Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Cranberry Margaritas


I had the pleasure of leading a cooking lesson for a FABULOUS group of ladies this week. We made a full dinner but the star of the night was the Cranberry Margaritas. Crisp, tart and not too sweet, this cocktail will be the star of your holiday season. The color alone is swoon worthy.

Cranberry Margarita

Cranberry Margaritas

serves 1


Cranberry Juice (NOT the unsweetened kind)

Fresh Lime Juice

Fresh Orange Juice

Tequila (we used Patron Silver)

Fine Pink Sea Salt

Whole Cranberries



For each cocktail, combine ½ oz. lime juice (1/2 a lime), 1 oz. orange juice, 1½ oz. tequila, and 2 Tbsp. cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Cover and shake about 30 seconds. Strain into a glass garnished with pink salt and full of ice. Top with whole cranberries for garnish.




St. Patrick’s Day Dinner


Every St. Patrick’s day growing up my mom would make corned beef and cabbage for dinner. We would wake up on March 17 to See’s Candy Chocolate Potatoes in our shoes left by the leprechaun. After school we’d come home to thick slices of corned beef and boiled cabbage, potatoes and carrots. To be honest I didn’t care for the taste of the chocolate potato or the soggy boiled cabbage and salty, stringy meat. But I loved the tradition. I loved that my Mother and my Grandmother and my Great Grandmother had eaten this meal every year as girls, then young women until they started to make it for their own families. Now I make this annual feast for my husband and friends and have some tips on how to make it taste less soggy and stringy (sorry Mom.)

St. Patrick's Day Appetizers

 St. Patrick’s Day Menu

Aged Irish Cheddar with Oat Biscuits

Corned Beef and Boiled Cabbage, Heirloom Carrots and Fingerling Potatoes with Creamy Dijon Sauce

Rye Soda Bread with Salted Irish Butter and Apricot Jam


Don’t over cook the vegetables! They should poach in the salty brine water until just tender, preserving their natural flavor and texture.


Corned Beef with Boiled Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots

serves 4


1x 3lb corned beef round (cooks way down so get more than you think you need)

20x small potatoes (I like fingerling or red potatoes), scrubbed

2x bundles of carrots (preferably heirloom), scrubbed and cut into 2″ pieces

1x head of green cabbage, cut into 4-6 wedges leaving the core intact


Place corned beef and all the brine liquid and herbs in a large pot with water covering the meat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover. Let cook for 3-4 hours with the lid on. You may have to add more water to the pot a few times. Once the meat is very tender and shreds with a fork, remove the meat and cover on a cutting board with foil. Strain any foamy meat goo and large herbs and peppercorns from the boiling water then add the potatoes. Boil uncovered until almost fork tender and then add the carrots. Once the carrots are almost tender add the cabbage wedges. Leaving the core in the cabbage keeps the leaves from falling off and making a mess in the pot. While the vegetables finish, slice the meat into thick wedges against the grain of the corned beef. Once the cabbage is JUST cooked and still bright green remove all the vegetables to a platter. Serve immediately with thick slices of the meat and Creamy Dijon Sauce.

Creamy Dijon Sauce

4 ounces Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients and serve chilled.




 Happy St. Pats,


Happy Heart Day


pooh and piglet


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


Holiday Treats for Gifting


Hi Friends! I apologize for the long winter’s nap I have (unintentionally) been taking from the blog. This time of year keeps us busy as elves in the kitchen at work so I have some fun recipes to share. Can I make it up to you with some SUPER SIMPLE holiday treats you can make in minutes and give as impressive gifts?

photo by La Femme Epicure

Peppermint Bark gets a whimsical update with a faux bois (wood grain pattern) silicone mat mold. Thanks to Martha for helping us hunt down the faux bois mold for the version we are making for our clients.


via Pinterest

Dip large salty pretzel rods in warmed chocolate the then coat with your favorite festive candies. Done.


Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix Jars

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mixes all ready for gifting, just add hot water! We used this Alton Brown recipe and added some cinnamon, crushed peppermint candies and mini marshmallows as the top layers of the jar.

Reindeer Snack Mix

And finally a family secret from our chef Sarah Simms of La Femme Epicure… Reindeer Snack Mix. This is a recipe for all the non cooks out there, no baking required. Just gently mix all the ingredients together and scoop into a cute jar for gifting. So darling and yummy (and very dangerous to keep around).

Simm’s Family Reindeer Snack Mix Recipe

  • bitter sweet chocolate chips
  • semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • butterscotch chips
  • white chocolate chips
  • reg holiday m&ms
  • peanut holiday m&ms
  • small skinny pretzel sticks
  • whole roasted, salted peanuts (no skins)
  • Whole roasted, salted almonds (with skins, obvs)
  • regular raisins
  • golden raisins
  • craisins (dried cranberries)
  • Chex Cereal

Mix gently together in a large bowl. Divide into jars, clear bags or pails or tins, etc. Tie with pretty ribbon or twine. Attach tag with label “Reindeer Snack Mix”


Have you forgiven me yet?


Happy February!




Happy February, my dears!  Are you suffering from winter-has-gone-on-too-long syndrome?  It’s nothing a pretty Valentine’s card can’t cure.

I’m a big supporter of sending heart cards to friends and family.  It gets you off the hook during the holiday season and comes as a sweet surprise to those who aren’t expecting a valentine.

In Los Angeles, I love card shopping at Soolip and Urbanic.  Online, I have an account at Rifle Paper Co. and I’ve also used Minted, Pinhole Press and Pancake & Franks.

For instant messages, Lydia has turned me on to the Red Stamp app for iPhone which offers an incredible number of stylish, modern cards you can personalize with messages and photos then send via text, email or snail mail.

I’d love to have a few more dependable resources for creative cards.  So tell us, where do you browse pretty papers?

xo Sarah

Thanksgiving Timeline Week 3




If you’ve been following our timeline, you’re probably feeling verrrry accomplished right about now.  Week three is going to be a breeze for you.  Here’s what needs doing:

Third Week of November

1. Wash towels and sheets for guests as well as kitchen towels to reserve for the Big Cook.

2. Stock up on essentials: paper towels and toilet paper, Q-tips, cotton balls, advil, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc.

3. Buy your pantry and freezer items and cross ‘em off the list.

4. Set up your non-perishable table décor items (pumpkins, candles, etc.).

5. If you’re making homemade stock, make and freeze now.

6. Test any new Thanksgiving recipes while there’s still time to revert back to the classics.

There’s a pumpkin meringue pie trial run in our very immediate future.


Thanksgiving Table


Thanksgiving centerpiece

Remember our Halloween table? We’re using the same elements for our Thanksgiving decor.  Run a similar arrangement down the center of your Turkey Day table or along your mantle for a natural, elegant and understated display.

Thanksgiving decor

We started with our faithful workhorses: the burlap strips.   Then, inspired by the darling mini pumpkins, we clustered orb-like clear and white bud vases and filled them with Chinese mums.  The repetition of almost round, squash-like shapes is what makes this look work. Lydia had the great idea to toss in some cipolline onions I had in the kitchen- it’s a cucurbita and allium table for those taxonomes out there!


Off-white pillar candles stand ready to bring the glow.  My Juliska gourd carafe does double duty as an elegant vase, adding height to a side table or mantle.

White pumpkin Thanksgiving centerpiece

For a dinner table centerpiece, you want something low enough to see over.  So we removed the tall flower arrangement and swapped in a medium-sized white spray-painted pumpkin, adding in a few silver for sparkle.

Thanksgiving table display

All we need is food and family!



Burlap-  Michael’s or any other craft store

Carafe-  Juliska

Vases- Jonathan Adler and Heath Ceramics

Holiday Salad


kale sald with apple, pomegranate and parmesan

I’d eat my mom’s winter salad almost any day of the week.  Imagine mixed greens with crunchy green apple, spiced pecans, ruby-red pomegranates and a tangy apple cider viniagrette.   Looks gorgeous on a holiday table.   But sometimes, especially when I’ve been eating gravy and garlic-mashed potatoes, buttery Parker rolls and cornbread stuffing, I yearn for an even greener salad.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

kale salad

Kale!  Our favorite wonder green.

Kale salad with pomegranates

Kale Salad with green apple, pomegranate seeds and Parmesan

Serves 6

Ingredients for dressing

2 tablespoons diced shallots

1 Tablespoon honey or agave

1 teaspoon Dijon

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a blender or cuisinart.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for salad

3 heads kale, washed, ribs removed and cut into chiffonade (both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell pre-cut kale)

1 pinch salt

1 pomegranate

1 green apple

1/2 lemon

Parmesan cheese, for shaving

Pecans, toasted or Sugar and Spice Pecans


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt.  Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with a combination of ice and water.  Set beside stove.

Add the cut kale to the water and blanch until bright green, just 1 minute and no longer.  Use tongs or a slotted spoon and remove kale to the ice bath.  We usually make our salads with raw kale but in this instance I like the brighter color and the way in which blanching sweetens the greens and makes them easier to digest.

While the kale cools, grab an apron or large dishrag and cut your pomegranate in half horizontally.  Leaning over the sink or a large bowl, use your fingers to gently loosen the pomegranate seeds from the white pulp.  Set seeds aside and discard pulp. Cut your apple into matchsticks and toss with lemon juice.

Drain the kale and dry in a salad spinner.  This will take a few spins. Reserving a tablespoon, massage the dressing into your greens thirty minutes before serving.  Just before serving, toss the pomegranate seeds and apple slices with the reserved dressing and add to greens.  Top as desired with Parmesan shavings and pecans.


Happy End of Summer



Image: Unknown

Thank you, summer 2011.  You were a good one.

And thank you, dear readers.  Your emails and comments make us so happy.

Have a lovely long weekend and we’ll see you next fall ; )


1 2