Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year 2011


It seems to be turning into a tradition for us to throw another New Year's Eve party this year. The party was a little smaller than last year since a lot of folks are sick or out of town, but we still had a great time (and with lot of champagne and good eats, how could we not)?

Here's some of the stuff we served that night...


Puff pastry twists


Foie gras with date puree and pomegranate on brioche


Smoked salmon with crème fraîche and chives on toast


Stuffed cucumbers


Smoked duck breast and salami


Lumpia and sweet chili sauce


Veggies and hummus


Bread basket: cranberry-walnut, baguette, toast points, and pita


Cheese!


Chocolate fountain and fixings

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tea and Twilight



I was planning on going to a tea house with my sisters and some friends, but alas, we weren't able to find any places that were open in December (I guess tea houses are just really popular during the holidays?).

So, Leah and I decided to host our own tea party at my house. And since we were going to be all girls, we figured, why not also watch a girly movie? The new Twilight movie, Eclipse, just came out and we figured, why not? Of course, watching the movie sober is not fun (almost painful) so we also had a bunch of champagne to drink with tea as well as the truffle popcorn we had during the movie.


From bottom left: currant scone, cucumber sandwich,
curry chicken sandwich, smoked salmon sandwich


To start I made some currant scones, which we served with some Double Devon cream, lemon curd, and raspberry jam. For the tea sandwiches, Leah made a chicken curry sandwich (on wheat bread), and cucumber sandwiches (on white bread). I made a smoked salmon sandwich with creme fraiche on pumpernickel bread. Though not quite traditional, I think the curry sandwich was my favorite, it just had a lot more flavor and kick to it, and went perfectly with the champagne.



For our sweets, my sis tried making petit-fours for the first time. It was a bit sweet (as most all petit fours that I've ever tried) but still pretty good. I went to a recipe that I've made a couple times before, but never fails to impress: chocolate macarons (not "macaroons"!). Both looked really lovely on the table and enjoyed by all the ladies.

I had a few teas, including a lemon-herb tea and champagne raspberry tea (from Lisa's Tea Treasures), but Carrie gave me a couple more (love the "Napa Blanc" tea...really did remind me of wine!). Janie also brought a few teas from Starbucks (my fave was the Berryblossom White).

Good times!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's crab season!

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Crab season just started, and they had it on sale at the Asian supermarket near our house for $2.99 a pound. Crab is probably one of Uly's favorite foods, but I'm not the biggest fan, unless it's disguised in some manner to make it not too "crabby". We wound up getting 2 ginormous crabs and had them for both dinner and breakfast the next day!

One of the crab dishes I do like to eat is crab cakes, so we decided to make some from our usual recipe from Cook's Illustrated. For our other dish, we decided to go Asian and recreate the crab with cellophane noodles we've enjoyed at The Slanted Door. We were going to wing it and see if we can reproduce it, but they actually had the official recipe posted online! It tasted just like it did at the restaurant.

The next day at breakfast, since we still had some crab cakes left over, we decided to make a dish we've had at restaurants before for brunch: crab cakes eggs benedict. It's pretty much the same as regular eggs benedict, but instead of the ham you use a crab cake! It was our first time poaching eggs and it was a bit overcooked for my taste, but it was still pretty yummy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Roast Cornish Hen with Herb-Bread Stuffing


We felt like drinking some Pinot, and were thinking about roasting a chicken, but then we wanted to try something a little bit different. I found a nice recipe for roast cornish hens from my other Jean-Georges cookbook (thanks Carrie!). The cornish hen was the perfect size for the two of us (no leftovers!), and the bread stuffing that came with it was absolutely perfect.

For our sides, we sauteed some brussels sprouts, and I made a mushroom risotto using regular button mushrooms and dried porcini. Our wine for the evening was a ZD Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir 2007, which we bought on our trip to Napa the previous year.

Here's the recipe for the cornish hens...

Roast Cornish Hen with Herb-Bread Stuffing
from Jean-Georges: Cooking At Home with a Four-Star Chef by Jean Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman

2 ounces good crustless bread (about 4 slices)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound chicken livers, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
2 Cornish hens, about 1 pound each, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon buter
2 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed

1) Preheat the oven to 500F. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Place 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet and turn the heat to high. A minute later, add the bread. Toss it until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes, and place it in a bowl.
2) Wipe out the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and turn the heat to high. Sprinkle the livers liberally with salt and pepper, then toss in the pan. Immediately add the minced garlic, shallot, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally until the liver loses its rawness. Add to the bread and toss with the parsley and lots of salt and pepper. (You may prepare the stuffing in advance; refrigerate, in a covered container, for up to 2 days.)
3) When the stuffing is cool enough to handle, stuff the hens. Truss the birds if you like or simply close their rear vents with skewers to keep the stuffing from falling out. Season them all over with salt and pepper.
4) Place a Dutch oven or oven proof casserole over high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, along with the butter. Immediately add the thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, and any scraps from the birds, such as necks or wing tips. Add the birds and brown lightly on both sides of the breast, then turn the birds onto their backs and place the pan in the oven.
5) Spoon the pan juices over the birds every 5 or 10 minutes. h they are done - after about 30 minutes of roasting (there should no traces of pink) -- put them on a platter. Remove the thyme sprigs, garlic, and greace from the pan. Place the pan over high heat and add 1/3 cup water; cook for a minute, scraping up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When they are incorporated, pour the jus over the birds. Carve and serve.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halibut Provençal


Felt like eating something light, so Uly and I decided to have some fish for dinner. We bought some fresh halibut from the Union City farmers market, and used one of the recipes from one of our favorite cookbooks, Jean-Georges' Simple to Spectacular. We just love how the recipes can be so simple, yet still "fancy" and very very tasty.

We picked a recipe that was one level up from the simplest, Provençal Halibut. The fresh, in-season grape tomatoes were the perfect complement to the fish, and the whole dish was very light and refreshing. For sides, we had some whole-wheat couscous and braised asparagus, which went very well with the fish. For our wine, we had a nice Chardonnay (free leftovers from Shirley's wedding!:) ).

Provençal Halibut
from Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication (Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallots
Four 6-8 ounce bone-in halibut or other steaks, or 2 larger steaks, each at least 1 inch thick
Salt and cayenne pepper
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons capers
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup minced parsley

1) Preheat the oven to 500F. Smear the butter in a shallow baking pan that will hold the fish without crowding. Sprinkle the shallots over the butter.
2) Season the fish on both sides with salt and cayenne; lay it in the pan. Scatter the tomatoes and capers around and over the fish, then pour the wine around all.
3) Bring to a boil on top of the stove, then transfer to the oven and cook for 5 minutes, basting once with the liquid. Turn the fish and cook until it is done, about 10 minutes total; the fish should be firm and just about opaque all the way through. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Makes 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Uly's Birthday BBQ



For Uly's birthday, he wanted something low-key (must be 'cause he's getting old!). We just invited our families over for a barbeque.

We made Uly's famous sliders...half chuck/half sirloin that we just ground that day, on a brioche bun. I was craving some truffle flavor, so to compliment the burgers, we made some truffle shoestring fries, truffle aioli, and truffle ketchup! In my opinion, you can never have too much truffle...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sole Meuniere


I found myself craving a some fish, so we decided to revisit Sole Meuniere, which we really liked the last time we made it. We bought some sole from the Asian supermarket and used the same recipe as last time. This dish really is so simple we should really make it more often! We had some sauteed swiss chard on the side, which was a nice light complement to the main course

Went Spanish with the appetizers since we wanted to use up some Pimientos de Padron we had, and also had some of the Jamon Iberico we brought back from Spain. For dessert, we had Picandou, a french soft goat cheese.


We drank 2 different white wines with this dish. With the appetizers and the fish, we had some Ledson Sauvignon Blanc that we had bought from the winery from our last trip to Sonoma. With the cheese, we had a half bottle of Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc.