A Magical Dinner Alfresco in a L.A. Backyard

My friend Ragan and I share a love of cooking and, well…eating. So, when she recently launched her food blog, Beauty in the Bite, I was more than delighted to help her throw a magical garden dinner in her backyard, bringing together some fabulous ladies who love blogging (and of course food) as much as we do.  I’m so excited to introduce you to these inspiring women and share the recipes from our very enchanted evening.

Molly & Ragan 3

Garden Dinner

Summer Tablescape

Clutch

The beaded clutch was an early birthday present from my friend Jenn…isn’t it gorg?

Audrey Wine

Jasmine Lettuce Wraps
Jasmine has a food blog called Blissfull Bites, where she shares her healthy, Middle Eastern influenced recipes.  She made these incredible lettuce wraps for a little starter and I think we all had seconds! *See end of post for recipe

Lettuce Wraps

Ragan and Kelly

Jenn

Jenn, as usual, brought the party, this time in the form of the amazing Mandarine Napoleon liqueur that was used in our cocktails.

Napkins

Mandarine Napoleon
Speaking of the cocktails…Jordan, of This Girl Walks into a Bar, has THE BEST cocktail blog and I can say that with confidence, because she and her sister actually won Saveur Magazine’s Best Cocktail Blog award! We were all excited to have her make us the perfect signature cocktail appropriately called “La Jolla Avenue.” *See end of post for recipe

Jordan This Girl Walks Into a Bar

Cheers!

After introductions and a lively discussion about our shared passions, we all cheered to new friendships.

Molly and Dana
My friend Dana is such an inspiration to me! She loves design as much (or more) than I do, and has a blog called The Tao of Dana that will literally change your life. She recently came over and Feng Shuied my house and before you get all eye-rolly on me, her techniques are modern & practical, not at all what you are thinking. She is fascinating and so very smart, but what I love most is her generous spirit and how she wants to make us all better human beings. Hurry up and go check her out!

Kelly and puppy

Kelly is a mom to two adorable twins! She shares her adventures over at Oh Hello Mommyhood, receiving quite a bit of attention for the beautiful nursery she designed for her little darlings. She is about to launch a kids clothing line, that will no doubt be as chic as she is, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Salmon

Ragan’s Salmon with Coconut Milk Gremolata

*See end of post for recipe

Snap Peas

Ragan’s Snap Peas with Lime, Basil and Black Sesame Seed Vinaigrette

*See end of post for recipe

Parsnips

Ragan’s Thai Spiced Parsnips

*See end of post for recipe

Tablescape

With full tummies and a chill in the air (that’s a L.A. summer for you!), the end of the evening was drawing near.

Audrey

But not without a taste of Audrey’s vegan Banana Coconut Cream Pie. She has a food blog called Models Well Fed. Isn’t the name genius? Well, I can attest that her recipes are genius as well. This pie was amazing and also pretty healthy…almost as deadly of a combo as a model who can cook ;).

Ragan and I have decided this is the first of many blogger dinners, so if you want to join us, get in touch! And, if you aren’t in L.A. I highly recommend putting together a little dinner party of your own with people that inspire you! I’d love to hear how it turns out.

Group Photo

Photography by Kate Moore

RECIPES

La Jolla Avenue Cocktail
2 ounces Original Moonshine Whiskey
1.5 ounces sweet & sour
1 ounce Mandarin Napoleon
1/2 ounce mint simple syrup
2 ounces brut or soda water
*Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and pour into glass.

 

Asian Inspired Minced Chicken Lettuce Wraps 
Ingredients
1 pound ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
1 yellow onion (chopped)
1/2 cup diced and minced carrot
4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
3 tablespoons ginger root (finely minced)
1/4 cup lees hoisin sauce
a dash of salt and pepper
1 head of ice burg lettuce
fresh cilantro (garnish)
fresh chopped green onion (garnish)
Sriracha for a kickDirections:
In a medium pan on medium heat add olive oil and ground chicken. Cook chicken and stir to break up into small pieces. When cooked all the way through drain extra juice from pan and toss in yellow onion, minced carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn stove down from medium to low heat and add garlic and ginger with a dash of salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes till fragrant. Stir in 1/4 hoisin sauce cook for a few more minutes and turn off heat. Let chicken cool and toss in fresh chopped cilantro.Wash and dry lettuce. Add spoon full of chicken on each lettuce leaves and top with green onion and sriracha for a kick!

 

Salmon with Coconut Milk Gremolata:
8-10 fillets of skinned salmon, about the size of a deck of cards
3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used safflower oil)*Heat oil over high flame, sear salmon on both sides (approx 1.5 minutes each side) remove to a parchment lined baking sheet. Finish in oven at 350 for 15 minutes.Gremolata:
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
3/4 cup unsweetened, full fat, organic coconut milk*Place everything except the coconut milk into a food processor, pulse until mixture is blended but not completely smooth. Remove sauce to a mixing bowl, slowly add coconut milk, whisking as you go. Adjust the amount based on your tastes, for a more mild flavor, add more milk. Pour over broiled salmon.
Thai Spiced Parsnips
approx 2 small parsnips per person or one large
4 tablespoons ghee
2 tablespoons organic thai spice
sea salt
olive oil for finishingremove skin from parsnips, slice horizontally in 1 inch slabs. cut around the tough inner core so you get 3-4 pieces per slab. Heat ghee over med-high flame. add parsnips and sauté until they soften and brown lightly. Remove to a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with thai spice and a pinch of slat. mix to cover all pieces with spice. Finish in the over at 350 for approx 30-45 minutes. Plate in serving bowl and finish with sea salt and olive oil drizzle.
Serves 8-10
Snap Peas with Lime, Basil and Black Sesame Seed Vinaigrette 
2 lbs sugar snap peas
1 bunch radishes
juice of one lime
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons agave
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/3 cup chopped peanutsWash and slice peas on the diagonal. Slice radishes thinly into rounds. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over high flame. Flash sauté your veg until bright green & still crunchy, only about 2 minutes. Remove to serving bowl. In a small mixing bowl, add lime juice, rive wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil & agave. Whisk until emulsified. I always adjust the flavors at this stage. Some like it more tangy and vinegar tasting, others sweeter. Add more agave or olive oil to make it mild and sweet, more lime to make it tangy and bright etc…Add the basil last, before you drizzle over the veg. Its best to let the vinaigrette sit on the vegetables for a bit before serving so they can soak up the flavors. Once you dress the veg, finish with sesame seeds and peanuts on top.Serves 8-10Banana Coconut Cream Pie
INGREDIENTS
CRUST:
1/2  heaping cup pecans 1/2 cup almond meal
1 heaping cup pitted dates (soaked for 10 minutes in warm water and drained)
FILLING:
1.25 cups cashews soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight, then drained
3.5 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 medium just ripe banana (~ 1/2 cup mashed)*
1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
2-3 Tbsp lemon juiceINSTRUCTIONS
1. Place soaked dates in the food processor and process until small bits remain and/or it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
2. Process pecans until a meal consistency is achieved – add in your almond meal then add back in dates and a pinch of salt and mix to combine. When squeezed between two fingers, the crust should stick together and feel moldable. If too dry, add another date or two. If too wet, add a little almond meal or ground pecan.
3. Press into a springform pan, or an 8×8 baking dish or round cake pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment. Press until flat, going up the sides about 1/2 inch. Place in freezer to set.
4. Add all filling ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy – about 1-2 minutes. If it’s having trouble blending, add a little more honey or water to encourage it along. It should be silky smooth when completely combined.
5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then pour into crust and smooth with a spoon. Tap to release any air bubbles, then cover and freeze until set – about 4-6 hours.
6. To serve, let thaw for 5 minutes. Top slices with crushed peanuts and shredded coconut. Should keep in the freezer, covered, for at least 1 week.

11 thoughts on “A Magical Dinner Alfresco in a L.A. Backyard”

  1. Molly, that was fabulous!! I love your life! Also, my kind of food. I’m going to make all those recipes, I promise.
    You should know that Art reads your blog, too, and enjoys it so much.
    Also, it was so good to see more brunettes than blondes in this piece. (Just had to say that, didn’t I.)

  2. Sandra Zaninovich

    So happy to see such an amazing meal almost all veg :-)! And the dessert was even vegan, even better! As always, everyone is ridiculously good-looking. Is that just a reflection of your glow or their very own pulchritude?!

  3. Astoundingly good-looking women, savory food choices, inviting setting. This article and pictures should definitely be in a national magazine!

  4. Thanks for organizing such a wonderful evening, Molly! Fantastic food and amazing women is clearly a winner combination. Looking forward to getting together more!!!

  5. Thank you so much for coming and loved loved loved meeting yoU!! We definitely have to get together again soon! x

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