Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another wedding anniversary dinner for my dear sister

Since I started my private dining venture, my sister has celebrated her wedding anniversary twice in my home. Here is another dinner I lovingly prepared for her in 2011 choosing again pink flowers to go with her wedding color motif. With this I added another special touch, chocolate truffles in silver boxes tied with a very light pink ribbon as giveaways. Another addition to this year was a special guest, her youngest niece! Too bad I'm unable to do this anymore for her as I am now based in New York.

White bean dip with Pita chips

Roasted tomato and basil soup

Roasted beef tenderloin with caper sauce

Lemon poached pears with caramelized mangoes and Limoncello chocolate truffles

Creme de Menthe chocolate truffles in pretty boxes for giveaways

And the evening's special guest, who's no longer a baby now!

An Asian dinner: a repeat (2011)

The same menu need not go with the same decor, so with this Asian repeat I scoured my cabinets in search of items to style my dinner. You don't have to look far to create these table settings. I chose simple flowers to sit in clear glasses and an ornate Asian silver tea canister I found in my kitchen. I borrowed a striking red Vietnamese table runner from my sister and used a Buddha incense stick holder given by my brother-in-law. For another table, I used an old glass water pitcher with silver trimming, an ornate Asian looking silver pumpkin any my gold table runner to go with my red tea light holders complementing the setting. Put together, it gives it an Asian vibe.

An Asian dinner 2011

By now, I'm kinda getting the hang of hosting, cooking and plating dinners. So here's another challenge I decided to accept. A group of doctors decided not only to try my private dining but to watch me prepare their dishes! This was new to me and although I warned them that my kitchen cannot accommodate all of them at one time, they were open to moving in and out of my kitchen in groups. This was exciting and it turned out to be another fun evening as not only did I demonstrate the cooking, I asked them to actually try doing some of the procedures called for in the recipes. With their laughter adding spice to their dinner, everything just turned out right!

Again it starts with the menu, Asian this time, and everything else follows. I always choose to do my own hand embossed menu cards to create my brand so that is a given, then the styling just flows with the evening's theme. Not to forget the music to complete the ambience.

Sauteed scallops with Cilantro chili butter and Orange jicama salad

Asian mushroom soup

Thai barbecue chicken with Jasmine rice

Asian poached pears with Ginger chocolate truffles and Caramel lychees

A Birthday Barbecue

March is a big month for birthdays, with four celebrants in the family. On March 6, 2011 we decided to do something different. Out with the sit down dinners this time so we had a barbecue instead. No formal table settings, no special menus, just plain old simple burgers and hotdogs with the usual side dishes of baked beans, corn, potato salad and spaghetti. But flowers always add a nice touch so I chose a bundle of spring flowers to complement two special birthday cupcakes I prepared - citrus cupcakes with buttercream frosting and red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow icing and candy sprinkles. Blessed with gorgeous weather, it was all sunshine and cheers!

Cheers to the birthday celebrants!

An Aphrodisiac Dinner for Valentine's Day

What is Valentine's without surprises? This is one dinner I truly enjoyed planning with two men for their Bible study group of seven couples. As I was told, each year these men look for a new restaurant to take their wives for a special dinner. This year (2011) however they wanted something more special, more private and with more surprises. So having found my private dining venture, they booked me and we carefully planned this evening. Bouquets of roses were delivered in the morning and kept in my house for each of them to give to their wives. But for that special surprise, I asked my driver to stay for the night and pretend to deliver them just after dinner and was never discovered by the women. To top it all, to their amusement a guy came to serenade the wives!

Let's not forget though that food and ambience are the most important for the success of a special event.  I went on to research on aphrodisiac ingredients and created a menu with each dish having one of these ingredients. Three single red roses were held by vintage wine bottles on each table strewn with rose petals and illuminated by candle light. And to cap the evening, special giveaways of chocolate truffles I prepared in simple gift boxes tied with a red ribbon were given to the women.

It was indeed a wonderful Valentine's surprise!

To start off, here are my two table settings, each with three roses in vintage wine bottles and menu cards framed by dinner napkins

The menu
Crostini with cream cheese, chives and CAVIAR
OYSTER soup with frizzled leeks and cayenne pepper
Roasted chicken with GARLIC confit, saffron scented couscous and pine nuts
Wicked hot CHOCOLATE mousse


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2010 Christmas Special

I like to create new products every holiday season to accommodate my regular client, my sister. While keeping my signature dessert, a licqueur flavoured mini chocolate mousse, for those who can't get enough of it, I like to do something special each year for my very discriminating sister. With the market flooded with commercial gift food packages, she always likes to give something created not by just any home cook or baker but one with a more personal touch. That special product is always done by me and always comes in a serving dish for the recipient to keep. Disposables have no place in my private kitchen except for stylized barbecues. For this year, it's Humus with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil with a pack of crostini.

Humus with sun-dried tomatoes and basil

packaged with Crostini in a white serving platter

Monday, August 19, 2013

An Ermita Christmas tradition dinner

"I can still remember Christmas eve in our family home in Ermita. I helped my mother prepare our annual holiday dinner since I was a child. I would mash sausages for her galantina until they were very fine, dice potatoes and cut chicken inch by inch and chop onions until tears fell from my eyes. Then I would mix them with other ingredients until my arms ached, careful not to mash them for that perfect chicken salad. I patiently drained each can of fruit cocktail and watched her prepare her own natilla, mix them together and crown her salad with swirls of cream and bright red cherries.

I took the challenge of recreating some of these family recipes, styling and plating the same dishes to brighten your visual and gustatory senses. I have recreated our family Christmas tradition dinner for you to experience and enjoy. I hope you do so as we have over the past many years."

I wrote this story to include on the left side of my menu booklet.  Again, it gives it a personal touch, something to transport you to the many years we enjoyed having this dinner.

Festive colors of orange and purple - a break from tradition

My hand crafted menu booklet shares our story

Chicken Galantina

Chicken potato salad with mustard mayonnaise dressing - a favorite!

My lighter version of Callos served with garlic and parsley bread

Lengua with mushrooms and capers now served in a puff pastry

Beef and eggplant lasagna

A lighter glazed fresh fruit salad with creamy natilla

A wedding anniversary dinner for my dear sister

My sister and husband were not big on celebrating wedding anniversaries.  But having started my private dining in 2010, they decided to throw a small, intimate dinner just for family.  Hosting a private dinner for me is not just about the food.  It is a total experience. Leaning towards the arts, I must say I am a very visual person.  While taste is of utmost importance, everything should be pleasing to the eye. So a lot of attention to detail and an added personal touch goes with my style.

I remember very well my sister's wedding.  I was a pregnant sponsor and my only daughter then was a flower girl with a crown of little pink flowers.  In contrast to her very strong personality, her color motif was a very sweet, light pink -"blush" as it is referred to today.  I tried to recreate a very fresh and elegant atmosphere, choosing roses in "blush" coupled with a hand crafted menu that looked like an invitation card.

An elegant table setting brings back memories of their wedding

A virgin cocktail is a must! Orange pineapple spritzer with apples and fresh mint

Crostini with sun-dried tomatoes and chickpeas

Onion Soup

Chicken potato salad with mustard mayonnaise dressing

Grilled lamb chops with lemon spaghettini

Your choice of Bailey's or Limoncello chocolate mousse