Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Wedding in Another Hall

I must be in a romantic mood!  This wedding came to mind after my last posting on Friday.  I created this reception for 700 guests at the Four Seasons, outside, along the Bosporus during a late summer evening.  The challenge for this affair was keeping the enormous outdoor area from feeling flat.  I solved the problem by lightly tenting numerous tables and keeping the theme in black and white: I actually covered the entire floor with 4m squares of black and white carpet rolls and filled the tables with long white orchids and clear Belgian hurricanes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love is in the Air

Most people believe Spring to be the most magical time for romance, and while maybe this is true I always find autumn to be full of romantic possibilities.  Perhaps it's that time of year when people begin gearing up for the cold winter months ahead, of staying indoors with that special someone.  As the air is getting crisper, I thought of this wedding that took place at Esma Sultan.  The couple seemed to be so in love and I found the atmosphere I created to be both ethereal and sexy, all contained inside a fairy tale setting.

The palace was built in the late nineteenth century.  Its namesake Esma Sultan was married at the age of fourteen to Mehmed Pasha, a leading statement.  He died when she was twenty six and she never remarried.  According to legends, she became a maneater, touring up and down the Bosporus in a golden gondola, picking young boys and bringing them back to the palace.  After one night with them, she had her staff dispose of the bodies to destroy any evidence of her sexual escapades.  There goes the romantic setting I composed.  Enjoy these photos and all the best to the fall season!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stewing Over Okra

So last week I mentioned my great okra find at the Union Square farmer's market.  I promised a recipe, and although I'm a bit late, you'll thank me when craving a warm night "in" this fall and winter.  I make the curry paste in a large batch and refrigerate for later but it's very easy to make. For a bigger batch, double the recipe.

Here's what you'll need: 2 tablespoons canola olive oil, three diced Thai chili peppers, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 1/4 cups coconut milk, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon turmeric, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 medium diced potato.

1. Heat a skillet and once hot, saute the garlic in oil for about three minutes or until golden brown.  Add chilis, curry power, ginger, and turmeric and mix for 30 seconds to minute, or until fragrant.

2. Next, mix in the coconut milk, soy sauce, and tomato paste.  Stir, and bring to a boil.  Then add the diced potatoes and wait for your sauce to thicken.

3. Salt to taste and use immediately or store for later.

Now that the hard part is over, you'll want to dice up some of your favorite vegetables and meat.  I like mushrooms, okra, scallions, and cilantro.  For protein I generally cut up 4 raw chicken breasts into bite size chunks.  And I always make brown rice as a base for the curry stew, and steamed broccoli as a side.

When your curry sauce is hot, add the okra and mushrooms first. 

Let that simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  After the mixture is nice and hot add the cilantro and chicken, which takes no more than 7 minutes generally to cook through, but you can check by driving a fork through a large piece.  If it goes through easily, your stew is ready.  Pour into a blow and top the dish with chopped scallions.

I had this meal with a friend a few weeks back.  There is nothing like coming home from a long trip and vegging in front of the television with this fantastic stew.

Let me know how yours turns out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Market Stock: Autumn Harvest

I love the transition of seasons.  Something in the air clicks, and the weather becomes a frenzy of variegation, layers of clothing become necessary, and what better time to visit the farmer's market and become inspired by the fresh seasonal crops. While I have little time to make a butternut squash soup, or a pumpkin pie, I still receive such joy being amongst all the color, texture, tastes, and activity of the market.  Plus, you never know what you'll discover: a bunch of flowers for the table, a block of cheese, or simply an apple that you can eat on your way to work.  The vibrant okra I found inspired me to make one of my favorite quick and easy stew dishes, which I'll share with you later in the week. For now I hope these photos inspire you to get outside and find a grower's market to visit.