Entertaining: The Perfect Cheese Plate

mg_9276Though I sometimes love making complicated appetizers, when hosting a dinner or holiday party you can’t ask for an easier (or more crowd-pleasing) option than a cheese plate. Of course, cheese plates are nothing new, but putting a little thought into it can take a mediocre plate of cheddar and turn it into an impressive spread.mg_9273

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For starters, choose a variety of cheeses (the advised amount is about 2 oz of cheese per person–unless you’re just planning on having cheese for dinner, in which case, it’s at your discretion. Not that I’ve ever done that.) I like to go with something soft (such as Camembert or the very lovely Jasper Hill Harbison), something hard like Manchego or Comte, and something funky or blue like Époisses or this super creamy Gorgonzola Cremificato. If you want more than three types, you can branch out from there–just try to keep a balance between textures and how strong the flavors are. (Note that this is in no way sponsored by Murray’s, I just find them to be an excellent resource when looking for cheese.)mg_9268

After that, I like to add a few varieties of pickles and jams (I usually go for pepper jelly), like mini cornichons and if you’re feeling ambitious, watermelon rind pickles. Then just add toasted baguette slices and a couple of kinds of crackers, and serve with wine (obviously). Perfect for holiday entertaining or a fancy night in.

Entertaining: The Perfect Cheese Plate

Roasted Tomato Soup

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There are still a few (slightly sad) looking tomatoes at the farmer’s market here in New York, but with snow in Minnesota this week, there’s no doubt that winter will be here sooner than we know it. Tomato soup is possibly my favorite way to bridge the gap between summer and fall–you get the brightness and acidity of summer’s best produce with the coziness of a warm fall soup. Make this weekend, and stock up in the freezer for a little taste of summer all through the cold months to come.

I didn’t have a chance to photograph this the night I made it (curse you, Daylight Savings Time!) but did snap this picture at my desk the next day for lunch. Serve with grilled cheese  sandwiches, obviously (because let’s be honest, who really wants tomato soup without grilled cheese?)

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Roasted Tomato Soup

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

_MG_7459Brussels sprouts were one of those vegetables I stayed away from as a kid because someone told me they were gross, and once I finally tried them as a teenager, made me kick myself for missing out all those years.

_MG_7469We eat them all the time in the winter, usually simply roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper until they are super crispy, but when I came across this salad from one of my favorite little restaurants in NYC, I knew I had to give it a try. I made do with what I had, but since you only need a few ingredients, the salad comes together in minutes and is a study in simplicity. It goes perfectly with roast chicken or short ribs, and makes a great alternative to traditional winter roasted vegetables. _MG_7465

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Apple Cake

_MG_7490It’s definitely getting to be the time of year when curling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book sounds most appealing. I’ve stated my love for summer many a time, but there’s something about the crisp air coming in through windows cracked open, when you can wear sweaters and ballet flats but don’t need to worry about a heavy coat just yet.

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_MG_7491This cake, which I actually made to celebrate Rosh Hashana weeks ago when Ari‘s mom was in town, was the perfect way to usher in fall. I love cakes that only use one bowl, and this still feels special enough to serve at a dinner party–but it tastes even better for breakfast the next day.

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Apple Cake

White Bean & Chorizo Soup

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It’s been a tough couple of weeks around here, hence the lack of posting. But things are slowly starting to feel more normal (booking flights to Paris for early next spring definitely helped), and I always find that in times of stress or heartache, cooking makes me feel better. Something about the routine of chopping onions, simmering broth and de-stemming kale lets me know that things will be all right, and that sometimes, a bowl of hot soup really can help._MG_7449

Maybe it’s the definite smell of fall in the air, but I’ve been wanting chorizo in everything lately. Versions of this soup have been on almost weekly rotation for the past month or so, and I think it makes a perfect, hearty meal that you’ll be able to make through the winter. _MG_7455

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White Bean & Chorizo Soup

Home Design: Modern Pastels

Image via newzealanddesignblog.com
Though it’s been a while, I think I’m going to try to get back into more home design posts. Though we don’t have any plans to move (or redecorate) any time soon, I’ve found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest and am loving all of the pastels I’ve seen lately. No longer reserved for kid’s rooms or Easter eggs, pastels are making a comeback. Thanks to modern shapes and geometric prints, baby blue, light pink and mint green can brighten up a room and add a pop of color without being too overwhelming–read on for some of my favorite products.

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Home Design: Modern Pastels

Limoncello

_MG_6673Ahh, fall. As I’ve said many a time before, I love summer. But there is definitely something about crisp nights, warm cappuccinos in the morning and changing leaves that you can’t help but love. But since I’m not quite ready to let go of summer yet, I wanted to share a recipe for limoncello in case you are in need of a refreshing digestivo on these still-warm days. If you haven’t had limoncello before, it’s basically sweetened, lemon-infused alcohol, usually drunk ice-cold after meals to aid digestion. You can also use it in cocktails, if you wish, or add some seltzer to dilute it a bit._MG_6670

_MG_6669The recipe itself couldn’t be easier, but does take some time: I let the lemon peels soak for a full month for maximum lemon flavor (since, as you may know, I love anything lemon) and used the least amount of sugar recommended.  We’ve been enjoying this all summer, and it’s a great thing to bring out at parties – or to give as (eek!) holiday gifts (not that I’m thinking about that yet.)

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On a more serious note: though I did not live in New York City 13 years ago, over the past four years this city has continued to amaze, inspire, and astonish me every single day. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to live here, and to get to know the varied–and incredibly resilient–people who call New York their home. Thoughts go out to anyone who was affected by what happened on that terrible day.

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Limoncello