Tag Archives: dinner

supper club: a seasonal spring dinner

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

While summer may be the pinnacle of fresh produce, spring is the season I love the most. It’s the season of bitter vegetables, detox from our hearty winter stews, casseroles and soups. From artichokes to asparagus, fiddleheads to ramps, this is the season of green—and I’m just eating it up.

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To share my enthusiasm for the budding flavors of this season, I invited a dozen of my nearest and dearest, including my favorite Brooklyn baker: Molly Marzalek-Kelly. I met Molly through my very first supper club, as she was a good friend of the dinner’s host (I was freshly moved into my BK apartment, and had barely unpacked). When I luke-warmly accepted his invitation to have someone else bake, I had no idea that I would be meeting such an incredible talent. Molly is even sweeter than her baked treats (which I love, because I prefer my desserts on the less-than-tooth-decaying end of the spectrum). Her attention to detail and instinct for fresh flavors is admirable, and I can’t recommend enough that you all take a trip to visit her at BAKED in Red Hook.

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Anyway, back to the menu:

Sourdough Miche and Sunflower-Rye Loaves from Bien Cuit Bakery

Flaky Ramp Tart

Mixed Baby Green Salad with Candied Walnuts and Broccoli Raab Flowers

Roasted Tarragon and Preserved Lemon Chicken 

Thyme and Garlic Roasted Carrots

Grilled Vegetables: Radicchio, Asparagus, Favas, Baby Garlic

Dessert: Lemon Curd Meringues, Rhubarb Pie and Rich Chocolate Tart
(paired with Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet, Fresh Mint Ice Cream & Orange Cardamom Sorbet)

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supper club: springtime italian

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

After spicing things up in February with a Mexican supper club, March seemed a time for returning to the familiar. For me, that means Italian food and, in this case, an opportunity to put an innovative spin on the flavors of my youth.

For this back-to-basics occasion, it seemed fitting to invite the “family”, a rambunctious group of New York friends who have grown closer than most blood relatives. Silly, selfless and as indiscreet as they come, I knew we were in for a delicious and rowdy evening.

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Greeting friends with friselles.

First came the friselles, little pepper biscuits that have become one of my signature dishes. I often give these savory, crumbly cookies as housewarming gifts, so they seemed the perfect greeting for my guests.

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Homemade ricotta, oven dried tomatoes and DIY crostini

Next came crostini, sesame toasts layered with homemade ricotta and oven dried tomatoes. The tomatoes, simple as they come, were instant hits, which guests used to garnish everything from salad to savory dishes.

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My grandmother’s famous walnut and anchovy pasta

Then came a simple escarole salad, dressed with garlic, oil and anchovy dressing. My favorite briny fish served double duty, tying the salad to my grandmother’s signature pasta dish: linguine with anchovy, walnuts and parsley.

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Curiosity got the best of us in between courses.

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Sicilian meat balls with pine nuts, currants and parsley

After pasta came the main course, Sicilian meatballs (ground pork with pine nuts, parsley and currants) baked over a bed of radicchio. Alongside it, I served spicy broccoli rabe with bread crumbs and thinly sliced, roasted-going-on-blackened winter white vegetables (cauliflower, celery root, fennel).

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Broccoli rabe and winter white vegetables

Relaxing on the couch before dessert.

Relaxing on the couch before dessert

Then came dessert, a blood orange olive oil cake topped with blood orange/honey compote and home-whipped cream. It was the perfect, bittersweet end to this especially nostalgic supper club.

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Blood orange cake/compote, with home-whipped cream

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Laughter and love on our notoriously comfy couch.

A last round of drinks, and it was nearly midnight. That didn’t stop the stragglers however, who challenged me to highly competitive game of Connect-4, the most intense (I’m sure) that my local dive bar has ever seen.

Thanks again to all who made this such a special night. You truly all are family to me, and I look forward to hosting you again and again.

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supper club: november

This weekend, I hosted an edible ode to my favorite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I have long loved his London-based, Jerusalem-born, spice-driven cooking. In his world, it’s all fresh ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. It’s the most exciting food I know, and his recipes are among the only that I will (mostly) follow to a T. In specific, this meal was inspired by recipes from his latest cookbook, Jerusalem.

As always, I tried to keep the menu seasonal and sustainable. With a number of vegetarians in the mix, the meal was conceived as a rustic, mostly plant-based “friendsgiving” – and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to cook for such an amazing group of friends.

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Menu:

Whiskey Moscow Mules

Roasted almond stuffed dates

Homemade pickles – cauliflower, carrot, radish

Roasted cauliflower, hazelnut, celery, pomegranate and parsley salad*

Mejadra – Green lentils, spiced basmati rice, fried onions*

Hoisin, chili and garlic roasted brussel sprouts (recipe)

Roasted butternut and winter squash with cilantro garlic and spiced yogurt sauce (recipe)

White wine, cardamom and saffron poached pears*

Spice, chocolate and citrus zest cookies with lemon glaze*

*Recipe taken from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

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supper club: september

One of my goals in moving to Brooklyn was to start a supper club. So mere days after moving into my new place, I kicked things off with a dinner party for friends old and new.

Co-hosting was my graphic designer/photographer sister Lauren, whose eye for detail (and grocery lugging skills) helped make this party not only tasty, but beautiful. Check out her shots of the dinner below, and stay tuned for more supper club updates!

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Menu:

Gin, lillet blanc and basil cocktail

Homemade, spicy heirloom pickles – carrot, cauliflower, and radish

Arugula, orange and fennel salad with lemon-ginger vinaigrette

Grilled pineapple

Sweet and spicy grilled shrimp

Baked mole chicken

Butternut squash, black bean and coconut rice – Inspired by Tartelette

Asian slaw

Blackened hazelnut haricots verts and mangetout – Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi

Passion fruit custard with red wine glaze and toasted nuts**

Coffee and chocolate ganache birthday cake**

**Both desserts were made by our incredible friend, pastry chef Molly Marzalek-Kelly, of Baked NYC

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eater’s digest: natural gourmet institute

Photos by Madeleine Goico

Here’s a challenge: find a three-course dinner in New York City that is not only innovative and elegant, but healthy and affordable. To boot, make it a prime time reservation: Friday night.

It’s a seemingly impossible set of criteria and yet, the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Friday Night Dinner promises all of the above. Every Friday at 6:30 pm, students, instructors or alumni guest chefs prepare a three-course vegetarian feast for at least eighty guests. Each meal features the highest quality organic, seasonal, whole, unprocessed foods. At the remarkable price of $40 per person, that’s a guilt-free indulgence all around.

I had the pleasure of joining a few NGI administrators for a graduation dinner in June, the culinary culmination of months of student preparation and planning. The soon-to-be-alumni had chosen a dynamic, Latin American inspired menu, featuring foodstuffs such as yucca, tomatillos and plantains.

We began with a watercress and grilled asparagus salad, as well as a summer melon soup. A light, lemon-y vinaigrette complemented the bitter, spicy seasonal greens. The soup was clean and translucent, textured with subtle, finely chopped guava-smoked salted cucumber. Elegant, refreshing and balanced, this appetizer left your palate awakened for the following course.

Our entrée was a duo of tamales, plated over a zesty carrot and plantain habanero sauce. The umami of wild mushroom and white truffle was nicely spiced with tomatillo and chipotle, a diverse range of flavors for a relatively mild dish. The other tamale, swiss chard and almond cream, tasted of nutty root vegetables, with a remarkably light, smooth, mashed-potato-like texture.

Last but not least, dessert was a Mexican cinnamon ice cream and a spiced chocolate truffle. The ice cream was dairy-free and lightly spiced, resembling sorbet in texture. The truffle rivaled any that I’ve ever eaten, with an addictively dense outer shell and luxurious, molten center.

The lasting sentiment at the table – at least among the guests – was that of awe and curiosity. It was difficult to guess the ingredients that allowed for certain items’ vegetarian transformation, as – aside from the ice cream – each dish matched, if not surpassed, its omnivorous counterpart. In fact, dinner at the Natural Gourmet Institute is the best possible advertisement for their Chef’s Training program and public classes. For once you’ve tasted the food, you’ll be hooked on recreating the recipes.

Natural Gourmet Institute
48 W 21st St # 2
New York, NY 10010
(212) 645-5170

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eater’s digest: new taste of the upper west side (part 1)

This year marks the fifth year of the annual New Taste of the Upper West Side, the largest neighborhood dining event in NYC. Just nearing my second anniversary as an UWS’ider, I jumped at this opportunity to rub elbows with other hyper-local foodies and to sample the neighborhood’s most outstanding eats.

Last night kicked things off with a refined, vegetarian feast at Dovetail. The dinner was inspired by Chef John Fraser’s Monday night dinners, which go beyond “meatless” to craft dishes where vegetables are truly the star, rather than the supporting cast.

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My favorite bites of the evening were the delicate, green chic peas in Brown’s asparagus dish, the creamy cheese/wild nettle fusion in Robbin’s risotto, and the textural contrast of the crunchy greens adorning Dieterle’s spring truffle raviolo. But I truly felt all the chefs did a remarkable job, working under Top Chef challenge-like constraints (sharing an unfamiliar kitchen with an unfamiliar crew and co-chefs). I’m looking forward to seeing what they have planned for Friday’s “Comfort Classics” and Saturday’s “Best of the West.”

Proceeds to benefit the Columbus Avenue BID’s streetscape beautification projects, as well as the Greenhouse Classroom and Citymeals-on-Wheels. To learn more, visit: New Taste of the Upper West Side.

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