Tag Archives: Dinner Party

Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #6 | Everything Whole is New Again | @7.13.13.8:00pm

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the things worth remembering. The beauty of a whole tomato, fresh off the vine. A newly baked loaf of bread, its sweet aroma expanding to the walls and seeping through cracked doors to the neighbors delight. A whole fish presented with pride by the very hands that caught it on a lazy day off. To celebrate nature’s bounty and that food doesn’t need to be fancy to be memorable, this 8.ate@eight gathering will highlight each bite in its uncut form. Use of hands encouraged.

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Dinners:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #6: Everything Whole is New Again
Saturday, July 13th, 2013, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu — use of hands encouraged

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

Whole Foods

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Dang It’s Cold Out. Cool Things To Do, To Keep You Warm.

Finally, snow last weekend — confirmation that Winter is not extinct {although I’m starting to second guess that assessment this week}. If you’re anything like me right now then you’re looking for a cold weather distraction. If you can’t leave the city like I just did, then here’s some wintry stay-put inspiration:

Warm with Scotch | Host a Robert Burns Night Party:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata 

Let Cute Bartenders Warm You | Spend the Evening at Highlands:
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails

Slurrrp & Snuggle | Ramen + Crowded Hot Spots Warm the Bod:
NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar 

Stay Warm With Man’s Best Friend | Dine & Drink @TheBeagle:
The Beagle: A Restaurant You Should Be Loyal To 

Go Off the Beaten Track | Sign Up for a Sidetour
Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues 

Stick it To Your Ribs | Eat Soul-Warming BBQ:
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau 

Escape the City From Home | Host an Easy-Prep Dinner Party:
French-Inspired
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot 
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Italian-Inspired
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Homemade Ricotta and Melted Leeks
Bursting Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother 

Hunker Down and Stir it Up | Cook From Scratch {eat Leftovers!}:
Best Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup

Braised Grass-Fed Beef Brisket and Polenta
Irish Steak & Guinness Puff Pastry Pie

Spicy Balsamic and Fennel Fish Stew

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Getting Tipsy with the Tippling Bros. @NYCWFF Mixology 101

The Tippling Bros. Introduce Mixology 101

What do you get when you mix a crowd full of foodies, a session focused on mixology and two non-related “brothers” stirring in some fascinating facts about the history of cocktails and tippling tips and techniques? A real good time. After attending two earlier New York City Wine & Food Festival events that day, all I expected was to sit back, take notes and learn a hint or two from Tippling Bros. Mixology 101, but what we got was an early start to a boozy Saturday night.

Tippler Paul Tanguay Settin' Up Bar

The event kicked off with a seasonal Champagne cocktail called Fireside Sparks, created by the two tippling partners Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci. As we sipped, these “perpetuators of libational awareness and enjoyment” jumped into a lesson, fully equipped with a powerpoint. Not exactly what you would expect from typical barmasters, but these experts are two of the most well known beverage consultants, whose common mission it is to help the world drink better! Here’s some useful info to successfully get you through your next trivia bar night…

Tippling Trivia:

  • The word “punch” originated from the Hindi word for five — panch {make a fist and it will all make sense}
  • There are 5 components to the original punch recipe: spirit, citrus juice, sugar, spice {often tea} and water
  • The word “cocktail” first appeared in print in 1806. Politicians, dignitaries and wealthy businessmen drank cocktails in the morning to get over the previous night
  • The original cocktail was made up of: spirit, sugar, water and bitters
  • Jerry Thomas wrote the first cocktail book in 1862

Hardly Done with Fireside Sparks, When The Smokey Margarita Arrived

It was not soon after starting to sip down the first cocktail, that the second arrived — a Smokey Margarita. Mmmm, love ‘ritas. How generous of them to give us two cocktails while we enjoy the mixology lesson. On to bar tools…

Every Home Bar Should Have:

  • Shaker {Boston or Cobbler}
  • Mixing Glass
  • Strainer {Hawthorn or Julep}
  • Bar Spoon {You know, those spoons with a really loooong stem}
  • Muddler
  • Jigger {Don’t be afraid to measure, proper proportions are key to a quality cocktail}
  • Knives
  • Juicer

Check out Bar Products and Cocktail Kingdom to stock your bar properly.

Tippling Bros. Tips:

  • Pecking order — Always start from the cheapest ingredient when concocting your cocktail — that way if you lose count or mess up, you’re not out the good stuff!
  • Perfect “sour” proportions — 2:1:1 Strong:Sour:Sweet {e.g. Margarita}
  • Manhattan or Martini proportions — 2:1
  • Garnish — Add an aromatic garnish to change the flavor profile of your cocktail and make sure it’s sticking out of a glass such that your nose gets near it when you sip {try a rosemary sprig stuck in a cherry to anchor}
  • Batches — make 3/4 of the amount of drinks you want to serve when making batches {ice / water makes up 25% of every cocktail}. P.S. Making batches is a great way to enjoy your own party without having to play bartender. That’s one lesson I starred, highlighted and underlined.
  • Make crystal clear ice — Boil water and pour while hot into ice cube trays or muffin tins. The movement of the boiling water pushes out all the air, to create “clear” ice. Get fancy by adding citrus slices to your form after 30 minutes in the freezer.

Somewhere between learning about shaking and stirring, a Manhattan appeared in front of me and somewhere between learning about the garnish in my newly poured Autumn Manhattan and the wisdom of making batches, my pour from the Bottle of Baron also arrived. Ok, I get it. This is a drinking event. I checked my watch, it was only 6pm. The night was young, but I was well into an evening of strong cocktails thanks to my new friends. I guess this is what you get when you attend a session all about mixology, hosted by the masters of tippling themselves. Thankfully with camera in hand, I could put down the pen and still manage to snag some great cocktail recipes for you all. Cheers and Bottoms Up!

Tippling Bros. Hand Crafted Cocktails

Fireside Sparks

Hardly Done with Fireside Sparks, When Smokey Margarita Arrived

2 oz. Cranberry-Infused Whiskey
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Spiced Syrup
1/4 Tangerine
1 oz Chilled Sparkling Wine

Muddle tangerine in a mixing tin. Add remaining ingredients and shake. Float champagne over the back of a spoon. Strain into a chilled flute or sour glass. Garnish with a tangerine peel and sugared cranberry skewer. Lightly dust with nutmeg.

Smokey Margarita

1.5 oz Tequila Blanco
0.5 oz Mezcal Joven
0.5 oz White Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Agave Nectar
Grilled Lime Slices for Garnish

Spicing the Glass Rim:
2 parts Kosher Salt
1 part Cinnamon
1 Part Cumin
1 Part Chili Powder

Shake all ingredients together. Strain over ice in an old fashioned glass rimmed with Mexican-spiced salt. Garnish with grilled lime wheel.

Autumn Manhattan

Autumn Manhattan

2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1 oz Cinzano Sweet Vermouth
0.25 oz Oloroso Sherry
2 Dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
Rosemary Sprig stuck in a cherry for garnish

Stir all ingredients together until well chilled. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Luxardo cherry and rosemary sprig.

Bottle of Baron {think sweet island cocktail}

8 oz Aged Rum
2 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz Simple Syrup
4 oz Orgeat Syrup
4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 tsp Hibiscus Concentrate {Jamaica Concentrate at your local bodega is the same thing}
6 oz Cold Water

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or plastic container. Funnel into a clean wine bottle. Cork and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serve over one cube of ice in a small punch glass. Garnish with an orange slice or vanda orchid.

It's Closing Time


Bartender, I’ll Have Another:
Hands On with Giada De Laurentiis at Food Network’s NYCWFF Demo
recipe goodness :: Alton Brown Does Bourbon in the Morning

New York City Wine & Food Festival Kicked Off With Good Eats
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita

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Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

A year ago I went to Brooklyn Fare with 7 other close friends to dig into an evening of fine dining and free flowing wine, while seated at a superbly intimate and unique, but casual, chef’s table in the kitchen of Brooklyn Grocery. So I am extremely excited to hear and spread the word that the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare Grocery was just awarded 2 Michelin stars — one of only 10 restaurants in New York and the only restaurant in Brooklyn.

Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret said the eatery was one of the best 300 restaurants in the world.

In honor of their honor, I thought I would recap the memorable meal. A picture is worth 1,000 words with this post! For a fixed price {wine is BYO}, we watched our meal being prepared table side, chatted with chef, Cesar Ramirez, and left happy, satiated foodies. Reliving this meal through photos makes me want to go back tomorrow! As you can see, what was supposed to be a 5-course tasting menu, actually turned into 13 — hence why we had to call the local wine store to restock our supply {come prepared}!
The evening started out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam

Starting out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam


And A Bite Sized Parmesan Macaroon

Followed by a fried ball of liquid foie gras. WHAT! Amazing liquid gold in a bite.

And then Crispy Crab Balls {not pictured}, leading to Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Gelatin Film

Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Film


On to more foamy goodness — Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and a generous heap of Truffles

Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and Truffles



And a lighter Hamachi Crudo w/ Soy and Lime

Hamachi w/ Soy and Lime


Finished Product


The beginnings of Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini — An amazingly rich, but light; fresh, but earthy contrast of flavors.

Laying the Avocado Foundation


And then the Crab Roll


Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini


Our taste buds were doing jumping jacks, but this was nothing compared to the next dish: Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. You can only imagine how well this combination of both consistencies and flavors played together. I quickly started to lose track of which course we were on or if these dishes were even on the listed menu — it was one tantalizing bite after another. With a lot of wine to wash it down!

Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. A-mazing.


And just when the rich flavors start to make your head spin in glee, Chef Ramirez lightens things back up with a Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam.

Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam


And a most interesting John Dory with Veal Jus — redefining surf & turf?

John Dory with Veal Jus


And to finish off the savory menu, a highly seasonal and highly delightful, Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.

Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.


Of course, the evening also ended with something sweet, colorful and fantastically fun to eat. Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.

Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.


I could not begin to describe the complexity and brilliance of this meal with words, so hopefully the photos are enough to make your mouth sing. I’m guessing the wait list is longer than a line at Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon, so get your friends, set a date many months from now and get involved. When you make your reservation be sure to ask for the recommended local wine store that will help pair wines with the meal the day prior {just plan for more courses than revealed and don’t be shy about sharing with Chef Ramirez and his team}.

Map200 Schermerhorn
Reservations: Required!
Contact: Heidi at 718-243-0050 or email kitchen@brooklynfare.com

More Brooklyn Fare:
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee

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recipe goodness :: flaky cheese straws, as easy as being barefoot

Inspired by her planned trip to Paris, my roommate purchased the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook, Barefoot in Paris. And eager for the departure, we sat down one evening to plan a meal to bring a little taste of French cuisine to the comforts of our NYC apartment. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for cheese straws is simple, but outstanding! I would encourage everyone to keep a box of puff pastry in the freezer at all times for an impromptu addition to your next dinner party or to simply add a little flavor flare to a mid-week meal. And you could really substitute a number or herbs and cheese to take these straws in your own direction (rosemary and parmesan, chili powder and aged gouda, or cinnamon and sugar for a breakfast/dessert straw)

Barefoot Contessa’s Cheese Straws

Prep Time: 5-10 mins | Cook Time: 10-15 mins
Makes 22-24 Straws

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge
1 extra-large egg (large is fine)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board or counter until it’s 10×12 inches. Beat the egg with 1 TBS of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, 1/2 tsp of the thyme, 1/2 tsp of the salt and some pepper.

Step 1. Roll flavorings into puff pastry

With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11-12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Step 2. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don’t overbake or the cheese will burn. Cook and serve at room temperature.

Step 3. Bake, cool and enjoy!

What Else To Put on the Plate:
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn

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A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite

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Apologies for my absence for a few days, but I have been busy shopping and chopping for what was the last 8.ate@eight supper club of the outdoor season. You wouldn’t think preparing “cafeteria” food would be such a distraction, but when you’re hand selecting figs and prosciutto from Italy for your pizza, catching red snapper off the east coast for your tacos, hunting bison out west for your mini sliders and hand frying potatoes for your truffle-rosemary chips, then there isn’t much time for blogging. Well maybe I wasn’t actually doing all of those things {except the hand frying – look out Frito Lay!} but the menu is accurate. As several friends had kids heading back to school, I thought it would be fun to relive the nostalgia of new sneakers, trapper keepers and the best of school cafeterias — only better! Here’s the full report card…

The Syllabus:

Starter
3 Grilled Pizzettes:
{1} Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese
{2} Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil
{3} Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella
w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil

Mini Lime-Chili Red Snapper Tacos
w/ “Fruit Punch” Sangria

Salad
Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley w/ Chipotle Bacon & Queso Fresco
w/ Bodegas Valdesil Godello Valdeorras Val de Sil Montenovo (Spain)

Entrée
Mini Bison Sliders w/ Buffalo Mozzarella and Olive Tapenade
Homemade Truffle Rosemary Parmesan Chips
w/ “P.S.” Local 2 Brooklyn Dark Ale

Dessert
Coconut “Twinkies” w/ Lemon Curd Filling
w/ Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk”

It was just like showing up to a new classroom — some old friends and some new faces to get to know. This is why I started 8.ate@eight and what I love about my table. People can come together to enjoy good food and drink and easily fall into conversation with an unfamiliar group.

Pablo is the Principal at his own school he started -- how awesome is that!

As the 8.ate@eight-ers filed in, I was busy at work grilling pizzas on the BBQ. Not an entirely new concept, but a new twist on school lunch favorite — wasn’t pizza day a must?! With dough and toppings on hand, I grilled up three different versions: an Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese Pizza, a Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil Pie and a crowd-pleasing favorite, Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil.

Fresh Figs

Served alongside the pizza were some Red Snapper Tacos with a Lime-Chili Marinade and Avocado Sauce. I’m pretty sure the lunch ladies didn’t fill our shells with anything better than greasy ground beef, but I wanted to keep it light. Both of the appetizers were served with an adult version of fruit punch: sangria! With a winning combination of spanish vino, brandy, triple sec and lemonade, I soaked a combination of lemon, lime, orange slices and cherries overnight and topped each cup off with a little club soda — every party is better with bubbles!

Red Snapper Tacos

Sangria "Fruit Punch"

Probably the least eaten items on those styrofoam trays were the vegetable medleys and fruit cup cocktails, so I decided to do a combination of both with a modified version of my friend Nora’s delicious corn salad. There are several things that are great about this salad and its a recipe for success that I have written about before: sweet, spicy, citrusy, savory and salty. I roasted several ears of sweet jersey corn, removing the kernels and adding to a combination of grapes {strange, but sweet and amazing}, red bell peppers {peppery and colorful}, red chilis {that subtle spicy kick that I love}, cilantro {a polarizing ingredient for many, but even I converted a hater at the table}, scallions and lime. So that’s the regular combination, but I also decided this salad would do well with a few bits of chipotle bacon crumbled on top with some queso fresco — if only school veggies were always this good.

Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley

Roasted Corn Salad

It’s not only important to eat your veggies, but a good healthy protein also tops the food pyramid. I keep speaking the praises of bison to anyone who will listen {recipe here}, so I thought if I put them in slider form I could win the hearts of my table too. So let’s reiterate some important facts — please take notes.

Bison tastes very similar to beef, but is slightly richer, so I complemented that flavor with a spread of salty olive tapenade on the mini buns and melted some creamy buffalo mozzarella on top for a better take on a kiddie craving.

Mini Bison Sliders

And just like PB&J is a match made in heaven, so are burgers and chips. So I carried out the dutch oven, a few pounds of potatoes and got to work slicing, rinsing, drying and frying the makings of my Homemade Truffle, Rosemary Parmesan Chips. A lot of work, but there is something very satisfying about putting Frito Lay to shame from your own kitchen {recipe to follow}.

Toss in corn starch to remove moisture and create crispier results

Toss in 375 degree oil 4-5 minutes until golden blond

Strain and Season with Fresh Rosemary and Truffle Salt

Season with Rosemary, Truffle Salt, Parmesan Cheese and Try Not to Eat Too Many

While everyone settled in for the Ferris Bueller classic, Naerim also made a guest appearance and served her Coconut “Twinkie” with Lemon Curd filling and I blended up some Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk” just in case  everyone didn’t have enough to drink.

Coconut "Twinkies" with Lemon Curd

As usual, we cleared the plates, handed out some blankets as the night started to cool and fired up the projector for our guest visitor: Ed Rooney. No better end to another memorable 8.ate@eight supper club.

Ed Rooney Was Our Guest Visitor

Thanks!

Thanks to Naerim again for all the help serving drinks and food and ending the evening with a great new take on an old lunchbox treat! Thanks to Kristin for snapping some pics while I was manning the grill. And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

I’m ruminating on some future indoor events for the fall and winter, so stay tuned. If you aren’t on the dinner distribution list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Recipe Goodness:

Homemade Rosemary, Truffle and Parmesan Chips or Fries

Prep Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
Serves 4

2 1/2 # russet potatoes  (about 4 large)
3 QT. peanut or canola oil

Peel and cut potatoes into either long sticks or 1/2-inch thick circles for fries or use a mandolin to thinly slice flat or waffle cut circles {using the waffle blade} for chips. Rinse cut potatoes in large bowl under cold running water until water turns clear. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Pour off water,spread potatoes onto towels, and thoroughly dry {important for crispiness}. Transfer to large bowl and toss with cornstarch until evenly coated. Transfer to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let rest until fine white coating forms, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large, heavy bottomed dutch oven, fitted w/clip-on candy thermometer, heat oil to 325.  Add half of potatoes a handful at a time and increase heat to high.  Fry, shirring with mesh spider until potatoes start to turn from white to blond, 4-5 min.(oil temp will drop). Transfer fries to paper towels to absorb oil and cool. Return oil to 325 and repeat with rest of potatoes. Let potatoes cool.

Heat oil to 375. Add half of fries or chips, a handful at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 min. Transfer to paper towels & repeat with remaining fries. Season immediately with chopped rosemary, truffle salt and shaved parmesan.

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Events:
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

What are you still doing here? It’s over. Go home.

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recipe goodness :: lemon herb roasted chicken

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Want to make your own version of RoliRoti’s ridiculously good rotisserie chicken at home? You don’t need a truck and you don’t need a rotisserie to make a deliciously herby and juicy chicken from the comfort of your own home — with or without a BBQ! It’s one of the simplest things you can throw together for a mid-week meal or for a crowd and with a few herbs you’ll take an ordinary chicken to a new level.

As a health conscious society, we tend to reach for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts when rolling down the poultry section at the grocery store, but having the skin on and bones in helps retain moisture and adds to the flavor more than you would think. Even if you want a leaner meal, try this recipe with the skin on while you cook and remove the skin later if you prefer — just see how much juicier your dinner is!

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Prep Time: 3 Minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 Minutes
Serves 4

Preheat Oven 425° or BBQ @ Medium Heat

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1/2 lemon
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 small bunch fresh rosemary
1 small bunch fresh sage
olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts on a cooking sheet. Feel with your finger for an opening in the skin and gently run your index finger between the skin and the breast meat to separate the skin partially {but not removed} in order to create a “pocket” for your herbs. Insert 2-3 small sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary and 2-3 leaves of sage between the breast meat and the skin in the “pocket” you just created. This will both flavor the chicken, secure your herbs and look pretty through cooked, translucent skin when done cooking.

Generously sprinkle each breast with coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper {this will help crisp the skin and will cook off on the grill, so don’t be afraid to be liberal}. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and lightly drizzle olive oil over the chicken.

Oven Cooking: Put tray in oven skin-side up for 15 minutes. Flip each breast over and rotate tray 180 degrees to ensure even cooking and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

BBQ Cooking: Place chicken breasts on medium hot grill skin-side up for 5 minutes. Continue cooking, flipping chicken every 5 minutes for a total of 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: Size of chicken, oven and grill temperatures often vary. 25-30 minutes is an approximation of cooking time, but with chicken you want to make sure meat is not pink to ensure doneness. Make a small cut in the thickest part of your breast meat to make sure juices are running clear and meat is white, not pink. Extend cooking time if necessary.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight! Chicken Tonight!:
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie
Roasted Chicken Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Sunflower Seeds
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn

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SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie

RoliRoti Sets Up

At first RoliRoti may sound like the name of an Indian restaurant, but in fact it’s a food truck rolling out gourmet rotisserie recipes originating from the Swiss Alps and taking the Bay Area by storm. Rotisseur Thomas Odermatt, the son of a Swiss “Metzgermeister,” or Master Butcher, grew up in the family’s Swiss butcher shop before moving to Berkley to pursue an education in organic farming. Serving only sustainably-farmed meats and organic produce, Thomas learned the importance of premium cuts from his father and perfect preparation with a secret spice rub from his mother, bringing a crowd-pleasing culinary combination to the local San Francisco market.

…and to my brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Normally to get a bite of RoliRoti you would have to queue up in a long line of hungry Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market foodies on Saturday morning, but after standing in many long lines themselves, my brother and his wife decided to hire RoliRoti to cater the Friday night rehearsal dinner. Lucky us.

So what kind of goodness did this infamous truck roll up with? It’s all about the rotisserie chicken and porchetta slow roasting over a bed of potatoes — yes, vegetarians will have to pass on these spuds. RoliRoti’s prized crispy rotisserie chicken is served with a generous portion of rosemary sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime for a burst of zesty flavor. The porchetta consists of Heritage’s free range pork loin rolled into the belly with RoliRoti’s original herb mix and lemon zest, grilled on the rotisserie for four hours until crispy brown on the outside, resulting in one succulent hunk of pig!

Dinner's Done!

Rosemary Sea Salt

RoliRoti's Famous Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

The rotisserie may be the main attraction, but the steakhouse salad with sweet early girl tomatoes, red onion and roquefort cheese is a perfect pairing. Or try the charred corn summer salad with fresh avocadoes tossed in punchy lime-jalapeño vinaigrette, garnished with halved cherry tomatoes, bell pepper chunks, and cilantro. Both provide a light and refreshing plate partnership to your carvings.

Early Girl Tomatoes

RoliRoti Summer Salads

The Skim: Whether you’re looking for some finger lickin’ chicken at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market or a really kick-ass party pleaser, roll over to the RoliRoti truck and you will be begging for seconds. Case in point, after a lot of excited and hungry guests, RoliRoti packed it up early after running out of food — only the second time that had ever happened!

Map: San Francisco Ferry Plaza
Phone: 510.780.0300

More on the Left Coast Cuisine:
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Do This!: Le Grand Fooding 2010 New York vs San Francisco

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Do This!: Le Grand Fooding 2010 New York vs. San Francisco

It all started with an off the cuff comment by king of the Momofuku empire, David Chang, “Fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate with nothing on it. Do something with your food.” Not surprisingly, the comment was picked up across the media circuit, spread like a California forest fire and without hesitation the San Francisco culinary scene was shooting back. And so was born a culinary face-off of epic proportions {all in the name of charity of course}: Le Grand Fooding 2010 New York vs. San Francisco.

For $50 you can snatch a ticket to Le Grand Yummy either on September 24th or 25th, which includes 1 flute of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, 1 Rhône Valley wine & pizza pairing, and 1 Belvedere Experience and a whole lotta yummy fooding prepared by a long list of noteworthy NY and SF-based chefs. All proceeds go to support Action Against Hunger.

Where: MoMa PS1 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City
What: September 24th Fooding Menu
September 25th Fooding Menu
How: Buy Tickets Now {$50}!
Why: Because when can you ever eat and drink
at one of these restaurants for less than $50! And it’s for charity!

More About…
David Chang: Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Pizza Moto: NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

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Gone Fishin’ :: Back in a Week…

Farewell Bachelorhood!

As I referenced in a previous post, I’m off in San Francisco to be the best groom’s girl I can be in my brother’s wedding this weekend. Jackie, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, works for Ghirardelli. She’s pretty darn sweet as a person, but it also doesn’t hurt that she brings a dowry consisting of a lifetime supply of chocolate. Welcome to the family!

I’m sure I will have no shortage of things to blog about upon my return — I promise it will be more interesting than a post about rice and will include musings from Napa. In the meantime, visit some old favorites…

Make A Delicious Dinner For Friends:
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}
More Recipes >>> EAT@HOME

Keep Busy in the City:
Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes w/ Jessica Wurwarg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
NYC Best: Take the Dull Out Of Cooking {Knives} with Samurai Sharpening @ Chelsea Market

Enjoy a Cold One in the Garden:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Nothing says Warm Weather Like a “Gut Biergarten”

And in the Spirit of Weddings, Go on a Date!:
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
August in April
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
barmarche: Some Clever Crudites

Eat Up!
Christina

Sibling Fun in Tokyo

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #4 | Back to School Nite | @9.18.10.8:00pm

Labor Day is fast approaching and that means it’s time to head Back to School. So let’s celebrate the nostalgia of things like new sneakers, trapper keepers and most importantly, a new lunch box, with a meal that highlights some of the old time cafeteria favorites…only better.

See here for a recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Big Southern BBQ Meets Small Northern Rooftop
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #4: Back to School
Saturday, September 18th, 2010, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu, followed by
Post Dinner Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Suggested Donation: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

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recipe goodness :: kickin’ ancho chili fresh lime margarita

The Fixins' for Fresh Lime Margaritas

Ok, so I love a fresh lime margarita on a hot summer evening and apparently so do a lot of you! I have received overwhelming feedback and a lot of great comments from my Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon recipe, so in the spirit of another tequila shot, try this one when you’re looking for something with a new twist and a subtle spicy kick, a perfect complement to the sweet, fresh fruit  juices! It’s refreshing, it’s unique, and most importantly, it’s easy! Don’t be afraid, this is not that spicy, but the chili adds a depth to the drink that cuts through all that citrus and makes it truly tasty. By the way, did you know margarita means daisy in spanish? Doesn’t that just sound like a delightful name for a killer cocktail?

Ancho Chili Margarita with Fresh Lime-Orange-Grapefruit Juice

Recipe:
2 0z tequila
2 oz mixed juice {lime, orange, grapefruit, agave}
ice
kosher salt and lime slice for rim

What you Need {See below for proportions}:
1 Bottle Tequila Blanco {I find the white tequila is smoother}
1 Dried Ancho Chili
Raw Agave
Limes
Oranges
Grapefruits

Fresh Squeezed Lime, Orange, Grapefruit

People experiment with the proportions of tequila to lime juice all the time, so it’s just a matter of personal taste.  Since my recipe uses fresh squeezed juice and a little raw agave for sweetness, you don’t need to add any triple sec or cointreau. And because of the fresh juice, I like to make this one with a 1:1 proportion of tequila to fruit juice. Here’s what you can expect to get from all that squeezing {approximately}.

8 limes=8 ounces
4 juice oranges=8 ounces
1 grapefruit=7 ounces

Figure out how many total drinks you plan on making. You need 2 oz of tequila and 2 oz of juice for every drink, so multiply that to know how much you need in total of both. Here’s an example to figure out how much of everything you need to make 3 drinks for 4 people. Adjust to fit your crew!

  1. 2 hours before you plan to serve the margaritas, add one dried ancho chili to the bottle of tequila. Note: the longer this soaks, the less spicy it will get as the pepper actually breaks down in the tequila. If you don’t plan on using an entire bottle, you may want to pour the tequila over the pepper in a separate container and watch it turn a cool red hue!
  2. Juice all of your limes, oranges and grapefruits into a separate container. Add 1 tsp of agave for every 8oz of total fresh fruit juice.  Mix thoroughly and chill. Keep a few lime halves to run across the top of your glasses later to make the salt stick.
  3. Ready to drink? Run a leftover lime half around the rim of a chilled glass. Pour some kosher salt on a plate and dip the rim in the salt if desired. Fill the glass with ice.
  4. You can either use a cocktail shaker or just mix equal parts tequila and fresh fruit juice in a pitcher and pour over ice in each glass.
  5. Stir, sip, enjoy, repeat.

Other Summer Sippers:
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Summer Sipper Sides:
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

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recipe goodness :: red chili-lime cornbread muffins

Chili-Lime Cornbread Cups

Cornbread is one of those things that rarely excites me — it usually tastes like cake that has been left on the counter for a week, only it tastes like, well, corn. But it’s also one of those things that people come to expect at a BBQ. You’re making ribs? Well there must be cornbread! So here, my friends, is my recipe for a cornbread cup that will be moist, surprise your guests with subtle hints of two flavors that I think make any dish better — red chili and lime, and most importantly is very easy.

Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

Makes 12-15 Muffins
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 35-40 Minutes

1 package Jiffy Cornbread Mix
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 8 oz. can creamed corn
1 8 oz. can whole kernel corn {optional for chunkier muffins}
Zest of 1 lime
1/2-1 small red chili, grated

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. The creamed corn will have smaller bits of kernels, but if you want to really add some good texture add as much from a can of whole corn kernels as you like {or an ear of cooked corn if it’s in season}. It’s a great way to make CORNbread and with some exciting nuggets of bursting corn flavor. Depending on how much kick you want to surprise your guests with, I usually use a microplane to grate 1/2 to 1 full red chili into the mix. You can either just pour the whole mix into a greased 8×8 pan or into individual cups in a muffin tin. I prefer the muffin cups because it looks nicer and they cook more evenly. There is a lot of moisture in this recipe, so place the cornbread in the oven and start checking around 35 minutes to see if their done by sticking a toothpick in the center of a few of the muffins — it should come out clean with no batter stuck to it. You don’t want to undercook these, so give them another 5-10 minutes if they still seem soft.

Curious About Corn With A Kick?
recipe goodness :: gourmet grillin’ with white truffle corn
recipe goodness :: creole roasted fresh corn-tomato salsa
8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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recipe goodness :: tomato, basil & feta salad

Fresh Tomato Salad

I went to the farmer’s market and bought the most perfectly imperfect tomatoes from a New Jersey farmer. They had big brown spots where the sweet fruit previously hung from the vine, they were not perfectly round, nor perfectly red on the outside, but when you cut into them, all their glorious perfection was revealed. Redder than any red I have seen before {especially from a store-bought tomato} and that red persisted throughout — there was no big seedy, liquidy center or even an ounce of that white flesh so common in a tomato these days. It’s at moments like this, that I am convinced of the merits of buying locally grown farm fresh produce — this tomato tastes far superior to anything you will find while strolling the air conditioned aisles of your grocery store. And while we have been conditioned ourselves to expect perfection on the outside of our shiny, clean, bruise-free pyramid of produce, I think we have also all experienced that piece of fruit or vegetable that tasted nothing like it looked…or didn’t taste like anything at all. So do not be afraid of buying that unwaxed, slightly gnarly produce from the farmer at the market — you may be surprised by what you find inside!

Farm Fresh Tomato

So with my perfectly imperfect red tomato in hand, I made a stop at a local artisan cheese maker, Ardith Mae {you may remember them from 8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!}, to pick up some fresh goat’s milk feta and came home to make a salad so simple, but so fresh and flavorful. Here it is:

Farm Fresh Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

3 large, ripe field-grown fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh feta
1 sprig fresh basil
4 TBS olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Wash and cut tomatoes into equal size wedges and then cut in half again to get pieces approximately 1 inch in length.  Season lightly with salt {you can add more later, but the feta will add salt to the dish as well} and pepper and gently toss. Crumble feta on top of tomatoes. Chiffonade basil by removing basil leaves from the stem, stacking 5-6 leaves at a time and rolling tightly lengthwise and then slicing with a paring knife perpendicular to the roll — this will give you delicate ribbon-like basil to sprinkle across the salad which will look pretty, but will also make sure you don’t have to chew on a full basil leaf! Drizzle olive oil over salad and gently toss. Taste and add more salt, pepper or basil as you like .

Tomato Feta Basil Salad

Looking For More Farm-Fresh Inspiration?
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: fresh lime-margarita marinated watermelon

Margarita Marinated Watermelon

Another weekend is nearing and the weather won’t give us any relief, but my fresh-lime-margarita marinated watermelon will. It’s best when it hangs out at least overnight, so stop at the store and pick up that pretty pink juicy fruit and get soakin’ — your friends will thank you later!

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves a lot!

1 small watermelon {lots of great varieties the size of a cantaloupe}
4 limes, juiced and zested
4 oz light tequila
4 oz triple sec or cointreau
Rock salt for serving

So it’s this easy: Find a small watermelon variety, which will make it easier to cut and also the right amount to still serve a big crowd. Cut through the equator of the melon with a large chef’s knife and then put both flat sides face down on the cutting board. Cut into 1-inch slices creating a bunch of semi-circle pieces. Lay each slice flat on the board and then cut into long finger-like slices, so each piece has a bit of rind at the end {this will make it easy to pick up as an appetizer} and discarding the end pieces that don’t have any melon attached. Lay all the finger-like pieces side by side and on top of each other in a large 9X11 dish, zesting the limes on top of each layer.

In a separate glass measuring cup, juice limes {each should give you about 1 oz of lime juice}. Pour equal parts of tequila and triple sec or cointreau {if you get 4 oz of juice, you want to add 4 oz of each mixer}. Stir thoroughly with a spoon and then pour over the watermelon slices. Cover well with a lid or plastic wrap and throw into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, put the watermelon on a nice tray with a bowl of rock salt for dipping {any good margarita has a salted rim and it also brings out the sweetness of the melon!}

Tip: DON’T throw away the liquid left in the dish — you’ve got fresh watermelon margarita cocktails just waiting to be sipped! Pour the liquid into glasses over ice and serve with one of your marinated watermelon slices as a garnish. Recipe bonus!

Margarita Watermelon ready to chill out for a day

Marinate Over a Few Other Party Planners:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

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recipe goodness :: creole roasted fresh corn-tomato salsa

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa

It’s not very difficult to make your own salsa and it’s fresher, cheaper and often solicits a lot of “mmmmms” from anyone you share it with. Plus, a really good salsa can not only  make a good app, but goes really well with something like grilled fish, chicken, burgers, nachos, you name it, adding a more interesting and flavorful accompaniment than anything you’ll find in a plastic bottle.

Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

2 ears of corn, shucked
butter or olive oil for  brushing
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning for dusting
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 jalapeno or red chili, finely chopped
small handful of cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Light the grill and while that warms up, shuck each ear of corn and brush with butter {or olive oil if you prefer} and sprinkle a generous amount of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning on all sides of the corn until covered. Wrap each ear of seasoned corn separately and cook on the grill for  10 minutes, rotating every 2-3 minutes. While the corn is cooking add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. {Tip: Use only half a jalapeno or chili if you prefer a milder salsa}. Once the corn is done, let it cool slightly and then stand on the flat end of the cob and take a sharp knife down length of the corn to remove all the kernels. Add the bowl and toss well to break up the corn and mix all the flavors together. Serve in a bowl or to jazz it up a bit, take a tablespoon and fill tortilla chip “scoops” individually on a plate.

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

If this sounds appetizering, you might also like these recipes:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into

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8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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It was a dark and stormy night {almost}. The orange and yellow radar covered the eastern seaboard. The dark, cumulonimbus clouds loomed overhead. And the wind blew….but it DID NOT rain. Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then. Good thing, because this 8.ate@eight BBQ took two full days to prep and I was fixin’ to have me a party. All those dixie flavors like to hang out over night, so the kitchen was in full swing from the moment the roosters crowed Friday. Here’s the scoop ya’ll…

The Menu:

Starter
Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa
Margarita Soaked Watermelon
w/ Fresh Agave-Lime Margaritas with Ancho Chili-Infused Silver Patron

Salad
Oven Roasted Avocado Tortilla Salad
w/ ’08 Basa Ruedo Blanco (Spain)

Entrée
Slooooow Cooked Pork Ribs
Lime-Chili Cornbread
Red Cabbage, Radish & Carrot Slaaaw
w/ Abita Amber, Purple Haze and Strawberry Lager Beer (Louisiana)

Dessert
Banana Puddin’ Served in Semi-Sweet Chocolate Cups
w/ Crios de Susana Balba ‘09 Torrontes (Argentina)

It wouldn’t be an 8.ate@eight without a kickoff cocktail and since I was spicing things up with the food, I also decided to throw together an Ancho Chili-Infused Fresh Lime Margarita to warm things up {thanks to inspiration from my wine friend, Mike}. A smoked Ancho Chili went into the bottle a few hours before serving and I got to work juicing more limes, oranges and grapefruit than a minute maid. But since Top Chef contestants always like to do things “two-ways” I also sliced a watermelon into finger sized pieces and soaked those in fresh lime margarita over night {careful, they’ll get ya when you’re not looking!}

The Fixins' for Fresh Lime Margaritas

Margarita Watermelon ready to chill out for a day

And what better app to serve with fresh margaritas than salsa? I rubbed the corn in Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning and roasted it on the grill before adding to vine-ripened grape tomatoes with more fresh lime, cilantro, scallions and some red chilis from my neighbor’s rooftop garden {thanks Julie!}

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

Before people had one too many watermelon slices, we all grabbed a seat and I served a Roasted Avocado Tortilla Salad. This was a new experiment inspired by Jamie Oliver — oven at full whack, sliced avocado on a tray tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin seed and roasted for 15 minutes. The result: warm, roasted, lightly charred avocado slices served over crispy tortilla chips, fresh greens, sprouts and a simple lemon-olive oil dressing. Refreshing and unique.

Roasted Avocado-Tortilla Salad

Now for the main event. St. Louis Spare Ribs went for a swim in apple juice and apple cider vinegar before being rubbed with love in a dry blend of spices, garlic and orange zest and left in the fridge for a day to take it all in. Everything is slower in the South, so I also made the slaw a day before so the flavors would mix and mash and come out really tasty. The secret to good cole slaw is time. With red cabbage as the base, I added thin radish and carrots slices, all of which are pretty sturdy veg, so the longer they get to hang out in the vinegar-mayo dressing, the more they soften up and take on the flavor of the marinade. This also means you don’t have to over do it with the mayo — I was pretty light handed, contrary to what you may be used to in the cole slaw department. And it wouldn’t be a BBQ without cornbread, in my opinion. Somewhere along the line I started making my cornbread with creamed corn to make them less dry and add some actual bits of corn to the mix. This time I also took this recipe a step further and added grated neighborly-red chili and lime zest to throw in a little kick.

Carrot, Radish and Red Cabbage Slaw

Chili-Lime Cornbread Cups

Rubbin' the hog ribs

On day 2, I fired up the oven about 5 hours prior to show time and got the ribs into slow-cook mode. While they were doin’ their thang, I got to chopping, sauteing and simmering away to make one of the most unique BBQ sauces I have ever had. Again, thanks to inspiration from Jamie Oliver this blend was a combination of fresh herbs, spices, more red chili, and generally accepted BBQ sauce condiment contributions {horseradish, ketchup, worcestershire, etc.} to add the needed kick and sweetness that any finger-lickin’ BBQ sauce requires. But what stood out amongst the 8.ate@eight crowd as the most distinct and crowd-pleasing flavor was the fresh orange juice and zest — not a common flavor found on the grill, but OH so fine. All this paired quite well with a selection of Abita brews from Louisiana — Amber, Purple Haze and Strawberry Harvest. Do not be afraid of the fruit flavored beer gentlemen — it is subtle and the perfect complement to the spicy red chilies that found their way in to many of the dishes.

Makin' the BBQ Sauce

Abita Beer Selection from LA - Save the Sea!

8.ate@eighters Diggin' In

When I polled my southern friends about their favorite desserts, there were many — cobblers, pies, hand churned ice cream, but one that stood out was banana pudding. Borrowing some more inspiration from a delightful dessert blog I read, Bakerella, I decided to make chocolate cups to serve this somewhat simple, but delicious banana pudding in. Armed with 3 pounds of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and water balloons {sans water} I got to dipping. My eyeballs nearly popped out of my head trying to blow up the tiny water balloons, but they are necessary to use to get the right size shell. Ultimately these were very easy to make and really jazzed up the puddin’, so the next time you’re looking for a unique serving option for anything that goes well with chocolate {fresh berries, ice cream, pudding, etc.} you should give these a try.

The makings of the banana puddin'

Setting the Chocolate Cups

Pop!

Banana Puddin' Cups

So with full bellies and licked fingers, it was time to sit back, relax and welcome the 3 Amigos into the evening. After so much finger linkin’ food and a large selection of beverages, it was good to have a lively movie to keep the night going and a few guttural laughs to help with digestion. And with still no rain in sight, the evening carried on into the wee hours — I reckon it was another successful and fun 8.ate@eight supper club!

Laughter Helps with Digestion

The 3 Amigos Rode in for the BBQ

Much Obliged:

Thanks, as always, to my guests for being part of the evening. Thanks to my lovely neighbors for the tent and red chili contributions and thank you to my roommate Haley for introducing me to the wonders of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.

Stay tuned for news of the next dinner party. Everyone I know and love is getting married in August, so the kitchen is closed until September. If you aren’t on the invite list, email me at 8ateATeight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs

Recipe Goodness ::
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups

Pudding recipe courtesy of Cindy Lee

Makes 8-10 servings in one 8×8 pan {9×11 pan if double recipe}

Pudding:
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ cups cold water
1 (4 serving size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 cups whipping cream, lightly whipped
1 box vanilla wafers
4 bananas, sliced

In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk & water.  Add pudding mix, beat with whisk until well blended and chill in refrigerator about 5 min.  Then fold in the lightly whipped cream {still liquid, but aerated to make thicker}.  Spoon pudding mixture (about 1 cup) into bottom of glass dish, then layer with vanilla wafers, then banana on top of wafer, pudding mix, wafer, banana,  pudding mix, wafer (you want to end on wafer). You will have plenty of pudding mixture, especially if you double the recipe so use the pudding mixture generously on the bottom of the dish and throughout.

Tip: Always best to make this the day before so the flavors will marry.

Chocolate Cups:
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate per 8 cups {I like Ghirardelli}

Blow up 8 water balloons with air, not water {careful not to bust a gut!} Get a cookie sheet ready, lined with a piece of parchment paper. Melt chocolate in a small metal bowl on top of a boiling pot of water or in a double boiler. Continue stirring and once fully melted, remove bowl and move to the counter, letting the chocolate cool slightly so as not to pop your balloons. Take a small spoon and put a dollop of chocolate, evenly spaced on the parchment paper, for the foot of each bowl you will create. Start dipping! I found that it was difficult to get an even edge by dipping the balloon straight down, so I took an angled approach and continued to turn and dip, turn and dip at an angle, creating what looked like a tulip bowl. Once you have covered the base of the balloon, place it on one of the dollops, standing upright and repeat. Let the chocolate harden for about an hour and then pop each balloon with a pin and enjoy!

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recipe goodness :: orzo summer salad

Orzo Prep

Whew! It’s HOT out there! If you’re looking for a great recipe to cool down with, this is the one. Not many people haven’t had this salad at one of my BBQs. It’s always a huge hit and on the rare occasion that there is actually any leftover, it’s even better the next day. The orzo summer salad is extremely easy to throw together and makes a large amount, so this recipe is perfect for a big gathering and can be made ahead of time so all you have to do is toss a spoon in the bowl and put it on the table. Yay for delicious and easy crowd-pleasing recipes!

Orzo Summer Salad

Serves a lot!

1 box orzo
1/2 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 lb fresh feta
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package instructions (approx. 7 minutes). While the orzo is cooking, roughly chop baby spinach and add to a large bowl. Juice and zest 1 large lemon and add 1/4 cup olive oil to a separate small bowl and whisk together. When orzo is done cooking, drain thoroughly and add to the large bowl, pouring over spinach leaves. {TIP: Adding the orzo while warm will slightly cook the spinach so you get softer, brighter spinach leaves} Pour the lemon-olive oil dressing over the orzo, crumble the feta and add the green onions and halved grape tomatoes. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately or cool in the fridge to serve chilled {TIP: Remove salad 15 minutes before serving if chilled to allow the olive oil to come back to room temperature}.

Orzo Summer Salad

Try the Orzo Summer Salad with one of these great entrees:
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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Happy 4th of July Weekend from 8.ate@eight!

Happy 4th of July from 8.ate@eight!

I hope the sun is shining as brightly as it is in NYC for all of you. Enjoy the holiday weekend and if you’re looking for a few easy and unique dishes to share at your BBQ, try a few of these 8.ate@eight favorites and let me know how they turn out!

DRINKS {cheers!}

Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

APPETIZERS {makes happy hour happier}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}

SALAD

Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

BISON & BEEF {where’s the…}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into

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4th Food Fare: Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

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BBQ’d Pizza you ask? Yes, you don’t need a wood burning oven or even a pizza stone to successfully make pizzas at home. And it’s even easier if you have a favorite pizza joint nearby that will sell you uncooked dough and even some toppings. This is so much more interesting for a great BBQ party than hot dogs and hamburgers and gets your guests involved so you don’t have to be sweating in front of the grill all night.

Easy Grilled Pizzas

Serves 8 (individual size)

1 large pizza dough ball
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil for brushing

Toppings: Get creative — putting multiple bowls of topping options out allows your guests to choose their favs and maybe even get a little competitive to build the best pizza combo.

Peppers
Olives
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Onions (raw or grilled)
Grilled Eggplant and zucchini
Mushrooms (grilled and sliced portobellos are great)
Sweet or spicy grilled italian sausage and pepperoni (sliced)
Different cheeses (feta, brie, halloumi)
Fresh greens: basil, rosemary, spinach

  1. Turn grill on to medium heat
  2. Cut dough into 8 individual balls and let rest on a tray
  3. Two people can start simultaneously — have two guests start gently stretching the dough in their hands, turning and pulling to form the dough into a thin round circle, being careful not to pull a hole in the dough.
  4. Once the grill is hot and the dough has been stretched, lay them on a cutting board or tray and brush one side with olive oil. Pick the dough back up and flop directly on the grill, olive oil side down, and close the lid.
  5. After about 1-2 mins or until you see light grill marks on the under side, brush the top with olive oil and flip with tongs.
  6. Work quickly to add all toppings from sauce to cheese and anything else. Close the grill lid and wait ~1-2 mins.
  7. Check to make sure the cheese is melted and the bottom is a nicely browned. If the bottom starts to get too dark before the cheese is fully melted you can move the pizza to a top rack and let the indirect heat do the rest of the work without burning the dough.
  8. Enjoy and repeat!

Tip: If you think your guests will want more than one individual pizza, buy extra dough and cheese to accommodate appetites and the number of people.  You can always make other things with leftover dough.

Extra Dough:

  • Rosemary-Sea Salt Flatbread — After brushing the second side with olive oil, sprinkle generously with coarse gray sea salt and fresh rosemary.
  • Delicious Breakfast Pizza — Same steps as original pizza, but once you flip the dough, immediately move it to the top rack and crack the egg directly on the dough. This will take approximately 10 minutes for the egg to fully cook, so the bottom will burn if you leave it on the bottom. The egg will be done when you poke with a fork or knife and the white is firm.

Serve With A Refreshing Cocktail and Spinach Salad:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad

Breakfast PIzza

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #3 | Big Southern BBQ Meets Small NYC Rooftop | @7.10.10.8:00pm

I may be a girl from the Midwest, but I love me some good BBQ.  In honor of Fourth of July and celebrating all things American, let’s roast up some hog, chill down some beer and have a proper BBQ with all the fixins of a good meal and a good time. After we lick our lips and wipe our fingers {or vice versa}, Three Amigos will be projected under the stars and a memorable, intimate social gathering amongst new friends will ensue.

See here for a recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #3: Big Southern BBQ Meets Small NYC Rooftop
Saturday, July 10
th, 2010, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu, followed by
Post Dinner Movie: Three Amigos
Cost: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

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8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

8.ate@eight #2: who cut the cheese

The rain held off and there was a perfect summer breeze in the air, which set the scene for another memorable evening with new and old friends. Lots of cheese, wine, beer and hand-prepared food to share, so without further ado…here’s the scoop>>>

Farm Fresh Cheese was the feature fare for the evening. To lighten things up to follow, I prepared a few citrus-centric dishes, including a grilled fishus delicious. I paired the movie with the setting instead of the food this time around. Our new friends gathered terrace-top overlooking the NY skyline and our lovely neighbors across the way, so it seemed only appropriate to roll tape on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

Welcome!

Cheese Menu:

Cheese & Wine Paring
Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert (Old Chatham, NY)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Delapierre Brut Cava (Spain)

Beringse Witte (Hamont-Achel, Belgium)
Buy: Formaggio Essex
w/ Brooklyn Local 1 Pale Ale

Ardith Mae Dairy’s Begelo (Hallstead, PA)
Buy: Union Square (Fri), 77th St & Columbia Univ. Greenmarket (Sun)
w/ Shaya ’08 Verdejo

Monte Enebro (Avila, Spain)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Shaya ’08 Verdejo

Roncal (Navarra Region, Spain)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Perrin & Fils ’07 Cotes du Rhone

Valley Shepherd Farms Crema de Blue (NJ)
Buy: Union Square & Borough Hall Greenmarkets (Sat)
w/ Muscat de Saint Jean de Mineverois

Accompaniments:
Grandma Wilklow’s Homemade Berry-Berry Jam
Buy: Borough Hall Greenmarket (Tues & Sat)
Tremblay Apiary Creamed Honey
Buy: Union Square Greenmarket (Fri & Sat)

Dinner Menu:

Soup
Chilled Lemon-Rice Soup
w/ Cousiño-Macul Sauvignon Gris

Entrée and Sides
Grilled Wild North Atlantic Halibut w/ Chili-Lime Dressing, served over a Lentil, Orange & Feta Salad
Carrot Ribbon & Arugula Salad w/ a Lemon-Ginger Dressing
w/ Cousiño-Macul Sauvignon Gris

Dessert
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake w/ BBQ’d Summer Berries
w/ Tourangelle Touraine Rosé

Movie
Rear Window

Jessica Wurwarg, friend and Artisanal cheese expert {discount code and more about her cheese&wine classes here}, kicked off the evening with a beautiful array of local and artisanal cheeses. Each was paired with a selection of wines and a local Brooklyn ale to complement the flavor profiles and bring out the best in each cut. The cheese was also accompanied by locally produced Grandma Wilklow’s berry-berry jam and what I like to call semi-solid gold, Tremblay creamed honey, to add a contrasting sweetness to some of the more salty, earthy notes.  If you haven’t had creamed honey before, run, don’t walk to the Union Square Greenmarket or check it out here. This isn’t your typical honey-bear liquid gold — creamed honey goes through a controlled granulation process, which results in a finely crystallized form that spreads like butter, melts in your mouth and takes on creamy characteristics.

Jessica Cutting the Cheese

Cheese Plating in Progress

Jessica Shares her Cheese & Wine Knowledge

Cheese & Jam & Creamed Honey, oh my!

8.ate@eighters

While everyone was finishing off their cheese and multiple glasses of wine, beer and more wine, I served up a small bowl of chilled lemon rice soup to cleanse the palate. Conversation ensued and I fired up the grill to get the rest of the meal prepared. I wanted to keep things simple and light to cut all the creamy proteins we just enjoyed, so I grilled up a North Atlantic Halibut that had been hangin’ out in a lime, red chili, olive oil and herb marinade for a few hours. The fish was grilled in a tin foil pouch to lock in the moisture and infuse the fish with all the fresh juices. On the side I served two salads: the first was a lentil, red onion, feta and orange salad that had a bit of a mediterranean flare to complement the fish, and the second was a very simple arugula and carrot ribbon salad with a fresh lemon-ginger-sesame seed dressing that really kept things light and not too filling.

Chilled Lemon-Rice Soup

Grilled Wild North Atlantic Halibut w/ Chili-Lime Dressing, served over a Lentil, Orange & Feta Salad

Everyone seemed to be quite relaxed after all that wine and food, so while the conversation carried on, plates were cleared and the projector was set-up to bring a little Hitchcock into the evening.

8.ate@eighters After Sunset

It’s never a bad dinner party when Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart Show Up.

Grace Kelly and James Stewart Showed Up for Dinner

While the movie rolled, I got to work plating mini cheesecakes {my grandma’s recipe} and BBQ’ing a selection of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to serve over the top.

Summer Berries ready to be BBQ'd

Violet's Lemon Cheesecake w/ BBQ'd Summer Berries

Midway through the movie, dessert was served, some caught a little shut-eye and we closed out the evening with the suspenseful Rear Window.

Settling in for the Rear Window Viewing

Thanks:

Thank you to Jessica for selecting wonderful cheeses & wines to kick off the evening and for sharing so much knowledge with the 8.ate@eight table. Thank you also to Kristin for helping to set-up and do dishes — my least favorite thing to do was completely eliminated by the graces of a good friend!

Stay tuned for news of the next dinner party. If you aren’t on the invite list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com. See you at the table!

Recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Silencing of the Spring Lambs

Recipe Goodness:

Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries

Makes 20 Cupcake Sized Mini Cheesecakes or one 9″ Spring Form Pan
Bake 350° for 25-30 mins.

Crust:
1 1/4 C  Ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 C  Finely Chopped Walnuts
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 C  Melted Butter

Filling:
16 oz
Cream Cheese
2 TBS  Heavy Cream
1 tsp  Vanilla
2 Large Eggs
3/4 C  Sugar
1 Lemon, Juiced (reserve for after prior ingredients combined)

Berry Topping:
1 Pint Strawberries
1-6-oz Container Blueberries
1-6-oz Container Raspberries
1-6-oz Container Blackberries

Chop graham crackers and walnuts in a food processor until medium to fine crumbs form. Mix in a bowl with cinnamon and melted butter. Press crumbs into the bottom of foil muffin wrappers placed in a muffin pan or into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan if you prefer one cake. {Tip: Foil wrappers are better than paper to prevent any chance of leaking or absorption}

In a separate mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients {except for the lemon juice to avoid curdling} and blend. After the ingredients have been creamed thoroughly, add the lemon juice and blend to combine. Pour filling into each cup until 2/3 full to leave room for oven rising {or pour entire mixture into spring form}. Bake at 350° for ~25-30 minutes. Filling should be firm and a toothpick should come out clean when tested at the center. Let cakes cool completely before putting into the fridge for at least 5 hours to chill and rest before serving.

To serve with BBQ’d berries, rinse and dry fruit and place in a foil pouch to place directly on the grill. Let berries cook over low heat about 3-5 minutes, or until some of the juice is released to create a sauce and the berries are softened. Remove pouch from the grill and place on a sheet or plate to avoid leaking. Remove each cheesecake from the wrapper and place upside down so the crust is on top. Scoop berries over the cheesecake and serve warm.

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #2 | Who Cut the Cheese | @6.12.10.7:30pm

Round two of 8.ate@eight supper club is scheduled for 3 short weeks from now and we have something really exciting in store for the June 8.ate@eight table. Jessica Wurwarg, fellow 8.ate@eight-er and Artisanal cheese expert is going to be kicking off the evening sharing her knowledge of a selection of delicious farm fresh artisan cheeses, jams and a specially paired wine tasting. Come ready to taste, drink and ask questions! A 3-course dinner, featuring a lighter fishus delicious entrée {that’s a technical term!} will follow. After we all cut the cheese {and other hand prepared dishes} Rear Window will be projected under the stars and a memorable, intimate social gathering amongst new friends will ensue. We’re starting this one earlier @7:30 for more cheese and wine time — who would pass that up?!

See here for a recap of the last 8.ate@eight dinner.

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese
Saturday, June 12
th, 2010, 7:30pm {early for more cheese time}
cheese & wine tasting, followed by a 3-course dinner menu
post-dinner movie: Rear Window
Suggested Donation: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com {note: number attending in your email}

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Let's Cut the Cheese!

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8.ate@eight #1: Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

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What can I say, the inaugural 8.ate@eight supper club was lambtastic! Perfect weather (mid-70s) and perfect company set the scene for a great evening of fresh, hand-prepared food, deliciously paired wine and good conversation shared amongst new and old friends. Here’s the scoop >>>

Naerim, my friend and French Culinary Institute-trained pastry chef, showed up around 11am to start throwing around some cake flour and gettin’ down to business preparing her superbly delicious Panna Cotta Tartlets with Balsamic Strawberries. Meanwhile, the prosecco was chillin’ and I was chopping, grinding and whizzing away to to get all the elements together for each course of the meal, organized to complement our post-dinner flick, Silence of the Lambs.

The Menu:

Starter
Minted Fava Bean & Spring Pea Puree with Fresh Italian Ricotta on Garlic Rubbed Toasts
w/ Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Mimosas

Salad
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta Vinaigrette, Michigan Dried Cherries & Candied Pecans
w/ 2008 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais

Entrée
Pistachio encrusted Spring Lamb with Cumin Yogurt & Pickled Red Onion
w/ 2001 Cataregia Gran Reserva

Dessert
Panna Cotta Tartlets w/ Balsamic Strawberries

Movie
Silence of the Lambs

Everyone grabbed a Fresh Blood Orange Mimosa, introduced themselves and settled in for some good food and drinks.

Fresh Blood Oranges Being Squeezed for Blood Orange Mimosas

Fava Bean and Pea Puree

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta Vinaigrette, Dried Michigan Cherries and Candied Pecans

While the salad was being served, we were off in the kitchen orchestrating all the elements of the entrée. The lamb (and Jessica’s sea bass) was encrusted with a spice blend of thyme, chilli pepper, cumin, lemon zest and pistachios, pan-seared and finished in the oven. Each was topped with freshly pickled red onions and a cumin yogurt sauce. The white asparagus was steamed and topped with a melted smashed mint, lemon butter sauce. Pans were flying and the kitchen mercury was rising as we had all the burners fired at once, but with the help of Naerim, we got everything cooked and plated before anyone pulled a Hannibal Lector.

Pistachio Spring Lamb w/ Cumin Yogurt & Pickled Red Onion; White Asparagus w/ Smashed Mint & Lemon Butter

After the plates were cleared, we rolled the movie, opened more wine and Naerim got to work finishing dessert.

Naerim Plating Dessert

Panna Cotta Tartlets w/ Balsamic Strawberries

Hannibal Lector showed up for a bite too.

Hannibal Lector Shows Up After Dinner

Click here to see the full album.

Thanks:

I want to thank Naerim for preparing such a beautiful and delicious dessert and for all the help in getting the 8.ate@eight-ers fed. Thanks to Kristin for snapping some candids while I was off in the kitchen and for doing dishes late night {tisk tisk!!} And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

Our next dinner will be announced shortly {very shortly} so if you aren’t on the list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com. See you at the table!

Recipe Goodness:

Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4

Chops:
12 lamb chops, ~ 1 1/2 inches thick
2 TBS fresh thyme
1 TBS ground chilli pepper
1 TBS ground cumin
2 TBS fresh lemon zest
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup shelled pistachio nuts

Pickled Red Onion:
1 red onion
1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

Thinly slice the red onion and put into a container that will seal. Pour the juice of one lemon over the onion, add a dash of salt and a crank or two of black pepper. Set the container in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The lemon juice will pickle the onion and soften the flavor for a nice addition to your chops.

In another bowl add the 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper to the yogurt and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

Meanwhile, mix all the dry spices and lemon zest in a bowl. In a zip lock, smash the shelled pistachios to smaller bits that will stick easily to your lamb. Pour the nuts into a separate bowl. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil over the lamb chops and gently press each side of the chops first in the spice bowl and then in the pistachio bowl, making sure both sides are generously covered in pistachios.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large oven safe pan on the stove {no need to add olive oil as the fat from the lamb will be enough to cook the chops}. Add all the of chops to the pan and push firmly down to create a good sear. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and put the pan into the oven for 4 minutes. {Note: If you don’t have an oven safe pan, you can preheat a cookie sheet in the oven and transfer the chops to the sheet to finish}.

To serve, top the lamb chops with a few rings of the pickled red onion and a drizzle of the cumin yogurt. Enjoy!

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