Dinner for 6 on the Porch

June 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm (Napa Valley) (, )

Because we are obsessed (and really this is not a joke…we spent 2 1/2 hours this weekend playing Foodie Fight) Kevin and I spent much of Saturday and Sunday discussing what we were going to make for an upcoming dinner party. 

There were lots of post-it marked cookbooks.  There were piles of the fave cooking magazines.

Finally, the menu was decided.  The grocery list was made.  A trip to Sunshine Grocery store was next.

We set the table.  Chilled some wine.  And turned on Elton John.

All that was left was to sit on the porch with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and await the guests.

Seriously, this meal is perfect to enjoy on a porch lit by candles and starlight.

First:  Wilted Arugula and Roasted Walnut Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Fondue
Second:  Jalepeno Jelly Pork Tenderloin
Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Last:  Home-made Strawberry Icecream with chocolate Bouchons

Wilted Arugula and Roasted Walnut Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Fondue
Great American Food
, Charlie Palmer with Judith Choate
1 Granny Smith Apple
1/2 t fresh lemon juice
3 bunches arugula
4 1/2 oz. fresh goat cheese
3 T heavy cream
3/8 C walnut oil
3 T white wine vinegar
24 toasted walnut halves

1.  Peel and core apple.  Cut into fine julienne.  Toss with lemon juice to keep it from discoloring.  Cover until ready to use.
2.  Wash and dry arugula.  Pick off any discolored parts.  Set aside.
3.  Toss arugula with oil and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange equal portions of the dressed arugula on each of 6 chilled plates.  Randomly sprinkle arugula with walnuts and then apple julienne.
4.  Combine goat cheese and cream in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and well combined.  Remove from heat and drizzle warm goat cheese mixture over the salad in a criss cross pattern.  Serve immediately.

Jalepeno Jelly Pork Tenderloin
courtesy of Kevin Krier’s repertoire
2 Pork Tenderloins
1 jar of Jalepeno jelly
1 C Heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degress
2.  In a small saucepan combine half the jar of jalapeno jelly with 2 t of water.  Cook until blended into a sauce.
3.  Place the pork tenderloin on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Drizzle 3/4 of the jalapeno mixture over the pork tenderloin.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Load into oven and bake for 15 minutes.
4.  While pork bakes put remaining jalapeno sauce back onto stove on low.  Add cream and heat thoroughly.
5.  When pork is done remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Slice the pork and place on a platter.  Drizzle with jalapeno-cream sauce.

Serve pork with roasted garlic potatoes and asparagus.

Yummy – nw

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Joanie Loves Bocce – Put some SAUCE on It!

June 22, 2008 at 5:48 pm (Napa Valley)

Who loves bocce – Joanie loves bocce! 

So this week I completely flaked…wait no…not completely because I did bring 1/2 a case of wine…but didn’t participate in the food theme of “food with booze” in it.  I thought about doing Jello shots (because really what better crowd pleaser could someone make), but after living it up in Aspen for 5 days I had little motivation to do anything but drink water and sleep.  All creative buttons had been turned off!

But, even though I was a complete slacker in the food department, Bocce was a complete success.  The Joanies won 3 out of 3 games…hip, hip, hooray!  (And FYI – even though I haven’t updated on the last couple of games…the outcome has not been that pretty!)  I can’t wait to collect my silver stars to place next to my other flare on the jacket.  Shiny, happy, silver stars.  I don’t even mind that my jacket is sooo HEAVY its like putting on a coat of armor – Henry the 8th style!

Soon an Aspen update – just need to get the energy!

XOXO – nw

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Having Barrels and Barrels of FUN!

June 17, 2008 at 10:08 am (Napa Valley)

The Crew at Barrel Auction 2008

The Crew at Barrel Auction 2008

Take a look at all of these happy people enjoying the Napa Valley Barrel Auction.  It was a good day.  No, it was a great day!  No work, beautiful weather and lots and lots of vino.  Personal highlight…spotting Oprah Winfrey in an outfit that was the same color as my dress.  Boy did I feel special!

This is my 6th year attending the Barrel Auction – it is one of my favorite events of all time and I really do think it gets better and better every year.  This year it was at Trinchero Family Estates where large tents were set out on the lawn for wineries and restaurateurs to showcase their goods, and inside the barrel room you could taste 128 barrels of wine right out of the barrel.  Rumor has it that 3,000 people were in attendance that Friday afternoon.

It’s a small valley, but we know how to throw one hell of a party!  Hats off to the Napa Valley Vintners for raising $10.35 million over the weekend…that is quite a sum and will do lots of good!

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The Wine Auction Begins – 1/2 Bottles…Magnums

June 5, 2008 at 6:17 pm (Napa Valley)

All the Pretty BottlesOh yes, it is the best week in Napa Valley……..Wine Auction week.  Mine kicked off with two parties:

1.  1/2 bottle party at Taylor’s Refresher
2.  Magnum party at Travigne

It was my first time to the 1/2 bottle party – the antithesis of the Magnum party that is the “event” that everyone wants to go to, but really hard to get a ticket.  I really liked the party…but how could you not?  Beautiful weather, drinking great wine at picnic tables, fun friends and good food!  Britt and I tried at least 8 wines a piece in the 2 hours we were there and there was only one bummer in the bunch.  And when I say “try” it really means only 2 sips of each wine so NO, it wasn’t drunk-fest USA.

After an hour and a half break and a costume change I met Tinker at the Magnum party.  How to describe in 3 words:  1.  Exclusive  2.  Networking  3.  Outfits.   Exclusive because you have to be invited and show ID at the door.  Networking because everyone who’s anyone in the business is there and you better be ready with names and kisses on the cheek.  Outfits because seriously even though people are at one of the best parties thrown in Napa Valley during the year, there are still some really BIG doozies!  I like to sit near the entrance and watch everyone walk in so I can see what they are wearing…there are definitely some treats!  But, I did have some good bubbles and really delicious red wine.  On top of that I ran into some people I hadn’t seen in a REALLY long time so it was good times!

And, it’s just the beginning…keep ya updated!

XOXO – natalie


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Stirring and Stirring my Cherry Jam

June 3, 2008 at 7:12 pm (Napa Valley) ()

WOW!  I have a new-found respect for people who regularly can fresh foods to store them for another time.  Tonight, for the first time on my own, I attempted to make Cherry Jam.  I had made it before with my Grandma, but never, ever on my own.  I knew it would be laborious task, one that would have me calling my Grandma at the 11th hour, but didn’t realize it would take my entire evening from 5:30 until 10:00pm.  Granted, there was a lot of stirring and guessing and smiling when the jar tops finally  popped so I knew that the jam had set…what a relief!  Nothing would have been more disappointing than spending all evening in the kitchen than to have the Cherry jam not turn out.

So here is to getting some Christmas presents done in June!  Here is to taking something fresh and preserving it just like our ancestors did.  Here is to being a productive citizen instead of drinking beers on $2 Tuesday. 

XOXO – natalie


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Fava Beans are Yummy in my Tummy

June 3, 2008 at 2:37 pm (Napa Valley) ()

I finally went to the Farmer’s Market last Friday to get some much needed farm fresh vegetables and fruits.  I picked up strawberries, fava beans, some green onion/leek hybrid from CIA students, and of course some duck perigrod (because what other Farmer’s Market has a French guy selling pates and terrines?)

After a quick shopping trip to find an outfit for one of my favorite events of all time – the Napa Valley Barrell Auction, Paulito and I were starving but had no more stamina for food shopping at the grocery store.  So we raided the fridge and this is what I cobbled together:

2 # Fava Beans, shelled
3 Strips of Bacon
1 C Leeks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Red pepper flakes
Dash of Sake
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T chopped Cilantro
1/2 green cabbage, cut into strips
Dash of White wine vinegar
2-3 T Parmiggiano-Reggiano

1.  In larget skillet cook strips of bacon and when done put aside to drain on paper towels.  Save the bacon grease. 
2.  Bring saucepan of water to boil and blanch fava beans for 1 minute.  Transfer to bowl filled with ice water.  Drain and then peel.
3.  Add fava beans to bacon grease and sautee for 2 minutes.  Splash with sake.  Remove fava beans from skillet.  Add leeks to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Add leek and garlic mixture to the fava beans.
4.  Add cabbage to the skillet and sautee for 10-15 minutes.  If skillet starts to look dry drizzle in white wine vinegar.
5.  While cabbage sautees tear up bacon and add to fava bean mixture.  Next add lemon juice and cilantro.  When cabbage is done add to fava bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

My tummy is full and lucky me I have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

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