Mimi’s Easter Brunch

Easter Morning Sunrise

Easter morning sunrise.  All that beautiful snow … caused our flight to Mexico to be canceled last Wednesday.  So, what better way to celebrate than to head out to church early (7:30 AM service!) and then make a fabulous champagne brunch?

I wanted to start with something “fancy” so I made a lobster, mango, avocado salad with citrus vinaigrette.  No recipe, just throw things together and serve on arugula.  Such an indulgent brunch called for something a little healthy — steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkled with lemon zest and sea salt.  No recipe, just wing it.  Ina Garten’s recipes are fool-proof — her spinach and cheddar soufflé was diva-licious.  Follow her recipe to the letter and it’s a snap to make Ina’s Soufflé.

 

Don't forget the champagne!

Don’t forget the champagne … Deutz Brut Classic — one of my favorites!

 

New Year’s Day Breakfast Treat

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I think if I was willing to make them, my husband would eat huevos rancheros every day of his life.  For a special new year treat, I whipped some up this morning.  I adapted this recipe, which seemed fairly simple, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. Huevos Rancheros

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Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  I made the sauce a day ahead of time so the flavors would  meld and I adjusted the recipe to include refried beans and chorizo sausage.  Instead of garnishing with avocado, I used queso fresca … simply because this is the way he likes his huevos.  There is an old wives’ tale that what you do on the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year.  As far as this breakfast, I’m sure my husband hopes this is the case!  Sue.  I make a hearty breakfast for my husband every morning … this might be a little too much for a weekday.  But, after a celebration with much wine, food and song, a breakfast like this might be just what the doctor ordered!

The Season’s Last Hurrah!

I realized that I let the summer slip away without hosting a big blow out celebration.  So, last-minute, I invited some of our favorite people over for bouillabaisse.  Here’s a peek at our evening.

We always say:  search your home for treasures to use in decorating.  The flowers are in pails from used citronella candles.  I cleaned them up and antiqued them with a little gold paint.  The flowers?  Wegmans!  Can  you beat $20 for 2 dozen long stems?

The lights evoke  childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.

Menu

Gougéres
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005

The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014

Boullabaisse
Croutons with red pepper rouille
Clarendelle Blanc 2012
Le Sot de L’Ange La Boutanche Rosé

Cheese Plate:  Coulommiers, Comté and Stilton
Peller Estates Ice Wine Riesling 2013

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Here are the recipes for gougères and easy aioli.  I relied on a recipe from Tyler Florence as a start for my bouillabaisse.  Here it is:  bouillabaisse.  Believe me I didn’t follow his recipe step by step — too complicated.  The chocolate pots de creme recipe is Martha Stewart’s — you will never go wrong with her!  Here is her recipe:  pots de creme.

final_300dpiThe Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s Dishes.   Don’t be intimidated by gougères.  Once you master the dough it’s a snap!  I’ve always wanted to do an authentic “grand aioli” which is an informal meal that includes poached fish.  I thought a version of it would be fun … sitting around the table with wine before the main event.  I don’t make my fish stock for bouillibaisse, I use seafood stock — just as good, a lot less work.  I use triple the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for and I have a heavy hand with fresh fennel, fennel seeds and Pernod.  I like a very strong expression of the vegetables and aromatics in the broth.  I purée half of the vegetables and stir them into the strained broth.  Experiment!  Have fun!  It’s just food, not brain surgery … years later I’m still tweaking it.  The red pepper rouille was easy and delicious with the meal.   No picture of the cheese plate — sorry.  Coulommiers is French brie — creamy, nutty, wonderful with wine.  Comté is a nice mild French hard cheese and Stilton isn’t French but my husband loves it, so I serve it.  First attempt at pots de creme — they tasted better than that picture looks (thank goodness!)

Sue.  I was so sorry to miss Mimi’s party — it’s been a busy busy summer with family and friends of the family visiting almost every weekend!!  Anyway,  I love Mimi’s bouillabaisse and have had it many times.  It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.  Good thing she makes it — too many complicated steps for me to tackle.  I don’t have the patience.  And boy those gougéres look good — with champagne!  My husband says if he could drink nothing but champagne, he would.

Buck Hill Falls Men’s Member-Guest Weekend

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Well, I said I would post what I cooked when my stepson and his wife visited for the Buck Hill Falls Men’s Member Guest.  Here it is  — some great successes and two total failures.

First night in Buck Hill … what else?  Ribs!  I experimented with Sweet-and-Spicy Ribs from Bon Appétit Magazine June 2015.  (Find the recipe here:  Sweet-Spicy-Ribs)  In a word:  Perfection — Fall off the bone tender and full of contrasting flavors. (Ok that’s more than one word but, they deserve it!)

Sweet- and-Spicy Ribs -- fall off the bone tender and full of contrasting flavors

I’m (almost) embarrassed to say that 4 people ate all of these ribs in one sitting.

My stepson’s favorite dinner is incomplete without these…

…and this:

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A Diva “dishes”.  I am obsessed with making my pie crust.  So, what possessed me to find a new recipe and use my food processor to make the crust, when I’ve done this a thousand times?  The result was a mess that ended up in the trash.  I ran to the market and used a Pillsbury’s ready-made pie crust.  Still  tasted great but sometimes it’s best to stick with what you know.  We drank a very special bottle of wine with dinner:  Frank Family Vineyards Winston Hill Red.  It is a deep intense wine that simply exudes fruit on the palate.  It transports us back to our fun times in Napa Valley.

The Next Night

We start with another perennial favorite!

We started with another of our perennial favorites!

Thank goodness we had the tomato mozzarella salad … keep reading you’ll understand why.

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It took 2 hours two days before to make this beautiful fresh pasta…

…and  a mere 5 minutes for it to turn into a ginormous, gloppy, gooey disgusting mess when I dropped it in the boiling water!!! My very first failure at fresh pasta.  Boo Hoo!  My husband rushed off for store-bought pasta because I never thought I’d need a “back-up”.  An hour later we had this:

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Store bought pasta with my home-made basil pesto and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

I redeemed myself with this:

Home made chocolate hazelnut ice cream

Home-made chocolate hazelnut ice cream

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s food.  The great fresh pasta debacle of 2015 was a result of me not allowing the pasta to dry sufficiently before storing it in the refrigerator.  Sue says:  “Don’t feel bad about making a mistake, “live and learn”.  Believe me next time Mimi will let her pasta dry, especially on a humid day, which it was!”    My stepson said:  “For Mimi, this will  always be the weekend where she ruined the pasta.”

It’s My Birthday!

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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!!!

MENU 

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

Wine

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.

Dessert

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.

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.

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Follow the Diva to our website for the recipes.

 

bruschetta  http://www.mimiandsue.com/DenverTeamDinnerPrep.html

sherried mushrooms   http://www.mimiandsue.com/Holidays-Preparation-2.html

basil white bean purée   http://www.mimiandsue.com/Summer-Closer-Prep-2.html

penne with basil pesto   http://www.mimiandsue.com/What-to-Eat-Wednesday-5292013-prep.html

rosemary rubbed roasted pork tenderloin   http://www.mimiandsue.com/DenverTeamDinnerPrep.html