Monday, December 26, 2011

Space Aliens? Or truffling eggs?

Okay it looks like an alien - but it's a white truffle from The Pasta Shop in a glass jar...

...with eggs that are being truffled. They absorb the flavor thru their shells, and softly scrambled with plenty of butter they are divine.

A little rice in the bottom of the jar to absorb any stray moisture, a few eggs (gently!) laid in, then the truffle, then more eggs and seal the jar and put it in the fridge for a few days.

I scrambled a dozen eggs for the four of us...
Thank goodness there was plenty of brioche for toasting. 
A simple memorable dinner. With dear friends. What could be better?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stollen Moments From David Lebovitz

A friend used to bring me a stollen every Christmas - she and her German mother baked them from an old (and secret)  family recipe. But the last couple of years as mom grows older, they have baked fewer stollen, and this year they aren't baking stollen at all. So I was thrilled to find this stollen recipe by David Lebovitz, an entertaining and educating blogger who also just happens to be an ex-Chez Panisse pastry chef. And an all-round nice guy. Plus he lives in Paris - I know, I know, not the home of the stollen. Unless they're kisses. But he's closer to stollen central than am I, and he is one amazingly creative i-can-make-that-only-better sort of chef and blogger.
(photo by David Lebovitz and please visit his website. He is fabulousness incarnate)

We've all lost family recipes - my grandmother was ashamed to be a Volga German (look it up) and didn't teach us any old family recipes, though I know there were lots. Being German there must have been a family stollen recipe - alas now lost.

My mom is from the era of Kilpatrick's bread and canned everything, and I am an Adele Davis baby (look that up too) because she knew that stuff in cans could not be good for us and fed us real organic healthy food before any of you know what that was. Lucky me.

Grab your grandma and demand some recipes. Get a voice activated recorder and capture those stories before they are gone. And have some stollen moments.

Hello Cupcake!

My friend Liberty and I made ghost cupcakes, from the book Hello Cupcake!

And I finally found the frosting tip video I was trying to show her. And yes, the keys on my computer are still a bit sticky. If I'd paid attention to the video they wouldn't be...

JoAnne makes the most gorgeous cupcakes -

She made these for Cathy's birthday and there's a whole berry-filled oreo on top. And marbled cupcakes once you get past the beautiful stuff. They were fabulous.

I'm going to ask if she knows the frosting tip...and then I'm gonna ask for a frosting lesson. Everyone who saw (and ate) these cupcakes wants a lesson.  JoAnne, if I bring lunch will you teach us?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - again

Last year we were a bit woodsy - birch logs and white hydrangeas, candles in the snow (okay, candles in the kosher salt, but try singing that) and lots of sparkly silver. Ron Morgan taught me that you need sparkly things and light colors, or the table just dies after dark. 
And we had reindeer! Lots and lots of sparkly reindeer.
But this year I was bored with birch. Several trips to the Flower Mart with different friends I came home with all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff. And thankfully it all came together...
...and it glowed at night thanks to all I've learned from Ron.
It even looked good with the buffet stocked - 

(about 80 people and yes I am still tired, but I had a great time at my own party).

So thank you to family and friends for making this the Best Party Ever. And thanks to Scot Meacham Wood for his party tips (listed on my older post). I would add a few:

1. Make lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of what needs to be done day by day. Revise them as you think of new things, get behind, get ahead. If they're neat you can actually read them.

Grocery lists - first list all the stuff you need for one dish, then the next. Then revise the grocery list so all the produce is together, and all the dairy...sounds obsessive but it will save you going back to the grocery store for the one think you just didn't see on the list. I made three trips before I got this one thru my head.

2. Get help. Serving, cleaning up. Be a guest at your own party. Better to be enjoying your guests than cleaning up after them.

3. Said this before, will say it again. Set the table 2 days before. Put post-it notes on all the platters with what's going there the day of the party. 

Do the flowers the day before. If you do they will fall into place. If you're fighting with the flowers when your guests arrive you will look like a deer in the headlights, they will be uncomfortable, you will be weeping...

4. Put food in multiple locations. Avoid the gazelles-around-the-watering-hole syndrome (thank you Scot). 

Have multiples of dip dishes and trays so the old one can be whisked away and the new one plopped into place. No washing up in the middle of the party, no scooping new food into messy dishes - it makes a huge difference.

5. And here's my lightbulb moment: get prep help. I don't usually have parties catered; I like to plan menus, to cook. But I was slicing my way through the eighth potato on the mandoline and chopping my way through the seventh bunch of green onions when it occurred to me: I can get help with this!

Happy Holly Daze. Try to remember to enjoy it - it will be over all too soon.