Archive of ‘How-to’ category

How to set up a Prosecco Bar

sorbet in prosecco

photo by Beth Liebetrau


Every experienced hostess knows one of the best ways to make your guests feel comfortable when they arrive in your home is to have a self-serve drink station set out. This can be a simple as a bottle of open wine and a bottle of sparkling water or as involved as a full spread of liquors and mixers. For a large family gathering, a shower or a festive dinner party we love to set up a Prosecco Bar.



photo by Beth Liebetrau


Prosecco is an Italian light sparkling white wine like French Champagne but at a quarter of the price. A nice bottle of Prosecco will cost you about $7-$10 (we love Zonin Prosecco available at Trader Joe’s.)  Arrange a few bottles of Prosecco in an ice bin with an array of sorbets and juices and invite your guests to mix to their hearts’ desire. Set out champagne flutes and lots of tall spoons or stirrers, cocktail napkins and mini ice cream scoopers for the sorbet. Don’t forget sparkling water for guests to mix with juices and sorbets for an non alcoholic version!


sorbet above prosecco

photo by Beth Liebetrau

Mixers– Choose a few different sorbets, juices and maybe a flavored syrup for your guests to play around creating their perfect fizzy cocktail.

Sorbets– A mini scoop of sorbet in a chilled glass of prosecco dissolves to flavor the drink and keep it chilled. Just make sure to add the prosecco first and the sorbet second—sounds counterintuitive, we know — or you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Lemon sorbet
Strawberry sorbet
Raspberry sorbet
Peach sorbet

Fresh squeezed orange or tangerine juice
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade lemonade
Sparkling Italian sodas (blood orange or lemonade works well)
Fresh or frozen peach puree (You can order white peach puree for a classic bellini or try Ina’s recipe or use Looza brand peach nectar )

Fruit Garnishes– Fresh raspberries and whole strawberries

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup– see our recipe below

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup
Makes 2-1/3 cups

2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Full 1 cup water
1 cup of fresh Meyer lemon juice (you can substitute 2/3 a cup fresh lemon juice and 1/3 a cup of orange juice to replicate the flavor of the Meyer lemon)

Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. All the sugar crystals should completely dissolve. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean medium-size bowl. Let cool completely before using. Simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator, indefinitely, if kept in an airtight container. Makes 2-1/3 cups.

Combine 2/3 a cup of simple syrup with 1 cup fresh juice and pour into large squirt bottle or pitcher.  Chill until ready to use.

Check out this same post at The Daily Meal and leave a comment or give us a star rating! Thanks




Registry Basics: Knives


The second installment in our series with The Daily Meal on wedding registry basics. These are our must-have knives for the cook and entertainer’s kitchen.  Before registering, we recommend spending time in the store handling the different knives in their different makes.  You want to make sure you knife fits well in your hand and it the right size and wight for your needs. We love the heft of a Wusthoff and the precision of Shun knives, but you may appreciate the feel of Global brand or J.A. Henckels.  At this level of craftsmanship it’s a matter of personal preference. Dare to collect your favorite knives from different companies to craft your own personalized knife block.

wusthof_chefs_sltChef’s Knife- chopping herbs and lettuces for a perfect chopped salad would be impossible with out the rolling action of this kitchen staple. If we had to bring one knife to a desert island, this would be it.
8” from Wusthoff, Henckels, Global or Shun


Santoku- fantastic for slicing and precision cuts in meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Japanese-style Chef’s knife from Wusthof, Shun, Global  or Henckels


One bread knife- neat rounds of baguette for crostini and paper thin tomatoes are a snap with this toothsome talent.


One paring knife- for small jobs such as slicing off hunks of cheese and slices of pear to pair with your first glass of rose for the spring.


One serrated paring knife (for fruit) (Shun brand calls it a citrus knife)- peeling and slicing fruit and vegetables has never been easier with this mini, serrated wonder.

Laguiole steak knives (in bright colors)- dress up your dinner table with these classic French knives. They strike just the right balance of rustic, classic and timeless. The fun colors are irresistible.


Laguiole spreaders- these are like the Birkin bags of cheese knives. So elegant, functional and just a bit bohemian chic. These spreaders work for all your soft favorites like brie and goat cheese.


Cheese knife set- for your hard cheese plate favorites like manchego, aged jack and pecorino you need the combination of these 3 sharp cheese knives to help you guests feel at ease over your cheese platter.


Kitchen Shears- Good quality kitchen shears make quick work of showering a pasta dish with ribbons of fresh basil and opening all that pesky packaging, saving you from using your teeth to rip open a bag.

Make sure you check out our first installment in this series Registry Basics: Pots and Pans at The Daily Meal!


Store Bought Appetizers


I’m always inspired by my mom’s easy entertaining style. On a recent visit she served some store bought appetizers which were delicious and innovative. Hope they inspire you too and in honor of my mom you should serve these with chilled Prosecco as she always does.

cold pizza appetizer

Slice a pizza into wedges and serve it room temperature with some pepperoncinis! Granted this was especially yummy as the pizza was from the Cheese Board in Berkeley.

flat bread with dips

Afghani spinach flatbread from the Farmer’s Market with complimentary dips. The red one is a sweet pepper jelly, the green is a cilantro pest and the white is a garlic mint cheese spread. DIVINE when all three are heaped onto a wedge of spongy bread together.

appetizers  on white platters

It’s all about the presentation, make it look nice on a platter! You could replicate these dishes above with items from Trader Joe’s or your own local artisan vendors. For more tips on entertaining read this.

Flower Arrangements


My friend Alissa and I created these gypsy-inspired arrangements last year for Mary’s rehearsal dinner. You could replicate the look of these with any flowers and any found object that can hold water to be the vase.

flowers- LE messy

I saved jam jars, wine bottles and water vessels for a few months. Scrubbed off the labels and voila, free vases!


Yellow ranunculi, puffy white hydrangeas, shiny magnolia leaves set off by nontraditional elements like fresh thyme and feathers.


The dahlias in this arrangement really pop.

peony and black feather

I love the juxtaposition of the black feathers, pink peony and the black and white anemones.

pink peony chartruse feather

A hot pink peony and a deep purple dahlia pulled together by the chartreuse feather.

Shh don’t tell anyone but we made all these arrangements for $100 total! All floral supplies came from the Flower Mart in Downtown LA and the “vases” were assorted jars and wine bottles I saved for this very event.

Fresh Fruit Centerpieces


Sorry we’ve been away for a few weeks, Sarah got married! She had a beautiful ceremony and reception at the spectacular home of her parents, outside of Chicago. Sarah and I made the centerpieces for the reception tables.

She designed her wedding using a color palette of white, greens, pale pale pink and midnight. Summer fruit of white peaches, black plums and black mission and green kadota figs provided the perfect hues. Two days before the wedding we nestled the fruit on a bed of pale green moss atop mercury glass candy dishes.

Sarah added the black dahlias, assorted pink blooms as well as fresh blackberries the morning of the wedding. The arrangements were a hit among the guests. The mercury glass sparkled in the candle light and the fruit was a rustic and bountiful addition to each table.

No one died from eating the fruit off the arrangements (we super glued the fruit together) and only one arrangement light on fire from a nearby candle! Success.

How to plant an Organic Herb Garden


By Lydia Ellison

I’m really proud of myself, 2 weeks ago I planted some organic herbs into a terra cotta pot and put it on the front stoop of my apartment. It has been wonderful to have the herbs on hand, I’ve been adding parsley leaves to salads, thyme to roasted vegetables and fresh basil to my scrambled eggs! The whole project took about 1 hour from concept to completion and cost about $40. This project will pay for itself by the end of the summer in the money I’m saving not buying tiny plastic boxes of herbs at the grocery store and it’s better for the environment (no plastic, no fuel used in transportation.)

Organic herbs in a pot

Organic herbs in a pot

You can do it too, this is all you need-

1 pot with a drainage hole

1 bag organic potting soil

assorted pre-grown organic herbs (available at home and garden stores and Whole Foods)

Fill the pot 3/4 full with the soil. Dig a small hole for your herb roots. Remove the herb from it’s canister and break up the roots gently with your hand. Place into the hole you have made for the roots and cover with soil. Repeat with remaining herbs. Water well. Place in in area with lots of direct sunlight!

PS- the reason I was proud is I have been meaning to do this for years and never actually done it. I’ve been having garden envy lately…

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