- A Night In Paris Birthday Party
- A Christmas Party
- A Client Appreciation Evening
- A Night in Paris Birthday Party
- Thanksgiving Dinner at the Farm in Fort Langley
- Beef Bourguignon
- The Room Launch Party with Hawksworth Restaurant
- Hummingbird Cupcakes
- Italian Pressed Sandwich
- Pan Seared Halibut with Pea Puree and Lemon Salsa
My dear friend Rebecca came to me last month and asked me to help put together a Parisian themed birthday party for her, so last Saturday we got to work transforming her place into a space right out of le Marais! We served champagne in small coups and had Parisian inspired floral.
As people arrived, we started with French cheese and a charcuterie platter. Dinner followed with short ribs, pomme Dauphinoise, prawn gratin, and a mixed green salad. To finish, we shared chocolate coconut and raspberry macaron, and Rebecca blew the candles out on a three layered chocolate fudge cake with raspberry buttercream.
I was asked to cater a Thanksgiving feast this year, out at my friend’s family farm in Fort Langley. I always go to each event with the hopes that I’ll have time to dash out with my camera and take some quick shots of what I’ve done, but I’ve come to discover that when the time comes for the food to be served, thinking of taking pictures is the last thing on my mind.
What that means is, this time, you’ll have to take me on my word when I say that the event was a success! I did manage to sneak out to take a few shots of the set-up before things got started.
We served both free range turkey and ham, had a appetizer buffet as well as a dessert buffet and lot’s of sides and stuffing. I’ve been asked to cater their Christmas dinner as well, and promise to get some food shots then!
I’ve come to realize that that my food cravings have a direct correlation to what’s happening outside my window each day. While I felt slightly cheated this past summer (two terrible summers in a row Vancouver, really?!), it seems Mother Nature is doing her best to make it up to us with some brilliant crisp fall days. And let me tell you, hot Vancouver summers are great but give me a crisp sunny fall afternoon any day and I’m happy! However, one thing that remains the same, rain or shine; my cravings in fall towards cosy comfort foods.
I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. I served it with my favourite mashed potato recipe (mmmm, mashed potatoes and stew, sooo cosy!!) but you could serve it with baby potatoes or crusty bread, whatever starch you like best!
While it calls for a Dutch Oven, I’m sure you could use a stock pot with a tight fitting lid, or even tin foil. I, of course, used this recipe as an excuse to get the beautiful Strauss Dutch oven I’d been coveting for months!
1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) good quality beef broth (I get mine from my local butcher)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound fresh pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
2 cups frozen sweetlet peas
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Skim fat from pan until you have about 2tbs. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for 2 hours. Check the liquid level and as if it’s getting dry, add more stock. Increase the heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes.
Remove the stew from the oven and place on an element on medium heat. Combine 6 tablespoons of butter and the flour in a small bowl. Add some of the liquid from the stew to the butter/flour mixture. Mix to combine and add the slurry back to the stew. Add the blanched pearl onions to the stew. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, steam your frozen peas on the stovetop, or microwave.
5lbs Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
Maldon salt & freshly ground pepper
Peel and cube the potatoes and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain and mash or rice, depending on what texture you’re looking for. Add milk, sour cream, butter and salt & pepper, and check seasoning.
Place a healthy serving of mashed potatoes in your bowl, top it with stew, freshly steamed peas and chopped fresh parsley.
Wow, have the last few months been crazy busy! All of it has been very exciting for me, it feels like the ball has really started to roll for Erin McGuire Events, and I couldn’t be happier!!
Saying that, I do feel slightly guilty for having such a HUGE gap in my posts, so while December promises to be even bussier (yippie!!) I’m going to do my best to keep you updated on what’s happening as well as what I’ve worked on.
I was very lucky to work with the Hawksworth team on a number of events for The Bay Vancouver this past October, the highlight of which was the launch of their new space, The Room. If you have not yet ventured up to the newly revamped and renovated second floor, then ladies, do yourself a favour and go check it out. Honestly, I couldn’t believe I was still in the Bay! Granted, most everything in there is well beyond my current budget, but the clothes/bags/shoes are definitely swoon-worthy!
Hawksworth was contracted to cater the event and I was brought on help with the on-site management of the event. To get an idea of how it turned out, check out the video below;
I think that everyone must their favourite go-to site on-line that they check out often, when they just want to relax and soak in what’s happening. My fall back is Tastspotting, I am on there at least once a day, I love scanning through all the delicious creations people are making out there in their own homes and gaining inspiration from them. I have all my favourite recipes bookmarked and saved into folders, and every time I see something showstopping, I add it to my list of things I’d like to try out myself!
This cupcake was one of those recipes. Now I don’t know about you, but cupcakes have never really grabbed me. But the moment I spotted this delectable creation on Annie’s Eats and new I had to try it out for myself. I LOVE the dried pineapple that’s used as garnish, it’s definitely something you don’t often see, and it aligns with my criteria of being both beautiful and delicious (fondant, you’re not welcome here!). Add to that the cream cheese icing and the moist, dense banana, coconut and pineapple cake – you’ve got yourself one tasty cupcake. Consider me a convert!
Makes approximately 20 cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
11 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F
Line muffin pans with your choice of liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, vanilla, and sugar and beat until blended and smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the mashed banana. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the pineapple and coconut with a spatula until evenly mixed.
Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. (I found that I needed more icing sugar than required in the recipe for the icing to ensure it was stiff enough to use. This can also be dependent on the temperature (hello summer!) so you may need to throw the bowl of icing in the fridge to stiffen it up a bit.) Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Refrigerate cupcakes.
I’ve seen many variations of pressed sandwiches, or muffulettas, and thought it was about time that I tried one out for myself. As it was going to be a perfect beach day on Saturday, I ran into my favourite local Italian deli (Cioffi’s on Hastings) and picked up all my favourite items on Friday to make the perfect picnic lunch! Along with my pressed sandwiches, we feasted on balsamic onions, cherries, chips and my banana coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (which were delicious, recipe to be posted soon!).
I didn’t stick to a traditional recipe, instead I just picked my favourite meats and cheeses. You can really consider this sandwich a blank canvas – go nuts with whatever your favourite sandwich fillers are. Just keep in mind that everything is going to be compressed all night in the fridge, so fresh using veg isn’t really ideal. You also don’t want anything too wet, as you’ll end up with a soggy sannie the next day. And nobody likes a soggy sannie!
Erin’s Italian Pressed Sandwich
1 large ciabatta loaf
1 cup green olive salad
1 cup hot eggplant strips
4 slices provolone
8 slices good prosciutto
8 slices spicy salami
6 slices grilled marinated zucchini
4 roasted red peppers
Maldon salt & pepper
Start by slicing the ciabatta in half, and scooping out some of the bread to create a cavity in the loaf. I put the olive salad on the bottom, which I’d bought directly from the deli – if you’d prefer to make your own, you can absolutely do so. Then I followed with my cheese, veggies, meats and finally, a good grind of fresh black pepper and Maldon salt.
Place the sandwich on a plate and wrap the whole plate in plastic wrap. Without ripping the plastic wrap, place one large can on top of your plastic wrapped sandwich (use whatever you have in your pantry that will work, I used a can of tomatoes). Tightly wrap the plastic wrap over the can to keep the pressure on the sandwich. Place in your fridge over night, unwrap and slice the next day for lunch!
I love halibut! And what better time to have such a delicious, summery dish than when summer’s decided to disappear and the rain once again returned to Vancouver. But I won’t complain, looks like the sun will be back soon enough, just in time for the weekend!
I’m also a huge fan of peas, and this mint, spinach and pea purée was so fresh and tasty, it really balanced well with the halibut.
2 6oz halibut fillets
1 tsp thinly sliced flat leaf parsley
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp lemon zest (I use my microplane, make you life easy and if you don’t have one already, get one!)
1 cup frozen peas (you can use fresh, but why bother, the frozen petit pois are delish, cheaper and hassle free)
1/3 cup frozen peas – to add at finish
1 cup fresh pea shoots/sprouts/tendrils
¾ cup (packed) fresh spinach leaves
¼ cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
2 tsp vegetable oil
Generous pinch sugar
Maldon salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Preserved Lemon Salsa
1 preserved lemon (I got mine from Whole Foods, any Mediterranean market should carry them also)
4 tsp finely chopped shallot
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
Pinch of Maldon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp thinly sliced flat leaf parsley
¾ tsp honey
Sprinkle the fish with the parsley, thyme and lemon zest. Cover and chill, min 2hrs.
Prepare a large bowl with ice bath. Fill a large pot with salted boiling water; blanch peas for 1 min, or until cooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked peas to ice bath. Blanch spinach and mint in the same pot of boiling water, 5 – 10 seconds. Transfer to ice bath with peas. Reserve ½ cup ice water. Drain pea mixture. Purée mixture in a blender, adding reserved ice water if mixture is too thick. Add oil and sugar; purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into saucepan for reheating later.
Cut peel from the flesh of the preserved lemon and thinly slice. If you can’t find a preserved lemon, regular lemon zest will suffice. Put shallot, vinegar and pinch of salt in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add sliced peel, oil, parsley and honey; whisk to blend. Season lemon salsa with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375°. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in non-stick frying pan. On medium high heat, pan sear the halibut, skin side up, for 2 min. Flip to the skin side down and transfer pan into oven for 5 min, or until fish is cooked to your liking. Remember, the fish will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the oven!
Rewarm purée over medium heat. Stir in peas; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add pea tendrils; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Divide mixture between 2 warmed plates. Top with halibut and lemon salsa.
(Adapted from Bon Appetit June 2011)
Now that summer seems to have finally come to Vancouver, I find myself shifting towards easy meals that are light and full of flavour. While I wouldn’t consider myself a vegetarian, I can happily eat 2 – 3 meals a week that are meat free, and this one’s a perfect example. As long as there’s lot’s of flavour and I’m not left feeling hungry, I’m happy! That and I’m a sucker for any meal that includes a succulent, runny poached egg! Deloosh!
This dish could easily be made for breakfast, and one mushroom could suffice per person. I have, of course, made it for dinner and devoured the two Portobello’s myself!
2 Large Portobello mushrooms
2 tsp Extra Virgin olive oil
1 tsp Chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp Chopped fresh thyme
Maldon salt & fresh ground pepper
2 Free range eggs
2 Plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Small shallot, diced
½ Jalapeno, seeded and diced
Drizzle Extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs Fresh cilantro, chopped
Maldon salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat over to 400º F (200º C)
2. Remove mushroom stems, and with a small spoon scrape out the gills of the mushroom caps. Place mushrooms, cup side down, on rimed baking sheet. Mix chopped herbs into olive oil and pour over mushroom caps. Bake in oven for 10 – 15 min.
3. For the salsa: combine chopped tomatoes with shallot, jalapeno, olive oil and cilantro. If desired, the salsa can be served hot or cold. If serving hot, heat a nonstick pan on medium high heat and sweat salsa until heated through. Add cilantro after heated.
4. Bring a large, deep skillet of water to a simmer. Stir the water and drop the eggs into the center of the swirling water, one at a time. Poach eggs for 3 – 5 min. until the whites are set, but the yokes are still runny (or increase the cook time if you prefer a fully cooked yoke – though I’d call you crazy!).
5. Plate the cooked Portobello mushrooms, and using a slotted spoon, drain the poached eggs and place one in each mushroom cap. Top with hot or cold salsa.
(Adapted from the 1999 issue of Canadian Living Meals in Minutes)