September 26th, 2012 |

AD Hoc

If you have been following along on the blog this week, you have already seen this post about the recent trip I took out to Napa, CA with my friend and assistant magazine editor, Charynn Olsheski and our husbands.  One of the main draws to make this trip out West was this amazing opportunity that was presented to us: visit Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience.

When it comes to celebrity obsessions, both Charynn and I are starstruck when it comes to our favorite chefs. Thomas Keller being at the top of that list, we are huge fans of his popular restaurants, Bouchon, The French Laundry, and were beyond thrilled to be invited back into the kitchen of Ad Hoc, his latest restaurant in Yountville, Californa. We met with Sarah Zozaya, Pastry Chef and Katie Hagan- Whelchel, Executive Sous Chef (see the picture to the right), and passed along some of our readers’ questions to head Chef Cruz.

We took a poll on Facebook of questions that readers would like us to ask Chef Cruz, and without further ado…..

Can you give us a little background as to the mission of Ad Hoc and how it came to be established?

As the name implies, it was originally intended to be a temporary restaurant, a place that would only be open for a few months until a different concept was developed and realized. The impetus for the restaurant was based on the childhood food memories of Chef Keller. Things like fried chicken, beef Stroganoff and meatloaf were among the reference points that inspired the menu. Today our goal is still to touch on those food memories, we have just expanded the reference points. We serve dinner family style and invite our guests to serve each other, as well as dine with each other, just as we have from the start.

What local resources inspire the menu, and how does it change seasonally?

Surely, The French Laundry garden as well as our own garden in the back of Ad Hoc are great inspirations. They truly represent our location and the great bounty of the Napa Valley. They are wonderful because we get to be a part of the process – we have a say in what seeds are planted, and we get to be a part of the rearing, as well as a part of the harvest.

If people wanted to pull inspiration from Wine Country and their Ad Hoc visit to entertain once they return home, what would be your suggestions in terms of food and wine?

Serve what you love. I believe that in wine country, we make food we love to eat and produce wines we love to drink. If you carry that back to your own guests at home, you can’t go wrong. Have your guests be involved too. We get such joy in cooking for and serving our guests. We’ve begun to realize that most people enjoy it as well – they love getting in there and being a part of the process, knowing that they had a part in making the evening special. Keep it close to home.: we pick herbs from our backyard, and use many of our own vegetables that we grow. But we also have many relationships with producers very nearby that have great product and take immense pride in raising it. It’s a wonderful feeling to support people who are also our neighbors, especially when you know they care about their product.

The Ad Hoc cookbook is one of my personal favorites, what inspired this particular library of recipes?

Ad Hoc, plain and simple. These were among our favorite dishes to cook for our friends and, of course to eat. The cookbook was a wonderful way to share some of them.

We hear Thomas Keller Restaurant Group just opened a new outpost called Addendum. Tell us about it!

Addendum was inspired mostly by demand. We are fortunate to have many people who enjoy the fried chicken we make, as well as the barbecue dishes we do on alternating Mondays. We figured it was so natural to box it up neatly and eat it for a picnic in our garden, or somewhere outside nearby. Add some Napa wines and finish with a “hoc pop,” our own version of a push pop or a Creamsicle and it’s a great way to enjoy what the Napa Valley is about.

We had a fabulous experience at Ad Hoc and encourage you to visit on your next trip to Napa. In the meantime, Chef Cruz is sharing the famous Ad Hoc Fried Chicken recipe with all of us!

Ingredients

BRINE

1 gallon water

1 cup kosher salt

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

½ cup garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

About ½ ounce (3 large) rosemary sprigs

About ½ ounce (1 large bunch) thyme sprigs

About 2 ounces (1 large bunch) flat leafed parsley sprigs

COATING

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

Two-2 ½ pound chickens

1 quart buttermilk

10 cups peanut oil

Kosher salt

Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnishing

Directions

For the Brine: Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using. Rinse the chickens and place the chickens in the cold brine and refrigerate overnight or for up to 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat the chicken dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. With a knife and pair of kitchen shears, cut the chicken up into 8 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breast halves and 2 wings.

Bring the peanut oil to 330˚F. in the 6 quart sauté pan. Mix the coating ingredients together in a bowl and place the buttermilk in a second container. Just before frying, dip each piece of chicken into the coating, patting off the excess, then into the buttermilk and back into the coating. Place the chicken on a parchment lined sheet tray. When the oil has reached the proper temperature, carefully lower the pieces of dark meat into the oil. The temperature of the oil will decrease. Adjust the heat as necessary to bring the oil to proper temperature.

Fry the dark meat for about 13 minutes, to a deep golden brown, cooked throughout and very crisp. Remove the chicken to a tray lined with paper towels and sprinkle salt. Carefully add the white meat to the oil and fry for about 6 to 7 minutes until cooked. Remove to the tray, sprinkle with salt and turn off the heat under the oil. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes to cool slightly. It is very hot when it comes out of the oil.

While the chicken rests, add the herb sprigs to the hot oil and let them cook and crisp for a few minutes. Arrange the chicken on the serving platter and garnish with the fried herb sprigs.

And remember: 

Be careful. The oil can spurt as the chicken is added and fried, making this is a perfect recipe to use a splatter screen. Place a thermometer in the oil to help monitor the proper cooking temperature. It is a good idea to make this brine a day ahead and refrigerate it. Do not add the chicken to warm brine and do not leave the chicken in the brine longer than the specified time or it may become too salty.

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

September 25th, 2012 |

DIY Leaf Silhouettes Place Cards

It is with great pleasure that I welcome our newest contributor to the blog, Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio!  Vana has been a good friend and supporter/contributor of the Magazine since the beginning and we are thrilled to now have her hear on the blog on a regular basis.

Professionally trained as an architect, Vana Chupp has always been artistically inspired by the sweet and simple moments in life. Her craft was born with the birth of her beautiful boy Nikolas. Documenting her son’s milestones by cleverly capturing his personality, emotion, playfulness and essence, she began using silhouettes to tell her own life story. When she isn’t creating and running Le Papier Studio, you will find Vana sharing her story on balancing motherhood and running a small business on her blog.

I hope you will all give Vana a huge, warm welcome….and I know you are going to LOVE her first DIY project!  Happy crafting!

* * * * * *

When it comes to silhouettes, I always love finding new ways to put them to use. This DIY project is no different! This past weekend while taking a walk with my family, I couldn’t help but notice all the wonderful colors. Midwest is magnificent in the Fall! It’s probably one of the reasons I decided to make it my home.

For this project you will need only a few things: your favorite leaves (gather up a variety of colors), your favorite pictures (profiles would be preferable), a marker, x-Acto knife or a pair of small scissors.

Before you begin, place your leaves underneath some heavy books so they flatten out before you proceed to work with them.

Step 1. Start marking the outline on each profile.

Step 2. Proceed by cutting each template with x-Acto knife or scissors.

Step 3. Next, start outlining the shape of the template onto the leaf.

Step 4. Cut out the silhouette.

I love mixing different color leaves. It makes for a nice variety.

With a thin tip marker, write the names of each guest on each leaf silhouette. Aren’t these darling?

Have you ever used leaves as part of your craft? If so, I would love to hear how you used them.

You can check out more fun DIY ideas on my blog.

September 24th, 2012 |

Trip Recap: Napa Valley

This past summer, my assistant editor and friend, Charynn of Two Sugar Babies, and I traveled with our husbands to the magical land that is Napa Valley.  Part magazine work, part vacation, this trip was nothing short of fabulous. With one amazing meal after another, glass after glass of award-winning wines, and a chance to embrace the simplicity that is Napa entertaining all while spending time with friends.  Let’s be honest, a girl couldn’t ask for much more!

During our stay, we visited a variety of vineyards including Chateau Montelena, Stags’ Leap, Frog’s Leap, Conn Creek, Chateau St. Jean, Kuleto Estates, Jospeh Phelps, Chandon, Artesa, and Schramsburg…just to name a few.  For more information about the vineyards, view our article in the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine.

Each vineyard had it’s own feel – Artesa was sleek and modern,Chateau Montelena was a gorgeous estate set back in the Calistoga region, Schramsburg had caves built into the mountains, while Frog’s Leap winery had a modern-day farmhouse with a big, old front porch (a house I could move right into!).  The style of each winery reinforced their brand, and we embraced all of the different personalities.

We experienced some of the most amazing meals of my life (one of the reasons I love Napa so much!) and walked away with ideas on how to incorporate the fresh, seasonal ingredients into meals into our own homes.  Some of our favorite culinary experiences included Ad Hoc (where we were invited into the kitchen to meet and interview the chefs….more on that tomorrow!), Bouchon, Etoile at Domain Chandon, Barndiva, Morimoto, and Bottega.  For more of our favorites and all of the restaurants contact information, view the fore-mentioned article in the magazine.

I am going to do a separate post on some of the food we enjoyed in Napa….there are just way too many pictures to share with you!

As you all know, I love a good glass of champagne.  Give me bubbles any day of the week!  Chandon is a beautiful estate that is great for tasting and for dining.

We visited all of the darling little towns in the Valley – Yountville, St. Helena, Healdsburg, Sonoma and downtown Napa.  Each had a selection of lovely stores that featured local food items, such as olive oils, spices, salts, as well as home decor stores that had me drooling over wood barrel lazy susans, beautiful wine glasses, and natural lines.

If you happen to find yourself in the Valley, please stop by some of our favorites: Olivier Napa Valley and St. Helena Olive Oil Company for a broad selection of oils (and yes, they do ship!), Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style for salts and unique home goods, Napa Valley Vintage Home for the most gorgeous selection of home goods, Tyler Florence for fabulous kitchen accessories, and Dean & Deluca for all of your gourmet grocery needs.

In addition to thoroughly enjoying ourselves and the beautiful landscape, we walked away with some great ideas on how to recreate the simplistic, natural entertaining that happens daily in Napa.  We’ll be sharing more of those with you all this week on the blog….I hope you will join us!

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

 

September 19th, 2012 |

Caprese Tomato Stack

This time of year, I have a standard, go-to salad…..a caprese tomato stack.  The gorgeous heirloom tomatoes literally call to me from the farmer’s market.  We keep it traditional sometimes, layering fresh mozzarella cheese between slices.  But what really gets the “wows” in my house is when I layer it with goat cheese.

Tip: mix a touch of whole milk into your goat cheese to make it soft and easy to spread between layers of tomatoes and basil.  Top with a little salt & pepper, and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For more tomato season ideas, visit these posts:

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

September 19th, 2012 |

Pottery Barn Entertaining Tips

The transition between the end of summer and the start of fall is a favorite time of year. The weather is usually mild and there is an abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables. This makes for a great time to host a casual gathering for friends and family. We partnered up with one of our favorite entertaining resources, Pottery Barn, to bring you some of their tried and true tips for entertaining this fall. Instead of stressing over a large meal at the table, try for a more casual setup with a Spanish-inspired tapas feast and a sangria tasting party. Small plates and quick refills make this a theme that is easy on the host and allows the guests to easily mingle and relax.

Keep the Sangria Flowing

Dispensers full of sangria, such as the Blacksmith Sangria Tub & Ladle, allow guests to serve themselves and are decorative on their own. Make a batch of red or white sangria and fill with colorful chopped and sliced seasonal fruits like oranges, lemons, nectarines and melons. For white sangria, you can use a white wine base, add a slash of sparkling wine for a bit of effervescent fun.

Layer Your Table with Color

One easy way to add depth to any table is to use a crisp white table linen, layer on a festive table runner, such as the Vallarta Stripe Table Runner, and top with classic white dinner plates. Then, serve your tapas in a colorful collection of oval and round platters and assorted size snack bowls from Pottery Barn’s Colorful Tapas Collection (new this fall).

Accessorize with Flowers

Set up a buffet table for food and drinks, and accent it with small bunches of jewel-tone colored flowers. This will match with the colors of the sangria!  Use a pitcher for drinks or to hold your flowers!

A big thanks to Pottery Barn for sharing these ideas! For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

 

 

 

September 17th, 2012 |

Giveaway: Palm Beach Lately

Good Morning, Sunshine!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  We have a fun treat for you this morning.  Meet Palm Beach Lately: a modern guide to Palm Beach that features colorful inspiration and snapshots of island beauty, living, social and style. It’s a new blog created by our friend and magazine contributor, Beth Beattie of Beth Beattie Branding, PR and Events and her sister, Danielle Norcross of Concierge Couture.

These ladies have created a crisp, fresh guide that is quickly become a new lifestyle fav.  They are not only sharing the recipe for their signature cocktail, but they have partnered with Pioneer Linens to create a set of cocktail napkins featuring their icons…..and are giving away a set of them!  What a fabulous way to start off a Monday, right?

Palm Beach Lately Recipe

The cocktail is simple: champagne, grapefruit juice and cherry syrup, but is big on flavor and slim on the calories.

  • 1 part champagne
  • 1 part fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Splash of fresh pureed cherries

In a champagne flute, pour grapefruit juice and champagne. Add a splash of fresh cherry syrup and enjoy.

GIVEAWAY

Designed by the creators of Palm Beach’s “Must Read” blog Palm Beach Lately, these fun and colorful embroidered cocktail napkins are a must have for any fabulous party. The Palm Beach Lately cocktail napkin set is the perfect accent for a posh gathering or to give as a unique hostess gift.

  • Made from 100% Linen
  • One Set of 4 Cocktail Napkins
  • 6 x 6″ with Hemstitch Border
  • By Palm Beach Lately

Here’s how to enter: head over to “like” Pioneer Linen’s facebook page and leave us a comment here to let us know you entered!  Don’t forget to “like’ Palm Beach Lately, too!  Contest starts today, Monday, September 17, 2012 and will end at midnight CST.  A winner will be chosen via random.org based on the comments left on this post.

September 14th, 2012 |

Football Backyard Party

Celebrate a favorite fall tradition, football, this season with a backyard party.  Kori Clark of Paper & Pigtails created a charming party for the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  Read on for details from Kori, and ideas for recreating this party for your family….

When it comes to a fall party, football is one that often comes to mind, but I found it’s usually a party to watch football. Getting little boys together for a football party is much more fun when they get to play!! I took inspiration for the little boys “backyard football party” from years of playing and watching football in the backyard on Thanksgiving morning and throughout the fall. What little kid doesn’t love a chance to run around and get muddy?

The party was set up as a birthday party and I felt that it should stay simple in design in order to fit the theme. To start the party, you need an invitation, and this is where I wanted to set the tone! Finding sports shirts on sale for a few dollars a piece, I thought sending one to each child to wear to the party was a great way to start it off! Along with the shirt, each child received a letter which was a “Draft Notice” to see what team they were drafted too! It called the guest to wear the color shirt they received and report to the backyard field for the party.

When it came to design, I wanted to mix the rustic feel of the backyard party with a little bit of modern design, so I incorporated black stripes (a la referee) and bright grass green color. I mixed these modern elements with Kraft paper to cover the tables, Kraft Boxes, and “mud in mason jars” on the dessert table. I decided the “sweets table” would be the “halftime snacks” and had birthday cake, mini cakes, “mud pie” jars, and football shaped water bottles. Playing outside, you know the kids need to stay hydrated, so I put a drink bin with frozen water balloons and more water bottles next to the benches!

Our big activity was obviously the actual game, which consisted of a lot of running, some chasing, a little tagging, a lot of laughing, and a few falls! We kept score with a black mat board and a piece of chalk which was fun for the kids and an easy decoration to make! Once the game was over and the sweets were finished, each child left with a mini football, their football water bottles, and a little bit of mud.

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

 

 

September 12th, 2012 |

Football Brownies

Whether you are planning a tailgating party, a kids’ football party, or just wanting to surprise your kids with a festive after-school treat, these football brownies are SO EASY!  You only need three supplies: brownies, a football-shaped cookie cutter, and white piping gel (available at your grocery store).

I suggest putting your brownies in the freezer for 10 minutes before you want to cut them – you will get a crisp cut with your cookie cutter.  After you cut out your brownies, use the white piping gel to add the laces and details to the “footballs”.  It really is THAT simple!

Looking for more football dessert ideas?  Check out this post!

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

 

September 11th, 2012 |

Must-Have Book: Kara’s Party Ideas

Our friend, Kara Allen of the blog Kara’s Party Ideas, is launching her first book in October!  We couldn’t be more thrilled for her, and are so pleased to have her here today to share a few peeks into the book and answer some questions about what we can expect to find in it.

Kara’s Party Ideas (Cedar Fort Books, on sale 10/9/12) is a vibrant handbook filled with a wide variety of party themes, plus tips and tricks for a truly spectacular soiree, no matter what the occasion! Party blogger and style expert Kara Allen offers you all the inspiration you need to turn your special moments into unforgettable memories.

We asked Kara a few questions about the book, the process and her must-have party trend right now…..enjoy!

You have been showcasing fabulous parties on your blog for some time now….what inspired you to create a book?

Writing a party idea book has been a goal of mine for a really long time. Even before I started my blog I would go to the bookstore to scope out the entertaining/wedding/event section. I dreamed of having my own book some day and that is a big force that drove me to push as hard as I could for my dream. It’s been so surreal and so exciting! 

What can we expect to see in Kara’s Party Ideas: The Book?

 Kara’s Party Ideas is a vibrant book filled with a wide variety of party themes, plus tips and tricks for a truly spectacular soiree, no matter what the occasion! It includes thirteen parties, each displayed in remarkable detail through photos and descriptions.  A CD with printable invitations and party decorations is also included!

Can you give us a peek into your thought process when it comes to planning a party?

It always starts with something small. I see a cute invitation, a fun decoration, or even a balloon, and the ideas start coming from there. I love themed parties, and thrive off of finding something that goes along with the party theme I’m currently planning. I look everywhere, and literally have “party” on my brain all day long, no matter where I go!

 

What is one “must-have” project from your book?

 I don’t know if I can chose just one…too hard to decide! But the included CD is full of “must have” projects!

Do you have a favorite theme party from the book?

That’s a hard one. I love all the parties for different reasons! I always have a big heart for circus themed parties, though. I planned my very first circus party about 4 years ago, when there wasn’t a lot out there in the party world that was circus-related. Now it has become a very popular theme, with so much available and so many options! I think it will always be my “signature” party theme.

 

What new party trends do you showcase in the book that we will all want to use in upcoming parties?

 I have found that it isn’t very hard to dress up inexpensive party items and decor to make them look professional & perfect. All it takes is some ribbon, a cute tag, a small piece of fabric, or something similar to dress up an inexpensive store bought party favor or packaged party supply!

 

Kara, thanks for stopping by today as part of your blog tour!  We wish you success with your new book!

To pre-order your copy of Kara’s Party Ideas, visit amazon.com.

September 10th, 2012 |

Tailgate in Style

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition in the Fall. Whether you are attending a game at your alma mater, gathering with parents at your child’s soccer game, or entertaining at home, here are a few classic ideas that we re-vamped to make your next tailgating party a hit!

Set the stage for your food buffet by using the back of your car and using traditional Fall sports props as decoration. We used a plaid quilt in place of a tablecloth, and a classic picnic basket as a backdrop (it also came in handy to hold the bar ingredients to make our bloody marys!).

Create a crowd-pleasing buffet of appetizers, including chicken wings, bbq meatballs, deviled eggs (you could even get creative and make them look like footballs!). Update the classic stadium snack, a soft pretzel, by cutting it into 1 inch pretzel bites, and serving it with a cheese queso dip in a sturdy mason jar with a lid for easy transporting.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches can be partnered together in small mug, and you can use wood berry baskets to hold kettle popcorn and peanuts. Pull out the sweet treats at half-time: brownies shaped like footballs!

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue

Page 14 of 107« First...1213141516...203040...Last »