Ski Lodge Theme Holiday Party: Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Ski Lodge Theme Holiday Party: Baby It's Cold Outside!

Ski Lodge Theme Holiday Party
Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Ninety of us gathered at the Bluewater Grill at sunset in King Harbor, Redondo Beach amidst the sailboats and palm trees to celebrate the holiday season.

It was my pleasure, once again, to host our annual Rolling Hills Country Day School holiday party. With the help of fabulously creative colleagues, a super-fun theme, and a waterfront venue that exceeded expectations – this gala was another smashing success.

Guests arrived for Après Ski in ski lodge attire, presumably after a day on the slopes, as the sun was setting over the Pacific. They mingled during a cocktail hour with an open bar enhanced with an array of passed appetizers.

As the sky turned from hues of blue to shades of red, orange, violet and yellow – the DJs played a nostalgic mix of Christmas music and our favorite songs (saving those hot dance tunes for after dinner). The photo booth was a big hit as groups of skiers grabbed props to strike a pose.

Ski Lodge Theme Holiday Party: Baby It's Cold Outside!

To set the holiday mood, just before dinner, guests gathered around the “piano and fireplace” (actually the DJ booth and cocktail tables with candles) for a group sing-a-long. With lyrics in hand, everyone joined together, enthusiastically belting out White Christmas along with Bing Crosby. Dean Martin’s Let It Snow was sung in verses alternated by the guys and the gals. So fun!

Immediately after the sing-a-long guests took their seats for dinner. Waiters served the award-winning New England Clam Chowder, then table-by-table guests were invited to the buffet featuring carved-to-order prime rib roast. The meal concluded with a Dessert Station and Hot Beverage Bar brimming with whipped cream and all the accoutrements to warm a winter evening.

The night continued with general merrymaking, dancing, photo booth pics with ski lodge antics and prizes. Before leaving, guests picked up a cozy blanket and made a trip to the Hot Chocolate Bar to personalize hot cocoa to take home.

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Holiday Entertaining: Scrambled Eggs, Caviar, Crème Fraîche

Holiday Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Caviar, Crème Fraîche

Holiday Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs, Caviar, Crème Fraîche, Chives

Last but not least in a series of 4 Holiday Entertaining Dishes, scrambled eggs with caviar is a wonderfully extravagant way to celebrate Christmas morning or New Year’s Day brunch.

Served in charming mini Lodge cast iron skillets, this breakfast is simultaneously elegant and rustic. Fluffy scrambled eggs paired with puffed popovers and butter are irresistible, but for the ultimate breakfast experience, add creamy-tangy crème fraîche and burst-in-the-mouth pearls of rich-brown nutty ossetra caviar .

Holiday Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Caviar, Crème Fraîche, Chives

Holiday Entertaining Series

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Hors d’oeuvre: Oysters, Ossetra Caviar, Crème Fraîche (here)

Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies, Passionfruit, Pistachios

First Course: Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies (here)

Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar

Holiday Side Dish: Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar (here)

Scrambled Eggs and Caviar Recipe

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Holiday Entertaining: Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar

Holiday Entertaining: Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar

Holiday Entertaining
Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar

More caviar? Yep, ’tis the season after all! Asparagus with Petrossian Ossetra Caviar is served as a fancy side dish to a standing prime rib roast of beef for a very special holiday meal.

The briny dark brown eggs create a striking presentation when draped over bright green asparagus with a pale yellow sauce. Silky hollandaise and crunchy roe make for an exquisite contrast of textures. The subtle flavor of the sea plays well with the earthy elegant taste of the asparagus. It’s an extraordinary dish – perfect for Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve.

Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar Recipe

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Holiday Entertaining: Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies

Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies, Passionfruit, Pistachios

Whole Duck Foie Gras
Warm Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies
Passionfruit & Pistachios

The second in a series of four impressive Holiday Entertaining dishes, here luxurious Whole Duck Foie Gras is the shining star. Whole duck liver that has been poached in a bouillon flavored with authentic Périgordian seasonings has a velvety texture and is an extravagant delight for the palate.

Warm-from-the-oven palmier cookies are simultaneously sweet and salty. Each bite of foie gras and palmier cookie, composed with a small spoonful of tart tropical passionfruit and a sprinkle of pistachio nuts, is a melt-in-the-mouth experience of immeasurable pleasure.

Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies, Passionfruit, Pistachios

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Holiday Entertaining Series

Hors d’oeuvre: Oysters, Ossetra Caviar, Crème Fraîche (here)

First Course: Foie Gras with Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies

Holiday Side: Asparagus, Hollandaise, Caviar (here)

Holiday Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Chives, Caviar, Crème Fraîche (here)

How to Make Sweet & Salty Palmier Cookies

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Holiday Entertaining: Oysters and Caviar

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Holiday Entertaining
Oysters and Caviar

For the holiday season we’re serving a most thrilling luxury, the world’s most sublime delicacy – the roe of a mature sturgeon!

It’s a connoisseur’s dream – a fresh shucked oyster topped with crème fraîche and a generous dollop of royal ossetra caviar.

Elegant jewel-like eggs with that fabulous, famous burst of the sea sit atop a crisp, firm-textured bivalve with a sweet aftertaste that sparkles with salinity. Crème fraîche adds a nuanced enhancement to the roe with its creamy tang. Pulling out all the stops, this opulence-in-a-shell is paired with Champagne to complement the caviar’s briny zest.

Exquisitely rich, gloriously complex, utterly delectable. Happy Holidays, my friends!

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Oysters and Caviar

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It’s Back – The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

It’s been 5 years since I’ve shared The Stuffing Everyone Loves recipe. So for 2016, it’s back!

What makes this recipe different from the familiar mushroom sage dressing served on dinner tables all over the country at this time of year? Not much, and that is the beauty of it. It’s just like you remember, only better. And everyone loves it.

Rustic ciabatta, with its porous, chewy texture is the perfect bread for this stuffing. A homemade rich-flavored giblet stock, eliminates the need to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, while retaining that classic turkey flavor.

A 50-50 ratio of vegetables (mushroom, celery, onion, and leek) to the volume of ciabatta creates a balanced, not overly bready-y dish. Cooking the stuffing in a shallow baking dish allows for the desirable contrast of buttery toasty bread atop a moist stuffing beneath. Plenty of butter, Italian parsley and butter-fried sage bring the classic flavors of the season.

And with no “surprise” ingredients (oysters, nuts, fruit, chestnuts) it simply appeals to everyone…and exceeds expectations.

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Last Thanksgiving’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Shards was such a hit, I’m going to add meat to the veggie dish again this year. Bacon and Brussels sprouts are a classic pairing, but for an unexpected twist, I’ll be serving the little brassicas with Italian sausage seasoned with fennel. Fennel seeds add interesting anise notes that complement and add complexity to the roasted sprouts.

A balsamic vinegar reduction will add sweet notes and enough acid to balance the rich sausage. A sprinkling of parsley will bring bright, fresh qualities. I’m confident that this side dish will be equally, if not more popular, than the bacon version. As a bonus, ease of preparation and a short ingredient list make this one a winner for the busy holiday cook (me).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Italian Sausage Recipe

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Roadkill Spaghetti

Roadkill Spaghetti - Sweet Salty Angry Chicken Wings, Carrot Bones, Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

Roadkill Spaghetti
Sweet Salty Angry Chicken Wings and Carrot Bones
Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

Why, oh why did the chickens cross the road on that DARK HALLOWEEN NIGHT? This MACABRE scene is the third and last in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The BLOODY MUTILATED MESS of DEAD chickens, BLACK bean spaghetti, and white carrot BONES in a spicy arrabiata sauce is actually DEVILISHLY DELICIOUS while simultaneously HORRIFIC to behold.

GRISLY ROADKILL Spaghetti will SHOCK your friends and family with its sweet, salty, spicy flavors and GRUESOME presentation.

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Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Are you wondering what to serve for dinner on HALLOWEEN night? Something delicious and nutritious to counter-balance all that candy? SCARE your family with Spaghetti AFRAID-O!

It is a downright DISTURBING dish where alfredo and marinara sauces depict DEATH or at the very least, some SEVERE INJURY as FINGER BONES are MANGLED among BLACK bean spaghetti.

The idea for this dish came to me in a NIGHTMARE, it is the second in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The challenge was to create three HORRIFYING recipes. They needed to be GORY yes, but also DEVILISHLY delicious. This one is organic, meatless, gluten-free, and lower-carb too.

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O Recipe

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Deviled Eyes Buried in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Deviled Eyes Nestled in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Deviled Eyes Buried in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Happy Halloween! DEVILED Eyes BURIED in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons are the first in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The challenge was to create three UNNERVING recipes with a GHOULISH bent. They needed to be CREEPY yes, but also DEVILISHLY delicious with a unique presentation – the first ones to DISAPPEAR from the halloween buffet.

To keep the VAMPIRES at bay, dish #1 is quite garlicky. BLACK spaghetti is tossed with olive oil, GARLIC, fresh herbs, red chile flakes and crumbled egg yolk, while EERIE eyeballs are flavored with GARLIC mayonnaise. BLOODSUCKERS BEWARE!

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