Off The Counter: "Plenty"

We recently hosted a group of visiting East Coast buddies along with several of our new West Coast friends.  For the dinner we prepared dishes from the cookbook "Plenty" written by chef Yotam Ottolenghi.   This recipe book combines vegetables, grains, herbs and seeds in a way I never thought possible, at least not in my kitchen.  The evening was spent experiencing new culinary combinations as well as acquainting our old friends with our new ones.  Take a look at some of the dishes and snapshots from that warm California night:

Many thanks to BS for giving us the cookbook that provided the menu and to all who joined us that evening!

Pretty Party Food From: The SchoolHouse At Cannondale

 At a friend's recent 40th birthday party, not only did we dance into the morning hours, we also ate and drank in superb style.  I was delighted with how good everything tasted and impressed by how creatively each appetizer was presented.  Take a look at how The Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton, Ct helped make our dear friend's big day unforgettable:

It occurred to me that if you're planning a super-bowl party and you wouldn't think of serving your friends corn chips and salsa, this post may give you some tasty, more elegant alternatives.

Join me in wishing my friend a very happy birthday all over again.  Thank you for sharing it with us, V.A.,  it was truly a treat!!

Off The Counter: Pomegranate Kid Cocktail

This week's Off The Counter was inspired by my son Benjamin's desire to create a cocktail.  He informed of me of this having already cut a pomegranate in half [by himself] and retrieving the cocktail shaker from a kitchen cabinet.  Reacting quickly to his sudden burst of culinary exploration, I gathered the only other fruit on hand and we began blending the Pomegranate Kid Cocktail, a frothy combination of pomegranate and persimmon fruits.  I warn you:  this is not a neat endeavor.  Pomegranate juice will stain just about anything except for (thank goodness!) my high-gloss kitchen walls.  Do wear aprons and prepare the fruit in the sink to contain the very red juice.   Take a look at how it turned out:

Punch Bowl Confessions

Last week's holiday punch bowl party was a huge success.  Outdoors, chestnuts roasting and marshmallows toasting on the fire pit, indoors, lovely bubbly and amazing cheese platters being enjoyed.  All that said, I do happen to have a few confessions.  The first being that the chosen punch, White Russians (recipe below), although it looked pretty enough and quite fitting for our white Christmas motif, was not the best choice.  Milk based cocktails do best as after dinner drinks.  My second confession is that I have no idea who took the photos of the impromptu dance floor.  At some point, the volume was turned up and the dance moves were on.  The next day I was hurting (getting a bit old for nights like these).   If any one else has punch bowl party confessions, do share.  Take a peek at the evening's festivities:


5oz milk, 20z vodka, 1oz creme de cacao, .25oz cointreau

mix hard over ice, pour and add a pinch of nutmeg

Best wishes,everyone, for a safe and happy holiday season!