A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir

southeast asian table setting
A Trip to Little Saigon
The New Year’s Eve Repas du Soir
New Year’s Day Fabulous Leftovers Brunch

Best friends, great memories, stellar food – that’s how we celebrate the New Year! The old gang is together again, this time we take A Trip To Little Saigon & cook a NYE Repas du Soir together! My old dear friends, dating back to our restaurant days in the 80’s, are visiting for the holidays.

It was Tori’s idea to spend the day in Little Saigon. Eating lunch, laughing, taking photos, getting massages, and shopping. It was her idea that led to the inspiration to cook French/Vietnamese for dinner. We picked up authentic ingredients for our repas du soir and returned to my home in LA in the late afternoon to drink Champagne and create a six-course meal together.

southeast asian table setting

The dinner table was pre-set in a casually elegant Southeast Asian style with orchids, bamboo, and the color red to symbolize wealth and prosperity. We cranked up the holiday music and started cooking; everyone participated in the creation, photography, prep, and execution of the menu. We had a blast!

I had no intention of submitting this outing for the Foodbuzz 24X24 event until I read that the folks over at Foodbuzz were interested to see how Featured Publishers would be spending the last day of 2011. We had terrific culinary/cultural plans that turned out to be a fantastic way to ring in the New Year.

Extending a very special thank you to my friends FA, Al, Kirk, Tori, and Tom for your love & friendship and sense of humor & adventure! Thank you to Foodbuzz for choosing A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir as a participant in December’s 24×24 event. Foodbuzz 24×24 showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period.

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The Stuffing Everyone Loves

classic stuffing
♡ The Stuffing Everyone Loves ♡

Is stuffing the overwhelming favorite Thanksgiving dish? According to the Foodbuzz Poll it is. I had no intention of posting my unfancy traditional stuffing recipe until I saw the poll results tweeted yesterday. If stuffing is indeed the jewel of the holiday buffet, we certainly can’t keep “The Stuffing Everyone Loves” recipe to ourselves…

What makes this stuffing different than the ubiquitous mushroom sage stuffing 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 mom’s, only better. And everyone loves it. Ciabatta, lots of fresh parsley and butter-fried sage, fresh-made rich flavored giblet stock, a higher vegetable to bread ratio, lots of crispy crust, plenty of butter, no “surprise” ingredients – it simply exceeds expectations.

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The Gratitude Tree & Holiday Appetizers

The Gratitude Tree
The Gratitude Tree

After a decade of sharing our Thanksgiving gratitude on place-cards, we have a spiffy new ambassador for sharing our thankfulness! It’s a Gratitude Tree. In the past, we would put a place-card and pen on the table at every setting. During the beginning of the meal everyone was encouraged to write their sentiments on the card. We saved these cards year after year so each guest could reflect on past years’ appreciation.

This year everyone gets a personalized paper leaf on which they can express their gratitude. Then after dinner, the leaves are hung on the tree. Guests can read and share tributes throughout the week. We’ll save the leaves, which will re-appear on the tree in years to come…as our tree blooms with an abundance of joy, thankfulness, and gratefulness.

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Persimmon Tarte Tatin, Crème Fraîche

persimmon tarte tatin

Fuyu Persimmon Tarte Tatin

Persimmon is a most understood fruit. Those who “hate” persimmon probably do so as a result of a confusion between fuyu and hachiya varieties.

If you attempted to eat an unripe hachiya, that is certainly the cause of your disgust. An unripe hiachya is super-tannic and can taste like chalk or bark. Or worse. Its astringency makes it totally unpalatable. A fully ripe hachiya, however, has the consistency of jelly and is sweet and rich. And a ripe fuyu has a firm texture and tastes like a honey-flavored apple. Now, who “hates” that?

Persimmon has the pizzazzy color and flavor of autumn and makes a great fruit for a tarte tatin. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons and save the RIPE hachiya for something else.

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Foodbuzz 24X24: Autumn Affair, New Nordic Style

An autumn affair! Oh, I am in love. He is fresh, sensuous, healthy, and playful.
He is simultaneously familiar and exotic; simple and complex.
His diverse tastes always reflect the season. And he is absolutely gorgeous.
He is New Nordic Cuisine.

wild carrot flowers

We are experimenting with New Nordic for the first time. My fellow passionate cooks, Lauren and Gail, join me in the kitchen to create this titillating dinner. Ingredients for the six-course meal include Norwegian goat cheese, wild herbs and flowers, berries and seeds, smoked fish, quail, grainy breads, root vegetables, and fresh fruits from the farmers’ market. Each dish is inspired by nature. We’ve attempted to present and garnish the plates in the sensual & earthy New Nordic style.

The setting is natural-organic-minimalist. White china, set on a large mahogany table sans cloth. The centerpiece and decoration is created from foraging…sticks, twigs, fruit from the vine in our gardens, and rocks and driftwood from the beach.

Our goal was to transport our dinner group of five, as well as Taste With The Eyes’ readers, to experience the essence of Fall in Scandinavia, Finland, and Iceland via my home in Los Angeles. We were inspired by the beauty of New Nordic Cuisine, by the distant land’s cutting-edge chefs’ pure artistry and commitment to local, seasonal, and sustainable.

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