Posts Tagged ‘Anjali Prasertong’

A Fall Pumpkin Carving Party on


I’m honored to be featured on The Kitchn’s “Gatherings From The Kitchn” series this week. Working alongside the talented Anjali Prasertong, we threw a Pumpkin Carving Dinner Party for some of our closest friends. The day was beautiful captured by photographer Bridget Pizzo.

New posts will be up daily and you can follow along here:

Photo by Bridget Pizzo

I’m especially proud of the interview post, where I reveal some of my hard learned secrets for throwing a stress free, but stylish dinner party. Thanks Anj!

Photo by Bridget Pizzo

Anjali’s Top 5 (highly debatable) Entertaining Rules


 From her stylish homemade wedding to her excellent articles and recipes on The Kitchn, Anjali is often mentioned on this blog. She is also a delightful addition to our team of private chefs and we are so happy to have her share her Top 5 Entertaining Rules with you today. xo, LEH

 Anjali Prasertong

 Anjali’s Top 5 (highly debatable) Entertaining Rules

1. Keep a variety of shelf- or fridge-stable appetizers on hand.

Last-minute get-togethers are a lot more fun if you don’t have to battle your way through the supermarket in the short hours between leaving work and welcoming your guests. A few ideas: Keep a supply of popcorn kernels to make stovetop popcorn gussied up with finely grated Parmesan and black pepper. Keep bags of raw nuts in the freezer and oven-toast them with butter and spices. Freeze a batch of portioned-out cookie dough and pop it in the oven when guests arrive. Olives, nice pickles, good salami, and chocolate-covered dried fruit last practically forever and are almost universally irresistible.


2. Learn how to make a handful of cocktails and keep the components at the ready.

This year I made an effort to expand my home bar and learn how to actually mix a few drinks, instead of pouring booze and mixers into a glass and hoping for the best. My go-to cocktail is the Old-Fashioned, as it is tasty, barely requires any work, yet sounds vaguely glamorous. Gimlets are another easy favorite that sound fancier than they are. And I’m a fan of simple beer cocktails like the shandy (beer and sparkling lemonade), the shandygaff (beer and ginger beer) and my obsession this past summer: a shot of Campari topped off with a hoppy IPA. So bitter and good! Bottom line: you don’t have to be a professional mixologist with an arsenal of ingredients to impress guests with your cocktail-making skills.


3. Play an interesting board game.

I am a huge board game nerd from a family of board game nerds, and there’s nothing I love more than spending an evening with friends playing a game that everyone is fully engaged in. It’s better with groups of six people or less and best if it is a game that moves quickly (in other words, no Scrabble) and everyone has an equal chance of winning. I have a particular interest in indie board games (I told you! Nerd!) and my newest favorite is a game called Ticket To Ride: Europe. But classics like Scattergories, Jenga and Yahtzee are fun too. If you want to go full-on nerd, check out this annual list of the best board games for groups.


4. Get matching wine glasses. Don’t worry about the rest.

For some reason, after I bought a set of matching wine glasses, my parties suddenly felt like Real Grownup Parties. Who knew achieving adulthood and leaving college partying behind was just a matter of buying a set of not-very-expensive glasses from Crate & Barrel? The rest of my dishes, however, are a mishmash of cute thrift store plates and utensils, with the occasional special souvenir thrown in. That’s just me. As long as the wine glasses match, somehow the whole thing works.


5. Think like a boy and just invite people over already.

My husband doesn’t care if the toilet isn’t scrubbed and there are dirty dishes in the sink when he invites his friends over to play Rock Band or watch a football game. He just wants to spend time with his friends. I, on the other hand, feel the need to scrub the house from top to bottom before having people over, which leaves me tired, cranky and not in the mood to relax with friends. So I try to be more like a boy and just extend the invitation, even if the house feels messy and I’m too busy to do a top-down cleaning. I never regret it.

A Homemade Wedding: Anjali & Rob


One of our A & O chefs Anjali, got married in September at a farmhouse in San Luis Obispo, Ca. A crafty go-getter she handmade almost EVERY stitch of decor and most of the food and drink for the affair. Her husband Rob contributed a few masculine/hip crafts like a custom mix to welcome guests in their hotels and a timeline of mix cd’s they gave each other over the many years of courtship. Together they infused the entire experience of their wedding weekend with personality, charm and love. And deliciousness. To see the stunning professional pictures strung together in an artful manner, visit A Practical Wedding.


Anjali made countless strands of bunting out of pretty fabrics in the colors of her wedding. Blues, greys and yellow.


Wedding Streamers

The ceremony space was marked by floaty homemade streamers in vibrant hues. I help cut a few of these and let me tell you this was a big project. Totally worth it.


Bunting Place cards

The escort cards for the guests to find their tables were made on little triangles pinned to a line of twine. Echoing the theme of bunting…


Family Recipe Favor Book

The favors were a collection of family recipes spanning many generations and cultures.


Table Setting

The tables were set with mismatched plates that Anjali collected from thrift stores and estate sales. She ordered chic dishtowels with a blue stripe to use as napkins and printed the evening’s menu on paper sandwich bags.  She also made those pretty burlap runners with a friend.

Chili Sauce and Peach Jam

On each table was a treasure trove of homemade condiments to compliment our meal. Sweet chili sauce for the Thai-style grilled chicken and Elberta Peach jam made with Jessica of SQIRL LA that was slathered on baguettes with cinnamon butter. Ayeisha proclaimed the combination a success, “it’s like eating peach pie.”

Dinner Bunting

The dinner area was decorated with long rows of the homemade bunting and strands of cafe lights. Farmer’s market flowers marched down the center of the tables in jars that Anjali collected over the year leading up to the big day.

Homemade Dessert Table

For dessert we feasted on assorted of homemade treats. Friends brought their favorite dessert (I brought the famed A & O Espresso Brownies) and the bride spent the months leading up to the wedding making homemade pies from seasonal fruit and freezing them uncooked. She baked off the pies the day of the wedding with her bridesmaids. PERFECTION.




Food Photographer: Dwight Eschliman


Thanks to Anjali, I have discovered the most amazing food photographer, Dwight Eschliman.


01_StillLife Burritos

photo by Dwight Eschliman


This picture of burritos in the shape of a heart is like a slideshow image from my dreams.



04_StillLife Beef Stew

photo by Dwight Eschliman


Beef stew broken down into it’s most elegant form.


15_StillLife fruit and veggies

photo by Dwight Eschliman


Health foods show off their beauty. Reminds me of these inspiring pics.





Weeknight Taco Party


A few weeks ago Drew and I hosted a taco party as we had two dear friends visiting town! We made some yummy Margaritas, bought our favorite salsas from Hugo’s Tacos and slow braised a nice quality pork shoulder from McCall’s Butcher. Our friends brought the sides like rice, beans, dessert and beer.


beers in a tubbeer and wine chilling in a galvanized steel tub


Margarita Pitchera pitcher of classic Margaritas made with fresh limeade


Grapefruit Margarita at Sunset

a grapefruit margarita with a pink salt rim enjoying the Sunset


chips and salsachips and salsa from Hugo’s Tacos


Braised Pork Taco Fillingbraised pork shoulder from this recipe using responsibly raised pork


taco buffetpork, rice and beans, condiments, cabbage salad and tortillas


taco condimentscondiments for tacos: cilantro, scallions, honey-chipotle salsa, spicy crema, cheese and Anjali’s spicy pickled carrots as well as red cabbage salad


Elan's Horchata CupcakesElan’s horchata cupcakes (vegan and gluten free too!)


Everything was delicious and we had a blast with our pals. I hope this meal magically reappears on my table when I get home from work on Cinco de Mayo.




Happy St. Patrick’s Day



Anjali and I made Ina Garten’s version of Irish Soda Bread yesterday at work to accompany the traditional Irish dinner we cooked for our clients. Dense but very moist, lightly sweet from the currants and just a hint of orange zest. Slathered with salty Kerrygold butter it spoke to my inner heritage, satisfying a deep longing for home made rustic bread.

vintage Kerrygold Ad

Skip the green beer this year but whip up a loaf of Irish soda bread to eat cold with afternoon tea or toasted in the morning with coffee.

Irish Soda Bread

Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wishing you the luck of the Irish on this St. Patrick’s Day.