Thanksgiving 2017

We sat 41 people for dinner for Thanksgiving this year. Well, technically, 37 adults (if you include one 16 year old velociraptor) and 4 kids under 10.

The menu was as follows:
Thai pumpkin soup with gougeres
Smoked turkey
Roasted turkey with confit legs
Stock-braised turkey legs
Deep fried turkey
Roasted pork shoulder
Roast duck
Roasted beets with chimichurri sauce
Skillet roasted Brussel sprouts with mustard and brown sugar
Chickpea, arugula, and picked carrot salad
Sweet potato and star fruit chaat
Mom’s stuffing (that’s Jim’s mom, obviously)
Mashed potatoes
Orange cranberry sauce
Kimchi
Rice
Gravy
Hawaiian dinner rolls
Chocolate pumpkin cheesecake
Blackberry pie
Apple pie
Pumpkin spice cake

If there is a term for exhausted and stuffed at the end of a meal (stuffausted? exuffed?), that’s what we were. Thankfully, Jim’s nephew, Robert, came to help cook, and Robert’s girlfriend, Victoria, made the pumpkin spice cakes. (We had two of each dessert.)
And since Thanksgiving is all about thankfulness, I would like to say that we are extraordinarily thankful for our family and friends, who celebrate with us in good times and sustain us in bad times.
We hope your Thanksgiving was equally festive!

Thai pumpkin soup

traditional day-after-Thanksgiving sticky buns

 

 

Parent Potluck 2017

One of the lovely traditions at the kids’ school is that of parent potlucks. During the fall, various parents volunteer to host potlucks at their homes for the parents of the grade. We always try to host at least one, but sometimes schedules get in the way.
After not being able to host last year, we did host one this year for our son’s grade. Jim is opposed to potlucks as a concept and since he likes to cook, we cook the entire dinner. Guests are asked to bring their favorite bottle of wine to donate to the school’s auction.
This past weekend was a rather hectic one. Both Jim and I had board meetings followed by a wedding and reception on Saturday. The day of the potluck was also the day of Part 1 of our son’s Eagle Scout project (more on that in a subsequent blog post). But we managed to fit it all in (although I’ve never seen 2:00 am before on a day where the clocks were moved back—a new experience).

The menu was as follows:
cheese, pate, & crackers
cucumber & carrot salad
chickpea, arugula, & picked carrots salad
tossed salad
fruit salad
beef bourguignon
spicy shrimp
buttered baby potatoes
baguettes
steamed rice
apple pie

We had four couples over for dinner, some we knew and some we didn’t (which is a perfect combination). It was a fun evening with great conversation and some memorable moments.

 

Dinner party – December 2015

Some friends of ours were hosting a dinner party as part of a school event, and we offered to help out with the cooking. They kindly agreed to let us do so and, again, with major help from Robert, Jim’s nephew, we served the following:

Apple rutabaga soup with gougeres and Parmesan tuiles (wine: 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne)

apple rutabaga soup

apple rutabaga soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parmesan tuiles

parmesan tuiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gougeres

gougeres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scallops with shallots and bacon on Brussel sprout slaw with mustard dressing (wine: 2010 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne)

scallops on brussel  sprout slaw

scallops on brussel sprout slaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan lamb with couscous, Moroccan orange salad and home-made harissa (wine: 2010 Rudd Estate Oakville Proprietary Red)

moroccan lamb with couscous

moroccan lamb with couscous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread with salted caramel gelato and spiced whipped cream (wine: Alvear Pedro Ximinez de auada)

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a lot of fun to play in someone else’s kitchen for a change (although I’m not sure they shared the sentiment!).  🙂

Dinner Party – November 4, 2015

We hosted a dinner party at our house last night on behalf of our kids’ school. It was a day of prep and cooking, and we couldn’t have done it without Jim’s nephew, Robert, who was a tremendous help.

Here is our dining room:

dining room

dining room

We served the following:

Thai Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Gougeres (unfortunately, all I have is a photo of the gougeres) plus a lesson learned: forgetting to set the timer results in seared gougeres, which are NOT edible (fortunately, I made a double batch):

IMG_3021

Dungeness Crab served on top of Un-Crab Cakes (the un-crab cakes are made with hearts of palm), and another lesson learned when you marry a Washington state native–Dungeness crab is the best crab in the world:

un-crab crab cakes

un-crab crab cakes

Asian Duck Cassoulet served with Asian citrus salad

Asian duck cassoulet

Asian duck cassoulet

and, finally, Chocolate Pots de Crème served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme

We had a really fun time cooking the meal. (Straightening up the house enough so that it was fit for company wasn’t quite as entertaining, but it was necessary.) All in all, I think it was a successful dinner!

Institute for Justice dinner

Jim is on the board of the Institute for Justice, and we had the board and almost everyone in the organization (approximately 44 people) over for dinner last night.  Robert, Jim’s nephew, came out and helped cook.  Without him, we would never have been able to pull this dinner off.

The menu was as follows (no photos, sorry!  when there are 40+ people in your house, you forget mundane things like taking photos of the food.)

  • Cheese & Charcuterie with Garlic Grilled Baguettes
  • Lamb Shanks with Rosemary Orange Gremolata
  • Oven Roasted Herb Shrimp
  • Moroccan Vegetables
  • Couscous
  • Tunisian Beet & Potato Salad
  • Pineapple with Lime Honey and Lemongrass
  • Tossed Salad
  • Fresh Berry Salad
  • Chocolate Pots de Crème

As with all meals, I was responsible only for the Chocolate Pots de Crème, cleaning up the house, and doing dishes during the day.  J  And the good news is that there are lots of leftovers, so I can continue to leisurely eat my way through this meal.

Jim has been on the board of IJ for over 20 years.  IJ was founded in 1991 and is a civil liberties non-profit.  They defend people’s rights relating to private property, economic liberty, free speech, and school choice.  In addition to being an incredible group of dedicated professionals, they are also really fun people to hang out with.  (As an example, within 60 seconds of arriving at our home, there was already a pool game underway.)

You can find out more about this extraordinary organization at www.ij.org.

Thanksgiving

We sat 25 people down for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  The extroverted half of the family was giddy with excitement.  The introverted half of the family was delighted at the crowd and equally delighted when the evening ended.

Here’s the menu of what was served:

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Fried Turkey

Smoked Turkey

Roasted Turkey

Ham

Roasted Shrimp

Stuffing

Sweet Potatoes

Dinner Rolls

Rice

Gravy

Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Carrots

Mashed Potatoes

Acorn Squash

Lentil Quinoa Salad

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Tossed Salad

Kimchi

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cheesecake

Blackberry Pie

Apple Pie

Blueberry Pie

We had a lot of leftovers.  🙂

We have a Thanksgiving tradition where each family member says what they are thankful for.  I am thankful for my family and friends and the blessings of good health that we enjoy.  As we often say in our family, we have inconveniences, not problems.  (This stems from a story from a friend of ours who attended a dinner party where people were complaining about various things.  Then, one elderly woman announced, “I don’t have problems.”  She rolled up her sleeve to reveal a tattooed number on her forearm and said, “When I got this, I had problems.  Now, I only have inconveniences.”)

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, filled with only inconveniences!

 

Dinner with Friends, Take 2

We hosted another dinner party as part of our donation to our school’s auction to raise money for financial aid.  During the time between our first school auction dinner party and this one, we bought a new dining room table and chairs, so this is what the new setup looks like (we’re quite pleased with it):

new dining room table & chairs

new dining room table & chairs

We started off dinner with an amuse-bouche, consisting of “breakfast”–a miniature Spanish omelet, lobster over miniature pancakes served with vanilla-infused maple syrup, and a gougere with country ham and quail egg served with a miniature mimosa.  (The photo is from back to front.)

"breakfast" amuse-bouche

“breakfast” amuse-bouche

Next up was Thai pumpkin soup served in an acorn squash bowl served with the 1998 Pol Roger Winston Churchill champagne.

Thai pumpkin soup

Thai pumpkin soup

After that was crab served on top of an un-crab cake, which was made with hearts of palm to resemble the consistency of crabcakes.  It was served with miniature spicy peppers and a 2009 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne (a white burgundy).

crab on top of an un-crab cake

crab on top of an un-crab cake

Then came the obligatory (for us) foie gras dish served with pomegranate seeds, black cherry compote, and Parmesan tulles.  The accompanying wine was a 2006 Edge Hill Mixed Blacks.

foie gras with parmesan tulles

foie gras with parmesan tulles

The main course was an Asian duck cassoulet (with edamame instead of beans).  This was served along with a citrus cardamom salad, sautéed mushrooms with sesame seeds, and Japanese pickles.  The wine was a 2007 Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red.

Asian duck cassoulet

Asian duck cassoulet

Then came the palate cleansing course, the trio of sorbets (pomegranate, blood orange, and tangerine).

trio of sorbets

trio of sorbets

Dessert was chocolate pot de crème served with Dean & Deluca chocolates.  Served with it was a 1990 Rayne Vigneau.

chocolate pot de creme

chocolate pot de creme

It was a lovely evening, and I think great fun was had by all!

Dinner with Friends

In a moment of arguable insanity, we donated a home-cooked dinner at our house for our school auction.  The auction was last April, and, naturally, given everyone’s schedules, the dinner didn’t take place until this past Saturday.

The good news about this is that the house renovations are finally complete and the artwork is all back on the walls.  So, here’s what our dining room looks like all decked out for the dinner.

dining room

dining room

We started off with an amuse-bouche of quail egg (with egg yolk, sour cream, and siracha filling) and lardo on top of toasted baguette.

quail egg amuse-bouche

quail egg amuse-bouche

Next up was apple rutabaga soup served with gougeres and Parmesan tuiles (the gougeres and tuiles were my only contribution to the main dinner—did I mention that I don’t cook, I only bake?).  This course was accompanied by a 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne.

apple-rutabaga soup

apple-rutabaga soup

The first appetizer was lobster citrus a la nage.  The wine was a 2009 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne (a surprisingly good wine for a white wine—have I also mentioned that I’m not a fan of white wine?).

lobster a la nage

lobster a la nage

The second appetizer was scallops with shallots and bacon on Brussel sprouts slaw with a mustard dressing accompanied by a 2010 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc (a white wine for red wine drinkers).

scallops with brussel sprout slaw

scallops with brussel sprout slaw

The third appetizer was seared foie gras served on field greens with balsamic vinegar.  The wine was a 2006 Vietti Barolo Brunate.

foie gras

foie gras

The main course was 72 hour sous vide short ribs with roasted vegetable jewels and potatoes Anna (note:  I was too busy eating this course to remember to take a photo).  But I remember the wine—a 2001 Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red.

The pre-dessert course was a trio of sorbets (pomegranate, tangerine, and blood orange).

trio of sorbets

trio of sorbets

The main dessert (and the only other thing I made) was bittersweet chocolate soufflés served with espresso-caramel sauce.  The wine for both dessert courses was a 1990 Rayne Vigneau.

bittersweet chocolate souffle with espresso-caramel sauce

bittersweet chocolate souffle with espresso-caramel sauce

All the other courses were prepared by Jim and his two able sous chefs, John and Paul.

It was after midnight by the time the dinner party broke up, and all of us were surprised by how late it was.  It was so much fun that we hadn’t noticed.

P.S.  Fortunately, unlike restaurants, we do not have to specify how many calories each dish was.  But let’s just say that we averaged over a stick of butter per person in preparation.  Below are a few prep photos:

DSC_0269

potatoes anna

potatoes anna

DSC_0256DSC_0191