Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Plan Parties


I plan parties and execute them for a living.  I’m passionate about food, plates, silverware, the setting – all of it.  It’s a good thing I do this for other people, because my husband couldn’t care less most of the time!  He doesn’t understand why I like the plates all in the same spot on the table setting, or the glasses in the correct corner.  What does that say?!  Every day meals at the Rees Residence are probably just like the ones at your house.


When I plan “big” parties for my clients I take the stress of this planning away from them.  Usually not all of it, my domain is the kitchen, the dining room, where ever there is food.  It’s usually at least 50% of the stress that they have.  Everyone loves the adrenaline rush that you get while preparing for a party, even my husband – he won’t admit to it, but I know that it’s true! They worry if the house is clean enough, do I have enough ice, what’s the weather going to be like, and everything in-between! 

I’ve seen long complicated check list.  I have a few that I make up for my events, and I wouldn’t even begin to suggest that you do this!  You know how much silverware you have, and where your glasses are! 

There are some things that you can do, and here are some easy tips to keep in mind.


5 Easy Tips

1.  I always try out the recipe before I actually try it on my guests! Why?  I need to know how it will taste – and so should you! I need to know how it will cook, and so should you!  And most important, I need to know how much time it will take me to get it done!

2.  Don’t go too complicated.  Not all of us are master chefs and sometimes simple with a few little tweaks are  great.

3.  Shop, Shop, Shop – make sure you have all of the recipe’s ingredients on hand – we call this mise en place. 

4. Taste your ingredients (or smell them) for freshness, and taste your meal as you go!  That’s the only way you’ll know how the finished product will turn out!

5.  Finish with a great (and easy) dessert!  It’s the last bite of the day, and that’s the one that they will all remember.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Onion Soup for the Cold Michigan Winter

French Onion Soup

My husband doesn’t generally think that soup is dinner.  I’ve been married almost 10 years now, and up till today, if I mentioned it, he just gives me that funny “where’s the meat and potatoes” look, but today he surprised me and said, after making that funny look, sure, I’ll try it!


Well, I think it was a hit.  He said we could have it for leftovers again on Thursday! 

He bet me I couldn’t make it again, and I’m a betting gal, so I wrote it down as fast as I could – so here it is:


Onion Soup

2 large yellow onions – julienne (that’s cut into French fry stick size)
a bit of EVOO
salt (to taste)
a swirl of red wine vinegar, or red wine
4 cups of beef stock
Grated Swiss Cheese – about ½ cup per bowl
Grated Parmesan (about ¼ cup per bowl, cause I had it in the fridge)
Large Croutons


Heat a large sauté pan with the EVOO and add the yellow onions.  You could use white, and I did use a bit of red onion to use it up. 


Let the onions caramelize.  This is very important.  Over medium high heat, let them set for a while in the pan, get brown bits of goodness all over and then give them a swirl, or a toss, and do it again.  Your house is going to smell wonderful.  This will take a while and is well worth the time.


If you constantly stir them, you will “steam” them to translucent, and never develop the dark caramelized flavor that you want.

You want the bits of browned goodness to add to your soup.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits.  When it finally reduces down to about 1/3 of the way, transfer the onions into another pan. 


Swirl a bit of red wine vinegar/wine in the sauté pan, and go after those brown bits again.  You may need to add some stock, that’s ok.  Transfer to your onion pan, add the stock and bring to a simmer to develop the flavors.


For dinner, heat your oven to about 400 degrees, place some croutons on the bottom of your bowls, ladle in some soup, and then top with the cheese.  Bake until the cheese is crusty!  About 10 minutes.


Enjoy, but watch out!  It’s really really hot!