Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunday Brunch

Last Sunday started out as a glorious morning replete with big fluffy white clouds and a sapphire sea roiling with white caps. And then an icy Nordic wind blew in making the deck less inviting than it looked.  I don't know if this was the cause of the communal intimacy that ensued but I'm sure that it contributed as we all stayed indoors and ate gathered around comfy sofas and chairs.  Or maybe it was Sunday morning in general and everyone was ready for a long lazy meal and chat with new friends.  No matter what the reason, I was overjoyed to watch my guests go back for seconds and thirds, nibble on Katie Lou's phenomenal cookies and baked goods while sipping bloodies and Mimosas and really get to know their fellow guests.  Afterward I had a thought that my parties were becoming less about food and more about people being able to connect with each other in a social forum that was as I always say, better than hanging out in a restaurant where the only thing you leave with is a receipt of the bill. 

One of the other asides to the day was the shop factor a few of my female guests were privy to... greeted by the ever delightful, cheery and fiercely comedic Karin Rogers, who is in the couture business, and noted their stunning ensembles, they were invited to check out a Chanel this and Prada that.  Off they went to Karin's stuido below where they tried on shoes and clothes and left with some fancy additions to their wardrobes. 

I was also so happy to see many of my friends attend this brunch as guests so by the end of the day they were gathered with my new "friends" around island while I washed dishes and told stories as aided and abetted by my sidekick, Karin.  This was truly less work and more entertaining.  I apologized at one point and said we were formerly a more serious business but had morped into a casual homey meet and greet for this one day only! 

Menu was simple and delicious: scrambled eggs atop turkey sausage rounds on muffins with sage and caramelized onion gravy (next time I will assemble on freshly baked biscuits); roasted asparagus with crisped prosciutto; roasted new potatoes, roasted beet and lentil salad with mire poix and goat cheese; smoked salmon with capers, Bermuda onion on rustic bread and creamy butter;  fresh fruit, cookies, muffins, breads.  Bloodies were the best.   I pureed ginger, garlic, carrots and celery in the cuisinart and added this to tomato juice.  Added salt, pepper, lime and lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and horseradish and it was a meal unto itself.  

I can't wait until the next brunch... and I do hope you'll join us!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Protege

Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than watching a child develop an interest in food and cooking.  My humble beginnings in the kitchen were inspired by my uniquely perfect Jammies later called affectionaly by all of her grandchildren as Grammies. She was my father's mother, hailed from Texas and was not only the most amazing cook but her baked goods were singularly divine.  When I was around six I pulled my stepstool up to her side at the kitchen counter while she rolled out the flakiest pie crust and said, "teach me."  I still don't bake as well as she did but the rest is history and from that day forward I learned to cook from her. 

So it gives me great pleasure that my dear friend, Wendy Plumb's dautghter, Vienna, who at the tender age of four has fallen in love with cooking.  She's a very powerful little girl already and a great beauty with the kind of spunk that reminds me of me at her age.  Since I am always in the kitchen and often cooking for my extended family, the Plumbs, she has taken to showing up, maneuvering a barstool over to the kitchen island and insisting to help with dinner.  She has amazning hand-to-eye coordination and can deftly handle the tasks I give her.  She's a big lover of fresh basil and last Friday night kept pulling leaves from the fresh plant on the counter, shredding them into bits and walking around to each guest saying, "sprinkle, sprinkle."  So cute I almost cried.  She loves making vinaigrette at this point and is an expert at dipping one teeny finger into the dressing and sayiing, "Ummmm good."  She learned the word, "emulsify" recently and I actually believe she knows what it means! 

I told her mum she's going to be a phenomenal cook by the time she's seven.  It's going to be so much fun teaching her and bartering for kisses in exchange for time as my protege.  Vienna, this one's for you!

Love your Auntie Lisa! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Love Birthday Parties

I'm often asked to cater birthday parties and many times for friends.  When this happens I'm allowed the supreme pleasure of being both caterer and guest.    Last weekend was the ever more gorgeous Donna Livington's birthday and we gathered together in her chic, beautifully appointed and decorated Wilshire Blvd. highrise.  Donna's a decorator and it shows. 

Guests were limited to her closest gal pals and included many of my most favorite ladies. 

We dined on crostini topped with my amazing and easy cecca (cherry tomatoes are my secret ingredient, fresh basil, loads of garlic, great olive oil, sea salt, red pepper flakes and just a dash of red wine vinegar) and then sat down to Arugula Salad with shards of parmesan with my balsamic vinaigrette that everyone swears is the best dressing they have ever tasted (balsamic, olive oil, dijon mustard, sea salt and pepper -- swear to Pete that's it).  Salad was followed by Ahi Tuna and Salmon marinated in "Blazin' Asian Glaze" and the now practically quotidian Israeli Couscous studded with all our favorite ingredients.  I do have an extensive repertoire but what can I say... when my clients request their favorite dishes, I deliver. 

Cake decorations were picked fresh from my garden... the effect was entirely whimsical and fortunately no one was poisoned as a result.  

Happy Birthday Donna -- thanks for letting us serve you!