Monthly Archives: March 2012

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Planning a tea party

A baby shower tea party, 2009

As you know, I am the youngest of 6 daughters. My older sisters are all happily married with children, and the majority of them have full-time jobs.  Even though 2 of them don’t work full-time but part-time and volunteer, I consider each one of them to be Super Heros.  They are Wonder Women and Super Moms and  I aspire to be as balanced as they are some day.  They make meals for their families, pack their kids’ and husbands’ lunches, go to work or volunteer, take their kids to music and sports practice, help the kids with homework and extra curricular activities (suzuki music classes), and since most of them are spiritual they go to their respective places of worship at least once a week.  They have balance and the ones that work full-time especially, do not complain – they just do what they have to do for the good of their family.  My sisters are sort of like professional athletes for a championship team – they perform with intensity and passion, both offensively and defensively, so the whole team can win.

Last weekend, my oldest sister, who happens to be a highly regarded internal medicine doctor, pulled off  cooking and preparing tea sandwiches and sweets for a tea party she threw for her 9 year old daughter in 1 day.  Since 2 of my sisters and I have much experience throwing tea parties in southern California, we were able to provide our sister, who lives in northern California with some guidance.  I asked her if she really wanted to do this, or if she wanted to go the catering route.  She felt it was important and a special touch to prepare it all herself, even though she has little to no experience cooking, prepping pastries and tea sandwiches.

A month in advance we told her what she needed to make it a memorable tea party, and advised her to get those things in order before the party.  Also, to clip her Michael’s craft store coupons every week and to buy something for the party every week from Michaels, just to be frugal.  First, she needed to send out the invitations. While she awaited responses, I suggested to get the following items in order.

-High tea hats and gloves to dress up in (my sister, Marie, makes these and will one day sell them on my site)

-Tiered plate stands, cake stands, or bowls with plates on them to add interest to the tablescape

-Plan the flowers for the table

-Tea cups and tea spoons

-Provide real plates, not paper plates (as you put in so much effort and thought to make it lovely – don’t spoil it with a flimsy paper plate). Pretty napkins

-Tea kettles or a percolator to warm water

-Plan which teas, beverages you will be serving

-Sugar cubes

-Have enough chairs and table space for each guest

-Draw the plan out – tables and settings with the flowers and tiered plates

-Plan for music  (I love playing Getz and Gilberto or harp, or string-type music)

-If inviting parents, plan menu for them too.

-If you need a helper to re-stock the plates or pour water, ask your family or in-laws, or your housekeeper (and pay her) to assist and to dress appropriately for the event.

-Plan your menu, gather your recipes, write a grocery list

Tea party gloves... the fingers are cut off so it's easier to eat... These are such a cute touch. My sister, Marie, made these. Let me know if you'd like to order some. :)

She has good follow through and is very efficient so did all these things.  The problem was, she was going to Palm Springs for her childrens’ tennis stuff, and would not get back home until the late afternoon before the party.  She called me from the airport, asking me to walk her through how to make the food. Then at 7pm, the night before the party, after she purchased the ingredients, she called me from Michaels to ask what kind of piping bag she needed and what tips to use.  I told her she should have just bought the cheap plastic ones from the grocery store since she’ll probably never use them again.

At that point, I could feel her stress, so told her to do a few semi-homemade things to make her job easier.  I’ll cut to the point.  Like I said, she’s a Super Mom and she pulled an all-nighter, something I do not recommend, and she pulled off a very lovely tea party for her daughter, her 14 girlfriends, and their parents at 3pm on a Sunday.

Here was her menu…and I added a few other items, in case you want to use them for ideas for your tea parties.  I will share recipes in the coming days.

Tea Sandwiches and other Savory food-

Curried chicken salad

Cucumber Mint

Salmon Dill

Ham and Swiss

Egg Salad

Mini Quiches – ham and gruyere, spinach and gruyere

Mini siopao

Mini empanadas

 

Sweets-

Mini Fruit Tart

Currant scones

Chocolate truffles

Amaretti raspberry cookies

Mini brownies

Mini red velvet cupcakes

Angel Food cake with Lemon Icing

Mini Lemon Cakes

 

Teas-

Earl Grey

Darjeeling

Herbal Raspberry

Lavendar Tea

Green Tea

and serve with sugar cubes and cream or steamed milk

 

1 picture from my niece's tea party

If you’re planning a tea party, I hope this information helped.  I’ll start posting some recipes soon.  Please let me know if I should add more information regarding planning for a tea party.

I’m going to work out now for an hour before I head over to the Clippers game.  I hope you enjoy this lovely Sunday!

 

The 3nd tea party we ever threw. We will no longer use paper plates, as suggested by one of my readers :)

Marie, refilling the plates with sweets

My mom and me

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Green cake for a green day :)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

According to Wikipedia, today is the day we commemorate Saint Patrick, the most commonly recognized of patron saints of Ireland, and celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.  The day is generally characterized by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.

I am what you call a cafeteria Catholic.  I pick and choose what I want to believe in within the Catholic faith and, as a matter of fact, I happen to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year.

During our marriage preparation, I had a lengthy discussion with our preparing priest about the way I practice. He is praying for me and seems more open-minded than other priests I’ve come across on this topic.  For that, I am grateful.

For this Lenten season, I gave up candy and ice cream and started eating more apples.  Yesterday was Friday and I somewhat fasted- fasted the Amer-Catholic way, which means I didn’t consume meat.  Instead, I enjoyed blueberries, a squeeze of agave with my steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, tomato basil soup with parm crostini for lunch, and made us falafel for dinner.

Today, I will wear green with my LA Clippers gear to the Clipper game, and in the spirit of St. Patrick, probably the most widely celebrated of saints worldwide, I will share my dear friend, Erica O’s, green cake recipe with you.  She and I worked together as accountants at Bank of New York Mellon.  We enjoyed lunching together, taking walks, drinking, dancing, and coffee klasching.  We also organized a few potlucks and I loved when she made her delicious cakes.  One was a real gooey, moist, white cake with raspberry and cream cheese frosting.  The cake recipe I’m going to share with you is a recipe she got from her Grandma.  It’s green and has spots of chocolate goodness.  I love it.  It’s festive and fun!  It’s semi-homemade which means easy peasy, and everyone that I’ve share this with loves it!  It’s moist, dense, a little minty, and chocolately.

I’ve made these in cupcake form and it’s still a delight, but I have to admit going the bundt cake route is even better.  You have to try this!  I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe and this very special day. Cheers!

 

Green Cake

Ingredients

1 box Yellow Cake Mix

1 box Pistachio Pudding Mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup green creme de menthe liquor

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

3/4 to 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients together, except the chocolate chips.  Use electric mixer to combine ingredients.  It should look creamy but don’t over mix. :)  Stir in the chocolate chips.   Pour mixture into a sprayed (Pam cooking spray ) bundt pan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundt_pan).  Make sure the pan is well sprayed or greased or the cake will stick to the pan.  Cook for 55 – 65 minutes at 350 degrees.  Top of cake should be light brown when it comes out of the oven.  Immediately after cake comes out of the oven, transfer cake from the pan to a cooling rack.   Top with powdered sugar and enjoy a piece of heaven!

 

 

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My go-to salad dressing – vinaigrette

Peyman and I almost always have salad before dinner.  Our salads have evolved from ones that look like the photo above, to salads with kale, zucchini and parm salads, to now more commonly Trader Joe’s herb salad, tomatoes, Persian cucumbers and sometimes avocado.  I’ve made a number of salad dressings too.  Brenda’s, my very first client’s, favorite was my champagne vinaigrette.  Then one day I introduced her to the vinaigrette that I’ll be sharing with you and the rest was history.  This is also Peyman’s and my favorite, also something another client enjoys very much with sliced and portabella mushrooms, roasted with green onion on top.  After you’ve made this vinaigrette a few times, you can whip it up in a flash.

Are you ready for it?  Okay, here you go.

First, let me tell you…it helps to have a mortar and pestle so you don’t need to use a knife to chop and mash the first couple of ingredients together.  This vinaigrette can be used to marinade mushrooms, fish and meats with, it can be used as a sauce.  We most commonly just use it for salads.  Our favorite salads are herb salad with Persian cucumber, tomato and avocado;  Persian cucumber, tomato and basil and it is so delicious with a caprese-type salad: fresh mozzarella, basil, heirloom tomatoes.

the BEST VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients

1 clove of garlic

heaping 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt or fleur de sel

1 Tablespoon dried oregano (Trader Joe’s is pretty fresh and delish. Albertson’s is a bit stale.)

1 Tablespoon balsamic  vinegar

1.5 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

 

Directions

In a mortar and pestle, pound oregano, garlic and salt to a paste.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in vinegars.

Whisk in EVOO. Make sure that it’s emulsified before using it.

 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we love it!

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My Favorite Things

 

One of my favorite things - taking a walk. Peyman bites my ear more than kisses me. That's how he shows his love and affection...

My sister Riva introduced me to an application called Pinterest so I can gather all my ideas together without cutting and pasting ideas into MSWord.  This is because about 2-3 months ago I compiled images of wedding inspiration into a Word doc.  I sent it to my sisters for them to see, and Riva sent me the invite to Pinterest.  Oh my, was it life-changing.  I feel more organized and less scatterbrained.  Thank God for it.  I can easily click on my pinned images and be sent back to the websites where I spotted links. Not only that, I can search for certain topics and pin others’ pins onto to my boards too. It’s amazing and yet can be a big time-waster, like Twitter can be.

On Pinterest I’ve posted some wedding planning ideas, a few items on my bucket list, party planning ideas, and a few other pieces of useless information.  Having a “my style” board is pretty useless since I don’t really dress up much anymore :(.. Plus, who has time to look for clothes online?  I’d rather look for inspiration for home, kitchen, garden decor and for ideas on sweet things to do for my loved ones.  It’s a good place to remind myself of a few of my favorite things.

Check it out, http://pinterest.com/yvonnemrod/

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Steamed salmon with garlic, ginger, and green onion

salmon

For a while I had an allergic reaction to salmon, but I kept eating it and built up a tolerance. :)  One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s sinigang (soup) with salmon. It is a little sour from tamarind, spicy from a yellow pepper, and mmm.. so good.  I promise to share that recipe one day.

For now, I’m going to share this very simple and delicious steamed salmon recipe.  Unfortunately, I don’t use exact measurements, just eyeball it, but I will do my best and you can use your best judgement.

They say wild salmon is really good for you and it’s just better for the fish environmentally and so on.. I agree, it’s more humane and less fatty. However, I think fish oil is good for you and I happen to think farmed salmon tastes pretty darn good because it is more fatty.  I might also be overcooking my wild salmon so I have to work on checking up on my salmon earlier than normal. So it’s up to you – buy farmed or wild.

For Peyman and I, I prepare about a pound of salmon, 2 fillets.

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets

fleur de sel or kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1T ginger, minced

2.5 T garlic, minced

2 stalks of green onion

Directions

This tastes better if you prepare it at least 4 hours before steaming, even better overnight.

Place fillet skin side down on steam plate.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over fish.

Slather the ginger and garlic over the fish evenly.

Top with green onion.

Steamer... just a pot with a rack I bought from an Asian market. A wok works better. Please excuse the green onion, I had a bit of spillage

Steamer... just a pot with a rack I bought from an Asian market. A wok works better. Please excuse the green onion, I had a bit of spillage

On high heat, bring water in the pot or wok to a rolling boil and make sure you have a steam rack in it.

Carefully place the steam plate in the pot, lower the heat to medium-low.

Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the fish flakes apart. Depending on the thickness of the fish, cooking times will vary.

It should be tender and custard-like.

Serve with steamed rice.

And top with more green onion.

Enjoy!

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