Up until a few weeks ago, The Dinner Party Association was mostly gatherings around my dinner table. I’ve moved a few times along the way, gotten new tables and made some great friends. It was time for the next step, so I took a big leap into the world of party planning and hosted my very first pop up dinner.
photos by Lindsey Wilson of Owl You Are
I collaborated with my dear friend and chef, Mariana, on everything. We both had our hands in every pot, never leaving just the marketing up to me or the food up to Mariana. We hosted the dinner at Mariana’s beautiful Venice Beach bungalow and chose a Moroccan theme for the menu and decor. I loved picking a theme and running with it, finding the perfect flowers and napkins and dishes along the way. Mariana dreamed up the most gorgeous dishes and completely made them come alive. We started the meal with a dreamy moroccan eggplant tart, followed by a frisée salad, roasted heirloom carrots, garam marsala couscous, a short rib and squash tagine, and coconut spiced rice pudding. It was fun to watch a table of my close friends and new acquaintances eating together, enjoying the food and atmosphere we created.
Giddy, relieved, and exhausted by the end of the night, Mariana and I made a toast before scrubbing some dishes and promptly going to sleep. I think I dreamed of roasted carrots and squash tagine, but I might be mixing that up with real life.
My first pop up was a lot of work but just as much fun. It’s cool for me to watch The Dinner Party Association transform and have this little website to keep track of it all. I’ve got another couple parties (and a post about our party cocktails) in the works, stay tuned!
To read more about our pop up dinner, check out these pretty posts by Owl You Are and Brewing Happiness.
Do you have a treat that marks each season for you? Where it’s not officially summer without an ice cream cone, fall without a pumpkin spice something-or-other, Christmas without a gingerbread man? I’m thinking we should all just toss our calendars and identify the time of year with seasonal treats. Everything would be much easier (and tastier) that way, right?
I dusted off my donut pan this weekend and made some pumpkin donuts. According to my treats-to-seasons theory, this means it’s officially fall! With no gingerbread cravings in sight, it looks like we’re in for a nice long autumn.
baked pumpkin donuts with apple cider frosting
makes 12 donuts
for the donuts:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
for the glaze:
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease two donut pans. Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Add flour, stirring just until smooth. Fill donut wells with about 1/4 cup of batter each. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing donuts from the pan.
For the glaze, heat apple cider on the stove until bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and powdered sugar. Dip one side of the donuts into the frosting and enjoy.
You guys! I hosted my first real (read: not at my dinner table) Dinner Party Association event this past weekend in Venice Beach. It was crazy and exhausting and completely amazing. I teamed up with Chef Mariana Carvallo–this lady does actual magic with food. We spent hours picking a theme, writing a menu, and inviting everyone we know. We scoured thrift stores and restaurant supply warehouses for the perfect dishes and silverware. We ran all over LA searching for purple cloth napkins, picking out flowers, and buying all of the mason jars.
I’ll be writing a proper post with lots of pretty pictures soon, but first things first: dessert. We had a Moroccan themed menu, featuring lots of spices and eggplant and a to-die-for tagine. Mariana cooked the full menu, but left cocktails and dessert up to me. We ended the meal with a bright and comforting rice pudding. Originally a Gordon Ramsay recipe, I adapted it for my vegan friends. Looking for your next fall comfort food dessert? Throw this stuff in a jar and there ya go!
fragrant spiced coconut rice pudding
1 vanilla bean pod
3 cardamom pods (cracked)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cans coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
1 cup arborio rice
optional: coconut flakes & pumpkin pie spice (for topping)
Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and throw into a medium sauce pan. Add cloves, cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick and toast on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Next, pour in coconut milk, water, coconut sugar, and nectar and heat until boiling (I threw in the vanilla bean pod while heating as well). Pick out the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla bean pod and add the arborio rice and zest of one lime. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, for about 25 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat and zest the other lime on top. If not serving immediately, it’s a good idea to have an extra can or two of coconut milk to stir in while reheating. Serve warm and top with coconut flakes and pumpkin pie spice.
Things you should have on Sunday nights in October: comfort food, pumpkin beer, a table full of friends.
I had all of those things last Sunday night, plus a ton of homemade sauerkraut and a hankerin some pumpkin ales. I called up my friends, grilled some sausages, and made a giant oktoberfest skillet in my cast iron. Turns out a big pan of roasted sweet potatoes, sliced apples, sauerkraut, and kale can totally make a meal. We finished off the night with pumpkin gelato and stout floats before slipping into fall-time food comas.
Ya know all those things about autumn that are totally magic? All the super cliché sweaters and leaves and caramel apples that are crowding up your pinterest wall? I’m missing all that stuff, big time. I can’t do much of anything about the 90-degree temps and lack of leaves, but I can eat all of the squash and pumpkin seeds.
My friends hosted a fall-themed potluck in Santa Monica last weekend. It got sweaty as we all baked cornbread and apple pie and simmered butternut squash soup. I took some of my favorite flavors of fall and tossed them into a giant salad. Dinner parties always make things better, and this one eased my need for an autumn day.
I still want to play in some leaves though.
pear, pomegranate, & pumpkin seed salad
2 bunches of kale, chopped
2 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil (I use this one from Whole Foods)
1 medium delicata squash
1 medium pear
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350. Pierce the squash and roast on a baking sheet for 30-35 minutes. Let cool, slice, and remove seeds.
Toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil, curry powder, and sea salt. Toast in the oven for about eight minutes, tossing every two minutes.
Chop the kale and place into a bowl. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil and massage with your hands until soft. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and top with pomegranate seeds, squash, pear, and toasted pumpkin seeds.