All posts in Dinner Party


Sunset Soiree on a Vineyard!

I’d describe the night as “Vintage French Romantic in Wine Country”

Photo by Melanie

 When my good friend’s husband called me asking if I’d be interested in throwing his wife Sarah’s surprise 30th birthday party on a vineyard in Alexander Valley,  you can imagine my response was a bit like, “yaaaaaahhhh!!!!!”

I mean, what’s better than family and friends gathering around the dinner table (in the middle of a vineyard)!? um, nothing.
Ah I can’t believe this is my JOB! 
From creating the vision for the night, the 6 course wine pairing dinner menu and styling every detail – right down to the silk ribbon tied around the name tag & rosemary – I love doing it ALL!
(I could do without the -up at 6am to marinate 30 lbs of flank steak though :) but that’s ok, part of being a caterer

Saturday was truly a magical night, so I thought I’d share a few pics:

I said to MacKensey of PoppyStoneFloral, “think, French woman standing in a vineyard in a flowy lace dress, holding a silver tray of appetizers and a glass of rose in cut glass crystal stemware” Does that paint the picture or what!?


The birthday girl sat in a French style chair and vintage rentals were, provided by Erica of Tine Roof Farm House.
And My mom and I browsed antique shops for mix-matching crystal votive holders.  We had about 40 on the table.  So pretty.
I made matches that said “Make A Wish – Happy Birthday Sarah” – everyone had a box at their place setting and we all lit a cadle and made a wish together!
Breadsticks and Olives in glasses to add to the Provence French theme.

Narine of Sweet & Crafty is the talented Calligrapher who wrote the beautiful name tags, menu and food labels.   

Silver Trays lined with grape leaves I picked from the vineyard for serving appetizers. Also provided by Tin Roof Farm House.

Dessert table with a gold frame chalkboard that read “describe a special memory with Sarah” and everyone put their stories in my mom’s vintage hat box.  


It’s a macaroon party

The sun goes down – but the party goes well into the night!  SO much LOVE was in the air.   Sarah’s friends and family even flew in from the east coast.

Photo by Melanie
Six course wine and dinner pairing menu

And a huge thank you to my amazing friend Melanie who helped plan the night for our dear Sarah! While running your own business and raising a 1.5 year old, you still found time to help create the special night – thank you so much!

Hop on over to my website if you’re interested in learning more about my services.

Here’s to living deliciously,
Claudine

 

 

Wellness Wednesdays: Weekly Tips on Living Deliciously Well

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Day 1 of  Wellness Wednesdays!   I’ve started this weekly news letter as a way to share tips, advice  and wisdom on “Living Deliciously Well”.  If you haven’t noticed, I LOVE an alliteration.  So clearly, Wednesday must be the day to share Wellness Wisdom :)

Why “wellness” as opposed to “recipe” or “health”?  Because wellness incorporates ALL aspects of living a whole, healthy, happy and mindful life!   And yes, “wisdom” sounds a little hippie dippie or self-salvant of me {I made up that term}, just don’t over think it…it works well with my alliteration obsession :)

Day 1 on Living Deliciously Well… drum roll please…

Happiness!

I truly believe happiness is the foundation for overall wellbeing, health and success (in relationships, career, finances, etc).  If you are living a life of resentment, substances and greed, it won’t mater the number of yoga classes you attend and green smoothies you down, you will never reach a level of contentment and true happiness.

And how coincidental that this was my YOGI tea mantra this morning.  So true:

“Inspiring others towards happiness brings you happiness”

Ben sent me an article today published in the Elite Daily titled, “15 things that emotionally strong people do not do”   And number 15 nailed my happiness philosophy to a T!  Here it is verbatim… I wont even paraphrase, that’s how spot on this is:

They don’t forget that happiness is a decision: Most importantly, the emotionally strong have learned to understand the power their brains have over both the mind and body. They understand that emotions are reactions, not reactions to direct physical causes, but to the way we perceive those causes. In other words, our emotions don’t reflect reality; rather, our emotions reflect the way we interpret reality. Understanding this gives us near-full control of our emotions and, therefore, our lives.”

I read this quote in Oprha on the plane yesterday, and though Iyanla is speaking of LOVE, I believe it applies to happiness as well.

Don’t expect to get all you need from someone else.  Whether we are talking about romantic relationships, deep friendships, or close bonds with family members, love is never codependency, validation, self-worth, self-value, or self-esteem.  It’s an experience that should fill us with joy – not serve as a replacement for loving ourselves.”

Happiness and love begin from within.  You must be happy and content in your life, in your body, and with yourself FIRST and not seek it through external sources (relationships, materialism, food, etc).  Your GLASS must already be FULL before moving into a deep authentic relationship with someone.

I’m writing to you from Baja.  On Halloween, I packed up my entire life, left SF and drove to the very most southern tip of highway 1….you can read about the journey HERE.  Anyway, point being, I thought a life of beach, sun, tacos, organic farming and yoga would be the happiest place on earth.  And as it turns out, even though I accomplished and learned a lot while living here, a slow-paced Mexican beach town, away from my friends and family, is not for me.

Your takeaway from Day 1 of Wellness Wednesdays:

 

You’re Invited: Wellness Weekend in Baja!

I’ll be hosting a Wellness Weekend in Baja, Mexico January 23-27th…and YOU are invited!

I’ve teamed up with 4 experts in the women’s wellness world to provide you with an unforgettable and relaxing weekend!  Your stay includes morning meditation with my cousin Laney, rooftop pilates with Kelsey, holistic cooking/nutrition demos with Andi and Christian and 1 restorative massage.  I’ll be cooking 3 nourishing meals a day with organic produce picked that morning, eggs from our farm and fish caught in the afternoon.

As you probably know by now, my passion in life is to spread health and wellness through personalized nutritioncooking lessons and detoxes so I figure what better way to educate and inspire women than in a beautiful home on our own private beach.

We’re keeping the group small to just 9 girls, so sign up soon!

 

Offered at a discounted rate of $1,300 until January 4th, after which it is $1,500.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity as it will never be offered again.  I hope you can join the fun!

Shoot me an email at visit@organicfarmgirl.org by January 10th!

 

 

Super Simple Supper while Camping

I’m all for keeping meals fast, fresh and simple…. therefore, when it comes to camping I prefer doing as much of the meal prepping and cooking in my kitchen before even heading out the door. See our camping trip on the Beach in Mexico HERE

The menu was inspired by EVERYTHING I gathered Friday morning on Logan’s farm.  

This meal was thrown together in less than an hour while Logan loaded up the car with camping gear.  I promise, you wont even need a measuring cup!

Super Simple Supper on the Beach

Blended Papaya Margaritas 

Kale Chips

Gazpacho Served in Bell Pepper Bowls

(tomatoes, cucumbers and green bells, lime)

Campfire Clay Pot Veggies

(Beets, Carrots and Shallots)

Campfire Berry Cobbler

(Blackberry Lime with Coconut Crumble)

our picking from the farm

in action – picking cucumbers

 Gazpacho Soup:  Serve in a bell pepper… that way you can either eat it raw or skew it and roast on the campfire for another meal.  Try this recipe and if you are in a hurry, don’t even bother roasting the veggies first RECIPE
Blackberry Cobbler
Cobblers are one of my favorite go-to desserts!  They travel well to friend’s homes (and even camping) and I love how you can bake them once you get to location.  Just pop it into the oven while everyone is enjoying dinner.  Nothing beats a warm fresh baked dessert with some cold vanilla ice cream.  Another reason cobblers are fantastic: you can change them seasonally and use whatever beautiful fruit is looking good to you.  Serioiusly, you can not mesa up a cobbler… the most basic of cooks can make a killer cobbler..  Here’s my favorite Peach Cobbler RECIPE, again, was taken to a party.
 

dinner with a REAL farmer in Mexico

Does life get much better than this?!

Read about my day on the farm HERE!

Slow Cooked Rabbit Ragout: Logan shot and slaughtered the rabbit on his farm the day before.  I LOVE it. Can you get any closer to hunter and gather days?

Farm Salad: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and basil with local cheese, balsamic and olive oil

Northern Baja White Wine: Had dinner with the wine makers the night before.

Homemade tequila infused with organic herb

Surfing, Sand and Sun

 

A Summer Soiree

I catered a lunch yesterday with a menu that I am so excited about!  It was such a beautiful representation of what you’d find at a Farmers Market in July – so fresh and delicious – I have to share. If you are not a big meat eater – I think salmon would substitute nicely for the skirt steak.

Appetizers:
Figs and Prosciutto over Ricotta, Drizzled with Honey  
(For the non pork eaters substitute chopped pistachios for prosciutto)

Salad:
Grilled Peaches with Toasted Walnuts, Pt Reyes Blue Cheese in a Balsamic Dressing
Main:
Skirt Steak over Fresh Corn Polenta
Sun Marinated Heirloom Tomato (soaked in a bowl of olive oil, balsamic, basil and garlic – Amazing and can go on anything! This is my summer staple)
Fresh Chopped Salad of Summer Squash, Zucchini, Wax Bean and Haricot Vert Swith Lemon Zest, Basil, Pine Nuts and Fresh Grated Parmesan

Dessert (not pictured)
Short Cakes, Vanilla Ice Cream and Plum Compote

Prep Ahead Tips:
Day Before:
prep, chop and blanch your summer veggies
Steam corn for polenta
Make your dressing and marinades
Start Marinating your Tomatoes
Chop nuts
make Shortcakes for dessert

Morning Of:
Make crostini
Grill the peaches
Grill the Steak (only to rare – let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and divide on 2 small baking pans.  Reheat in the oven for your guests right before serving – this will finish the cooking too.  I divided the meat between 2 pans so that one batch would be brought up to med-rare and the other batch I left in the oven a bit longer to bring the meat up to med)
Fill a large pot on the stove with broth and line up your polenta ingredients to throw in and make cooking/hosting as easy as possible (4 cups broth, 1 cup polenta. 1 cup parm, 2 cups fresh corn steamed and cut off ear)

Skirt Steak Marinade:
So good- I need to write this down so I don’t forget what I did
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Chopped Garlic, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce

Enjoy!!!
 

Provence Party

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love an excuse to host a party.  So when my married friends and I started a monthly dinner group, you can imagine how excited I was when it was my turn to host!

I want to share this dinner party as an example of how simple it can be to host a fabulous supper in style and stilettos ah!
The key is to plan ahead and decide on a menu that can be prepped days before and requires little hands on time during your party… for example a cheese, fruit and nut platter for an appetizer and slow cooked meat for your main…

I decided on a Provence theme because, well, I’m obsessed with the south of France! The food, wine, culture, language, men, style, architecture, cobble stones, surf, music, all of it!

Provence Party Menu
Appetizers:
Cheese Plate

Tomato Tarts

Artichoke Tarts

Dinner:
Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken in Garlic and Thyme
over Saffron Rice

Rosated Broccoli and Garlic with Basil, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Ratatouille with Homemade Pesto 

Dessert
Lavender Madeleines with Honey Creme Fraiche

 Set the mood

  • Offer your quests a glass of wine when they come in.  Simple say, “I just opened a bottle of wine, can I pour you a glass?”
  • French music on Pandora
  • Savorying Provence, cookbook on my coffee table
  • Olive tree to add a little nature
  • Little bowls of olives and rosemary marcona almonds

 

Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Apricot Chutney Flat Bread

Savory gorgonzola and sweet apricots make a heavenly combination

My friend Kate from Seattle (we met 3 years ago while living in Thailand) came to visit for a couple of days and on her last night here we had a Sex And The City, Wine and Flat Bread Marathon.
Kate is a great cook (enjoying healthy foods like me!) and so fun to be in the kitchen with.  We also made a Margarita with Eggplant (a specialty of hers) and a Pesto with Fresh Tomatoes (a specialty of my mom’s).
Partially inspired by sipping wine while cooking, we’ll credit our healthy appetites to the 3.5 mile run across Golden Gated Bridge earlier that day :o)

This is an amazing combination worth trying on a panini or served in bowls along side crackers for an appetizer.  I don’t eat pork but I just thought of another good idea: apricot glazed pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, caramelized onions spooned over and blue cheese crumbled on top, serve hot and melting.  Maybe sprinkle with fresh thyme to add some color.  Oh, you could use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for an incredible rich and flavorful dinner entree.

Ingredients:
Flat Bread, I used Udi’s Gluten Free
Chevre Cheese
Apricot Chutney (recipe here)
1 t olive oil
1 Sweet Onion thinly sliced
1 T brown sugar
1-2 garlic cloves chopped
Gorgonzola or another stinky blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 350
Make the caramelized onions:
Add the oil and onion to a heavy sauce pan (not too big)
Cook slowly over medium heat for a couple of minutes
Add the brown sugar and garlic
Spread a thin layer of chever of the bread
Followed by chutney
Caramelized onions and crumbles blue cheese
Sprinkle with good salt
bake for 15 minutes

Margarita Eggplant, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes 
 A favorite of mine while growing up:
Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Basil, Feta and Parmigiano 

yum
 

For Your Party, Start with Style

One thing I love most in life is throwing dinner parties for friends and family.
The other thing I love most is making a party beautiful, stylish, creative and chic!

Favorite Places to Get Inspired:
Hostess with the Mostess
Hello Naomi
Cakes Likes a Party
Society Picnic
Joyful Wedding and Events
Style Me Pretty

Favorite Places to Buy the Goods:
Acme Party Box Company
For Your Party
Paper Source
Luna Bazaar
Shop Sweet LuLu
Etsy
100 Layer Cake

And lastly, the proper placement of silverware

 

Moroccan Tangine

This is a “winner recipe” for sure
served over quinoa and topped with Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche
I’ve served this for many occasions: private dinner parties over quinoa for the vegetarian, clients I’m a personal chef for and my Kid’s Summer Cooking Camp.

Today we went to North Africa… enjoying pita too.
There are a lot of ingredients, and it is a little time consuming but well worth all the work.
This also lasts for a few days in the fridge and heats up really well.
As I know, kids love making this. Give them the jobs of cutting and chopping all the vegetables.

You can serve this over rice, couscous or quinoa. I serve it over quinoa to make it a complete protein meal.

Adapted from one of my Favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Food For Friends
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 t tumeric
2 t cumin seeds
2 t coriander seeds
1 t cinnamon
1 red Serrano chili
28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1 T tomato paste
2 oz dried apricots
¼ cup raisins
½ cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 large baking potato (or, I’ve used fingerling for esthetic purposes)
3 large carrots, thickly sliced at an angle
2 ½ cups chickpeas (about 3 cans)
small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
Heat half the oil in a large sauce pan
Add the onions, tumeric, coriander and cinnamon and chili and cook until softened, about 10 minutes
Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for 10 min
Add the apricots, raisins and olives and potatoes and carrots
Cook for 45 minutes, until carrots are tender
(Meanwhile make the couscous)
heat the remaining oil in a pan, add the cabbage and stir fry until just softened
add cabbage and chickpeas to the sauc

e pan, bring to a boil

stir in parsley and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper

 

Potato Leek Soup with Hearty Croutons and Creme Fraiche


As my cousin said, “very flavorful and not too rich”

A soup before a meal really does not, and should not, have to be heavy and rich. You want to finish your soup feeling satisfied and ready for your main entree.
I made this soup for a private dinner party that I catered. My ABSOLUTE favorite part of catering is working with clients to come up with a wonderful, creative, seasonal menu.
This party’s menu was particularly lovely.
Appetizers:
Buckwheat blini with smoked trout and creme fraiche (recipe)
Baked dates filled with cevre and wrapped in bacon (recipe)
Crostini with Grilled Radicchio in a balsamic dressing topped with shaved Parmigiano
First Course:
Potato leek soup
Main:
New York Steaks (from Prather Ranch)
Point Reyes Blue Cheese Butter
French Fries
Steamed Artichoke with lemon and thyme
Dessert:
Flourless Chocolate Cake
(I’ll work on posting the wonderful recipes)

I chose this soup because it does not call for cream, unlike a lot of potato leek soups. I think cream can make recipes too rich and fillling, not what i was looking to do here.
Adapted from Simple Recipes
This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled…
Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
3 Large Leeks, cut lengthwise, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 T butter
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth (I used vegetarian, hey, why not!?)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 t fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
Cook leeks in the butter with salt and pepper
(funny side note, I forgot I added pepper and thought that it was dirt from the leeks not being washed well enough! duh!)
Cook until nice and tender- About 10 minutes- DO NOT brown the leeks. Browning will give the leeks a burnt flavor.
In a stockpot add the water and broth. I then added the potatoes as I was peeling and chopping- keeping them from turning brown.
Scrape all the leeks and their juices into the stockpot of broth and potatoes
Bring to a low simmer and cok for 20 minutes.
I used a hand blender to puree the soup. You can control the chunkyness… I pureed it completely because I didn’t want any chunks… up to you though.
Add the parsley and thyme and some fresh pepper (not dirt) and salt to taste.
Croutons:
Preheat 425
Find the hearty-est bread you can
Cut into even cubes
toss with olive oil, garlic oil and salt and pepper
Bake on a cookie sheet, tossing frequently, 15 minutes
 

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmi-Yumma

I feel it’s time I start posting more savory, salty, hot dinner dishes.

By the looks of my blog you may think I only eat sweets and vegetables. While that is mostly true, sadly, I do still enjoy cooking hearty meals for friends and family.

This eggplant parmigiana is always a hit and can be made ahead of time before the guests arrive.

I adapted the recipe from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights. I love her recipes, philosophy and life story.
If I have a cookbook one day… wait… let me start again… when I have a cookbook of my own one day, it will be a lot like Dahl’s!

Ingredients:
3 medium sized eggplants
sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans of chopped tomatoes
1 T brown sugar
s & p
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
2 cup fresh basil, copped
2 large buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400
Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, lengthwise
lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 20 minutes. This allows the water to exit the eggplant. Soon you will begin to see little droplets of water on the eggplant- it will look like it has just rained in your kitchen on your eggplant. Pat with paper towels to absorb the water.
Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until they turn golden.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil and gently sweat the onion, adding the garlic a minute or two later (onion takes longer to cook than garlic)
Add tomatoes and brown sugar and season with s & p
simmer for 20 minutes, covered
Now is when you add thick balsamic vinegar, optional
Grease a baking dish
Now the fun layering begins!
Eggplant
Sprinkle with basil
Mozzarella slices
Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Keep repeating in this order
Top with Parmesan and basil
Bake for 20 minutes
I know it’s tempting, but allow to cool for about 10 minutes before digging in
Note:
Can keep in the fridge over night unbaked, throw in the oven 30 minutes before quests arrive.
 

Coconut Cupcakes

with cream cheese frosting and a surprising bite of chocolate inside

I decided to make these mini for a friend’s birthday celebration…bite size anything is just more fun, and maybe even guaranteed to taste better!
Plus, mini-ness helps with portion control, because 7 mini really equals one regular size cupcake, right? ;o)
Morgan’s Surprise Birthday, slash, Going Away Party!
Make a wish!
Enjoying cupcakes!

We go back to Elementary School!
Love you, miss you, kiss you!
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 12 cupcakes (24 mini)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup sugat
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup milk
Chocolate pieces, about 1/2 cup (optional)
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 t pure coconut extract
2 cups flaked coconut
Sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven 350
line muffin tins with papers
Combine the flour, salt, baking flour, set aside
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1 stick butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time
Reduce speed to low
Slowly add flour
Add the milk
Spoon into muffin tins, 3/4 full
Top each with a chocolate piece
Bake about 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean
cool on wire rack
Frosting
Meanwhile, with mixer on medium, beat cream cheese and remaining 1/2 stick of butter, confectioners sugar and coconut extract.
Frost cupcakes, sprinkle with coconut
note: If you are piping the frosting, like I did, add the coconut to the frosting and beat until well mixed, about 10 seconds. then pipe onto cupcakes

Make a Wish
Family comes to really make the surprise special!
 

Hazelnut Ganache Tart with Sea Salt

Um, Yum!
I am such a sucker for Sweet + Salt!



A perfect dessert to serve a crowd-
this is sure to impress your dinner guest



I made this Vegan and Gluten Free for Thanksgiving-
believe me, no one knew!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup Dry Roasted Hazelnut
1 1/2 cup Crushed Chocolate wafer cookies (I used Gluten Free)
6 T unsalted butter melted (I used vegan Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 14oz Silken Tofu- Blended in the cuisinart)
12 oz Semisweet chocolate chip
Sea Salt for Garnish

Heat oven to 350
In a food processor, finely grind 1/2 a cup of Hazelnuts.
Add the crushed cookies and butter and pulse until smooth
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch removable bottom pan
Bake of 10-12 minutes, let cool on a wire rack
Meanwhile, in a double broiler melt the chocolate
Add the chocolate to the heavy cream (of tofu in the blender
Pour chocolate mixture onto the cooled crust
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Sprinkle with remaining nuts and sea salt
Served on a pretty blue platter I picked up in Todos Santos, Baja California
 

Perfect Summer Salad

Serve as a bite size salad on skewers at a cocktail party,
or on pretty small plates at a dinner party.

Union Street’s 15th Annual Sidewalk Sale at Dahlia Boutique


The flavors here come together so well, I love it
Just a little bite of summer- makes me smile :)
I’m a little late on posting this recipe. almost 2 seasons to be exact.
But this salad is so simple, delicious, and is worth sharing.

Because there are so few ingredients, it is important that you buy good quality feta cheese and balsamic reduction.

Serves 4 side salads
Ingredients:
2 cups arugula
1 cup mixed greens
1/2 cup goat’s feta cheese
1/2 cup watermelon
1/4 cup EVOO
Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the feta and watermelon into equal size pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large bowl, gently combine the greens, feta, watermelon and olive oil and salt and pepper.
Place equally on 4 plates
Drizzle the Balsamic Reduction

Can serve with crostini. Also, chopped walnuts would be nice sprinkled on top.
If serving on skewers, skip the mixed greens, just use one piece of arugula.