Improvised Life » entertaining If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 10 Sep 2014 20:04:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Giglio’s 10 Wine Pairings for Junk Food Tue, 09 Sep 2014 22:00:58 +0000


One of the things we love about wine and spirits authority Anthony Giglio is his complete lack of pretention on matters of food and wine. So, of course, when asked to recommend wines to drink with pork rinds, pizza, Doritos and Dunkin Donuts (!!) and other humble junky foods we secretly love, he rose the occasion. You’ll find the complete list of his 10 favorite oddball pairings at Details.

Our favorite, for the story behind it as much for the brilliance of the combo is Popcorn + Chardonnay (check out our Popcorn Improvisations): (more…)

]]> 0
Cedar Planked Salmon for the Grill Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:47:37 +0000

Sally Schneider

Our friend Holton Rower has been learning about cooking salmon on a cedar plank on his Weber grill through trial-and-error, a method we totally endorse.  His first go wasn’t completely successful but it was clear that the cedary smoke is a perfect marriage with salmon. If you don’t have wood coals to cook over, cedar planks are a great way to achieve woodsmoke flavor. Holton learned quickly and his recent try was a huge success. Here’s how he did it (and what he/we learned). (more…)

]]> 1
Sea Shell Printed Cookies and Pie Crusts Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:29:10 +0000

Catherine Gratwicke

While putting together our post on Sea Shell Salt Cellars the other day, we stumbled on this lovely idea: impressing cookie or pie dough with a small ridged scallop (or other) sea shell. Then we wondered what to we recommend that we KNOW will take the impression? H-m-m-m.

Eh voila! Our friends at Kitchen Repertoire’s Sand Dollar Sables look just perfect… (more…)

]]> 0
Cherry Season’s Perfect Desserts Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:54:15 +0000

Maria Robledo

We can’t remember a cherry season lasting SO long, with such an abundance of plump cherries. If we owned a restaurant, a bowl of iced cherries would be our featured dessert. (It’s also the perfect, surprising, understated end to a dinner party.) There is little better… …except perhaps (more…)

]]> 0
3 Sensational Chopped Salads for Summer Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:10:53 +0000

Maria Robledo

Although you can serve chopped salads year round, they are perfect summer fare. They are easy to make, portable enough for picnics and barbeques and refreshingly juicy in warm weather: salad, vegetable and salsa all rolled into one. They are a wonderful foil for simply-prepared meat, poultry and fish.

Every cuisine seems to have its own version – witness the Moroccan “Gazpacho” and Southeast Asian Slaw included here, along with my version of the classic Chopped Salad from the 21 Club.

The basic premise – chopped or grated vegetables bound by a flavorful dressing – lends itself to easy improvisation. (more…)

]]> 0
Kitchen Repertoire’s Charming, Doable, Delish Recipes Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:19:19 +0000

Dana Gallagher

Our old friends from the food world Frances Boswell and Dana Gallagher have teamed up to create a lovely labor-of-love blog called Kitchen Repertoire. Their simple mandate is a breath of fresh air:

We are 20 year veterans of the magazine industry; a food editor and a photographer. We live real lives with kids and families and careers.

Time is short and finding inspiration in the little things makes the day easier.

We hope having a repertoire to pull from will help you find more joy in your day.


]]> 0
Recipe: Fast-and-Furious Peas in their Pod (No Shucking!) Fri, 20 Jun 2014 08:05:05 +0000

Christopher Hirscheimer

It is peak pea season and we can’t think of a better, easier, more delightful way to eat them than this simple recipe from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 3: Winter & Spring. Unshucked peas-in-their-pods are cooked in a hot cast-iron skillet until blistered. Then you just salt and eat: the perfect hors d’oeuvre for a summer evening.

“The idea is to pull the peas out of the pods with your teeth, just as you would eat an artichoke leaf. The charred bits of the pod and the salt sticks to your lips, flavoring the tender peas.”


]]> 1
Good Idea: Keep Track of Water Glasses with China Markers Tue, 10 Jun 2014 17:00:40 +0000

Sinnae Choi

Recently, our friend Jane Lear wrote us to say “This great tip stuck in my head, and I finally had a chance to reference it in this week’s food advice column for TakePart about ways to use less water.

The tip that stuck in her head —YAY! we LOVE that— was wine and spirits writer Anthony Giglio’s inspired practice of writing the name of each guest on his/her wine glass to cut down on “lost” glasses (and the attendant OMG-there-aren’t-enough-glasses stress). (more…)

]]> 0
Sliced Sugar Snap Peas with Shaved Parmigiano Fri, 06 Jun 2014 08:12:51 +0000

Maria Robledo

I’ve never tired of the classic Italian formula of a raw vegetable — most commonly arugula, thinly sliced fennel or raw baby artichoke hearts — dressed with olive oil, lemon and thin shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. One day when I was looking around my market, I thought, “Why not try not making it with sugar snap peas?”

I sliced the sugar snaps on an extreme diagonal to reveal the tiny peas hidden within and applied the basic dressing to make a quick, surprising play on the classic hors d’oeuvre. It’s a perfect recipe: at once rustic and sophisticated, easy for even the novice cook, with the bright appeal of a plate of fresh peas. Sugar snaps are in season now. (more…)

]]> 0
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Recipe + Improvisations Fri, 30 May 2014 08:12:47 +0000

Suzanne Shaker

Last Saturday, interior designer Suzanne Shaker emailed us images of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble she was making at her wondrous Shelter Island home. The recipe is from Sally’s cookbook A New Way to Cook. On Sunday, Suzanne sent a follow-up email with a gluten-free improvisation she’d made on the basic recipe. We’re publishing the recipe, below, along with Suzanne’s tweaks and raves, for an easy tart-like rhubarb dessert just in time for the last of rhubarb’s fleeting season.


]]> 0
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake, an Unexpected Dinner Party Dessert Fri, 23 May 2014 08:17:41 +0000

Simon Bajada/Livet Hemma

This image from Livet Hemma looks exactly like a Strawberry-Rhubarb Milkshake I devised years ago when I was monkeying around with rhubarb and strawberries, which are full-tilt right now. It got me hankering for one, and reminded me what an unexpected and delightful dessert they make for dinner parties.  So I thought I’d share how to make it and other rhubarb discoveries and improvisations I’ve made. (more…)

]]> 1
Pan-Fried Artichokes with Crispy Sage and Garlic Fri, 16 May 2014 08:41:04 +0000

Maria Robledo

Peak season for artichokes is March through May and the markets are still full of plump globes. So I am making this recipe often to serve as an hors d’oeuvres with drinks before dinner parties, and the occasional panful for my supper. It chases after the flavors of fried artichokes I’ve had in Italy, but without deep-frying. (more…)

]]> 2
The Delishness and Connection of Collective Meals Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:16:32 +0000

Outerlands, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, is known for its menu of seasonal food, rustic dishes and the strong sense of community created by the space. There, meals are a way for people to gather together, relax, and enjoy a shared experience.  Recently Williams-Sonoma Taste featured one of Outerland’s collective meals in which staff, family and friends cook together, making quick work of what otherwise might be a chore, all the while having time to talk and hang out. It is the opposite of “in-control entertaining” where everything is pretty much taken care of when the guests arrive. (more…)

]]> 0
Eclectic, Sculptural Spoons to Diy or Buy Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:00:25 +0000

Herriott Grace

This beautiful image of wooden spoons we saw on From Moon to Moon reminded us just  how much of a pleasing sculptural element they be when serving up food.

Like chairs, spoons can have very distinct personalities. (more…)

]]> 0