pop up dinners

thank you!

love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott

Hello Lovelies!

I hope you’ve been having a great week. Things are looking up over here. The funk I wrote about last week has lifted. Tiny buds and blooms are starting to show up here in Seattle, so it feels like spring is right around the corner. And last Saturday’s Love Trumps Hate fundraising dinner was a huge success!

I got to hang out and cook with some awesome people. I figured out how to make a pretty respectable tamale. I developed a recipe for a smoky, floral mezcal-marigold margarita that is going to be on heavy rotation when the weather warms up. Most importantly, we raised over $3000 for the ACLU

love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott

Before this dinner, I’d been feeling more than a little despondent about the future of this diverse, boundary-pushing, democratic nation I call home. I know we’ve got a lot more to do to protect civil right here in the U.S., but this fundraiser felt like a great start. We were able to support a great organization while also doing a little community-building here in Seattle. To my mind, anything that brings people together instead of tearing them apart is good news. We need more of that. Especially now. 

To keep this spirit of community and engagement alive, I plan to organize some more fundraising events this year. I’m thinking maybe a community potluck. Or a soup night with homemade bread and wine. Or an old-fashioned ice cream social. Let me know in the comments below what sort of events you’d be interested in! If you’d like to volunteer for future fundraisers, shoot me an email.

love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
I’d like to send out a HUGE thank-you to all the hard-working volunteers who made this dinner happen: Alex, Ellen, Erin, Kaylah, Linda, Marianna, Nicole and my sweet mamma! I’m so grateful to Danielle for shooting the event. It was such a pleasure to have such a talented photographer to capture everything so I could focus on cooking. And the gold medal goes to Beau, who first had the idea for this dinner, put up with me being a total crazy person while I planned and prepped for it, and who washed a mountain of dishes afterwards. (You’re my here, Babe!)
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
I’d like to send out a HUGE thank-you to all the hard-working volunteers who made this dinner happen: Alex, Ellen, Erin, Kaylah, Linda, Marianna, Nicole and my sweet mamma! I’m so grateful to Danielle for shooting the event. It was such a pleasure to have such a talented photographer to capture everything so I could focus on cooking. And the gold medal goes to Beau, who first had the idea for this dinner, put up with me being a total crazy person while I planned and prepped for it, and who washed a mountain of dishes afterwards. (You’re my here, Babe!)

I’d like to send out a HUGE thank-you to all the hard-working volunteers who made this dinner happen: Alex, Ellen, Erin, Kaylah, Linda, Marianna, Nicole and my sweet mamma! I’m so grateful to Danielle for shooting the event. It was such a pleasure to have a talented photographer to capture everything so I could focus on cooking! And an extra dose of thank-you goes to Beau, who first had the idea for this dinner, put up with me being a total crazy person while I planned and prepped for it, and who washed a mountain of dishes afterwards. (You’re my hero, Babe!)

love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott
love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott

 

I also want to send out a heartfelt thanks to the local businesses who so generously donated to the dinner: Book Larder for allowing us to use their space, Honor Society Coffee for providing us with their amazing coffee, Marigold & Mint for sending over such stunning flower arrangements for the table, and Tieton Cider Works for offering several cases of thier beautiful dry cider, which we transformed into a sangria blanca with pineapple and serrano syrup (recipe coming soon). 

I feel so grateful for the outpouring of support around this dinner. I couldn’t have done it without all you wonderful people!

XO,

Olaiya

All photography in this post by Danielle Elliott. Click here to check out her beautiful portfolio!

love trumps hate fundraiser dinner // photography by danielle elliott

P.S. There’s only 1 spot left for the Paris food and photography workshop I’m leading with Yossy Arefi in May! Click here to make it yours.

my kind of summer fun

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

I’m going to level with you. 

After all my talk about summer fun and more play in the month of August, I’ve been dragging through this week like the walking dead. Last Saturday I hosted the pop-up dinner I’ve been telling you about. It was a huge pleasure to have such a diverse and interesting group of people gathered around my table. And this first big party felt like the perfect way to baptize our new house.

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Kyle and I prepared a table for twenty in the back yard with white linens, dahlias from the farmers market and vintage silver and glassware I’ve been collecting for over a decade.

We served radishes with spicy tuna butter and salted watermelon cocktails to start. (We Seattleites are notoriously socially awkward, so I make a point of starting all my dinners with a little kick to get the conversation flowing!)

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Then there was king salmon crudo with pickled blackberries and creme fraiche. Grilled zucchini with homemade ricotta, honey and toasted barley. Smoky lamb on a bed of tomatoes and grilled cucumbers with a killer walnut-herb sauce. And we finished the evening with an Eton mess featuring fragrant grilled peaches, peach sorbet and pistachio ice cream. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty proud of the meal. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

But the best part came late in the evening, after dessert had been served and the coffee had been poured. I stood back and just watched our guests enjoying themselves. Their faces glowed in the candlelight as they talked and laughed. I floated around taking photos and catching bits of conversation as they drifted up into the summer sky. 

And felt an immense sense of satisfaction. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Earlier in the evening my friend Sharon had explained how she feels out of balance if she goes too long without cooking. How returning to her kitchen and the meditative act of preparing food steadies her somehow. I told her it was the same for me.

But later I realized that wasn’t quite right. Cooking does restore me. My kitchen is a space to create and play and nourish myself. But I start to feel a little off-kilter if I go too long without cooking for others. When I worked in restaurants, this was a daily occurrence and I took it for granted. Now that I mainly cook at home, I feel a kind of compulsion to gather people around my table. The longer I resist it, the stronger it gets. Until I find myself planning elaborate Fourth of July barbecues and Moroccan-themed potlucks and five-course pop-up dinners.

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

That moment standing there watching the smiles pass over our guests' faces was worth all the planning and shopping and schlepping and prepping it took to make the dinner happen. It was worth spending last Sunday on the couch too tired to do anything more than watch Parade’s End and order takeout. It was it’s own kind of summer fun. 

It may not have been as relaxing as swimming in Lake Washington, eating ice-cold slices of watermelon and working on my napping skills, but I don’t regret it for a minute. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

As promised, this week I have a fantastic recipe for you from my friend Kyle. For those of you who don't know him, Kyle currently runs the kitchen at The London Plane and has honed his skills cooking at Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building and Le Pichet. He's the real deal: a first-rate chef, a teller of cheesy jokes, a connoisseur of dope sneakers. In short, an all-around a cool guy. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

He came over last week and cooked this Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey. And holy crap was it good. I never get that excited about roasted chicken. Because how sexy can chicken be, right? Well I’m here to tell you this is one sexy bird.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Kyle roasted our chicken to golden perfection, perched it atop a pile of tender English peas smashed with crème fraîche and garnished it with tart roasted rhubarb and spicy-sweet aleppo honey. Gorgeous? Yes. Delicious? Yup. Easy? It came together in under an hour start-to-finish. 

So this weekend, I urge you to go forth and roast up this chicken while there’s still some rhubarb kicking around at the market. (If there’s no more rhubarb where you live, I’m thinking some tart cherries would be brilliant, too.)

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

And for all my Seattle-area people, Kyle and I are hosting an al fresco pop-up dinner on August 6th! We’ll be preparing a seasonal, family-style meal and serving it to you under the summer stars. So gather up your people and come sit at our table for a leisurely evening of food, wine and new friends! 

Menu, details and registration are here. I hope to see some of your lovely faces there!

xo,

Olaiya


Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Roasted Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey

  • 1 whole chicken, halved or butterflied
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 lbs. English peas, shelled
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream in a pinch)
  • 1 ½ lbs. rhubarb, trimmed
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (or other chili flake)
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast the chicken: Liberally season your chicken with salt on all sides. There shouldn't be any bare spaces nor any sections with clumps of salt. Let your chicken sit out at room temperature until your oven is preheated. This gives the salt a little bit of time to permeate the meat. Alternately, you can salt your chicken up to 12 hours in advance. Store it in the fridge until about an hour before you plan to cook it.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If possible set up the rack roughly 4-6 inches below the top of the oven. (Heat rises, so keeping it this close to the top will help your bird get that golden, crispy skin you are looking for.)

Once the oven is preheated, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut your garlic heads in half crosswise to expose all the cloves on both cut sides. Set the garlic cut-side-up and half of the thyme in the center of the sheet pan. Coat your chicken with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and rest it on top of the garlic and thyme. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your bird. The skin should be lightly golden brown and crispy. If you feel worried about the doneness cut into the skin between the leg and the breast; the juices that come out should run clear. If there is a tiny pink hue, don't worry--the chicken will continue to cook as it rests. Let your chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Don’t cheat and cut into the meat early as you will loose all your delicious juices! Reserve any drippings on the sheet pan to add to your honey later.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare your peas: Fill a large saucepan about ¾ full with water. Place over high heat and season the water so it taste salty like the sea. (They key to proper blanching of vegetables is having a good size pot, well seasoned water, and a rolling boil when you drop your veg in.)

When the water comes to a boil, set up a medium bowl with ice water so when your peas are done they can go immediately into the cold water. This shocks them and keeps them from overcooking. Drop your peas into the boiling water and cook for roughly 4-6 minutes. Your peas should be bright green and just tender. Pull them from the water and transfer to the ice bath. Once cooled, strain your peas. Reserve about ¼ cup for garnish and place the rest in a medium bowl with the crème fraîche. Mash them with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt if needed. Set aside.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast the the rhubarb: Cut the stalks on the bias into 2-inch pieces. Toss with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and a light pinch of salt then spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan. When the chicken is almost done roasting, place the rhubarb in the oven. Roast until it’s lightly caramelized, but still holds it’s shape, about 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the rhubarb or it will turn to mush.

While the chicken is resting, prepare the honey sauce: Place the honey, aleppo, remaining 6 sprigs thyme and any juices from the cooked chicken in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to bring the flavors together.

To serve: Cut the chicken into quarters. Divide the smashed peas between 4 plates, top with the chicken, roasted rhubarb and reserved whole peas. Drizzle with aleppo honey and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings
Recipe by Kyle Wisner

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com