Impromptu Dinner

Impromptu – a very simple meal

Small group of us gathered at my house for an impromptu dinner.  We started with a 1988 Krug champagne and medjool dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon.  Dinner menu was dry rub baby back ribs, grilled asparagus with dry roasted sesame dressing and seared fresh scallops in butter with a smidgen of sea salt and lime juice.  Dinner paired with a 1989 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus Pomerol which went well with the ribs.  Finished the meal with fresh pineapple upside down cake and strawberries romanoff.  Yum…    Very simple dinner.


Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

  • 2-3 racks baby back pork ribs, depends how much you want to cook
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin


  1. Prepare the ribs and rub.   Remove the thin, papery skin from the back of each rack of ribs.
  2. Combine the paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, salt, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cumin in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Rub  three quarters of this mixture over the ribs on both sides, then transfer the ribs to the roasting pan you will use for baking. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Next day, roast covered with foil at 300° for 2 hours.  After 2 – 2 1/2  hours, finish on the bbq grill till cooked through or continue roasting for another 30 minutes or longer till done. Use the remaining rub to sprinkle over the ribs, if desired.

Strawberries Romanoff

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  •  1 tablespoon  grand marnier or brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries


1. Mix sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla or grand marnier  in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whip cream until starts to thickin, add sugar–whip until thick

3. Fold cream into sour cream mixture and blend well

4. Serve with fresh strawberries, whole or sliced.

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Peel, quarter, core and slice the pineapple as evenly as you can 1/3 inch thick.

In a pan that can go from stovetop to oven or use an iron skillet, butter the sides and bottom of the pan with the ½ stick of butter.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over bottom of the pan.  Layer the pineapple on top, whatever pattern you feel like.  Add the vanilla bean pod and seeds.  Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or till pineapple is tender. Remove the bean pod.

The cake

  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

While the pineapple is cooking, preheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl, whisk ¼ of  the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla.  Set aside.  In another bowl, fitted with a paddle, beat on very slow speed  the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the stick of butter and remaining ¼ cup of  sour cream and beat at low speed until smooth, then beat at medium speed until fluffy.  Add the sour cream-egg mixture you had set aside earlier and beat again until fluffy.

Spoon the batter over the pineapple and spread it evenly.  Bake for about 40 miutes, until the cake is deep golden.  Let cool for 5 minutes on a rack.  Run a knife around the edge of the cake, invert it onto a plate and remove the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sake and Champagne Dinner

OK, I am finally getting around to remembering to post the recipes.  We had wasabi peas and mixed nuts with the tiny dried fish to wake up our palates. Dinner began with the usual ritual:  champagne.  We started with the 1990 Taittinger Collection which was still vibrant.  We followed that with the Rene Collard Ultime which is a very dry champagne but paired well with the food.  Then the Veuve Cliquot 1985 Rose, still holding well.  Concurrently opened the 2010 Rochioli Sauvingnon Blanc.  Gang was not into drinking champagne and sake that evening so we only opened the Kirin-Zan Kirin Mountain Junmai Dai-Ginjo sake.  This is ultra smooth, silky and went well wit the menu!  You can buy this at True Sake in San Francisco.  They have fantastic inventory and the people are very nice.  Gang preferred to quench with reds so we went through a 2004 Rochioli West Block, 1995 Chateau Montelena Estate cabernet, and a 2004 Parry Cellars. Our menu was garlic shrimp crostini, mango-avocado salad, miso skirt steak, stuffed, boneless drumstick, grilled asparagus with roasted sesame dressing, Nobu miso style salmon, Filipino style bbq pork skewers, yam and shitake mushroom rice, chocolate bouchon, lemon tart and matcha tea cake. See recipes tab.

Voila – Dinner

I almost forgot to take pictures…we were halfway done when we remembered.  Every dinner I host must tease and please the senses.  Food should be beautifully presented on dishes that may reflect the season or the mood  or because they evoke certain memories.  They should be pleasing to the eyes (perhaps even have some artistic bend) and therefore, theoretically may enhance the total experience.   I learned this lesson from visiting, working and living in Tokyo.  The Japanese really know how to unfold the evening to an adventure of all your senses when dining.  For this dinner I chose the color green, reminiscent of Spring as the main color for serving, specifically Japanese Oribe from Japan and locally made by potters who were influenced by Japanese design.  The exception was the beef burgundy which was cooked in a red casserole by Emile Henry…I love these red cooking pots.

Everyone had their own personal favorite but all agreed that the beef burgundy was even better than last time.  I used Julia Child’s recipe but I added a full bottle of wine and only 1 cup of broth.  I braised the leeks in sake.  I picked the meyer lemons for the tarte from my brother’s tree.  The Krug Flannery (the one that looks like a woven basket) was a Christmas gift from my good friend Ames.  You can get one from K&L Wines in Redwood City:  If you do go, ask for Gary Westby, the friendliest and very knowledgeable champagne buyer for all of K&L.  I have learned much from Gary and you will too.

No pics of the fish as the photographer was iPhone challenged, had a few glasses of champagne!  The fish was very moist and I threw chervil, chives, tarragon, olive oil, garlic in the blender to marinate the fish overnight, then grilled right before dinner.

The chicken came out well but I liked the taste of the chicken better on Sunday.  I used fresh hedgehog, chanterelle and dried morel mushrooms and generous amount of wine.

We wind down dinner with Port and music of Greg Adams and East Bay Soul in the background,  happy to be in each other’s company.

I was elated that my friends enjoyed the food…their joy and satisfaction were my rewards.

Finally – A French Style

After 7 months of procrastination, I am finally going to start writing.  Why did I even want to start this?  It is for me:  to write what I feel like writing and for my family, especially my son, nieces and nephews.  I am not going to follow the rules of blogs, what for….I rarely have followed rules so why start now.  This is going to be more of a stream of musings, thoughts, or whatever I feel like writing.

So here goes…today was a hectic day with shopping and  preparing for my French style dinner tomorrow night.  A few of my friends requested that I make beef burgundy and I agreed.  I made this once last year and I had forgotten all the prep work needed, the browning of the meat, the braising of onion, sauteeing the mushrooms.  What I did learn from the last time I cooked this:  add more wine!  My butcher Ron at Whole Foods in Campbell (everyone knows this is my favorite WF…everyone is so nice, especially in the fish section), who is a whiz at picking and cutting meats, did a fantastic job of cutting the meat into 2×2…swear he does it with his eyes close and they were very uniform.  Despite my complaints of the laborious steps of preparation and cooking, I put a lot of love into my cooking.  I try to pair all meals with the wines that I believe will complement.  I always start each dinner with champagne.  This is my golden rule when I am hosting.  I love favorite drink!

Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived fully so nourish your body with what you love.

The menu for the dinner:

A French Style Evening


Palate cleanse:  Champagne Dom Ruinart

(Blanc de Blanc)

Brie on baguette with medjool  date and organic honey

1985 Taittinger Artist Collection

Smoked salmon on avocado with dill and balsamic

Krug NV Grande Cuvee

Tinned foie gras, caramelized apples and onion

Cattier Brut Rose Kiss


Boeuf Bourguignon – roasted baby yukons and peas

97 Domaine bouchard pere & fills le corton grand cru, chateau de beaune, cote d’or

99 Volnay les caillepieds domaine de montille 

Chicken with Mixed wild mushrooms, vin jaune and cream

2004 Chateau Chalon, Macle, Jura

Fish in Fines Herbs, braised leeks and oven roasted tomatoes

Sweets and Cheese

Lemon Tarte

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Almond Honey Cake

Fresh Fruit

Cheese:  Dolce Blue, Mimolette, Bandaged Cheddar

1970 Fonseca Port

2003 Rieussec Sauterne

All meat, fish, veggies, fruit are organic and/or wild

So here is what the beef looks like after 4 hours of cooking and at least 1 1/2 hrs of prep.  And I have a nice view from my stove of my Japanese garden.  Now the tomatoes are roasting and I need to pulverize almonds for the chocolate cake.  I will post how the dinner turned out on Sunday.

Live Life Passionately and Passionately Live Life.  This is how I live my life.  Nieces and nephews…are you reading and listening?

Next few posts will include foodie discoveries in Cambodia and Vietnam.    Also, flashbacks of wondrous memories and travels.  All, forgive the misspellings or incorrect grammar…will get better as I practice more!