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Simplifying the art of the dinner party

Throwing a dinner party can be a challenging feat. Even Mark Bittman thinks so, strongly enough that he was inspired to create a mixandmatch menu matrix to assist both novices and experts who are planning such a gathering. Bittman’s not the only one eager to assist frantic party planners. New sites and services are simplifying—and sometimes elevating—the age-old act of getting together over dinner.

A & O Dinner Party Blueprints: DIY kits are having a moment, having been put to use in projects as contained as interior design and as aspirational as building a civilization. Somewhere in between sits the task of throwing a dinner party. To help, bloggers Sarah Lagrotteria and Lydia Ellison Howerton of Apples & Onions are offering their expertise in the form of Party Blueprints. For $100, A&O will customize a kit containing a signature cocktail recipe or wine pairing, a three-course menu, simple decor suggestions, and a timeline for executing each stage to perfection. This is pre-fab planning that reflects the priorities of today’s consumers: reasonably priced, customized, and it lets consumers keep their calm.


Mini Chicken n’ Waffles

May 27, 2011 | 11:37 AM | Eat & Drink | By Staff

Still trying to figure out what to serve at your Memorial Day barbecue? Look no further because you’re having waffles! Mini chicken n’ waffles that is. Thanks to Apples and Onions for posting this because seriously, so amazing. Can’t…stop…eating…Full recipe after the jump.

A & O Mini Fried Chicken ‘n Waffle Appetizer
Serves 8-10

10 sprigs fresh thyme
3 chicken thighs, boneless with skin on, cut into small ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce- Texas Pete or Tabasco
1 16oz bottle of peanut oil
Maple syrup
Mini Toaster Waffles (at least 20 individual rounds)

For the flour mixture:
2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne

Remove the leaves from 5-6 sprigs thyme and mince finely.  Set aside. Cut the chicken thighs into small ½-inch square pieces leaving some skin on each little piece. Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper and 1 tablespoon of the minced thyme. In a medium bowl mix the buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of hot sauce (I like Texas Pete) and add the seasoned chicken pieces to the buttermilk mixture. Stir well and add any remaining sprigs of thyme to the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the chicken in buttermilk from the fridge and drain in a colander.  Scoop 2 cups of flour in a pie plate or shallow bowl and season with 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss well, thickly coating each piece. In a large saucepan heat 2-3 inches of peanut oil to high heat, (approximately 350 degrees). Carefully add your chicken in batches, being mindful not to splatter or crowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop. Stir occasionally until nicely browned on all sides and then remove to a paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Toast the mini waffle rounds until golden brown and top each round with a piece of warm fried chicken. Drizzle with warm maple syrup before serving.


The Kitchn– May 19, 2011

Irresistible Appetizer: Mini Fried Chicken & Waffles


During the cocktail hour at my friend Lydia’s wedding, you could tell which server was carrying out the latest batch of mini chicken and waffles. It was always the one standing two steps out the door, immobilized by a crowd of sticky-fingered wedding guests who couldn’t get enough of these crunchy, sweet-and-savory bites.

Thankfully, Lydia was nice enough to share the recipe on her blog Apples & Onions.


The appetizer is simple — a nugget of buttermilk fried chicken on a mini waffle topped with a drizzle of maple syrup — but the details are smart, like using chicken thighs to ensure extra juicy nuggets. And the waffles? They’re just frozen mini toaster waffles, toasted until brown and crisp. Genius!

Get the recipe: Mini Chicken n’ Waffle Appetizers – Apples & Onions

(Image: Apples & Onions, used by permission)

Check out our weekly entertaining column at The Daily Meal


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Apples & Onions Dinner Party Blueprints

Easy Ideas to Make Your Party Legendary

chinese new year party setting!

You don’t need to break out Grandmum’s silver and light the candlelabra to host a nice dinner — but you may need to put away the ketchup packets.

Apples & Onions Dinner Party Blueprints, the new service from personal chefs Lydia Ellison Howerton and Sarah Lagrotteria, is your road map to party time.

The result of a deep affection for throwing small dinners of their own, years of catering large-scale events, and some serious culinary prowess (we’ve been dreaming of the breakfast panino on their blog), Blueprints are essentially easy-to-follow parties in a box.

You name the theme, budget, number of guests, and give a heads up on any dietary restrictions, and they’ll send back a tidy little file containing decor ideas, a detailed timeline, master grocery list, a custom menu, a signature cocktail or wine recommendations, and recipes, so you can pull the whole thing off.

For a better idea of what you’re in for, check out the Chinese New Year dinner party the Los Angeles-based duo created just for us. Consider it your formal invitation.

Available online at, $100.

Photo: Beth Liebetrau

easy chinese new year party! Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with more than leftover takeout and stale fortune cookies. Apples & Onions will show you how to throw a Chinese New Year dinner party.

A & O on Daily Candy 1.28.11

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Apples & Onions cooks the best food and plans the best social events with amazing decor & meals!!! I definitely recommend hiring them for any event or party you may be planning…. Such wonderful service providers.
Sandra Lynn
Malibu, CA

Apples & Onions provided a memorable dinner party in a lush West Hollywood environment…delicious salads and a hearty steak dish – and the girls were as sweet as the espresso brownies they served. The A&O experience was worth its weight in smuggled Alba truffles.
Brooklyn, NY

Judging from the smashingly fab A&O dinner parties I’ve attended, this service is well worth it!
Los Angeles, CA

NOTHING better than an A & O dinner party!!
Denver, CO

Thank you VERY much for the personal touch.  We love sending your creations as gifts, everyone says they are heavenly!  You have ALWAYS surpassed our highest expectations.
Rosa & Tom
Highlands Ranch, CO

I’ve loved everything so far.  And I’m a “picky” eater- when out at restaurants, I’m always the one who says “it’s okay”, when everyone else says “it’s great!” =) You guys are wonderful.  Thanks again.
Malibu, CA

I love Apples & Onions. I’ve used them for sending gifts to friends and family at Valentines Day and not only were the gifts beautifully presented but also delicious! Sarah and Lydia are always professional as well as upbeat and passionate about what they do. At parties, the food is fantastic and their cocktails are so yummy!
Novato, CA


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