- Jan 3rd
- Frank Lantz
With my chef background, it’s probably no surprise that I take pride in serving great meals for anyone who joins me at my table. What I’ve learned as a TastePlease host, however, is that it’s not all about the food. In fact, I think one of my most important host tasks have been to make sure my guests would feel welcome.
Unlike friends and family, my new dinner guests usually don’t know me beforehand, so of course they tend to be a little nervous when they arrive. Honestly, I can’t say that I’m not a little nervous, too, but I do have the home court advantage, after all, so I always make an effort to greet them properly, introduce myself and my co-hosts, ask the first questions to get the conversation flowing… Little things that help all of us to relax and feel comfortable.
One of the tricks that have worked particularly well for me has been to do a short introduction round when all guests have arrived. This way, no one is a stranger to one another anymore, and some topics can even spur further conversation. Maybe some of them work in overlapping fields or come from the same part of town. I’m continuously surprised by how often my guests and I end up having way more in common than we thought!
When I’ve hosted bigger dinners (10+ guests), I’ve also found that having people change seats in between courses can be a great way to talk to everyone at the table – something I really value when hosting dinners for new people. Another way to do this would be a flying dinner, where guests are naturally encouraged to move around, so maybe I will try that on a later occasion.
At the end of the day, my best piece of advice for fellow hosts is to relax, enjoy and try not over complicate things. Basically, make sure to do as much as you can in advance, so you don’t stress around right before it knocks on the door – and when the time comes, accept that you can’t plan your way out of everything, sometimes it’s perfectly ok to just go with the flow and make the best of it!
Blend all of the ingredients until you get a smooth texture.
Pasta with Parsley Pesto
Serve right away.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. / 190 Celsius
Eat and enjoy!
This classic French dish is the perfect proof that great food doesn’t have to be complicated - all it takes is the right ingredients.
Ingredients per serving:
The name of this Italian classic means “pick me up”, referring both to the effect of the coffee and the previous status of the dessert as an aphrodisiac.
The History of Tiramisu
To this day, the origin of the Tiramisu is still debated. According to some sources, it dates back to the 18th century, where Sienna’s pastry chefs are said to have prepared it in honour of the visiting Tuscan duke. Others claim that it wasn’t created until the 1960’s, naming several chefs, pastry chefs and bakers as potential inventors.
The Original Tiramisu
Regardless of the origin, there’s little doubt about the simple ingredient list. The original Tiramisu is made with savoiardi (ladyfingers), egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. This original version is without alcohol, and so is mine, but I have added egg whites to the mascarpone custard to make it a little lighter.
If you follow this simple recipe, you will get a delicious and light dessert.
500 g mascarpone cheese
150 g egg yolks
220 g egg whites
120 g sugar
Soften the mascarpone and gently fold in the egg yolks. Whip the egg whites with sugar until stiff and gently fold in the mascarpone mixture.
Take a mold and start with a layer of custard. Follow with a layer of ladyfingers quickly dipped in coffee (less than a second). Continue to add layers, ending with custard. Leave the Tiramisu to cool until the next day and finish it off with cocoa powder before serving.
Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century; it is generally accepted that it existed as a rustic dish long before that. A somewhat similar recipe, poulet au vin blanc, appeared in an 1864 cookbook.
Julia Child featured coq au vin in her breakthrough 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she frequently prepared it on the PBS cooking show The French Chef. This exposure helped to increase the visibility and popularity of the dish in the United States, and coq au vin was seen as one of Child's signature dishes
1 large organic free range chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
8 ounces thick-cut dry bacon, cut into 1-inch dice
Vegetable oil, as needed
Rustick sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 large celery ribs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch dice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 whole garlic, halved
1/3 cup flour
1 bottle (750 ml) medium to full-bodied dry red wine, such as Coté de Rôhne
3 cups chicken stock
2 fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns
24 pearl onions
3 spoons of organic butter
1 pound crimini or button mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius and place a rack in the bottom third. Place bacon in a large Dutch oven on the stovetop and heat over moderate heat. Cook bacon until crispy and fat has rendered, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate, leaving the fat in the Dutch oven.
Season the chicken pieces generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Using tongs, place chicken in the Dutch oven and cook to a deep brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes, working in batches as needed. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet.
Add onion, carrot, celery and leek to Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste turns a deep red (another 1 to 2 minutes). Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and cook, stirring to incorporate, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add wine to Dutch oven and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook until wine mixture begins to thicken, about 4 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to Dutch oven along with any juices from the baking sheet and add enough stock to barely cover the chicken. Add thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns, stirring to combine. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Cook the chicken until fork-tender 150 degrees celcius, after 50 min. add the pearl onions
In a large roasting pan, place butter and oil. Add onions and mushrooms and stir to combine. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place roasting pan in oven with the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and mushrooms turn golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven and place onions and mushrooms in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Remove Dutch oven from oven and, using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large saucepan, pressing solids with a wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible. Place saucepan over high heat and cook the liquid until reduced and thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes, skimming the surface with a heatproof ladle to remove any excess fat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
To serve: Place one piece of chicken in 8 individual shallow serving bowls and ladle sauce over each. Garnish with pearl onions and mushrooms, and sprinkle with reserved bacon pieces and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.