This weekend, my Mom and her best friend Debbie came to visit Greensboro. They lucked out again with a beautiful weekend to spend digging in my yard. I’m always grateful for their time and energy. Not only do they seasonally spruce up my garden – they also bring laughter, great food and wine to Mendenhall. We had three great meals this weekend. But as a thank you to them, I prepared this fancy Sunday supper for them to celebrate Springtime on Mendenhall. I’ll post the recipes this week.
Spring Menu with Mom(s)!
- Spring Mustard and Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chops with Goat Cheese Polenta and Port Raspberry Sauce
- Roasted Spring Carrots and Asparagus
- Ina’s Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes
What do you do when your friends are out of power? You invite them over for hot showers, cell phone and iPad charging, homemade dumplings, donuts and a little Celine Dion karaoke. That’s right, Dumplings, Donuts and Dion.
After a very unexpected and dreadful ice storm, the party was just the ticket. We made two types of dumplings – Mushroom & Tofu and Pork & Cabbage with a spicy dipping sauce. They were easy, it was interactive and terribly delicious. Additionally, I picked up some super trendy doughnuts from Monuts in downtown Durham. Lemon green tea, blueberry and chocolate, Ginger and original were the perfect treat.
Sometimes parties take absolutely no preparation. They are impromptu, interactive and shockingly wild and crazy. It’s the spice of my life these days.
The busier life gets, the more grateful I am for weekends with friends. This weekend was full of spontaneous adventures and laughter. From serendipitous moments of humor late night at the neighborhood bar to a quiet evening at home with girlfriends in the kitchen.
On Saturday night, I had a couple of friends over for homemade pizza, cookie making, wine and a movie. We ate in the kitchen and experimented with a complicated Martha Stewart recipe before watching a last minute Oscar nominated movie. It was fun, laid back and left enough time to get a good nights sleep for Sunday activities – which was beautiful.
I’ll post the recipes this week! I hope you had a nice weekend too.
Homemade Pizza Night Menu:
- Spring Strawberry, Orange and Almond Salad
- Truffled Fontina and Mushroom Pizza
- Homemade Brandy Snap Cups with Sorbet
These days, my office is no fantasy suite. We’re moving after thirteen years of life on Elm Street and it’s a big old mess. So, my days have been filled with mayhem, meetings and way too many Jimmy Johns sandwiches. No disrespect intended, Jimmy, but there is a sweeter world.
Between all the turkey sandwiches I’ve had a little off-time to have fun with friends and quiet time at home. Including, a very fun Name That Tune fundraiser for the Greensboro Symphony (with Mod Meals & The Fresh Market auction item!), a hike up Hanging Rock, some pecorino and spinach eggs and a great weeknight steak salad.
After the big move this week, I’ll have a little time this weekend to actually cook! Stayed tuned, I’ve got a list of recipes to test this weekend.
Before we we all ring in the New Year, I must share a few photographs from my Sunshine State Christmas with family. This year we had thirteen friends and family gather in North Florida for a traditional holiday celebration with wacky gifts, authentic Melrose BBQ and garden cole slaw, fried oysters on Christmas afternoon followed by my Dad’s famous shrimp creole and my avocado and grapefruit salad. So many classic family recipes that are seasonal and authentic to my homeland roots.
Between all the cooking and eating (and drinking) there was much laughing and storytelling. It is always heartwarming to be home with friends and family. I hope you had as special of a holiday as we did.
I’m back in North Carolina ringing in the new year in the mountains. Many festive recipes to come later in the week! And then, you know, some salads. Xoxo
While I was hoping to share Andrew’s most famous eggnog recipe with all of you – I must tell you that he is keeping it a secret! Some things are best kept a mum, I suppose.
The eggnog might have been the biggest hit of the party… And knocked many socks off. Hince, these funny photos!
Whether you are counting your blessings, regrets, hopes, wishes or calories – tis the season for lists – we’re making lists, checking them twice and wondering where we misplaced them. If you’ve found yourself without a gift list a week before Santa’s scheduled to arrive, here is a local list of my favorite things. Cue the Oprah!?
A wise woman once told me that gifts are best when recyclable or consumable. When I look back, indeed the best gifts throughout my life have not been first-generation Palm Pilots or Furbees but handwritten IOUs from my late Grandmother for quail dinners around the table with family, hugs and kisses, and homemade apple pies.
I’m of the belief that most of the people in my life buy things for themselves when they need or want them. To me, the best gifts come in experiences – meals shared around a table, trips taken near or far, and words and thoughts exchanged.
So here I propose a local, recyclable, and consumable list of holiday gifts:
- For the friend who thinks a holiday party consists of a bowl of cashews and a bottle of wine – embrace it and give a gift card to our locally-grown grocer, The Fresh Market. Perhaps they’ll surprise you with a taste of cheese from their delicious selection.
- For the transplant, nothing beats an authentic Italian Salami and Cheese Gift Box from Giacomo’s. I recommend the hot sopressata and locatelli cheese.
- A bottle of White Truffle Olive Oil from the North Carolina owned MidTown Olive Press. A drizzle of this divine oil will turn any popcorn into a fabulous hors d’oeuvre.
- Are your friends more sweet or spicy? Spice up a friend’s life with a personalized selection of spices from Savory Spice Shop.
- A date to Zeto’s Wine downtown complete with a Zeto VinoMatic Card for a wine tasting from their “wine wall.”
- What do you do for the vegetarians, pescatarians, paleo and gluten free? A membership to Deep Roots Market Co-Op will set them free to indulge for a lifetime.
- For the adventurer, nothing beats a local international exploration to Super G Mart or Li Ming’s Global Mart. Once you’ve walked the stores and gazed longingly into the eyes of a dried squid – stop by Banh Mi Saigon Sandwiches & Bakery for a snack to keep up your stamina.
- Continue your foodie education with an adult or children’s cooking lesson at the Edible Schoolyard. Learn to make foods from seed to table from their vast roster of local culinary educators.
- A selection of sweet and savory goat cheeses from the local Goat Lady Dairy. No one can turn down one of their signature chocolate goat cheese truffles.
- One with nature? How about a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription from one of our many local farms or a plot of land at a community garden?
- The workaholic won’t start 2014 without a good caffeine buzz. How about a pound of local beans from Piedmont Coffee Roasters or a gift card to their favorite local coffee house?
- With a growing economy of craft beers, hop on over for a date to Bestway’s Beer Wall for shop til you drop exploration.
This is just a sample of the many savory treats and experiences you can consider gifting this season. Most importantly, keep it personal, consumable and most importantly, local. They’ll sure to remember it.
This weekend my dear friend Andrew and I hosted a very lively gathering of friends on Mendenhall to celebrate the holiday season. Oh dear, was it a party full of laughter and love. It is hard to believe we fit so many people into my little house on a hill – indeed, it tested its 1926 bones. It was so wonderful to have a house full of friends from all parts of our lives. I hope our guests had as much fun as we did!
As you can expect, I created a big spread of food for the soiree. To give myself a break, I relied on a couple large precooked items to stretch my time in the kitchen. Andrew had the great idea of ordering a full pastrami from Katz Deli in New York City. They shipped it overnight and I just heated it up and sliced right before the party started. It was a huge hit – and was for excellent conversation!
In addition to the pastrami, I purchased a whole cedar smoked salmon from The Fresh Market. It was a the perfect presentation and the most tasty smoked salmon I’ve ever had. To accompany the pastrami and salmon, I made two large artichoke dips, countless stuffed mushrooms and batched and batches of shortbread cookies and fancy party mix. You the know the party is good when all the food is gone… every last bite!
Andrew took care of the bar with his most famous eggnog (I’m hoping he will share the recipe!), cranberry vodka punch and plenty of wine.
Things are finally quiet and clean on Mendenhall after the big bash. I’ll share the recipes this week. Sending warm wishing and holiday greetings to you!
Oh Deer! Holiday Party on Mendenhall Menu:
- The Fresh Market Cedar Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Caper Spread
- Katz Deli Pastrami – all the way from New York City!
- New Garden Bagels for slathering
- Artichoke Dip with Winter Crudite
- Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms
- Assorted Cookies with Candied Fruits and Nuts
- Fancy Party Mix
- Andrew’s Famous Eggnog
- Cranberry Vodka Punch
I’m reporting back after a very nice long weekend with friends and family covering both the Thanksgiving holiday and my 31st birthday. Many meals were shared on Mendenhall over the week – including many laughs and even more red wine. Tis the season!
Thanksgiving was even more special this year thanks to our special guests Masha, Aaron and John (and dog-friends Kirby and Henry). Everyone pitched in to help make salads, build the fire, fry the “baby chickens”, pour the wine and even torch the brulee. The combination of Thanksgiving with family and “Friendsgiving” is especially sweet – I certainly feel very thankful! The season has been kicked off with glee!
I’ll share more photos and the recipes this week!
Thanksgiving 2013 Menu
- Purple Cabbage and Pear Salad
- Deep Fried Brined Cornish Game Hens
- Extra Cheese Grits
- Balsamic and Bacon Brussel Sprouts
- Creme Brulee Tart
It’s November, again, and I’m not sure where this year went! I spent the weekend with all kinds of friends from different nooks of my life. And while I was thinking about what I’ll be cooking this November – between Thanksgiving and birthdays – I didn’t even make a cup of coffee in my kitchen! Instead, I enjoyed great meals and drinks around town at some great local spots – as of lately I recommend Sticks & Stones Pizza, Print Works Bistro and Hops Burger Bar in Greensboro.
I gave myself a cooking break because I must selfishly admit that my Cider Brined Pork Roast photo made BonAppetit.com on Friday morning! They say”The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.” Here’s to more cooking (and relaxing!) this holiday season.