party

Memorial Day Party Menu

I'm so looking forward to the 3-day weekend we have coming up! The weather is supposed to be nice so we're hoping to entertain on the deck. In case you are too, click on over to this menu I put together for Instyle Magazine. It includes a Cucumber Spritzer Cocoktail, Spicy Feta Lettuce Wraps, Asparagus Pastry Straws and the easiest Chocolate Ricotta Mousse. Happy Hosting!!

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Grilled Halloumi with Strawberries and Herbs

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I’m excited to let you know about a very special dinner event in San Francisco I am doing with my friend, photographer Kimberley Hasselbrink, who runs the food blog The Year in Food. Kimberley also just released her first cookbook, Vibrant Food, and we are cooking a meal together in a couple weeks, from our 2 cookbooks! Her book is sooo beautiful, you definitely need to look for it. She’s based in San Francisco and the recipes are all inspired by colorful produce. The photos are gorgeous and her recipes have all kinds of brilliant flavor combinations. I went to her book launch party last week and got to try some of the goodies- delish!

Since we are both so inspired by colorful food, we decided to team up and do a vegetarian meal where each course is based on a different color- I am so excited!! We are each making 2 dishes from our new cookbooks, and then we’re collaborating on a dessert. The Forest Feast + Vibrant Food = A VIBRANT FEAST!!

The dinner is in SF on Monday July 14th. Click HERE to see the menu and buy tickets. I’m making the Nectarine Tomato Salad above (among other goodies from my book!) Hope you can join us!!

Doesn’t the dish above look amazing? It’s Kimberley’s recipe from her book for Grilled Halloumi cheese topped with strawberries and herbs (YUM!).

Top Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink, and her recipe is below.

Lower photo is by Erin Gleeson from The Forest Feast cookbook.

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GRILLED HALLOUMI WITH STRAWBERRIES AND HERBS

from the cookbook Vibrant Food, by Kimberley Hasselbrink.  A note from Kimberley:

I was inspired to make this by some snacks brought to a picnicky party: my friend Dafna’s spicy jalapeño jam and my friend Andy’s halloumi cheese. We grilled the cheese and doused it with the jam and it was the undeniable hit of the party. I liked the idea of going for something spicy, sweet, and fresh on top of this intriguing cheese, so I made a mess of strawberries and herbs to pile atop it for this version. Halloumi is a firm, salty cheese that keeps its shape when grilled or fried in a pan. It’s an awesome way to enjoy the unique pleasure of hot, melty cheese as a vehicle for food. It’s best to eat the cheese as soon as possible after it’s come out of the pan—the magic of halloumi happens when it’s hot. 

DRESSING

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons agave nectar 

1 serrano chile, seeds removed if desired, minced 

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 (8- to 9-ounce) package halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, agave nectar, serrano, and pepper to taste. Toss the strawberries with the dressing and set aside. 

Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat and add the 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add the halloumi slices. Cook the cheese for 2 to 3 minutes per side without disturbing, until a deep brown crust forms. 

Remove the cheese from the skillet and spoon the strawberry mixture over the slices of cheese. Serve immediately, while the cheese is still warm.

SERVES 4 TO 6

Wine and Cheese Party Menu

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Yesterday evening Jonathan and I hosted a little wine and cheese tasting garden party for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (the one where you are supposed to eat dairy- basically, my favorite holiday ever!). A friend brought plums from her tree and it was fun to see the early fruits of the garden, including blackberries that will arrive in a month or two.

I am no wine connoisseur, but I did some research online to find wine/cheese combinations that went well together, and then came up with simple, no-cook appetizer ideas using each cheese to pair with 5 different wines (ranging from bubbly to after-dinner port). I learned that when pairing cheese and wine, it’s best to match similarities in flavor (like a light fruity wine with a light cheese/fruit appetizer) or go for complete contrast, (like a sweet robust port paired with a pungent blue cheese like gorgonzola). It’s fun to take your time and pay attention to how the flavors dance in your mouth! I think they are best enjoyed in this order:

  1. Prosecco: spread camembert (a brie-like) cheese on a toasted piece of baguette, top with a peach slice, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

  2. Pinot Grigio: spread fresh whole milk ricotta cheese on a toasted piece of baguette and top with lemon zest and honey. See more details on that recipe in this post.

  3. Pinot Noir: stack a cube of watermelon, a cube of feta and a leaf of mint on a toothpick.

  4. Cabernet Sauvignon: top a slice of sharp white cheddar with a slice of crisp green apple, then sprinkle with honey and black pepper.

  5. Port: put a smear of creamy gorgonzola on a leaf of purple endive and top with a red grape or 2.

Happy summer entertaining!

xx Erin

Curly Kale and Curly Pasta (Salad)

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Pasta, Beans & Greens! Also easily made with gluten-free pasta, and can be vegan if you use a dairy-free pesto. This is a good one for entertaining because it’s easy to make ahead and great warm or at room temperature.

This post was done in collaboration with on Better Homes and Gardens.

Grilled Cheese Party

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A couple weeks ago we threw our 2nd annual Grilled Cheese Party. It was so good last year that we just had to do it again! We were celebrating my friend Nicole’s and my birthday. In the house, we had a table made up with all the fixin’s: several different types of breads and cheeses (all labeled with washi tape), plus lots of spreads and toppings. We had garlic aioli, mayo, fig jam, several mustards, caramelized onions, and arugula, to name a few. Each person made up their sandwich then brought it outside to Jonathan, who was manning the grill, with our biggest skillet and a tub of butter. This way, we could all be outside together and no one was stuck in the kitchen! Coming hot off the grill they are absolutely delicious…I think food cooked outside always tastes better :) Plus, when entertaining outdoors in the winter (even in California) it helps to have a hot grill to stand around to keep warm.

For dessert we had a brownie cake and a pear pie, topped with the cutest bees wax birthday candles from Mohawk Valley Trading Company. I also decorated the deck outside with some of their other candles that they gifted me- I just love them. I have been trying to keep things more “all-natural” around the house, so I like that these candles don’t give off any toxic fumes when burned. Plus, they have a lovely subtle scent of honey.

As the sun went down, we put a big screen outside on the deck, bundled up with blankets and watched a movie around the fire pit. 

Make a wish!

xx, Erin