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!