Crab Toast

IMG_7274Lately I’ve been nostalgic for my life in Spain — for the people, the places, and the slowness of life. It’s been four years since I last visited and it feels like an eternity. It’s horribly sad, but I can’t even remember the name of my favorite cafe. The place where I went every morning for two years for a cortado and toast (whole wheat with tomatoes, oil, and salt if I was being healthy and white with whipped butter if I was not). It was like the Starbucks of Cordoba and for some reason going there always felt like going home.

When I miss something, I like to make food that takes me back to that time. One of the things that I made a lot in Cordoba was crab toast. It’s sort of a funny thing to make considering that Cordoba is the only place I’ve ever lived that’s completely and totally landlocked with the nearest ocean hours away. The nearby seas aren’t even really home to the type of crab I grew up with, but what Spain is good at, and internationally known for, is canned seafood.  Continue reading

Daniel Cappello’s Dinner Diaries Questionnaire

IMG_7283 One of my dearest friends, the amazing Julia Walsh, gifted me a wonderful surprise for Valentine’s Day. It’s a beautiful book: Dinner Diaries Reviving the Art of the Hostess Book by Daniel Cappello. The book is filled with tips and inspiration from haute hostesses in the fashion world like Patricia Herrera Lansing and Cynthia Rowley. I love it because it’s encouraging the modern dinner party thrower to keep a diary of all her parties. I’ve kept a hostess diary for as long as I can remember — mine dates back to Thanksgiving Dinner 2006. The Dinner Diaries has several sections. The first features Cappello’s outlook and experience of the dinner party and the second part has helpful hints and a fun questionnaire filled out by the aforementioned fashion and art people. The final portion is the diary part that I get to fill with guest lists, menus, seating charts, and little notes like the wines poured and the flowers used in the table arrangements. There’s also pages and pages of blank questionnaires for me and my company to fill out. Since it’s such a fun survey, I thought I would share the questions and my answers here. What is the perfect number of guests? 10. Chic dinner in the kitchen or formal in the dining room? It depends on the occasion.  Continue reading

Lemon Drops

IMG_0040 My grandfather’s Meyer lemon tree is filled with luscious juicy, bright yellow oval jewels, so I picked a bunch and brought them home with me. Although I made a lemon tart and served it to my friends as dessert at my last dinner party, the best use of hand-picked, fresh-squeezed lemon juice is to make a cocktail. There’s literally hundreds of libation recipes that use lemon juice, from Sidecars to Bee’s Knees, but lately, I’ve been nostalgic for the life of my early twenties. Continue reading

Six Delicious and Doable Thanksgiving Menus

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Late last week, when I was writing my tips for a budget-friendly Thanksgiving for Domaine Home, I realized that this year is my 10th anniversary of hosting Thanksgiving dinner! I’ve never followed that rule that many entertaining experts always quote – the one where you should not make something new at a dinner party – because one of the first major dinners I did all by myself was Thanksgiving in 2004. In Spain. I was 23 and had never made turkey or gravy or pumpkin pie, but I was determined to introduce my Spanish friends to my favorite American holiday. I also had to source a turkey in a country that doesn’t traditionally consume them – luckily, I had already developed a great relationship with Diego, the local butcher who thought my request for a turkey was hysterical. My apartment’s oven only heated on the bottom or on the top broiler, so I had to cook the bird in a friend’s oven. All of these things and more made this Thanksgiving, my first, one of the most memorable meals of my life. I can still remember what I wore!

I’ve gone on to host many more successful Thanksgivings and dealt with plenty of bumps (burnt cranberry, gravy that doesn’t thicken, just made homemade stock strained into the sink, to name a few) along the way. One thing that remains consistent is the inconsistency of my menu: I change it up every year! Before I start to plan the current year’s menu, I look back over what I have served in years past. Since I’m figuring out this year’s menu this week, I’m sharing my last six years of menus and the recipes I used with you. All of these are the actual dishes I made and served, so they are completely doable menus. Happy Thanksgiving planning!

-3Thanksgiving Menu 2013
Fall Classic Cocktail
Smoked trout spread, warm brie, and artisinal crackers
Pomegranate gremolata, spicy greens, and pear salad

Perfect roast turkey
Classic gravy

Barely risotto
My Dad’s old-fashioned Stove Top stuffing
Sweet potatoes with blue cheese
Brandied cranberries

Deep dish caramel apple pie
Vanilla ice cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Continue reading