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dinner party solutions

Confetti cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Confetti cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Happy 2017, my friends! My year started off inauspiciously with my phone suddenly not working, so I have to send it to LG to see if it’s salvageable. (At least my old Razr smartphone is functional so I’m not completely without a phone right now. Here’s hoping it can hang on until August when my upgrade is finally available.) The weather hasn’t helped much in that it’s been dreary and rainy for the past few days, and while I know we need the rain, it doesn’t help with the whole getting back in the swing of things all that much. Read More

Chicken Thighs with Lemon-Basil Sauce

It’s hard to believe that July is winding down already, but then again so much of it passed by in a blur. I’m grateful that we’re still slightly less scheduled for August (just one weekend trip planned) but instead I’m taking on the rather enormous task of pulling together a 35th birthday party for Michael just under a month from now. We’re not new to hosting larger affairs–back in New Haven we hosted an annual Hall Benedict Food and Wine Classic every fall–but it’s frankly been a long time since we’ve been host to more than four or five people at a time and frankly, I’m a little scared. The only way to handle this (at least for me) is to make a ton of lists, so I now have a Google Sheet spreadsheet populated with everything from menu ideas to guest lists and timelines so I can figure out what I’m going to do on the days leading up to the big day. Read More

Tuscan-Style Lamb Ragu over Papparadelle

And just like that, we’re back to braises and ragus. The persistent, unseasonable chill that has defined most of December has certainly driven our desire to tuck into bowls of warm foods, as evidenced by many of our recent posts, but I have yet to tire of any of them. I’m sure by late January I’ll be craving for fresh salsa and peaches and other warm-weather staples, but for now it’s time to get while the getting is good.

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Braised short ribs: who knew they are perfect for a party?

When I found out that my good and dear friends from college were visiting us here from Boston and Philly, I was overjoyed.  Finally being presented with the opportunity to cook for my friend Kerry whose been bugging me for a dinner since I started posting food pics on Facebook years ago, I was elated.  When she told me she was bringing seven friends with her, I freaked the geek out.

So, what does the intrepid, ambitious home cook do when a dinner balloons into a circus?  Does he give up, no!  Does she whine and complain?  No!  Do they resort to baked ziti?  NO!  You take the fight to the enemy.  When life gives you lemons, you throw a lemony party.

What I needed was an anchor.  I accepted the challenge without a solid plan, I mean, I always have some party faves in my back pocket, but these are largely of the spread and dip variety.  Great fodder, but not superstars.  I was watching something on TV, I don’t remember what, maybe Top Chef, I’m not sure, but I saw people eating braised meat while standing. [Ed.–Yes, it was Top Chef–I believe Kevin was braising something.] And that was that.

I decided to make a whole mess of braised beef ribs, the notion being if I cooked them long enough, they’d be easier to eat than chips and guac.  I found a very simple braise prep similar to what I’d use on veal or lamb, just some sweated aromatics, beef stock and a bottle o’red wine.  Browning the many, many ribs took a while so I started the night before and got three good hours in before bedtime.  The next day I took the lid off and finished it for another hour or two on the cooktop.  The ribs came out tender and delicious and no one needed much more than a fork to completely wipe them out.  Folks seemed happy and when my guests are happy, I am too.  More on this party in the coming posts.  Until then, readers, cook on!

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