As promised, here's Part Two of the holiday
the last newsletter of 2004! I truly hope that Love Notes
has been helpful and has inspired you to cook at least a few
times over the past year... I don't know most of you, but I am
wishing you a very merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart,
where ever in the world you are, and whomever you get to spend
it with. Thank you so much for reading; I always love to hear
from you, so don't forget to
send me an e-mail
whenever you have a question or comment. And now: I'm stretching
my arms out as far as they go to give all of you a hug and a
kiss. See you next year!
Buone Feste... Buon Anno!
MY HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING NOTES
special holiday dinners, I like to make things festive and
fun. Here are a few of my personal rituals for making
- Put a festive runner along the table and toss a variety
of nuts in the shell along the length of it; walnuts, almonds
and brazil nuts all look beautiful spread out on a table with a
silver cracker somewhere in sight. Add a few tangerines (with
stems & leaves attached), persimmons and fresh cranberries, and
the table will look good enough to eat!
- While you're cooking, make a warm beverage to sip on as
you move around the kitchen... I like a cup of hot chocolate or
espresso with a splash of Bailey's.
- Put on a silly old movie or CD while you're cooking;
Frankenstein Junior is always a riot... or enjoy a classic
like It's a Wonderful Life.
-About a half hour before dinner, burn a stick of incense
and light the candles and the fireplace (if you're lucky enough
to have one). Be sure to trim candle wicks to 1/4" so they won't
drip and smoke!
- For a glamorous touch, I like to put a bottle of
champagne on ice and place a bowl of fresh strawberries beside
it... starts the mood off right!
-Don't forget that the most important thing you can do is
smile. A person who is "in the mood" is the best kind of
person to share the season with...
WHAT IF MORE THAN TWO ARE COMING TO DINNER?
If you're cooking for a group, be sure to
check out the Recipe Database for ideas. You might try cooking
up a batch of Cioppino with all the fish that is currently in
season and serving it with a big bowl of hot pasta or polenta;
or you might want to toss a couple pounds of mussels on a hot
skillet and roast a crab for a seafood feast. Whatever you do,
LAMB TENDERLOIN in PUFF PASTRY
recipe covers the tenderloin with the rich, earthy notes of pate
and mushrooms and surrounds it with a buttery wrap of puff
pastry for a dish that is simple yet magnificent.
Lamb Tenderloin in Puff Pastry
• 8 ounce lamb tenderloin
• 4 ounces assorted mushrooms (crimini & shitake make a good
• 3 ounces pork or duck pate
• 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
• 3 tablespoons herb mustard (or stoneground, if the other is
• 2 sheets puff pastry dough (frozen)
• 1 egg white
• 1 handful mixed baby greens
• 1 tablespoon lemon-infused olive oil (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Farenheit).
Clean and chop the mushrooms. Place into a food processor
and blend for 60 seconds, until the mushrooms are blended into a
chunky paste. In a small mixing bowl, combine the pate with the
mushrooms until chunky-smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the
mustard together with the chopped mint.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and sear
the tenderloin for 2 minutes on each side, until the meat has
changed color on the outer edge. Remove the tenderloin to a
plate and paste the top and sides with the mint-mustard, using a
pastry brush or the back of a spoon.
Next, spread the mushroom-pate mixture evenly over the top of
the tenderloin. Lay the tenderloin on a clean, cool surface
and place the pastry dough over the top; fold the ends of the
dough neatly underneath the bottom edge of the meat. Using a
smooth spatula, carefully lift the wrapped meat to a lightly
oiled baking dish and place in the middle.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white together with 1
tablespoon of water to form an egg wash; brush over the top of
the pastry dough. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the
dough is golden brown and shiny on top. Remove and let rest for
5 minutes; slice through the middle, then slice in half again.
Place mixed greens on serving plate and arrange the lamb
on top. If desired, dot with a few drops of lemon-infused olive
oil. Serve immediately.
KUMQUATS & GREEN GRAPES FROZEN IN
After polishing off lobster carbonara and
lamb tenderloin, your palate needs something cool and
refreshing! This colorful, tangy-sweet fruit combination is just
the thing to get you in the mood for the cheese course.
• 1 dozen kumquats (preferably organic), rinsed and dried
• 1/2 pound organic green grapes, rinsed and dried
• 1 lime
• 3 teaspoons sugar
• Several sprigs of mint
In a heavy pint glass, muddle the mint with the sugar;
cut the lime in half and squeeze each half into the glass with a
Place the grapes and kumquats into a freezer-safe container.
Pour the lime-mint syrup over the top and toss several times to
coat the fruit completely. Cover the bowl and place in the
freezer for 30 minutes to 2 hours, or until the fruit is
partially or completely frozen.
Remove the fruit from the freezer 5 minutes before serving
and place into a small, decorative bowl. Try feeding them to
A DECADENT CHEESE COURSE for TWO
cheese course is so much fun that sometimes I make a light
dinner of it with a bottle of wine and some fruit. Have fun at
your local cheese counter; ask lots of questions; sample
anything that sounds good; don't be afraid to experiment!
ASSEMBLING THE CHEESE PLATTER: You'll want at least three
different cheeses for this course; depending on your mood, you
might splurge and go for five. I recommend that you arrange them
in order of strength; begin tasting with the most mild cheese,
and slowly work your way through to the strongest. Here are a
few of my favorites to get you started; you should buy 3-4 ounce
wedges of each cheese you select.
• A soft, mild cheese such as a triple-cream Brie (St.
Andre is our favorite) or Camembert
• A soft, semi-strong cheese such as Tallegio or Chevre
• A semi-hard mild cheese, such as an Asiago, Swiss,
Havarti, or the super-yummy English Cotswald with chives.
• A hard, strong cheese, such as a cave-aged Gruyere,
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Aged Farmhouse Cheddar.
• A blue cheese. Stilton or Gorgonzola are both good
choices; if you've never experimented with blue, you'll be
surprised how much variation there is; from the pungent Roaring
Forties Blue to the creamy-tangy Point Reyes Blue, there are
lots to choose from.
To Accompany the Cheese: A range of sweet and salty
accompaniments is advised... we like preserved sour-tart
cherries, salty-sharp cornichons and a couple of homemade
"marmalades" of onions and figs that make the flavors of the
cheese really pop!
• 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into thin rings
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup red wine
In a skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and add
the onions, stirring occasionally until onions become
translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the butter; a
moment or two later, add the wine; as it begins to evaporate,
reduce heat. Allow the onions to slowly become soft and
carmelized, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and place into
a small serving bowl. Refrigerate; remove just before serving.
- 4-5 figs, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup port
- 1 blood orange, cut in half
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat; add
the figs. Stir every minute or so, allowing the figs to soften
and bubble. Add the port; stir as the alcohol evaporates.
Squeeze the juice from the blood orange halves into the skillet.
Add the cinnamon. Reduce heat; allow the mixture to slowly
reduce and thicken, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and
place in a small bowl; refrigerate until serving.
Pumpernickle & Brioche Toast:
- 1 small loaf freshly baked pumpernickle bread
- 2 brioche
Slice the pumpernickle bread into 1/4" slices. Using a
serrated knife, cut the brioche into slices. Lightly toast both
breads just before the cheese course; place into a cloth-covered
basket next to the cheese platter for serving.
If you can't find pumpernickle or fresh brioche, try a loaf of
good white bread;cut into 1/4" slices and press a juice glass
into the middle to form rounds. Toast the rounds and serve.
I like to sprinkle the cheese platter with shelled nuts;
pistachios and toasted hazlenuts are a couple of my favorites.
Almonds and walnuts work well, too. The addition of some dried
fruit - cranberries, cherries or apricots - makes another
delicious and colorful addition.
You are receiving this email because you're a fan
of food and romance...You think life is a sensual adventure, and you
hope to nibble and sip your way to bliss. We hope this helps. If you're
hungry for more, head straight to our
Copyright 2004 • Sex and the Kitchen, Inc. • All Rights Reserved.