Artichoke, Spicy Tomato Broth, Two Ways

globe artichoke tomato broth
Globe Artichoke in Spicy Tomato Broth
Garlic, Capers, Chiles de Arboles, Croutons

artichoke heart crostini
Artichoke Heart Crostini
Tomato, Garlic, Capers, Chiles de Arboles

☆☆☆☆☆

Steamed artichoke served with a ramekin each of drawn butter and mayonnaise is so 70’s. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s a delicious classic pairing after all. I remember my date, his name was Jeff, teaching me how to eat an artichoke. The year was 1978 at The Chart House in Aspen, Colorado. He showed me how to pull the outermost petals and dip them in the melted butter. How to scrape the meat from each petal with my bottom teeth. Slow, methodical, sensual. Fast forward 34 years, I’m still a fan of artichokes, but alas, not so much a fan of saturated fat accompaniments…

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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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“Truffle Heaven” Crostini

“Truffle Heaven” Crostini
Fresh French Black Winter Truffle, Italian Truffle Cheese, Truffle Oil
with Shiitake and Frisée

A framed description of our “black diamond” is placed on the buffet.

This one ounce beauty is from Gourmet Attitude, importer of fresh truffles and fine truffle products in New York City. It is a good year for truffles, ours hails from the Village of Grignan in the South of France. The subterranean treasure was located by three female yellow Labrador retrievers with a family in its fourth generation of truffle hunting. I was told that dogs are preferred over pigs to hunt  truffles nowadays, for one reason, it’s difficult to get a pig in and out of the car! Also, apparently the pig’s love for truffles is as ardent as ours, so she simply cannot stop herself from eating the $85/oz. delicacy. Dogs are much more obedient!

The black winter truffle is available December through March. This Fresh Black Winter Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum Vittadini) has in intense perfume with a bouquet of wet forest, humus, chocolate, and a hint of hazelnut. Our guests are surely in for a treat!

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A Foodie Christmas Dinner Party

Menu

appetizer

Three Holiday Crostini Served with Bubbly:

Italian Truffle Cheese, Truffled Shiitake, Truffled Frisee
Cambozola, Cranberry Orange Relish, Walnut
Foie Gras Paté

dinner

Lori Lynn’s

Spicy Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Creme Fraiche
Garnished with Toasted Coconut, Chopped Cashews, Dried Pomegranate Arils

Gail’s

Bejeweled Endive Christmas Salad
Radish, Shallot, Basil, Fresh Pomegranate Seed
Creamy Champagne Thyme Vinaigrette

Lori Lynn’s

Roasted Cornish Game Hen
Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Olive, Garlic
Meyer Lemon Cream Fraiche “Gravy”

Pat’s

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sally’s

Brussels Sprouts with Hollandaise

Lauren’s

Warm Chocolate Lava Cake
Peppermint Chip Ice Cream

A few days before Christmas I hosted A Foodie Christmas Dinner Party for my friends. Everyone was to bring a dish and wine. I had said that I would be making Cornish game hen and the rest of the menu was open. Without any formal planning, the menu evolved and the dinner turned out fabulous! My only direction was to let the cooks know what menu category was available. Since we are foodie friends that have been cooking together for years, it shouldn’t have surprised me that the random menu items complemented each other perfectly.

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Ultimate Crostini

toasted french baguette
mashed mayocoba beans with rosemary
chopped fresh baby spinach/ sesame rice wine vinaigrette
savory sautéed mushrooms/ roasted hatch chiles

Here is an über-flavorful appetizer certain to appeal to all of your guests: gourmet, cholesterol-conscious, vegan/vegetarian, and meat-eaters alike. It’s a creamy mayocoba bean mash with fresh rosemary, tender baby spinach dressed with a slightly sweet and toasty vinaigrette, meaty mushrooms, and smoky medium-hot chiles all layered atop sliced toasted baguette.

The inspiration for this crostini came from a favorite salad: Grilled King Trumpets & Shishito Peppers on Rosemary Skewers over Spinach and Roasted Soybeans. The combination of flavors and textures in the salad is extraordinary. Here, similar ingredients are terrific together arranged on slices of toast.


The Hatch Chile Festival is coming up on September 4th and 5th in Hatch, New Mexico, the “Chile Capital of the World.” Fresh Hatch chiles are only available for a limited time at our local market here in LA, and since we can’t attend the festival, we’ll be stocking up! Roasted chiles can be frozen and enjoyed throughout the year. Our first dish of  Hatch chile season is Ultimate Crostini.

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Crostini and Other Tasty Appetizers

Navy Bean Crostini
With Garlic and Roasted Green Chile

Pea and Mint Crostini
Topped with Prosciutto

Pea and Mint Crostini
Topped with Diced Pear
Navy Bean Crostini Recipe

Cook pre-soaked Navy Beans in water with three or four smashed garlic cloves, a bay leaf and salt, until tender. Drain off any water and cool.

These roasted chiles came as a gift from my dear friend Peggy from Denver, where they roast chiles on the street corners in the Fall. I can just imagine the aromas! Peel, seed and stem the roasted chiles, then they are ready to add to the food processor.


Whip 1/2 c. whipping cream to stiff peaks in a food processor. Leave the whipped cream in the processor, change the blade from a whipping blade to a chopping blade, then add beans and garlic cloves (sans bay leaf) and roasted chiles. Puree then salt to taste. Navy beans, garlic, and roasted green chiles made an extraordinarily flavorful spread!
Toast (or grill) sliced baguette. Slice a garlic clove in half. Rub each slice of toasted baguette with a couple swipes of the raw garlic clove, then brush the toast with olive oil. Rubbing the toast with raw garlic gives it a real burst of flavor. Top with the spread. A little herb garnish is nice too.
I am submitting this Navy Bean Crostini to the My Legume Love Affair Event 17th Edition hosted by Sra of When My Soup Came Alive blog. This is a wonderful event that showcases legumes, started by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook in January 2008 and still going strong!
It was my pleasure to host the 11th Edition last May, the round-up can be found here. If you love beans, there is no better place to go than My Legume Love Affair for great recipes and inspiration.
Pea and Mint Crostini Recipe

The pea and mint crostini idea comes from Giada De Laurentis. Cook a bag of frozen peas with 1 t. red pepper flakes in water until tender. Drain and cool. Whip 1/2 c. whipping cream to stiff peaks in a food processor, change the blade, add the pea mixture with 1/4 c. fresh mint. Puree until smooth, salt to taste. Giada topped hers with diced prosciutto. We also topped some with diced pears tossed with pear balsamic vinegar. The color of the pea mixture is fabulous!
Shrimp with Blue Cheese Polenta, Chile Oil

Cook polenta, add crumbled blue cheese at the end of cooking. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread polenta mixture in a shallow dish. Chill, then cut out rounds with a cookie cutter.

Sauté peeled deveined shrimp in a little butter and olive oil, finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Dust polenta rounds with flour, sauté in butter until slightly crispy.

Char red chiles on a grill or under a broiler. Peel and seed. Put chiles in a food processor, stream in olive oil taking care not to over blend.

The roasted red chile oil gave a nice kick to the shrimp. Homemade chile oil was worth the effort. For extra cheesy bites, place a small slice of blue cheese on the polenta, then top with the shrimp and chile oil.
Date Wrapped Bacon Bundles

Two ingredients, lots of flavor! Roll bacon around a pitted date, secure with a toothpick and bake at 375° turning once, until the bacon is crispy. These were a big hit!
Sunken City Supper Club Appetizers
For our Sunken City Supper Club event a few weeks ago (posted here and here) we wanted to serve a nice variety of not-too-complicated appetizers as our guests arrived. We wanted a range of flavors, colors and textures. The Dates Wrapped in Bacon Bundles were sweet, smokey, and salty. The Crostini was colorful, crunchy and creamy. The Polenta with Shrimp was cheesy, spicy and crispy. We had vegetarian, seafood, and bacon appetizers. They were easy to pick up with the hands, we simply provided cocktail napkins, as the guests mingled before dinner. It worked.

Gail and Marlene plate the appetizers.

Barry Anthony of The Swing Of Things band getting ready to play at the Sunken City Supper Club.
Until the next get-together of the Sunken City Supper Club, I leave you with another one of the band’s light-hearted and breezy performances:

The Swing of Things performing Nat King Cole’s first hit record recorded in 1944, Straighten Up and Fly Right.