Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ranges, fridges and wall ovens, oh my!

OK, so when you’re a chef and you’re asked to cook in the ultimate dream kitchen, what can you say, but “how soon can I come over?”! 

That’s how it began when friends at the Sub-Zero/ Wolf showroom asked me to be the guest chef for their annual holiday party last week.  Believe me, it’s easy to get inspired when you’re surrounded by the latest and greatest ranges, cooktops, fridges, appliances, and on and on!  Although I wasn’t going to cook for over a hundred and fifty guests on my own, I felt like it might be possible in the setup.  
Picture this:  2 complete functioning kitchen showrooms- one with a modern, sleek design and the other, so near and dear to my heart looked like it was plucked straight out of a Tuscan Villa (well, a very well-equipped, state-of-the-art Tuscan villa:). 
photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography

photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography
Guests arrived and were greeted with one of my favorite festive cocktails, an Orange Aperol Sunset.  
photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography
Then, the staff glided about, serving Carrot Soup with Anise in shot glasses and tastes of my Wild Mushroom Bruschetta Salad.  
photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography
In the Tuscan kitchen, chef Ivan carried out a parade of pizzas, topped with tomatoes and gorgonzola, from stones placed in the piping hot double wall ovens and in the modern kitchen, chef Ivan dished up Arroz con Pollo.
photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography
All of these dishes were straight out of my new book, Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food, and if you don’t have a copy yet, well…
photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography
When guests asked me about the stories behind these dishes, let’s just say that I had a few to tell!

Not only did we have a good time, it was all for a great cause.  Proceeds from the event went to La Casa de las Madres, an organization which provides resources to victims of domestic violence in the Bay Area. 
Not only do the staff of professionals and committed volunteers at La Casa provide 24/7 support and resources to survivors, they also serve as leaders in raising awareness and educating the public about ways to end the cycle of domestic violence.  

It was such a great night- I loved the enthusiasm in the space, all the happy people, the delicious food that tasted like I’d cooked it all myself and being surrounded by all of those extraordinary appliances (actually it made me want a new Wolf range and SubZero).  My cheeks were cramping from smiling all night long!!

photo by Marc Fiorito w/Gamma Nine Photography

Click here to order your copy of Kitchen Gypsy online.

Orange Aperol Sunset

This Italian spin on the Mimosa gets its unique flavor from Aperol, a bright-orange Italian liqueur made from bitter oranges, rhubarb, and herbs. It's similar to Campari, but less bitter and more floral. In Italy, Aperol is served on the rocks mixed with Prosecco and a splash of club soda. In this recipe, the club soda has been replaced with a little fresh orange juice.

Ice cubes
6 tablespoons Aperol
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 750-ml bottle Prosecco
6 thin orange slices (for garnish)

Place enough ice cubes in each of 6 balloon wineglasses to fill 2/3 full. Add 1 tablespoon Aperol and 1 tablespoon orange juice to each glass. Top off each drink with 1/2 cup Prosecco; garnish with orange slices. 

Serves 6

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gingerbread house party

Sometimes you just need to build a gingerbread house.  I don't know about you, but this year has been crazy busy, so when my friend, Jill, asked me to come to her house in Santa Cruz and make gingerbread houses, I jumped in my car!  

Imagine a room filled with good friends, piles of homemade gingerbread panels ready for construction, piping bags filled with royal icing, a rainbow of gumdrops, a slew of different sparkling sweets that Jill had collected over the year, and of course, some pretty incredible candies.

Everyone had a unique approach to constructing and decorating their houses and although I had a few challenges, I must say that my roof was pretty special.  What a great way to embrace the holiday season!  

King Arthur posted a great recipe and detailed instructions to make your own gingerbread house from scratch. Click here and give it a try! 

Happy holidays!!