Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hoisin and Orange Braised Shortribs | Food Blogger Dinner

What makes a great dinner party? I believe it is the guests, food, wine and conversation. Combining these four elements together create a synergy for the perfect entertaining equation.

Creating, planning and executing the “perfect” dinner party is high on my list of passions. Perfect is a relative term to each individual. Nothing in this world is perfect but if you feel it is perfect for you, well then it is perfect. Adding a dash of your own personality, style and flair creates dinner party magic.

What could be more perfect than to have dinner guests who share the same passion of food over for a dinner party? Saturday night was such an evening. The food blogging community is chalk full of like minded individuals who share a common bond of food. During this year I have been extremely fortunate to have met some wonderful food bloggers who I can truly say are now personal friends.

{Jean, Liren and Me}

Connections were made online and through the Project Food Blog contest. Several of us were introduced formally by way of a dinner party hosted by Liren of Kitchen Confidante. It was a lovely affair filled with abundant conversation, great food bloggers, and delicious wine and authentic Filipino cuisine. A truly memorable and special evening which I am sure will be cherished by all of the guests.

Jean of Lemon and Anchovies was one of the guests at Liren’s dinner party. Prior to the dinner party, we connected online from a post Jean did which highlighted her passion for learning to fly. We quickly discovered that both of our husbands were avid private pilots and set up a date to meet for what pilots call a “fly in”. Once we safely landed, we enjoyed a great lunch together at the 29’r Diner. Over lunch Jean and I chatted about food while our husbands conversed all about flying.

Over a month ago, I thought it would be fun to host a dinner party with the three of us and our beloved husbands. The date was set and the planning began. Entertaining for me is like infusing a ton of caffeine into my blood stream which gets the creative juices percolating. Quite often I will “test” out new recipes when I entertain, but I thought I would use the majority of my “tried and true” dishes for my special foodie guests.

I was excited to share an evening together with everyone, especially during this busy holiday season. Our house was decorated for this holiday season of entertaining and everyday enjoyment. Everyone arrived safely and the dinner party officially began. Unfortunately, Liren had babysitter issues and her husband stayed home with the kids and new puppy. A doggie bag would certainly be in order for him and everyone looks forward to meeting him at the next gathering. Like Martha Stewart, we are a “shoe free” household. To accommodate any footsies that might get chilly, I put together a basket of assorted guest slippers for folks to use during the evening.

We kicked off the evening with a tall glass of bubbly along with tasty bite sized appetizers. A bowlful of Brown Sugar and Rosemary Cashews were perfect for nibbling while sipping the champagne. Along side were Mushroom Pate Crostini and Parmesan and Pecan Dip with Endive spears for scooping up this addictive appetizer. Jean, Liren and I spent a lot of time conversing about food, cookbooks and other various interesting topics.

It was then time to sit down for main event. One of my signature dinner party touches is to create customized menus for my guests to preview the dinner ahead and take home as a keepsake to the evening. I keep a large binder that houses all of my past menus so I can reminisce about dinner parties and keep from duplicating.

With my love (obsession) of wine, I paired specific varietals for each course. Our Amuse Bouche course was Petite Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli and served with a 2008 Anaba “Corial” White from Sonoma Valley. This wine is a unique medium bodied Rhone blend of 48% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 12% Marsanne and 10% Grenache Blanc. Complex aromas of peach pie and lemon peel emanate from this rich wine and have notes of green melon, white peach, citrus, and a subtle mineral note. It is mouthwatering and bright.

The starter I chose for our next course was a Zucchini Bisque paired with Harry’s Bar Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. (By the way, Harry’s Bar in Venice is on my bucket list.) The bisque had a hint of curry which set the flavor profile and enhanced the earthiness of the soup. The tiny grilled cheese sandwiches were perfect alone or dipped in the soup. A new wine that I just discovered from my favorite wine club, Porthos was a perfect match. It was a 2008 Stephen Test Chardonnay from the Carneros region in Napa. It is light yellow with deep baritone flavors of apple and grilled lemon. Pungent mineral-laced aromas of pear, lemon rind, sweet butter and baking spices. It is a very suave chardonnay with good depth and delineation.

The main event for the evening was the Hoisin and Orange Braised Shortribs with Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes. These have become one of my signature dishes and my husband’s favorite. I decided to pair this with a luscious red wine from Healdsburg. It was a 2006 Lancaster Estate, Nicole Proprietary Red from Alexander Valley. It is estate grown, produced and bottled. It has ripe cherry and red berry fruit characters, accented by aromas of sweet tobacco, chocolate, ganache, and spice and a long, concentrated finish. Every sip was a treat.

For the dessert we adjourned to the family room where it was extremely comfortable and subtle music playing in the background. We enjoyed a Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee that had a double candied crust. Along side were mocha espresso shortbread button cookies. They are packed full of coffee flavor and richness, with one to two being just perfect. Liren, Jean and I continued with our foodie conversation while the husbands chatted about planes and other things. At one point, my husband said that we were just “cackling” about everything and we all laughed out loud. Instead of the foodbuzz girls, we became the “food buzzards” – pretty funny huh? I believe that Dana coined the phrase - food buzzards!

The evening was winding down and I gave Liren and Jean one of my homemade Cranberry Orange and Ginger Chutneys. Thank you Liren and Jean for the lovely hostess gifts – I will think of you each time I use them. With the popularity of social media and so many outlets to meet new and interesting people, I give kudos to Foodbuzz for being the conduit that I met such wonderful people as Liren, Jean and Dana, Jean's husband. Thank you again for a wonderful and memorable evening!

Hoisin and Orange Braised Shortribs

2 pounds boneless short ribs or about 8 pieces
1 c. Soy sauce
¼ c. Rice wine vinegar
5 Cloves garlic, peeled and lightly chopped
3 Stalk lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger
½ C. dark brown sugar
4 C. water
½ C. sliced green onions
3 Fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced thinly
1/3 C. orange juice


1 Jar hoisin sauce (8.5 oz)
3/4 C. orange juice
1 T. fresh orange zest

Preheat oven to 350. In a wide stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, lemongrass, brown sugar, water, green onions, jalapeno, and orange juice. Stir to combine the brown sugar and add the short ribs, making sure they are fully covered by the liquid. Braise the short ribs for 4 to 5 hours.

In a small sauce pan, add the hoisin sauce, orange juice and orange zest. Heat on medium heat until the sauce is slightly thicker. Can be done ahead of time and reheated.

When ready to serve, take short ribs out of the braising liquid and put on plate. Top with the hoisin sauce. Top with a few green onions and additional orange zest if desired.


  1. Oh, Lisa. This post has just put the biggest smile on my face. Thank you so much for hosting such a lovely party. From your beautiful decor to food and most importantly the lovely company, what could be better? My non-foodie husband is still talking about the food and wine and how much he liked everyone. Please tell Charles that Dana thinks he should be a flight instructor because of how knowledgeable and passionate he is about flying; I agree.

    Secretly, I think the men enjoyed our "cackling". Did Dana coin the phrase "Food Buzzards"? I think Liren's right--the husbands might have a future in blogging under that title!

    And speaking of friends, I'm so happy to consider you and Liren just that. What a wonderful bonus to gain out of food blogging.

    Cheers to many more get-togethers in 2011!

    Next stop: My house for corn dogs and tater tots! j/k :-)

  2. Thank you Jean for the wonderful comments! You are correct that Dana came up with Food Buzzards (Just updated the post) Wonderful time had by all and it was so fun putting together this post! Charles and I look forward to the "Corn dogs and tater tots" - I am sure they will be divine!! Happy Holidays!!!

  3. Ha ha, I just thought the name was so funny and perfectly appropriate were they to ever start their own blog! :-)

    I forgot to say that I hope you enjoy your vacation! :-)

  4. Aw, that sounds like so much fun! I hope that someday I'll also get to meet some of the friends that I've meet through blogging.
    This looks like a lovely party, I love the decorations and setup... and the food. Everything looks amazing!

  5. Jean - perhaps they can be the "Next Food Blog Stars" - ha, ha, ha.....

  6. It looks like you ladies had the making for a wonderful evening. I love having met such great people through foodbuzz and although I've only been able to meet one in person so far I hope there are many more to come! Thank you for sharing your dinner party with us :) Those short ribs look fabulous!

  7. Lisa, I think I might start calling you MS West - you are the ultimate hostess, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed and appreciated every single detail from the evening! You did not miss a beat, from the place settings to the delicious food, everything was perfect. But most of all, thank you for your friendship! I am so grateful that all three of us had a chance to cackle the night away, and hopefully next time my husband can see first hand what this Food Buzzard business is about. The name really is perfect for a hubbie's POV food blog! Oh, the short ribs were phenomenal, and my hubs devoured it the second I got home. Thank you :) Till we all see each other again (yeaah, tater tots and corn dogs!!), hugs and Merry Christmas!

  8. Liren - Thank you so much for the nice comment! Glad your hubby enjoyed the shortribs and now you can make it for him with the recipe above. I do think the "food buzzards" is going to be something worth talking about. :) Happy Holidays to you and your family!!! Til taters and corn dogs!

  9. Oh how I wish I still lived in the Bay Area!! What a wonderful evening you all had. Lisa, I'm just in awe of all you put together, every last detail. Simply amazing!
    My husband is a pilot also, though he does fly a bit of a larger jet (767!). We are in Carlsbad, just next to the airport if you are ever in the area. We would be happy to pop over and meet you any time! I remember reading about Jean beginning her private pilot license... I will have to follow up and see how that went. I got my ground school but gave up after 4 hours of flight time. I'll leave the flying to him.
    What a wonderful post!

  10. Sounds like you ladies had one heck of a time. I love all the details you used and the short ribs look amazing. Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas. I hope to meet you one day too.

  11. Making the menu for the guests as a keepsake is a brilliant idea - I think I am going to have to steal that! Throwing a dinner party for fellow food bloggers is a lot of pressure (I think) and you certainly pulled it off with aplomb!

  12. What a great picture of the three of you. Lisa, you are the hostess with the mostess...so organized, beautiful decor and food. I like the idea of your guest slippers...I need to incorporate that too, as we are a "shoe free" home also.

    I hope one day I'll get to meet the three of you too. Happy Holidays to you and yours! :)

  13. Lisa, you are the ultimate hostess, no detail is overlooked! You had me at the short ribs, but I was in awe reading and gazing upon such a lovely evening. It's so wonderful that you, Jean, and Liren have formed a genuine friendship. I really hope to meet all three of you sometime when I come up to the Bay Area. Until then, best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011!


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