December 9, 2010

{Food Events} Holiday Entertaining with Celebrity Event Planner Bronson van Wyck

(photos provided by Bronson van Wyck)
He has planned parties for the Clintons, Diddy, and Chanel.  So when I was invited to celebrity party planner Bronson van Wyck's NYC apartment for a holiday event, I was eager to dine like a star!  In addition to the food and holiday party tips, I was even more excited to see a NYC kitchen that's been featured in Elle Decor magazine!
(photos provided by Bronson van Wyck)
Bronson's kitchen is what I aspire my future kitchen to be! My favorite appliance had to be the Electrolux refrigerator with a custom blackboard door.  

His living room (that will also be featured in an upcoming magazine) had these sleek mirrored console tables with single blooms in bud vases everywhere (a great easy decorating tip!).  They looked great with the myriad of candles that were lit up (using tons of candles instead of overhead light is another one of Bronson's tips)
(photos on left:; photos on right provided by Bronson van Wyck)
From fois gras on pain perdue to caramelized golden beets, the passed hors d'oeurves were cute and tasty.  Bronson's Sugar and Spice nuts and Marcus Samuelson's Gravlax (Bronson was lucky enough to be taught by this Top Chef Master) were also big hits and easy to prepare snacks before guests arrive.  (For recipes, see below)
(lamb photo provided by Bronson van Wyck; other 3 photos by
For the main course, Bronson prepared a plate of garlicky mashed potatoes, a robust beet salad, cheese bread, and rack of lamb.  The lamb was the star of the dinner, and with a smaller rack of lamb, could be passed as a two-bite hors d’oeuvre.  The lamb was flavorful and juicy and seemed really easy to make at home
(for the recipe, please see below).
(photos provided by Bronson van Wyck)
 I had a wonderful evening with a charming host.  At the end of the night, we were gifted with a few decorative items and, my personal favorite, a bottle of Bronson's Champagne Vinaigrette.  Bronson had bottled his salad dressing recipe to give to friends and family this holiday. I always love getting ideas on edible gifts that I can make at home and give out to loved ones.  For more of Bronson's tips and recipes, please see below.
My favorite Bronson van Wyck holiday entertaining tips:
  • Stray from tradition. Magnolia leaves are a nice alternative to pine...and less likely to catch fire. 
  •  If you’re planning a seated dinner, seat it! Place cards give every guest a home and ensure good conversation between new and old friends. For a twist, have a second seating plan and ask your guests to switch seats after the first course.
  • Home-style accents add a personal touch to any party. When winter arrives, I love to serve something seasonal like my great-grandmother’s eggnog recipe – it has enough bourbon in it to thaw any frost!
(To upload and print the recipes found here, click this link.)
Cheese Bread with Gruyere, Cheddar and Scallions 
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 generous cup of grated gruyere
2.5 ounces white cheddar, cut into very small cubes
¾ cup thinly sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter loaf pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and white pepper together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl add eggs and whisk for one minute. Whisk in milk and olive oil.

Combine wet ingredients to the dry ingredients using a sturdy wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Do not overwork the dough – beating the dough too much will toughen the consistency of the bread.

Stir in cheeses and scallions. Turn the dough into the buttered loaf pan. Pat the top of the dough with the back of the spatula or spoon in the pan to even it out.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the bread has become golden. Once baked, transfer the pan to a cooling rack, and let cool for five minutes or so. Run a knife along the edges to loosen the bread from the pan. Turn the loaf over to release it on to the rack. Invert and cool right side up.

Sugar and Spice Nuts
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 large egg white
2 cups nuts (raw mixed nuts – or whole raw almonds, cashews or pecans)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spray nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg white lightly until runny (1-2 minutes). Toss in the nuts and evenly coat with the egg. Pour in the dry ingredient mixture to the egg-coated nuts. Using your hands, evenly coat the nuts with the sugar/spice mixture. Transfer the nuts to the baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the nuts are browned. Let cool for five minutes. Transfer cooled nuts to cutting board and break apart as necessary.

 ¾ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup salt
2 tablespoons cracked white peppercorns
2 ½ - 3 pounds skin-on salmon
2-3 large bunches of fresh dill, coarsely chopped (including stems)

Combine sugar, salt and peppercorns in small bowl and mix well. Place salmon, skin side down, in a shallow dish and rub salt mixture onto both sides of the salmon. Sprinkle salmon with remaining mixture and cover with chopped dill. Cover and let stand for several hours (up to 8) in a cool spot. Then transfer to the icebox for 36 hours.

About four hours before serving, remove the skin from the prepared gravlax for Salmon Skin Chips below.

Garnish with fresh whole dill and chives and serve with thin slices of toasted whole-grain or black bread.

Beet and Blood-Orange Salad with Mint 
2 pounds mix of red and golden beets (about 10 medium beets), peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces
8 blood oranges
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley coarsely chopped
¼ cup mint coarsely chopped
5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Spread the beets in large steamer basket and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer beets to bowl and let cool.

Peel oranges with knife, removing all white pith. Quarter the oranges lengthwise, then slice crosswise. Add oranges to beets along with parsley and mint.

If you have a mid-winter craving for greens, serve over 2-3 heads of Boston lettuce. Simply wash the lettuce and pat dry, then gently toss with the beet mixture.

Rack of Lamb Gordon

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 racks of lamb (1 ½ pounds each, 7 to 8 chops per rack)
Salt to taste
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
8 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

In roasting pan combine oil and butter and place over high heat. Add the lamb racks and sear on all sides until brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.

Place the pan in the oven and roast the lamb on the center rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

In medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, thyme, oregano and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and mix.

Generously smother the lamb racks with mustard, coating all sides. Coat the lamb with the bread crumb mixture and return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and carve racks into individual chops.

Basic Mashed Potatoes #2
6 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, whole with skin on
White pepper
1 ½ cup whole milk
1 ½ cup heavy cream
¾ lb. salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
Minced parsley and chives for garnish

Simmer the unskinned potatoes in salt water over medium heat until they are tender all the way through when pierced by a knife, about an hour. Do not allow to reach a violent boil, as this will cause the skin to break apart and the potatoes will absorb too much of the water.

Heat the olive oil and minced garlic in a small sauce pan, and cook on medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes. You want the garlic to slowly cook through without browning.

Meanwhile, when the potatoes are almost done, mix the milk and cream together and heat until hot but not boiling.

Drain the water from the potatoes, and add ¼ of the warm milk and cream mixture. Use a potato masher to begin the mashing.

Add half the butter and continue mashing. Slowly pour in half the remaining milk and cream, and then the cooked garlic and olive oil and half of the remaining butter. The remaining milk and cream and butter can be added for flavor and consistency to your taste.

Salt and pepper to taste, garnish and serve.

If you are not serving immediately, you will want to be sure to save a little of the warm milk and cream mixture as well as butter to add right before serving.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients (makes 3 dozen)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 ounces dark chocolate
5 ounces white chocolate
4 ounces milk chocolate

Combine butter, sugars and corn syrup in bowl with electric mixer. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamy mixture. Do not overbeat.

Fold in chopped chocolate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough into 2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake until the cookies are set on the edges and gooey on the center (about 8 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes.

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