Posts Tagged ‘fancy dinner’

17th February
2011
written by Steph

Maple-Glazed Tuna and Curried Pear & Potato Salad

It’s been ages since I posted a recipe on the site, something I apologize for. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – I have – it’s just that I haven’t been making anything that seems all that blog-worthy. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut for the past few months (don't the holidays do that to us? Where all you want to do is eat out or order in take-out?), but I think I’m finally snapping out of it. I’ve recently been seeking out lots of new recipes to try, and the thought of cooking is no longer something that makes me feel tired but something that makes me feel excited.

Tony and I are never ones to really celebrate Valentine’s Day because I think it’s a fairly awful holiday. I feel like if Tony and I need the push of a corporate occasion to tell each other how much we care for each other, then our relationship is in trouble. I also dislike how restaurants use this time as an excuse to create special (read: expensive) menus that really break the budget. This year Tony and I decided we would observe Valentine’s Day from the comfort of our own home, where I would cook us a meal that was a little bit fancier than what we would normally make for ourselves (but at a quarter of the price of what we would pay dining out). I decided I would try a recipe I got off of Epicurious that was created by the most recent winner of Top Chef Masters, Marcus Samuelsson. This recipe is his own, and I have to admit that I didn’t stray from it one jot! Shocking, I know, but if you make it yourself, you’ll see it needs no adjusting! Ingredients For the tuna
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp REAL maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Two 6-ounce tuna fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
For the salad
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup shredded baby spinach
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9th December
2010
written by Steph
While Tony works away on writing our mega wrap-up post of our trip to San Francisco, I thought I'd whet all your appetites by sharing with you our super fancy meal at La Folie. As frequent readers know, Tony and I are pretty adventurous eaters and we enjoy spoiling ourselves every now and then with haute cuisine. We've eaten at the majority of upscale eateries here in Nashville, and pretty much every trip we take is capped in some way with an extravagant repast (plus, when we're not eating with the blue bloods, we tend to be scoping out the very best street food that a town has to offer!). It's not an exaggeration to say that food plays a big part in our life. La Folie was our big splurge meal while in San Francisco, and it was a special first for us because it was the first restaurant we've ever dined at that has a coveted Michelin star. After this sumptuous feast, we can certainly say that star is well-deserved, but also find ourselves wondering what the heck you have to do to earn 2 or even 3 stars! If you're a crazy foodie or just like to see what crazy things we pay good money to put in our mouths, look no further; your time has come! Click on pictures to enlarge and read descriptions. As you can see this was an incredibly sumptuous and decadent meal. It was also our most expensive splurge to date, but well worth it. We both got to try several things we'd never even seen on menus before (or really anywhere apart from Top Chef), and it was really a thrill to eat such a well-constructed meal. Certainly not an every-day type of meal and it's hard to imagine how it could be topped, but it was definitely a lovely experience. If you're ever in San Francisco and want to break the budget and eat the meal of a lifetime, La Folie is all you need.
14th October
2010
written by Steph

Tiny morsels of food heaven!

Last night Tony and I went to a potluck dinner party held in celebration of our good friend Abby getting another year older. We were designated the hors d’oeuvres portion of the meal (as well as coming up with a suitably commemorative cocktail), and we knew that we needed to concoct something delightfully decadent for the occasion. We rarely host or attend dinner parties that are sufficiently fancy to call for hors d’oeuvres (I mean, just typing the word is trouble enough), but my mind immediately leaped to the idea of dates wrapped in bacon… which was fortuitous, because they happen to be one of Abby’s favorite indulgences! Now pretty much anything wrapped in bacon is going to make for a morsel of deliciousness, but you know Tony and I like to go big or go home, so we decided that we’d add a little something special to these little gustatory parcels to make them really memorable… Hence the addition of blue cheese and walnuts stuffed inside each date prior to being ensconced in bacon. This dish is so simple it almost seems like it doesn’t warrant typing out a recipe. But then again, it is so delicious and delectable, I figured it deserved a post. It only requires four ingredients but they combine to produce culinary magic that tastes far more complicated and satisfying than the effort involved to put these together. You’ll need:
  • Strips of bacon (preferably thick cut, and preferably hickory smoked!)
  • 1 box/container of pitted dates
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • shelled walnuts
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16th August
2010
written by Steph

Linguine alle Vongole

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll say it again: yes, you can eat pasta during the hot and humid days of summer! I realize the thought of a thick, heavy dish doesn’t necessarily appeal when the weather is breaking 100º, but there are ways to lighten up your pasta dishes to make them appropriate and appealing. The big thing is cutting back on the sauce – rather than something heavy or creamy, summer is the time when I turn to “barely there” sauces that are more like a drizzle and explosion of fresh ingredients. Your tastebuds and your A/C will thank you!

This simple dish of linguine and clams will whisk you away to Italy (where I’m sure they eat pasta all year round, regardless of soaring temperatures), all from the comfort of your own home. For inspiration, I combined two recipes, one from Rasa Malaysia, and one from Mario Batalli, courtesy of Epicurious. Some of you may be a bit leery of cooking shellfish at home, but I assure you nothing could be simpler than this dish. Best of all, this dish only has about 15 minutes of active cook time, so you won’t spend your time slaving in front of a hot stove. Elegant and simple, this is summer dining at its best! Ingredients (for two)
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed (see below for info on cleaning clams)
  • 8 oz linguine… use the best you can afford
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of crush red pepper flakes (add more if you like your dishes spicier)
  • ½ cup white wine (we used Riesling, which I’m sure is a sin, but it worked for us… use whatever you like to drink)
  • 6 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped (+ 2 extra tbsp for garnish)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • salt to taste
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28th July
2010
written by Steph

steak tacos with a beet & apple slaw and blue cheese

Growing up, I was not a picky eater (still am not), and certainly wasn’t one of those kids who hated vegetables. My brother went through a phase where he hated carrots and hated peppers, but veggies never bothered me. That said, one vegetable I didn’t get much exposure to when young was the ruby red beet. I suspect my father doesn’t care for them and that’s why they never graced the dinner table, but I decided recently I was at a point in my life where I wanted to explore the less conventional vegetables in order to spruce up meals. After whipping up a beet & pear salad last week (with some kohlrabi tossed in just for kicks), I realized that raw beets are: a) really delicious, and b) actually quite sweet! I’d had pickled/jarred/canned varieties of beets before, and they are nowhere in the same league as fresh, raw beets.

With that in mind, I decided to use up our last beet in another slaw fashion, and suddenly this dish popped into mind. What could be better than steak tacos with beets & apple and some blue cheese? It sounded like a divine combination to me… and it was! Plus, it was a breeze to whip up! These will definitely be on the roster again soon… (more…)
20th May
2010
written by Steph

Mushroom & Pea Risotto with Pan-Seared Halibut

A few weeks ago, Tony and I took our dear friend Trisha out to dinner to celebrate her birthday.  We went to a restaurant called, Marché, that specializes in simple – but delicious – French dishes.  That evening, Trisha ordered the halibut and risotto combo, which really captured my imagination.  I decided I wanted to try to recreate it (with my own twists, naturally) at home.

Ingredients (serves 4, generously) For the Risotto
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of diced mushrooms
  • ½ onion, finely minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine (we used a Bogle sauvignon blanc that was wonderful)
  • 2 – 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed
  • zest from ½ a lemon
  • salt & pepper
For the Halibut
  • 4 4-ounce pieces of halibut (or another firm, white fish)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • juice from ½ lemon
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16th April
2010
written by Steph
Last night Tony and I celebrated our three-year anniversary!  We're both pretty on the ball when it comes to remembering dates (except when I maybe, accidentally told someone the wrong date when they asked us when we got married... but in my defense, I'd had maybe three too many drinks that night), but the anniversary of our first date is also Tax Day here in the U.S., and really, what says romance better than the IRS, am I right? 😉 But really, after a few weeks of sending emails back and forth on Match.com, and one phone conversation, Tony and I first laid eyes on one another in real life on April 15, 2007, around 5 pm.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Sparks flew, and they only burn brighter three years later. To celebrate this year we decided to try out a new restaurant (well, new to us), and went to one of Nashville's fancier restaurants, F. Scott's (leave it to us to go to a literary-inspired eatery!). Hey, I'll take any excuse to wear a pretty dress! 🙂  After much research on my part, I settled on this place because it had the adventurous kind of menu that I love.  When we eat out, I like to try out stuff that I'd never have the stones (or the skill) to cook in my own kitchen, and F. Scott's definitely didn't disappoint! Click through the gallery below if you'd like detailed descriptions of what we ate: This meal was SO good.  Definitely our new favourite splurge restaurant, I think.  Everything we ate was divine, and even things we had eaten before at other places were finessed in really interesting and updated ways.  One of the things I love best about Tony (of course there's so much to love), is just how adventurous he is as a diner.  He never shirks away when I say things like "let's order chicken livers" (in fact, he kept most of it to himself...) or "oooh, fried marrow"! I figure there are plenty of ways to measure compatibility, but a couple that can happily dine together and guess what the other person wants to order off of the menu are bound for greatness, right? It's little wonder Match.com ranked us as 100% perfect matches! Three years in, I still marvel at how lucky I was to find Tony and how fortunate I am to spend my life with my best friend, a man who cherishes and challenges me every day. A poem by Neruda, and then one more tidbit:
‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’
Perhaps not to be is to be without your being, without your going, that cuts noon light like a blue flower, without your passing later through fog and stones, without the torch you lift in your hand that others may not see as golden, that perhaps no one believed blossomed the glowing origin of the rose, without, in the end, your being, your coming suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life, blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze: and it follows that I am, because you are: it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we: and, because of love, you will, I will, We will, come to be.
In three months' time we celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, which we promise to do in style!  After much discussion of possible getaways, the tickets have been bought, and from July 3 - July 12, 2010 Tony and I will find ourselves vacationing in.... PUERTO RICO! Soooo excited! Anyone who has ever been, recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated!