It’s My Birthday!


The Diva is taking a break!!! The recipes for this meal are in Food & Wine Magazine, September 2014.

The weekend after my stepson’s wedding in Colorado,  we went to Connecticut for the wedding of my husband’s nephew, Dan. (He is the “guest Diva” who made his own ravioli press — impressive!)  The day after Dan got married his family hosted a pig roast and Dan’s father roasted a 122 lb pig.  It really was a blast.  After having all that fun, we were ready to stay home and relax on my birthday!!!


Skirt Steak with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri and Potatoes

 Frank Family Vineyards 2007 WInston Hill Red Rutherford

I love skirt steak but won’t buy it —  london broil is cheaper.  Sue told me “What are you kidding me?  Filet mignon is expensive, not skirt steak”.   Chimichurri is one of my favorites so when I saw this I had to make it — it’s kind of like really fancy ketchup.  The whole meal was a snap — more time to enjoy that wine and relax.  Sue said:  “Of course, it’s your birthday after all.”

About that wine … on one of our vacations in Napa we were having so much fun at the tasting we bought it without asking how much it cost.  (Maybe we were a little “loopy” from the tasting!)  I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face on the plane as we flew home and he was checking out his credit card receipts.  Let’s just say, the few bottles we purchased are waiting for special occasions.

Blackbelly Catering Rehearsal Dinner

In a fleeting moment of insanity, I considered doing my stepson’s rehearsal dinner with 65 guests on my own — why not?  I had a huge house, a gourmet ktichen and a whole week to prepare.  Sue told me it would be a great idea to have the rehearsal dinner at the house we rented.  Sue also said to me:  “You’re not going to do all that cooking yourself, are you?”  That’s when I realized, stop, wait a minute, am I nuts?  I’d much rather have a happy memory of enjoying the party than cooking and preparing.  So I limited myself to decorating the tables and hired Blackbelly Catering to do everything else.  It was the right call although I was still on pins and needles about the celebration.  Jeff (the groom) and Kristin (the bride) vacationed in Provence with me, Sue and our husbands last summer.  I was inspired to use lavendar in the centerpieces because it reminds me of that trip.  And, Sue was right, the house created a relaxed atmosphere for everyone, including the children who were running around and having a great time on the golf course.

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The best seat in the house reserved for the Bride's Father and his guests.

The best seat in the house reserved for the Bride’s father and his special guests.

Passed Hors d’ouevres

Grape, pistachio, goat cheese “truffles” 

Chilled Colorado corn soup, avocado salsa

 Fennel cured salmon, cucumber, dill crème fraiche

 Blackbelly sausages, Pickled mustard seed

Beet tartar, belgian endive


Domaine Carneros Brut 2010

Chateau Moncontour Crémant Brut Rosé 2013

WPA Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2012

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2012

Michel Gassier Cercius Blanc 2011

Chateau Valcombe Rosé Cotes de Ventoux 2013


Not a single picture of the Blackbelly sausage or the chilled corn soup!  I was too busy making sure I got to taste every single thing and forgot to take the pictures.  The saltiness of the sausage was perfectly offset by the slightly sweet and sour pickled mustard seed.  Sue is still raving about the Blackbelly sausage and is amazed that they raise their own pigs to make it. Unexpectedly, the chilled corn soup had a hint of bacon (I think) which also balanced the sweetness of the corn.  Everyone was enjoying the cocktail hour so much we wanted to extend it for 1/2 hour — of course — Blackbelly was more than happy to grant us our wish.

The Main Event  (other than the Wedding of Course!!!)

 Blackbelly farm leg of lamb, herb chimichurri

Blackbelly farm pork tenderloin, fresh Colorado peaches

Local greens salad, plums, queso de mano and lemon vinaigrette

Melon salad, haystack goat feta, pepitas, mint, basil

Soft polenta, local chevre, summer ratatouille and fresh basil

Rosemary roasted new potatoes

Assorted rustic breads

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Just looking at these photos makes us hungry!  The chimichurri for the lamb had a very delicate flavor — which enhanced the flavor of the meat.  We don’t know what they put in there but boy was it good.  I loved the inclusion of mint and basil in the melon salad.  Sue is a big mint fan, me not so much, but it certainly worked with this dish!  Honestly, we cannot figure out how that polenta stayed creamy until the bitter end.  Sue says it’s the creamiest most delicious polenta she’s ever had.


Vanilla pound cake, plums, black pepper whipped cream

Chocolate chip-bacon cookies

Chocolate Stout Cake Bites, Salted Caramel

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I have a true weakness for mixing salty and sweet so these desserts were right up my alley.  I ate one of each.  There was something different about the chocolate chip cookies and Sue figured out that they had bacon in them.  Bacon makes everything better!

I can’t say enough positive things about Blackbelly catering!  Their food was out of this world.  Even more so, they are a group of people who really care about delivering the best experience imaginable.

Good night friends and family, old and new ... magical night, great memories!

Good night friends and family, old and new … magical night, great memories for a special bride and groom.

White Party — Diva Style — Warm Night, Cool Food


Follow the Diva to our website and create your own warm weather celebration!

Sue and I were working on the menu and got distracted with — of course — decorating for the celebration.  I just started piling all kinds of candle holders and decorative pieces on the dining room table.  Then we started pulling out all of the plates, serving dishes and linens.  Voila! Before we knew it the “white party” took shape.  Finally, so did our menu.



White Bean Bruschetta

Shrimp with Mustard Lime Dipping Sauce

Chilled Zucchini Soup


Baby Greens and Watercress with Citrus Vinaigrette

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Roasted Corn

Chardonnay Poached Salmon with Mustard Dill Cream


Blueberry Tart with Homemade Peach Ice Cream


Promesses de France Cotes du Rhone 2012

Aviary Chardonnay Napa Valley 2012

We decided that it would be fun to host a celebration where everything served was cold or at room temperature.  As Sue will tell you, the less time in the kitchen during a party, the better!  I actually agreed with her and was happy to join in the fun rather than running back and forth prepping food — plus we had a great time cooking together the day before!





Buck Hill Falls — Welcome Back Good Friends!



Follow the Diva to our website and create your Spanish – themed celebration!


Our surprising inspiration!

Hmmm… a magazine and napkins … what’s up with Mimi and Sue?

Inspiration struck while I was reading the May 2014 edition of Wine Spectator magazine and then Sue spied these napkins in Wegmann’s seasonal section.  We would throw a Spanish themed celebration to reunite with some of our favorite friends in Buck Hill Falls!

Sue always says:  “We like decorating the table better than anything else.”  I kind of think she’s right.  We’re setting things up and I went dashing upstairs to root around my scarf drawer.  I remembered my $5 pashmina from the Brooklyn street vendor who had about 100 colors and the bright pink wrap my future daughter-in-law brought me from India.  Perfection!

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Tomato Jam and Jamon Iberico Ham

Anchovy Fennel Butter and Roasted Peppers Crostini

Manchego Cheese and Honey Butter

Marinated Olives

Red Wine Sangria

My theory is if you drink enough sangria and the food's not so good ... who cares?

My theory is if you drink enough sangria and the food’s not so good … who cares?

And my theory is that Mimi is a CRAZY.  Who has ever been to one of our celebrations and said:  ” the food … meh, not so great”?

So, I had to buy the Iberico ham in NYC because Mimi is up in Buck Hill for the summer. It’s only sold at Zabar’s which is near my apartment. I was at the meat counter and I asked how much the ham was a pound. The person helping me looked around and whispered $75.00. $75.00!!!! As luck would have it, Eli Zabar was standing right behind me so, I restrained my usual exuberance. I whispered back: “Did you say $75.00?” Yep. She did. I made an “executive decision” and bought 1/2 pound. One of our dinner guests exclaimed: “Iberico ham!!  That’s $100.00 a pound.”  I said to her:  “What, are these pigs made of gold?”  She explained that they are very special and fed only acorns.  We still don’t get it but, boy that ham was worth it and I got a bargain!

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Roasted Pork Puerto Rican Style

Vegetable Paella

2011 Bodega Catena Zapata Cabernet Franc Appellation San Carlos

Zuccardi Serie A Torrontes 2012

Boy did we eat!  There were only three hors d’oeuvres left and nearly everyone had second (and third) helpings at the table.  It made us feel good that the dinner was such a hit.  Someone exclaimed:  “oh my gosh I’m overeating”.  Mimi replied:  “I hope you left room for dessert because I made homemade ice cream and cookies.”


Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Decadence Cookies

Betty, one of our guests loves Mimi’s homemade ice cream.  Are there pictures of the dessert?  NO!  Why not?  Mimi plus sangria equals:  pictures, we don’t need no stinkin’ pictures.  HA!

Four Seasons Residences Denver Team Dinner

The residence association board that I am on and the residence’s concierge team got together at our home in Denver for a little brainstorming session.  What better way to get those creative juices flowing than a family style dinner together?

You know what really gets the creative juices flowing?  Sparkling Wine!!! We started with hors d’oeuvres and my favorite sparkler, Scharffenberger Brut Excellence.

One of my colleagues on the board (who’s usually good for a laugh) commented:  “I’ve never seen so much green on a plate before.”  HA!! He was right.  I usually think about things like that when I plan a meal.  Green or not, it tasted pretty good.

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I found one of my favorite wines, Famille Perrin L’Oustalet Organic Blend, in a store locally and served that with dinner.  To finish the meal we had lemon ricotta pound cake with strawberries.  Darn!  I forgot to take a picture and for once my dessert came out perfectly!  I have to do it again just so I can post what it looks like.



Follow the Diva to our website for the recipes.



sherried mushrooms

basil white bean purée

penne with basil pesto

rosemary rubbed roasted pork tenderloin

Sparkling Wine Tasting for the Bride and Groom

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We decided to do a sparkling wine tasting to select the wine that we will serve as an aperitif at my stepson Jeff and his fiancée Kristin’s rehearsal dinner.  What a great excuse to have a little wine and cheese — two things our family will never turn down!  Domaine Carneros Brut 2009 carried the evening, although the Roederer Estate Brut was a very close second.  We decided it would go better with food.

Dinner followed.

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 Find the gnocchi recipe in Bon Appetit magazine April 2014 edition.

Find the shortcake recipe in Bon Appetit May 2014 edition.

I’ve always wanted to try to make gnocchi.  Why I decided my first attempt would be right after drinking wine, I’ll never know.  (I usually don’t drink while I’m cooking so I don’t mess anything up.)  The recipe called for morels but I couldn’t find them and substituted shiitakes.  Jeff said:  “Mim when you can press the gnocchi into the roof of your mouth and it just melts, you did it the right way.”  I felt pretty good about that.  As for the dessert, the recipe did not call for rhubarb.  Jeff’s grandmother always made strawberry rhubarb and my husband and Jeff love it.  So, I took  creative license and added it to the dessert recipe.  Overall, I’d say the meal was a success.

Mimi Dreams of Tuscany

Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce

Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce

The May 2014 edition of Food & Wine featured “A Foodies Tuscan Fantasy”.  Even though my husband is not a fan of puréed beans of any kind, I decided to try this recipe.  What the heck, if he hated it we could reminisce about our own amazing visit to Tuscany in 2008 with Sue and her husband!!  We both loved the meal and relived the time of our lives in the Tuscan countryside.

…and a Diva Dishes.  When I saw this photo I said to Mimi:  “What’s all that green stuff on the fish?”  Parsley sauce!!  It’s not just a garnish anymore.  Sea bass:  high in protein, low in fat and chickpea purée with no cream or butter.  Hey Mim good job on following my advice and finding a healthy recipe to get swimsuit ready.