Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Dinner Party on New Year's Eve

As long as we have been together, Mr. Butter and I have enjoyed celebrating New Year's Eve by hosting a dinner party for different friends. We pour vintage champagne, open good wine, and I make everything with butter and cream. Since we're in the Midwest, we serve beef as the main course (as opposed to cod, or lobster), but I still insist on importing oysters from the New England Coast.
I love honoring the Twelve Days of Christmas (Christmas Day being the 1st), and of course New Year's Eve is always the Seventh Day - Seven Swans a Swimming.  One day I'll have real swans (not really), but for now these little place cards mark the day.
dinner table is set.

Last month our local wine shop, Top 10 Wines , had a fantastic champagne tasting to help us stock up for the holidays.  I'm looking forward to toasting in the New Year with a '95 Les Mesnil Grand Cru.
photo courtesy of @habituallychic

Like I said, we love oysters, and I can't think of a better New Year's Eve pairing than champagne and oysters.  One of our favorite places to order oysters is from Island Creek Oyster, in Duxbury, MA.  They also carry oysters from Welfleet, and a few other towns on the South Shore.  This year we'll serve 1/2 of them raw on the half shell, and the other half using a recipe for BBQ'd oysters with Bourbon Chipotle butter - from my favorite West Coast purveyor, Hog Island Oyster Co.
photo courtesy of Island Creek Oyster

photo courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.

BBQ Bourbon Chipotle Butter Oysters

For the main course I'm serving Chateaubriand with Mr Butter's famous Morel Sauce.  Missouri has so many options for good beef, and we've found the very best is Show Me Farms, right here in Columbia. They feed their cattle a proprietary blend of flax seed and other healthy ingredients, increasing the Omega-3 content by over 600%.  The beef is beyond tender and the flavor is out of this world. (This is not an ad, we are just HUGE fans)
this recipe is pretty close to Mr. Butter's, but he keeps a few secrets tucked up his sleeve.
Dessert is the same every year.  It's the most decadent flourless Chocolate-Orange cake with Bourbon, from April Bloomfield'sA Girl and her Pig.  It requires a few more steps than a basic flourless cake, but the results are worth it. Trust me when I say, it tastes even better on New Years Day, with coffee, or more champagne, as evidenced by my photo from 2013.  I've taken the liberty of sharing the recipe for the cake below - just in case you need one more thing to do before tonight's festivities.
New Years Day 2013

I've been cooking for two days, and still have a few more things to knock out before taking a quick yoga class, and then dressing for dinner.  Wishing the very best for all in the New Year, and  #keepeating

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Well Appointed Holiday Gift List

I've always appreciated the irony when, the day after giving thanks for what we have, we immediately go out and buy more.  Of course it's under the guise of gifting and giving to others, but if I'm honest there are always a few "...and one for me..."'s that find their way into my shopping baskets.

Tomorrow has been named "Giving Tuesday", and since we're well into the week AFTER Thanksgiving, I'm here to tell you, Shop til' you Drop! Below I've curated a selection of gifts for the individual who's most content when their kitchen is full of family and friends, and who's hearth is never cold. Entertaining always brings me joy, but especially during the holidays. I also appreciate the effort it takes to keep a functioning kitchen and pantry that's ready for guests at a moment's notice.

You may even find a few things for yourself in this list.What better time of the year to fill one's home with those you love, feed them good food, pour good wine.  

Nutmeg goes with everything, but especially during the holiday season.
Nutmeg Grater, in 24 carat gold
Downtime, the cookbook from Nadine Redzepi, wife of famed chef Renee Redzepi 
These are insane, and the large tin will survive the holiday season and beyond.
Italian Black Truffle Almonds
One can never have enough serverware.
Cheese Stones from Farmhouse Pottery

I have these, and they are dream.
Zalto Universal Wine Glasses 
Lyngby Vase 
anything monogrammed... i love these napkins from one of my new favorite etsy shops
The very best maraschino cherries, by Luxardo
Spice Crate from Penzies - We received this as a wedding gift , and I've been buying their spices ever since.
Morning Basket from Zabars - who doesn't love a pass on breakfast, especially during the holidays?
because we can all use a bit more inspiration, Mimi Thorisson's latest cookbook
the very best truffle oil there is on the consumer market, Regalis White Truffle Oil
one of my two favorite winter/holiday candles - smells better than a wood fire, and without the soot.

the other one...equally pleasing - smells like spice and all thats nice, without being noxious.
i came across these over at Town and Country and couldn't resist -
Mr.and Mrs. place card holders by Jonathan Adler
ok, i'm borrowing this from Habitually Chic's gift list
I've just ordered it for myself,  there's very little I enjoy more than good manners
Treating People Well, by Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard

Monday, November 20, 2017

Marie-Hélèn's Apple Cake, from "Around My French Table"

I am very fortunate to have found some very wonderful friends in my college years, and even more blessed that they have kept me around since. They are all strong women, wives, mothers, leaders in their churches and communities, and they are all kind. We don't live near each other anymore, but if I could choose my ideal dinner party, it would be at a table with these women.

We also share a passion for making and eating good food, so you can imagine the bevy of recipes that have been flying back and forth over the last week. From a vintage family recipe for cornbread dressing, and a winter greens gratin, to pumpkin bread pudding, and homemade 5 spice pumpkin ice cream.  

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite dessert recipes that always seems to find its way onto my menu. It has nothing to do Thanksgiving, but everything to do with fall. It is apple season after all. This was one of the first recipes I made from Dorie Greenspan's tome, Around My French Table.  
photo courtesy of Around My French Table - HMH
It is surprisingly simple to make, but the flavor of cooked apples spiked with a bit of rum,  evoke a sense of time, and love. I've added one small change to Mrs. Greenspan's recipe, and if she were to ever stumble across this note, I hope she and Marie-Hélène would forgive me.  Cardamom. That's it, just 1 tsp of cardamom* takes this cake from elegant simplicity to something a bit more rugged and sensual. Either way you make it, I promise, you will serve this cake to the people you love over, and over again.

-keep eating

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

curried shrimp on a bed of sweet potato and zucchini "noodles"

I made this fairly effortless shrimp dish for dinner last night in an effort to lighten up after a weekend of beef short ribs and pork shoulder.  Once the weather turns chilly, it's just hard to enjoy a salad. This recipe is warm, both in temperature and spice.  I served it over a bed of greens (to make it more filling and get some extra greens) and finished with a swish of sriracha and squeeze of fresh lime to taste. This way individuals can add as much or as little heat as desired.

Also, I hadn't planned on sharing this recipe on the blog, so please pardon the sparse nature of this post.  The recipe is simple enough, but I'll be more than happy to respond to questions/comments as quickly as possible

-keep eating

Monday, July 31, 2017

black eyed susans

I cannot get enough of this simple summer flower. I've been filling my pots and my garden with them this season, and their bright yellow faces make every day that much more cheerful.  This hearty little flower is a favorite of New England gardeners, and it always reminds me of summer on the Cape and Islands.