Tag Archives: cooking

Take it personally!

Need a great gift idea? How about dinner for two prepared in your home by a personal chef.

As some of you may know (despite my public displays of affection for my lovely boyfriend, D) I am not very romantic. I hate the idea of Valentine’s day, I think celebrating anniversaries is kinda lame, and I rarely make any requests for candlelight dinners, flowers or chocolate. But I do love giving and receiving  unique gifts.

And so, the other week, I was trying to come up with a gift for D– whether we celebrate or not, I still wanted to do something special for our three-year anniversary. That’s when Fran Davis popped up on my Facebook newsfeed with the idea of hiring a personal chef to prepare dinner for two. Bingo. I hate cooking, but love to eat healthy so I chose my menu items (she had a few to choose from) and I hired her.

Personal Chef Fran Davis, of The Flavorful Fork

On Friday, she arrived at 4ish with all her cooking supplies, including her own pans, knives, spices,  and towels for clean up. I think she even brought her own sponge! Anyway, as she cooked (in my kitchen), I was able to finish up some work and then pad around the house, doing virtually nothing. Actually, I kinda felt like a lazy, pampered (spoiled) bourgeois housewife. But we chatted and laughed and I was amazed at how well she was able to not only cook this amazing meal, but socialize as well. I think if I had her job, I would have been more like, “OK, don’t talk to me, and get out of the kitchen!” Who knows, maybe inside that’s how she felt. Truth is, she seemed very at home and comfortable.

So, D came home around 5:30.  Fran had also brought over a bottle of Spanish red for us, so we started drinking that. I set the table, lit a candle (why not) and by 5:45 dinner was served.

Our first course was a mango and avocado salad with mango dressing (I still have the dressing in my fridge and keep putting it on everything), after that she served Parmesan-Herb Crusted Tilapia, served with mashed yams (I believe she threw a little sage into the yams too). This main course was so amazingly good that it made me believe I was eating at Le Bec Fin. Tres gourmet. To think that something that delicious can be made in my kitchen is a bit of a shocker. That was always my excuse as to why I never cooked. I didn’t think my kitchen was capable of it. Then again, there was that time that Natalie made that amazing risotto. Now, I guess, I have no excuse.

But back to Fran, our final course was a pear-cranberry fruit crumble for dessert with a scoop of coconut ice cream. Dear Lord! I think I gained 10 pounds in two hours. But it was completely worth it. By that point, D and I were both in our respective food comas and I don’t even remember Fran cleaning up. The next thing I remember was hugging her goodbye and dreaming up a future event where her services could again, be put to good use. Maybe a tapas party in the new house? Just to make sure the new kitchen is capable of serving up fabulous faire? Definitely food for thought.

As for my lack of enthusiasm for romance, I guess I’m not entirely averse to it. But I would still not say that the night was romantic. It’s kind of hard to be all shmoopy in the presence of a friend who’s cooking in your kitchen. But it was definitely a positive, unique experience. And that’s what I liked about it. I could feel pampered for the night and in my book, any time I don’t have to cook, it’s a good thing! I will definitely be calling Fran again. And I hope this inspires others to do the same! She can be reached at The Flavorful Fork dot com.

Christmas Eve Dinner

I don’t get to prepare Christmas eve dinner every year, despite the fact that it’s one of my favorite holidays to prepare and cook for. But this year my ex will be in Spain, so the kids are with me, as will be the rest of my family. How lucky!

One of the reasons I love to cook for Christmas eve is because there is such a freedom of variety of foods that you can prepare. I am Italian. That means I grew up with the tradition of the seven fishes on Christmas eve. My mother and father used to prepare cod, smelts, calamad (squid), clams and spaghetti, flounder or scrod, shrimp and mussels and sometimes sardines. Everything they made though, seemed to revolve around the gravy (sauce) and it all ended up tasting the same to me. So, since I’ve been doing Christmas eve dinner (the last twelve years), I’ve tried to vary each course, as well as add my own little flair here and there.

This year, because so many people are coming at different times, I thought it would be best to make most of the menu based on Hors d’oeuvres. This way, we can “pick” throughout the day, then, a little later we can have a very light, standard dinner. I’ll definitely let y’all know how it goes!

Le Menu

Christmas Eve, 2009


First Course – Hors d’oeuvres

Organic, unpasteurized Manchego el Trigal

Cured, raw Murcia cheese made from fresh goat’s milk

Aged Gruyere

Kalamata and Italian green olives and feta

Sardines, mussels and anchovies

Savory, cold shrimp cocktail a la Nuria

Creamy, fresh smoked trout pate, served with a side of challah bread

Sea scallops wrapped in bacon and drenched in butter and lemon

Crabmeat stuffed mushroom

Second Course

Roasted Butternut Squash and Lump Crab bisque

Third Course

Calamari salad with pistachios and dates

Main Course

Baked filet of flounder in lemon zest,

wild rice with apple walnut, and  fresh broccoli

Dessert

Assorted cookies and cakes a la Mariel & Nuria