroons from Jube’s little hot spot and a few cakes and pies. And much more champagne punch and wine. I think I blew out the candles and cleaned the last glass at around 11:30PM. We started at 2. . .great effort.
Mom, Dad, Jubes, Jodi, Hal, Emery, Lila, Henri, Tom and June – thanks for coming and sharing our full day and to everyone else, hope you too enjoyed a feast like ours.
p.s. – today I went back to pilates and completed day 2 of my cleanse. LOL.
Filed under: Feast
My new drink debuted with the spring menu last week at Sonsie on Newbury Street in Boston. This is my third “guest drink appearance” at this trendy, neighborhood eating and drinking establishment. Last year, they came up with the idea to ask some local and almost famous Bostonians for their favorite drink recipes and to then see who and what was the most popular with the patrons and the cash registers. Well three seasons later and three drinks in, and I am still going strong.
Vodka is the main ingredient of all my drinks. Other than wine, it is only what I like to drink. This is my first martini though. Figured I just celebrated a birthday and it was time to put out a real ladies drink. But guys, don’t let it fool you. This is no pansie colored candy drink. The Christini (got to love the name) is potent enough they already put a limit on these bad girls.
Go to Sonsie and order my latest custom cocktail. Take two Advil when you get home and call me in the morning with your feedback and hopefully fun Christini induced stories. Have more than three, and I guarantee you feel a lot more shaken than stirred.
Kurant Vodka (made from a black currant berry)
Fresh lime juice
Shake all above ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass
Add a champagne topper and garnish with edible flowers or a lime wheel
Happy Holidays! To quote a very good friend of mine, “ Holy food and social coma!” We fed and entertained 28 people (family and friends) and 4 dogs at our home for Christmas. Our menu consisted of shrimp and crab claws to start, a deep fried turkey (a first for us and I so missed not being at home for Thanksgiving), gravy, biscuits, mushroom and ground beef stuffing, cranberry relish, carmelized brussel sprouts and pancetta and acorn squash with apples and walnuts. Dessert was a buffet of yummy treats with all kinds of cookies (thank Jubes!) and highlighted by my Mom’s famous gazadella (home made espresso and ricotta Italian pie) and my dulce de leche and chocolate bread pudding (new recipe I found and it was a hit). All enhanced by an amazing assortment of wines. Our first guests arrived at 2PM and the last left after midnite. Now that was a spectacular effort and day!
Once again the holidays, and 2008 for that matter, have flown by. All the shopping (although recognizably less this year), wrapping, prepping, holiday visits and events, washing wine glasses, dining, socializing, washing more wine glasses and running around have finally come to a halt. And I am the first to admit, I now need the rest and relaxation. I have been totally nesting since Christmas. In fact, have only left my house twice – both times to work out and off the abundance of food and wine I consumed.
We always fly off to Miami right after Christmas, but this is the first year in many that we will be home to ring in the New Year. And again, someting I will also admit, I am happy to be staying in one place and not having to run to the Cape to grab my summer clothes and then to pack a suitcase. Sure the warm climate and sun tan (much needed now too – my derm would be happy, but I am not) are very appealing, but the weather today almost reached sixty degrees in Beantown and I made the most of it by going for a long, powerwalk along the river.
Tomorrow starts the second week of my self imposed and stay-at-home two week vacation. I will get caught up on a few work things, go to the gym, schedule some beauty maintenance appointments, see more friends, and get ready for the upcoming months of work. We have a great new event scheduled for this spring in NYC that will keep us very busy and shuttling back and forth to the Big Apple yet again. We also have plans to go to a great New Year’s Eve celebration at a friend’s new home and look forward to ringing in 2009 with friends – some old and some new. This week I will try to extend my R & R as much as I can. 2009 is going to be a great year filled with more change. I know it will bring me many new opportunities and I can’t wait for the adventure to begin.
But for now, I am just happy to be home for the holidays.
Filed under: Feast
I am now 5 days into my “extended week” end-of-the-summer vacation. And not much has changed. In fact Walshy is over, Mike is in the kitchen being drink mix master extraordinaire, Grover is on Walshy’s lap, the music is playing throughout the house and outside and I am barefoot in the kitchen. Tonight however, I am here on the computer as opposed to whipping up dinner. 5 days in and it is the first night I have not cooked for either a gaggle of people or just the two of us in my newly named Cape Cod Pizza Kitchen.
The weekend was absolutely gorgeous. We spent Saturday at the beach and did not feel like showering or getting dressed for dinner. I had just flipped through one of my favorite cookbooks (Barefoot Contessa Parties!) and decided I wanted to make grilled pizzas.
I have never made my own dough and do not own a pizza wheel, pizza peel or pizza stone. Or dry yeast for that matter. So bikini still on, I headed to my second most frequented place in the area Williams Sonoma (Starbucks scoring number one slot) for a pizza peel and then to the grocery store for the dry yeast and all my toppings.
The recipe told me to put all the ingredients into the electric mixer with a dough hook. Oopsie. Do not own either of those. Don’t even know what a dough hook is or what it looks like. Who knows maybe I do have one floating around. I do however own a very old Betty Crocker hand mixer and two good hands. So I hand mixed and then kneaded away. My whole wheat flour dough turned out just fine. And bonus this dough only needs to rise for a half an hour. I made 3 balls and then rolled them out. Cornmeal (had to purchase that too) on the pizza peel is key here. Throw your circle of dough down on top of the cornmeal and grill for about 2 minutes. Now the fun begins.
You can basically add any toppings you wish or whatever is hanging out in your fridge. We made 3 pizzas that night. 1. Tomato (I made my own sauce), ricotta, chicken saugage (I cooked it before) and basil. 2. Tomato, mozzarella and basil (classico) and 3. Red and yellow peppers, sliced prosciutto and goat cheese. Add your toppings and then fire them up on the grill again until your cheese starts to melt. All delish!
So delish that we are going to do it all again this coming weekend for a houseful. This time I plan on making 6 to 8 pizzas. And for dessert . . . cupcakes for my cousin Susie’s birthday and Wide Eyed Vinny’s! Stay tuned for that explanation in my next post.
Cape Cod Pizza Party!
Filed under: Feast
I discovered a new recipe while waiting for my hair to process the other day. Not sure if they regularly feature recipes in Metropolitan Home or if this was a one-time summer thing, but was very glad that I had read just about every other magazine sitting on that shelf. This was a great find and this dish is great for summer entertaining. Something I love to do.
We have a full house this weekend (6 adults, 5 children and one dog to be exact) and I plan on whipping up a big batch of this for our Saturday night BBQ. I tested it out first the other night and I found my new summer salad .
Read on – test it out – and feel free to send me any comments or improvements. I have a feeling you can add just about anything to this and it would be good. And bonus for all you Martha Stewart types, it looks fantastic in the serving bowl. Don’t let the blueberries throw you off. . .they are the thrill.
Brown Rice and Veggie Salad
1 1/2 cups brown rice (rinsed)
3 cups corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 cup sliced scallion
1 cup diced celery
1 sm diced red pepper
2 cups blueberries
3 tbsp lemon juice
Cook rice and then rinse, set aside in bowl. Cook your corn and add a touch of sugar to the water to make it sweeter. Blanch corn and then add to your bowl with the rinsed rice. Add scallions, celery, peppers, 3/4 of your berries. Stir in EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper (use your judgement with the dressing). Add rest of berries to the top for garnish. Take a picture it looks that appealing.
I found my thrill on blueberry hill.
Filed under: Feast
This has been the summer of sangria. We have made batches of this delicious summer drink just about every weekend and have shared the recipes with various friends. Mike has become a pro and even bought a special container just for this purpose. This weekend he made a white sangria and it is my favorite. I don’t know if it just tasted so good because I was in dire need of it by the time I reached Cape Cod Friday evening or if it is just that refreshing and yummy. Read on for the story and the recipe and try a batch at your next dinner party.
My parents picked me up at my office Friday afternoon. It was hazy, hot and humid. And I was exhausted from my week of work and travel. My parents being the super parents they are, waited for me to head down to the Cape. Mom did not mind because it gave her an excuse to shop in the city and to quote her, she “scored some killer shoes.” My Dad just said that once again, I cost him.
We knew vacating the city anytime after 2PM was going to present a problem, but I had meetings and could not leave any earlier. We decided to just try it because we needed to get to the Cape in time for dinner. Mike was in charge of Friday night’s meal plan, which meant we were hosting another dinner at our house and he was the cook.
We took my Dad’s car which is a convertible. Guess who sat in the back? It is a little back seat and with all their bags, my bag, my paper bag full of corn and cukes (had to stop at Siena Farms at the Farmer’s Market), my house gift for another party we had Saturday night and this ginormous tree pole cutter that stretched from my Mom’s feet across the console and into the back left corner, there left little-to-no room for yours truly. Because I was deliriously tired and because I was being the mischievous daughter I always have been, I decided to stir things up a bit (no pun intended) and complain.
Joking of course, but let’s just say between the ridiculous traffic, the tree pole cutter, my car sickness, my Mom’s car sickness, my complaining and my Dad’s patience, we were all glad to arrive at Camp DiCarlo for a super meal (Mike had even set the outside table) and a big glass of the below.
2 btls dry white (or a white rioja)
3/4 cup Poire William (pear brandy)
3/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
1/2 cup triple sec
3/4 cup simple syrup
3/4 cup passion fruit puree
2 cups OJ
3 apples (green)
1 cup black berries
Add lots of ice and a shot of Fresca to your glass before pouring in the sangria
Note you can use any type of fruit you love. We have also added white peaches, green grapes, you name it. And have found we like the white sangria during the day or to serve with a lighter meal. The more traditional red sangria is great too – but try this with your meat entrees, heavier meals and when you want a little spicier drink. Then add your fruit accordingly. With the red, we added plums, apricots, and red grapes.
The container featured above can be found at Pottery Barn and bonus, has just gone on sale. We have only filled it with sangria to date, but I know it will come in handy for just about anything we make and drink poolside.
Having a summer house means having house guests. We love sharing and entertaining at our home. And this past week has provided us with plenty of occasions to do both.
I can’t believe I have already been here and on vacation for an entire week. Usually, time starts to fly by after July 4, but this week traveled at light speed. Maybe it is because we have packed each day with various activities, thrown at least 3 dinner parties and hosted a few guests, one even of the four-legged variety.
Our guests (Maria, Susie and Stella the ballerina puppy) “checked in” Wednesday. That night we grilled home made sausage (my Mom brought them down from Dom’s) and peppers and made an absolutely delish penne margherita with the bestest pasta (Pasta Setaro – Torre Annunziata – Napoli) Maria brought us from her store. It was a fierce meal that we enjoyed with another batch of yummy sangria. The six of us dined outside in our courtyard and were then joined by an assortment of friends. The front door just kept opening and before I knew it, we were throwing a party with the music blaring and the sangria flowing. Stella pooped out earlier than the rest of us, but that’s my Grover right by her side. I think he was looking for a little action.
The next morning us girls took a long walk to the water with the two dogs. This was quite the sight. Both dogs are under 10 pounds so managed to walk about half of the way and then needed to be carried for the remainder. I guess my dream of running along the beach with my best furry pal is not going to happen.
We then took Maria and Susie to the famous Raw Bar for one of Bobby’s enormous lobster rolls (pictured above). It was a gorgeous day and sitting outside in the sun eating great seafood was a perfect way to spend our afternoon. What else would be a perfect thing to do? Shop of course. And after lunch, that is exactly what we three girlie girls did. Got to love summer sales and I truly believe a girl can never have enough tank tops or sundresses. Or at least I have said this so many times, I am now starting to believe my own crap.
Maria had to leave us later in the day (she was headed to ACK), but Susie, Mike and I went to the Ridge Club with my folks for their annual 4th (or in this case 3rd) of July BBQ and fireworks. The skies threatened a storm, but we never got a drop of rain and the fireworks went off without a hitch. It was a super show.
Today is July 4th and we are doing it all again. Although tonight we are going to a dinner party at a friend’s house making us the guests and giving me a little independence.
Happy 4th of July to all!
The first weekend of my summer vacation has passed. I have left my house all of about four times. Once to go on a long run, another time to venture to Williams Sonoma, a third time to go on a leisurely drive along the shore searching for something new and the last to go to pilates. It usually takes me about four or five days to fully unwind, but as soon as I cross that bridge, this socialite becomes a true homebody.
Dinner parties are common at our house during the summer. We love to eat al fresco and to entertain. Truth be told, I would personally rather stay home and cook dinner for my family and friends than go out, especially in the summer. My profession sometimes forces me to be out, to network and to make small talk. And please don’t get me wrong, when I am out, I thoroughly enjoy and fully embrace the scene. But when I have some free time, I easily transform into a barefoot in the kitchen, no make up on my face and sporting a no fuss outfit kind of girl. It does not matter that I have a fresh pedicure, a summer glow and actually spent time crafting my no fuss outfits. Point is, my body and mind are here. And there is just something about the informality of it all, that make it cool.
Dinner parties give you the chance to really talk to people you really want to, to eat great food and drink great wine. Saturday night was a perfect example of this. We invited Andy and Didi and Mark and Nancy over for my Mike’s homemade paella (featured above) and sangria (recipe compliments of Jessie at Sonsie). Andy brought over the most delish Spanish wine (Flor de Pingus 2003) and Nancy brought an assortment of cupcakes from the new bakery. We drank and ate like Basque kings and queens. And then retired to the pool house to enjoy one last glass of vino with our dessert.
The food, the wine and the company was all this homebody needed.
Filed under: Feast
Before I wrtie about my recent trip to Jamaica Mon, I thought I would share a new recipe that I have now tried twice. I found this one in a great cookbook my parents gave me for Christmas. It’s a book highlighting some of Boston’s best restaurants and their most popular dishes. This was is from the Deluxe Diner.
I love to cook when I have the time. And I must admit I have become a good cook. I truly enjoy it and it makes me feel so domestic. The whole shopping for the best ingredients, and all the prep and presentation, is something I take pride in and feel is a true reflection of my profession. It’s all in the details.
I know I will be grilling these all summer. Try them with a simple green salad or something with a slightly sweet taste. The other night I served them with a fennel and avocado salad and just made a light champagne mustard vinaigrette.
1 tbsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp applesauce (I prefer organic)
1 tbsp plain yogurt (I use Greek non fat)
2 tsps curry powder
3/4 tsps salt (kosher)
1/4 tsps cayenne pepper
1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1/4 cup chopped scallions (about 1 or 2, use the green and white parts)
Fresh mint (chopped, about 5 or 6 leaves)
2-3 tbsps peeled and grated apples (granny smith are best)
2 tbsp mango chutny (I prfer the sweet, but you could try the hot if you are the spicy type!)
Lettuce and tomates for serving
Bulkie rolls (or a brioche or portugese sweet roll)
Toast mustard seeds (this is fun – they actually pop!)
Mix applesauce, yogurt, chutney, curry, salt, and cayenne with toasted seeds.
Add turkey, scallions, mint and apple.
Make patties, but not too tight. Then grill away!