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.


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!