Tuesday, February 15, 2011

bubbling rosé & valentine's day

Valentine's weekend was a wonderful
one for Linguine and Dirty Martinis!

Thursday evening, I represented Linguine and Dirty Martinis at a delightful open house held at Melanie Jones' Prim & Proper boutique.

Lauren Essl of Blue Eye Brown Eye (who crafted my precious holiday tags), displayed a trunk show with her gorgeous letterpress and calligraphy creations.

A few shots from the evening:

Prim & Proper-- truly a unique boutique!

L&DM spread complete with romantic menu options

bright scarves & luxe gift wrap

L&DM coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Blue Eye Brown Eye trunk show

complimentary gift wrapping table for guests

calligraphy tags and cherry-red
paper at the wrapping station
(photo courtesy of Lauren Essl)

L&DM strawberry thumbprint cookies
(photo courtesy of Lauren Essl)

Blue Eye Brown Eye letterpress & hand-stitched cards

a plethora of bubbly including sparkling
red wine, rosé and champagne!
(photo courtesy of Lauren Essl)

take-away favors from Blue Eye Brown Eye
(photo courtesy of Lauren Essl)

After a fun evening of sweets, bubbly and shopping, I spent the following evening equally content at a Tuscan Valentine's event hosted by Mike Bloomberg, aka "The Romance CEO," and A Piece of Work painting studio.

Twenty couples sipped vino, snacked on Italian
appetizers, painted a beautiful Tuscan landscape and

What a fun event!

After sugar-saturated events, I was looking forward to buckling down and preparing a 5-course Valentine's Day dinner for clients Monday evening.

My menu included:

Sweet Potato, Caramelized Shallots, Crispy Sage Pizette with a Brown Sugar Balsamic Reduction

Carrot Ginger Soup with Curried Crostini

Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing, Candied Pecans & Pomegranate

Rustic Chicken Pies with Herb Cream, Fennel, Butternut Squash & Heart-Shaped Pastry

Filling included sautéed celery, fennel, carrots, butternut squash and tons o' fresh herbs folded with chunks of roasted lemon chicken, pearl onions, peas and a creamy herb cream sauce.

Individual pies just about to hit the oven!
Pastry was a scratch-made pie dough of flour, cold butter, kosher salt and ice water.

Bosc Pear & Candied Ginger Tartlets with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

When I arrived home after a long day, I was greeted with my favorite flowers in shades of white and pale yellow from my valentine.

What beauties!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

chocolate demo & breakfast for dinner

What a week!

Super Bowl, more snow days and pre-Valentine fun all packed in to one!

Have I got some comfort foods for you...

It all started on the chilly Sunday of the Super Bowl.

Although I'm not too interested in following football, I simply like watching the games and enjoying the food and drink that accompany the occasions.

After a trek for supplies, I spent the entire day preparing a Super Bowl feast for 30 fit for a king!

Chicken, Sausage and Pulled Pork Gumbo

When I said I was making a huge pot o' gumbo, I wasn't kidding.

I started by making a dark brown roux
(this was at "peanut butter" stage).

8 bell peppers, 4 red onions, 3 jalapenos, 2 pounds of rice, 8 pounds of chicken, 2 pounds of sausage, 3 pounds of okra, 2 pounds of pulled pork, 3 gallons of stock, 6 cans tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, file powder and 7 hours later...

I was in business.

I cooled the gumbo down about 30 minutes, then we served it straight from the pot with homemade cornbread muffins crumbled right in the bowl.

Cornbread Muffins

Aunt Patti's 7-layer Dip

This dip is always the first to go at my family functions.

It begins with a layer of refried beans (use vegetarian if you please) + salsa + guacamole + sour cream + shredded cheese + black olives + sliced scallions.

Chill then enjoy with tortilla chips--
make sure to dip from the bottom!

Brisket & Hoisin Taquitos with three dipping sauces:
Jalapeno Ranch, Soy Ginger Reduction, Guacamole

Braised brisket tossed with hoisin sauce, fresh cilantro and scallions made a delicious taquito filling! I softened my flour tortillas in hot vegetable oil, rolled them with brisket mixture then baked them on sheet pans to crisp up.

Mexican Brownies with a Cinnamon Ganache

A dash of ancho chile powder in the batter and a sprinkle of cinnamon in the glaze added a kick of flavor to these luscious brownies.

These babies disappeared instantly.

After some brews, punch and camaraderie,
the party was one to remember!

On a later lazy evening alone,
I was craving breakfast for dinner and settled on some fluffy, buttermilk pancakes with ice cold milk:

Buttermilk Pancakes with Orange Marmalade Syrup

yields 8 pancakes

1 and 1/2 c AP flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt
2 and 3/4 t baking powder
1 egg
1 and 1/4 c buttermilk
1 t orange zest
3 T unsalted butter, melted plus additional for griddle

for syrup:

1/2 c orange marmalade
1 T lemon juice

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of dry mixture and add remaining ingredients. Whisk from the center slowly incorporating the batter.
Let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 T butter and scoop 1/4 cup increments of batter into rounds. Let pancakes cook on first side approximately 2-3 minutes until bubbles arise.

Turn heat down slightly then flip. Store first batch in a warm oven and repeat with remaining batter.

Meanwhile, heat marmalade and lemon juice in the microwave until warm and loosened approximately 1-2 minutes.

Serve atop hot pancakes with butter and a glass of cold milk.

Valentine cheer and the smell of cocoa were in the air after a festive Linguine and Dirty Martinis demo for the Junior Woman's Club of Fort Worth.

I arrived prepared for a three-pronged chocolate showing of simple techniques to use at home.

My demo included:

Chocolate & Toasted Almond Covered Cherries

Fleur de Sel Truffles

Cupid Chocolate Bark



The gals were given recipes and were full of great questions!

We simmered chocolate over a double boiler, made ganache, dipped cherries, rolled truffles and talked flavors.

There was fun had by all.

Many thanks to JWC for having me!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

icy nights & retro bites

Being stranded in a one-bedroom apartment due to inclement weather for 24+ hours is only manageable if red wine and chocolate are involved.

Words to live by?

Although my vino stash was drained dry, my eyes lit up as I was reminded of my stash of fine bittersweet, semi sweet and dark chocolates.

A few minutes later, my eyes rested on almond slivers and a retro jar of sugary maraschino cherries nestled amongst condiments in the fridge.

I grabbed a package of skewers and threw these simple bites together-- a perfect treat for a snow day!

These tiny bites are a lovely combination of salty,
just-toasted almonds, bittersweet chocolate and whimsical maraschinos:

Chocolate & Toasted Almond Maraschino Cherry Bites

yields approximately 15 skewers

4 oz fine bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c slivered almonds
1/4 t pure almond extract (optional)
1/2 c maraschino cherries, drained
skewers to stack cherries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set
water on to heat for a double boiler.

Arrange almonds in a single layer on a sheet pan.
Toast approximately 4-5 minutes until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool then chop finely.

Over the simmering double boiler, heat chocolate in a bowl until melted evenly and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.

Arrange two cherries to the end of each skewer.
Dip the top half of first cherry in melted chocolate then dip in chopped almonds.

Set on wax or parchment paper and chill to harden.

e n j o y !

Look for more Valentine-inspired
and romantic treats for two coming soon...