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Friday, October 19, 2012

'Autumn Delights' First Dinner in RVA!

October 12, 2012 ... kicked off the first 'tablenosh' underground dinner in Richmond, Virginia.  The tablenosh concept is bringing different people together around a table of good food, to enjoy an 'in-home dining' experience.  And from what I could tell that is just what happened :)
For this dinner I really tried to focus on using local, seasonal and organic ingredients.  It was exciting to use sweet potatoes, butternut squash, arugula and fresh herbs from my very own garden!  Other veggies and apples were sourced from local farms, including Critzer Farm (Afton, VA) and Frog Bottom Farm (Appomattox, VA) and the menu was also supplemented by our local organic grocery store.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the menu and hopefully the noshers were too!!  We opened the evening with a splash of local hard cider, from the new cider house in my very own hometown of Nelson County, VA.  The cider is called 'bold rock' and I think it is delicious.  They use local apples and have one of the best cider brewmasters in the world all the way from New Zealand.  It is a smooth and refreshing drink, and it's apple season, so I thought sipping on this was just perfect.
The starter for the evening was my very own creation of a butternut squash fritter serve with a spiced crème fraîche dipping sauce.  They were pretty simple to make, with sauteed onions, grated butternut and seasoned with cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and fresh cilantro.  

Next was the Kale Salad - which consisted of chopped kale, arugula, roasted sweet potatoes, feta and slivered almonds tossed in olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and red wine vinegar.  

The main dish was one of my personal favorites that I discovered in Australia, homemade Chicken, Leek & Mushroom pies with a puff pastry topping.  Alongside Roasted Parsnip, Garlic & Potato Mash with Pan-fried Asparagus.  This is a pretty rich and creamy pie, but so yummy and warming, especially good for autumn and winter meals.

The dessert trio was a definite hit among the noshers and consisted of good harvest flavors - Apple & Pear Crumble, Home-made Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a Warm Date Cake drizzled with Salted Caramel Sauce.

We finished with fresh brewed coffee using Richmond's local Lamplighter Coffee Beans and a special dessert wine from The Kluge Estate.  It was a great night and I am so thankful for all who came to kick off the beginning of the tablenosh 'underground dining' adventures here in Richmond, Virginia.

Next Up for Tablenosh...
*Stay tuned, I am working on a Tablenosh Fundraiser 'Cocktail Style' Event with heavy appetizers, sweets, drinks, live music and more!  We are in the process of adopting a baby and are hoping to raise some financial support.  Date TBD (hopefully mid-November).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Small Bites & Sweet Treats...Tablenosh Caters

Last month tablenosh had the joy of catering a 40th surprise birthday party for a new friend! She was looking for someone who could make good hors d'oeuvres, some sweet treats and a birthday cake for her darling hubby - and he was totally surprised, which was even more awesome!

I was very excited because in terms of catering, this was right up my alley and exactly what I like to do - small bites and sweet treats!  I pulled out a few of my favorites as well as doing some new things.  The cake was a slight twist from the wedding cake I made for my sister in July.  And I was truly amazed that it turned out even better, I really just need to work on the decorating part!

First up on the menu were some assorted canapes and Spanish Meatballs.  These were followed by Chipotle Chicken Skewers w/Cilantro Dipping Sauce and Soy, Ginger & Sesame Chicken Skewers.  The chipotle skewers were a new recipe I had worked on earlier in the week and was very pleased with, the dipping sauce worked perfectly to cool down the spice of the chipotles! 

Next up were my favorite Truffled Risotto Balls with tomato jam, which always seem to be a hit.  And then came my finale which was a bite-sized Shrimp & Grit spoon.  This was a new little vision I had and thought the concept came together very well - soft creamy grits, topped with a flavorful shrimp that was sauteed in butter, garlic, roasted peppers and some old bay seasoning.  Delish.

 To finish on a sweet note I we had fresh berry tartlets and keylime pie bites!  And of course there was CAKE - chocolate cake, stuffed with fresh raspberries and mocha mousse, covered in dark chocolate ganache was pretty darn yummy if I do say so myself (so yummy I was kicking myself for not taking a piece home!!)


It was great to be in the kitchen cooking again...thanks Elizabeth for a great night!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Launching in Richmond

Okay, I am taking the risk, making the leap, going for it...and finally launching the very first Tablenosh underground dinner in my home in Richmond, VA.

If you live in the Richmond area and want to join us for the First Tablenosh dinner it will be Friday, October 12 at 7pm.  Send me an email to book a spot

The way it works:  book a seat, bring a bottle of wine to share, enjoy new people and some 'in-home' dining delighting in good food, drink and conversation.  Tablenosh operates from donations, so bring some cash to throw in the donations bucket if you feel inclined!

Hoping it will be a great night featuring some local virginia produce that the autumn season brings and that this will be the first of many great nights noshing with the RVA community!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wedding Cake # 3

I have continued on the cake-making journey and recently completed my third wedding cake, made for my little sister's wedding.  Overall I will say I was very pleased with the finished product, well at least the inside which is the most important part if you ask me!

It was a chocolate cake brushed with a chambord (raspberry) syrup, filled with vanilla bean pastry cream and fresh raspberries and had vanilla meringue butter-cream icing.  This cake was a very good find and indeed the best chocolate cake I have ever made!  I found the recipe on another blog in which she raved about it being the best chocolate cake that stayed moist for days.  So, I gave it a shot and was very pleased to discover she was right! (The recipe is on Barefoot Contessa's site if you are interested - I think the trick was the buttermilk and cup of coffee.)

The pastry cream filling was one of my personal favorites which is basically just making vanilla bean custard on the stove-top and then adding lots of whipped cream to it.  I cut the raspberries in half and folded them into the cream mixture and spread that over the cake.  This cake was also the first time I have tried three cake layers rather than two, which I think helps keep the cake moist and gives a good taste of all the flavors. I was a little worried it might topple over but thankfully it held together with the help of the cake dowels!

I can't say I did an excellent job on the icing as I still need to get myself to an actual class so I can learn how to do this properly.  The fresh flowers helped it look a little better and hopefully by the time I do this again I will have some training under my belt!

At this stage my next cake order is not until March so I have a little more time to learn some tricks, although if you are in need of a cake just give me a call, it is of course my pleasure to give it a shot!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summertime brings Peaches!

I had completely forgotten how dreadfully hot and humid Virginia can get in the summer!  There is also a heat wave happening at the moment, so maybe that is why it is so unbearable. Not to mention the storms last week in which we lost our power...that is really I was really wishing I had a gas stove.

The good news about summertime is peaches and berries, two of my favorite kinds of fruit.  And a great combination to make some yummy desserts.  I have been working on trying to make the perfect peach-blueberry (or blackberry) cobbler, I just made one for the 4th of July and I was very pleased with the filling but I think the cobbler topping definitely could have been better.

The key to the filling was using dark brown sugar and a little lemon juice on the fruit, I let it sit at room temperature for a while before baking it.  The topping was a cornmeal/biscuit topping.  I think it needed more butter and maybe another tablespoon of sugar and I was not convinced about using cornmeal.  Next time I am going to go for a completely different approach and compare the two.

This summer I have also been endeavoring to make homemade ice-cream, which can be amazing if you get it right.  I don't think I have a really good recipe perfected yet, but am going to keep trying.  And homemade vanilla ice-cream and peach cobbler are a pretty darn good combination!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ginger-Soy Salmon, Salad and Sweets

I did another salmon dish the other night along with some veggies straight from my garden.  I marinated the salmon in a ginger-soy sauce which was very easy to make and delicious.

Ginger-Soy Marinade
Fresh Ginger Peeled and Sliced (about 2-3 Tablespoons)
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Sesame Seeds (for topping)

I chopped all these ingredients together in my food processor and poured it over the fish and then sprinkled sesame seeds on top and baked it at 400 F for 12-15 minutes.  I served it alongside sauteed mushrooms & kale (from garden), I used a little bit of the soy marinade in this and mixed in some sesame seeds.  The broccoli was picked fresh from my garden and lightly steamed.  This was a healthy, fresh and delightful meal.

I have also been experimenting with salads as I have so many varieties of lettuce growing in the garden.  This one has arugula, mango, avocado, goats cheese, pine nuts and a cilantro (coriander) pesto dressing.  A great salad for the summer!  Another winner is fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, avocado, arugula and pine nuts tossed in a basil pesto dressing.

A few other things coming out of my kitchen lately have been more on the sweet side.  Pear & Raspberry Crumble, Keylime Pie (whole egg) and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting.

I was very excited about making this keylime pie recipe because it is completely from scratch and does not use condensed milk.  I snagged the recipe from my aunt who is known for her keylime pie.  I think next time I will add an extra splash of key-lime juice and zest, but otherwise this was fabulous.  It is also nice served with fresh raspberries.  I made a gluten-free crust that was a real experiment as I was determined to just use what I had in the pantry.  If you are interested in this recipe just let me know and I will post it up!

Friday, April 27, 2012

straight from our garden

Even though I have been pretty uninspired to cook these days, I must say growing our own food is helping.  We have so many good things growing in our garden at the moment (thanks to my mother and husband).  I am not the gardener in the family, but am happy to use what comes along.

We have been enjoying greens from our garden every day for the past week, spinach, lettuce, arugula (rocket), as well as a variety of herbs, especially the cilantro (coriander).  So, last night I decided to use up some of the cilantro and make a pesto with it.  We had baked salmon with cilantro pesto (recipe below), baby greens, and roasted red pepper with quinoa.  It was actually quite delicious and I am usually not a big salmon fan.

The sugar peas are also growing, as well as tomatoes, broccoli, squash and hopefully my beets survived the nibbling it got from the bunny.  Yes, there is a bunny that seems to be enjoying my garden too!  If the garden continues to grow the way it is, it will be hard to keep up but I am excited to live off our least a little bit.

Cilantro (Coriander) Pesto
3 garlic cloves
2 cups cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (or almonds)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and add salt & pepper to taste.  These measurements are a bit of a guess so feel free to tweak it to your taste!

(You can also add chili flakes to give this a bit of spice and you can substitute almonds, walnuts or another nut of your choice).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Table Talk

Since I have not been able to consistently blog for a while and cooking has been put on the 'back burner' (no pun intended), I have decided to share what is really going on in my kitchen.  I am calling this 'Table Talk' - real sharing of real life, real heartache and real hurt.  I know that in most social situations especially at a table full of strangers it would probably not seem kosher to spill your heart and go deep.  But I also know it is usually this type of conversation that takes friendship to new levels and you often realize you are not alone as you think in whatever it is you are going through.

So, I am going to put myself out there and share what my world is really like, because at the moment that is all I have to put on the 'table' - no fancy four course dinner, just my story.  The past few years and 6 months in particular have been the hardest times of my 32 years thus far.  And I have been extremely grateful for cooking as a therapeutic outlet as well as for friends, a loving husband and faith to carry me when I have been unable to carry myself.

Almost four years ago my husband and I starting trying to's weird how as a female I never really thought much about not being able to get pregnant, but have probably been picturing myself as a mom since the age of five.  These years have opened my eyes to a world of pain, grief, sadness and helplessness that I did not know existed.  I heard it mentioned that sometimes it takes a while to get pregnant and sometimes people are not able too, but I never really thought how that would make someone feel or that I would be the one in those shoes.

So, after numerous attempts of different fertility treatment, months and months of waiting and watching what seems like everyone around me get pregnant, I am exhausted.  I am exhausted from being hopeful, exhausted from processing, exhausted from waiting, exhausted from dealing with bitterness, exhausted from every aspect of this journey and this is where I sit.  No new recipes or dinner parties on the calendar but just doing my best to deal with the hand I have been dealt.

I am so thankful for tablenosh and the joy that cooking and people have brought to me over the past few years and I certainly hope that my Nosh dinners and kitchen experiments are not over, just on pause...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The 'Creme Brulee' Cart!!!

Last week while visiting friends in San Francisco I came across the coolest thing ever!!  For those of you who don't know, creme brulee is my favorite dessert in the world.  So, when I spotted the 'creme brulee' cart you should have seen excitement in my eyes.  And even though I had just eaten icecream about an hour before, there was NO way I was passing this by.

The cart was absolutely adorable!  It is totally mobile and can relocate all over town (they also have a creme brulee truck) and they have different creme brulee flavors each day.  I ended up chatting with the guy who was running it for a while before making my decision about which flavor to order.

I finally decided on the 'nutella & strawberry' which they called 'The Yes Please' - it was delicious, the creme brulee master torches the sugar right there on the spot and you get the warm brulee crust with the cold creamy creme underneath.  And even better when I finally ordered they gave it to me on the house!!  So not only good creme brulee, but great customer service.  If you are ever in San Fran check it out

I have totally been inspired. So am adding this one to my list of ideas...what do you think of Tablenosh 'coffee, cake and creme brulee' look out Richmond!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Good Coffee in Richmond!

For those of you who are not aware of the coffee 'scene' happening in Australia, I wish you could experience it!  I learned so much about coffee while living there, which included a lot of tasting. It seems to me, what we Americans call 'coffee' is pretty much a different drink to what a Sydney-sider considers coffee.  For instance most Australians do not even own drip coffee machines and consider our drip coffee to be pretty disgusting (I just think of it as different!).  The Aussies usually use a french press in their homes or they have home espresso makers.  A good coffee for them is what we would call an espresso drink and sadly enough you can hardly find them any place other than starbucks in the US and believe me starbucks does NOT actually make a good latte.

But low and behold I have been on the mission of finding a good coffee since being back in the states and so far I have found 2 places!  The first one was called French Broad Chocolate located in Ashville, NC, they also had really good chocolate treats.
 And the second one we discovered today right here in Richmond, VA...hallelujah!  I was so pleased when I took a sip of my was rich, smooth and delightful.  The cafe is called Lamplighter Roasting Company, it was definitely a hip and happening spot.

One of my many dreams has been to open a little cafe of my own someday and serve good coffee (as well as good food).  But for now I am going to concentrate on finding some 'tablenosh' customers in Richmond and maybe in the meantime get a good espresso machine we can use at home (to hone my skills).

Discovering the food and coffee scene in Richmond is going to take some time, but I think we are off to a good start.  By the time we get some visitors from Sydney I should have a few good spots to take them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 Finished

Well it's about darn time I posted something!  Let's just say the last few months I have been a little busy moving to the other side of the world!! We did safely arrive and are doing our best to settle into Richmond, Virginia.  I am not quite sure what the food scene is like here, but am certainly looking forward to finding out.

Upon our arrival, I have done a bit of cooking and probably more dining out, both of which I have enjoyed.  With a bit of help, I managed to pull off a casual Christmas dinner for our family.  My mom worked as my sous chef, she was excellent and it was also pretty fun to be in the kitchen with her.

The menu consisted of:
Roasted Turkey w/ gravy, Cornbread StuffingMacaroni & Cheese (my Aunt Isa made this), Cranberry Chutney (also made by my Aunt), Baby Spinach Salad (w/ roasted sweet potato's, beets, caramelized walnuts & goats cheese), Baby Peas and Warm Dinner Rolls.  And for dessert we had a ton of cookies and an apple/raspberry crumble w/vanilla ice cream.  It was a perfect little feast with the family and needless to say there was lots of leftover turkey.

Then there was New Year's Eve, which we spent with an old friend of mine who lives in Washington DC.  He had a few friends over for dinner to finish off 2011 and bring in the new year!  Little did I know what a feast we were in for (Josh is a fabulous cook).  I was in charge of appetizers which I kept pretty simple with some spinach & artichoke dip and a few canapes.

It was definitely a rich evening in terms of the eating and drinking.  Josh kicked the night off with some kind of snazzy cocktail, I cannot remember what it was called but I only had a sip, it was not a weak one!

After the appetizers came a slow-roasted pork belly which he served alongside some sauteed red cabbage, it was delicious (and I don't usually eat pork)   Then we had a lobster risotto (made with fresh lobsters) and a baby spinach salad w/strawberries & crumbled goats cheese.  By the time dessert was ready I think everyone was too full to eat another bite. 
This is before he was steamed
 It was an evening filled with some fabulous food as well as company!  He has the perfect house (an AMAZING kitchen) to do a tablenosh dinner so I am hoping tablenosh might just make it to DC in 2012...I just need to convince him to let me use his kitchen and round up a few guests!

So, what's next for tablenosh?  At this stage I am settling into our new home and thinking up all kinds of ideas that involve food... maybe some personal catering, cooking classes, wedding cakes, farmer's markets and of course I am hoping to get some dinners happening soon.  That's it for now, so here's to good eating in the USA and whatever 2012 is gonna bring...just hoping it's yummy!