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.
decorating the table…
…my favorite activity!
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?
I love anticipating …
… the guests arrival…
…and admiring my handiwork!
The lights evoke childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005
The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014
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.
gougères and champagne — perfect together
The grand aioli…
…presented to the table.
Cod, mussels, shrimp, clams, broth … dival-licious
Pots de creme — a chocolate explosion.
The 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.
It’s like Christmas morning for me every time I see the new issue of Bon Appétit Magazine in my mail box. I immediately set myself to finding sides to jazz up mid-week meals. This salad is in the August 2015 issue, click here to try it yourself: Better Bean Salad.
The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish. OK, so here’s what I had to eliminate or substitute in this recipe: kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalk, a variety of beans. I eliminated the kaffir lime leaves and used lemon grass paste and just green beans. This was still a diva-licious dish. This dressing is so flavorful, I’m going to make it as a “relish” for fish, chicken and pork in the future. Sue: The string beans were obviously blanched perfectly … just look at that color. How can you go wrong with peanuts, ginger and lime, what flavor!! This is perfect for our Asian salmon, but maybe not for mid-week … this isn’t a salad you just throw together.
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!)
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…
Slather on the butter and dig in!
Caesar: a staple at our table.
…just oozing with deliciousness.
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 started with another of our perennial favorites!
Thank goodness we had the tomato mozzarella salad … keep reading you’ll understand why.
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:
Store bought pasta with my home-made basil pesto and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
I redeemed myself with this:
Home-made chocolate hazelnut ice cream
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.”