All posts tagged hostess handbook

Homemade Strawberry Tart Recipe

Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman- Author of  The Desk and The Stove

This homemade strawberry tart is one of my all-time favorite desserts – the fresh strawberries, vanilla pastry cream and lemon crust all work so well together, and, remind me of lazy Sundays spent at Nonna’s house near Rome. Serve this tasty treat with a glass of Prosecco for your summer get-togethers. A word to the wise: try to save a slice – it might just be even more delicious for breakfast!


Pasta Frolla…

½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
½ cup plus 1 tbl sugar
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1 2/3 cup AP flour
 zest from ½ lemon
3/4  tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt


2-3 cups strawberries, sliced
Lemon zest cut into strips
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Pastry Cream…

2 1/8 cups milk
½ vanilla pod 
zest from ½ lemon
4 egg yolks
¼ cup, plus 2 tbl sugar
2 tbl AP flour
2 tbl corn starch


1-    In a large bowl, mix together the chilled butter into the flour with your hands, working quickly. Add the egg, egg yolk, sugar lemon zest, baking powder and salt and gather together. Quickly knead the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let chill in the fridge for at least 45 min.

2-    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F and begin the pastry cream.

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and add the vanilla seeds and lemon zest. Bring it to boil; once reached, remove from the heat and let stand for 10 min.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until they become pale yellow (the ribbon stage).  Add the flour and cornstarch to the sugar/egg yolk and whisk to combine.
  3. Add a bit of the milk/vanilla/lemon zest mixture to the eggs/sugar bowl to temper the eggs. Whisk to combine and then add the rest in stages.
  4. Return the entire mixture to a pot and cook over high heat until the cream begins to thicken. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the cream and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

3-    While the pastry cream is chilling, roll out the dough on a floured surface to ½ inch thickness and transfer to a buttered and floured tart pan with a removable bottom.  Trim excess dough and prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake blind by covering the tart with a disc of parchment paper and weighing it down with dried beans – this will prevent it from swelling in the oven.

4-    Bake for 20-25 min until golden brown.  Let chill on a wire rack.

5-    Fill the cooled pastry shell with the cream and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.

6-    Make a simple syrup for the topping by dissolving the sugar into the water with the lemon zest over medium heat.  Once you have a thick syrup, remove from the heat and remove the lemon zest.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the syrup over the strawberries to create a glossy look.  Cover and refrigerate the tart for 30 min- 1 hr before serving.


Peach and Burrata Salad

Peach and Burrata Salad

Peach and Burrata Salad

A little pizzaz to the Italian favorite! This peach and burrata salad will be a huge hit at your Mother’s Day party! Same old caprese salad but add some sliced peaches to liven it up a bit. The burrata and sweet, cold peach pairs perfectly together! This is a wonderful spring salad that is truly to die for! It’s also super easy to prepare and always is a hit!

What You Need:

2 Large burrata balls cut into chunks

2 Peaches cut into slices

2 Large tomatoes cut into slices

Chopped Basil

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil


DIY Flower Napkin Rings

Picture 2

DIY Diva’s rejoice! This Hostess Handbook project is super fun, cheap and too cute to boot! The DIY Flower Napkin Rings are a summer party must have! It will brighten up your table setting and allow for some pizzaz while using generic paper napkins! Let’s face it, we’re broke, we don’t have fabric napkins in our rat whole apartments. But we can still make the table settings look fab instead of drab!

Simply take 3 baking cups and ribbon to assemble these flowers!

Take the baking cup and fold it in half. Then, fold it again along the center line so it makes a cone shape. Next, cinch the cone at the bottom and fan out the second half to make it look like the folds of a flower.

Make another two flowers and put all three together, attaching them by tying the three together with the ribbon.

Finally, tie the flower around a paper napkin and your done!


Spring Pea and Radicchio Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Picture 13

 Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman- Author of  The Desk and The Stove

Super easy to prepare, spring salads are all about the right combination of ingredients; this crunchy combination of peas, radicchio, zucchini, and radish definitely fits the bill.  Impress your friends at a spring soiree with an elegant feast for both the eyes and the taste buds – This spring pea and radicchio salad with mint vinaigrette is the perfect tasty treat for lazy evenings shared with friends (and a glass or two of bubbly!)

 For the Salad…

1 cup of fresh garden peas
2 small red radicchio, thinly sliced
1 large zucchini, cut into small sticks
8-10 radish, cut into thin circles
a handful of dill, roughly chopped
4-6 mint leaves, chiffonade
olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed with the heel of your knife
salt and pepper

for the vinaigrette…

6 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbl olive oil
a few squeezes of lemon juice
salt and pepper

For The Directions…

1-    Boil the peas for 3-5 min or until they rise to the top (cooked), drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

2-    Sauté the zucchini sticks in a bit of olive oil and the crushed garlic for 2-4 minutes, just barely cooked.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3-    Combine the thinly sliced radicchio and radish with the cooked peas and barely cooked zucchini in a large salad bowl.  Add the chopped dill and mint chiffonade and season with salt and pepper.

4-    Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients into a squeeze bottle and shaking vigorously for 2 min.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until needed.

5-    Dress the salad with the mint vinaigrette and toss altogether.  Taste and adjust seasonings.


RivaBella Restaurant Review



Everyone needs a good new stylish restaurant to gather big parties of friends and family and RivaBella is exactly the right place. Perfect for a girls night or birthday party! This hot new restaurant in West Hollywood is quite the scene, with famous celebrities frequenting the joint for some good ole’ Italian cooking. The indoor/outdoor design makes RivaBella feel open and whimsical. I absolutely love the Tuscan farmhouse feel and think the food is great! 


I went to RivaBella recently and had the radicchio salad with crispy polenta croutons and gorgonzola dressing. YUMazing! Polenta croutons…um yes please! It had a wonderfully bold flavor and was very unique. As my main, I got the spinach pappardelle with lamb and mint ragu! This was really special and I highly recommend it! The mint mixed with the lamb created a fresh flavor in an otherwise heavy dish! If your feeling more on the meaty side, try the duck breast with lentils or their eggplant parmigiana or their Mozzarella/Tomato/Basil salad! Lets face it, it’s very hard to go wrong at RivaBella! Enjoy!


9201 Sunset Blvd  West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 278-2060

Beef Stroganoff with Spatzle

Picture 3Beef Stroganoff with Spatzle


 Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman- Author of The Desk and The Stove

Looking for an easy but impressive winter dish for your next dinner party? Try this simple dish of tender beef, paprika, mushrooms and shallots. Instead of sour cream, use crème fraiche and cognac or sherry for a more upscale version of a Russian classic.  Paired with a noodle dumpling called spätzle, commonly associated with the cuisines of southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and paprika-famous Hungary, this tasty treat can be prepared ahead of time and reheated quickly to feed your hungry guests.  Even though beer or vodka might be the preferred beverage of choice, The Hostess Handbook suggests enjoying this dish with a bottle of a dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer.


Beef Stroganoff:


4 beef tenderloin steaks (approx. 2 lbs), trimmed and diced or cut into strips
½ cup shallots, sliced
½ lb ea. shitake, chestnut and portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, made into a paste with the heel of your knife
10-11 oz crème fraiche
2 tbl paprika
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tbl Dijon mustard cognac or sherry
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbl ea. parsley and dill, finely chopped, plus more for garnish


1- Season the stripped or diced steak with salt and pepper.  In a large sauté pan, sear off the steak in a mixture of butter and olive oil (approx. 3 min per side). Deglaze with some sherry or cognac. Set aside in bowl tented with foil.

2- Add more butter and olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic, shallots and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and deglaze with the sherry or cognac.

3- Add in the tomato paste, crème fraiche, Dijon mustard, paprika and chopped herbs.  Mix thoroughly and simmer together for 5-7 min.

4- Add back in the meat and meat juices and stir to reheat and coat the meat with the sauce.  Serve over spätzle




2 cups all purpose flour
½ tbl salt
1 tbl ground pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika
½ cup water
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg


1-    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Turn down heat so that it’s barely simmering.  Set aside a medium bowl of ice water.

2-    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and paprika.  In a blender, puree the egg, sour cream, and water.  Add this smooth mixture to the flour and stir to combine (the consistency should be slightly thicker than pancake batter; add more water or flour as necessary).

3-    Using a ladle, force the batter through a colander or food mill into the barely simmering salted water. Let the spätzle rise to the surface (approx. 1 min) and after 30 seconds, transfer them to the bowl of ice water using a small sieve.  This will ‘shock’ the dumplings and stop them from overcooking.  Continue until all of the batter has been used.

4-    Drain the spätzle from the ice water. And set aside.

5-    When you are getting ready to serve, heat up a medium saucepan with a bit of butter and pour in half of the spätzle.  Let sear for a 2-3 min until slightly golden brown on the bottom.  Add the rest of the spätzle with a splash of warm water to reheat throughout.  Serve with the Beef Stroganov.


Cheap Sandwich Shop Guide LA

Picture 3


There is nothing better than a YUMmazing sandwich and nothing worse than an outrageously priced one! I love sandwiches and eat them all the time and there is no reason to pay an arm and a leg for bread and some meat! Here are some gourmet cheap shops for you to try next time your craving a sandwich on a young, broke and fabulous budget! This cheap sandwich shop guide to LA has options all for under $10!

Cheap Sandwich Shop Guide LA

-Ink. Sack-

Michael Voltaggio’s little sandwich shop, Ink.Sack, has big and mature tastes. Don’t expect your normal turkey and cheddar here ladies! Their “reuben”  is made with corned beef tongue and their “Tuna sandwich” is a spicy tuna made with miso-cured albacore and sriracha. There are other options that are more normal such as their cold fried chicken sandwich with ranch dressing and turkey melt! Everything is FAB and so on your budget! The sandwiches are small so opt for two $5 or $4 options!

 8360 Melrose Ave., Ste. 107, West Hollywood, 323- 655-7225.

-Mendocino Farms-

This sandwich shop has a few locations around LA, I would suggest trying their newest location on Third and Fairfax. The Mendocino Farms sandwiches are always unique and filling. I leave wishing I had only eaten half but it is just so damn good! My favs- “The Sandwich Study of Heat”- a turkey and avocado pressed number with jalapeno relish and smoked gouda! That option will run your $9.50!

175 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90036, 323.934.4261

-Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks-

Philly holds a special place in my heart as I went to college there and fell in love with the city. One of the best things about Philly is the food! Foodie central that is and the most famous dish is of course the Philly Cheesesteak. Try Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks in Silver Lake for a sandwich that is yummy with the perfect amounts of cheese, steak and onions. My mouth is watering!

 4501 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake, 323-661-1955.

Valentines Day Centerpiece

 Valentines Day Centerpiece

Candy hearts are a classic Valentines day treat and one that is perfect for decor! They actually seem to be creeping up everywhere. Even on chinese take out boxes! These mini boxes are available at World Market and make the perfect base for flower arrangements. Pair those boxes with some cute pink and white striped candles enclosed in a candy heart rectangle and you have wonderfully unique and romantic valentines day centerpiece!

First, cut a circle out of the top of the chinese take out boxes and secure the flaps with double sided tape! Place a shot glass in the box for 4 mini pink roses to sit in. Set them in the box so they are bursting out of the whole! You can add some greens to the center box to create some depth and texture and break up the flower design of the entire centerpiece! You don’t want all three box arrangements looking the same!

Then, place candles between the take out boxes in a line and finish it off with surrounding the candles and take out boxes with candy hearts! Super cute and so easy! The perfect Valentines Day centerpiece! Hostess Handbook tip: Get these candles at Rite Aid for $1.30!


Los Angeles Times Travel Show

The Los Angles Times travel show sounds like so much fun and a much needed getaway in your own backyard. We are now in the dead of winter and I know a lot of us are dreaming about vacations in exotic places with sparkling water and pristine beaches. However, you don’t have to travel anywhere but to the LA convention center to get a piece of all that vacation bliss. Check out the “Travel in Style Pavilion” and enjoy interactive experiences to pamper and transport you to vacation heaven! The Los Angeles Times travel show will also have a “Culinary Stage” where you can try dishes from around the world! This sounds right up my alley! Pampering and eating! Wahoo! There will also be vacation giveaways and other interactive experiences to get you in the vacation mode! The perfect cure for the common winter blues! I am so pumped!

Splish Splash without getting wet!

Try a Zip Line!

Buy Tickets on Eventbrite Here





Alfred Coffee Shop


Alfred Coffee Shop

The long anticipated opening of Alfred Coffee shop has arrived! This Melrose Place neighborhood spot fulfills all of our dreams. As one of the locals, I have been waiting for this boutique coffee shop and am glad to see that I am beyond impressed with its selection of  Stumptown coffee delectable pastries and homey decor! Everything you want in a coffee shop to call your own!

Eater LA- Elizabeth Daniels

I had the pleasure of meeting the owner who took me through his favorite selections, among them are the sour cherry and chocolate scones. YUMmazing! That will have to become a staple of my diet! Another must try item is the Stumptown iced coffee. Take it on the road with you with this bottled drink that is made by “cold brew,” not poured over ice and then watered down! You get the full caffeine affect!

Now, here comes the most exciting part for me! Obvi, I love throwing my DIY parties and so I asked if the owner would be open to allowing people to have parties in the space after hours and he is Down! Wahoo. It is a perfect atmosphere for a low key party, opening, comedy show, neighborhood music venue!

To inquire about gatherings at Alfred Coffee Shop please e-mail

Homemade Falafel with Israeli Salad

 Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman-Author of  The Desk and The Stove

This deep-fried treat is popular throughout the Middle East. Although it originates from Egypt, paired with this fresh Israeli Salad, it becomes the perfect snack for any soiree.  Crunchy on the outside and creamy inside, the chickpea concoction has loads of flavor.  The Hostess Handbook suggests serving with hummus and harissa for an even yummier party-ready canapé!

Homemade Falafel

1 can of ready-soaked chickpeas
1 onion, finely diced
½ tsp red hot chili flakes
a bunch ea. of finely chopped parsley and cilantro
2 cloves of garlic, made into a paste with salt
½ tsp ea. of cumin and paprika
½ tsp of baking powder
3-5 tbl A.P flour
vegetable oil for frying


Israeli Salad

4 large tomatoes on the vine, concasse,
½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
a bunch ea. of parsley and dill, finely chopped
olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper


1-   1-  Drain the chickpeas and put them in a large bowl of a food processor together with the chopped red onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, red chili flakes, cumin and paprika.  Blend until smooth but not a puree.

2-    2- Sprinkle in the baking powder and enough flour so that you can roll a small ball of dough without it sticking to your hands. Put dough into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3-   3-  Meanwhile, prepare the Israeli Salad:

a.     Mix together the first four ingredients (hold off on the lemon juice and olive oil until the falafel balls are ready).

b.     Season with salt and pepper.

c.      Once falafels are finished frying, add the lemon juice and a few drizzles of olive oil over the salad and mix to combine.

4-    4- Once the dough has been refrigerated, form small balls from the dough, about the size of a walnut, using the palms of your hands.

5-    5- Heat the oil in a deep pot to 375 degrees F and fry one ball to test – if it falls apart, add more flour.  Fry the balls a few at a time for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve with the Israeli Salad and Hummus.


Decorating with Moss

Do you want a shabby chic feel to your apartment but don’t know how to achieve the look? Decorating with moss can help! Its not all about distressed furniture and antiques, however those do help, but the little elements that can help you get the design you want. I think pairing moss with some “Shabby Chic basics” creates the gardeny, laid back yet fancy feel of the design aesthetic.

When I think of  Shabby Chic accessories I think silver cans, glass orbs, trays, apothecary jars ect. So The Hostess Handbook went out and got a couple of these items on the cheap and paired them with some green moss to create a complete look! Ikea has some great options for decorating with moss and tons of selection. The items are super Cheaptastic which is a big plus for the young, broke and fabulous! You can create this look on a budget no problem. Get your moss at any garden store or order online at Amazon! The Hostess Handbook suggests getting the “Super Moss” preserved reindeer moss because the texture is perfect for filling in items such as cans and glass orbs.

Design a complete look by adding moss around your flower arrangement and breaking up the silver on silver look!

Taadah! Totally Shabby Chic!

Tinsel Loops Garland

I love the holiday season and all the festive decor that pops up at this time of year! However, a lot of the items that you see in the stores for holidays really don’t need to be bought but can be made at home! I was in Anthropology  the other day and came across the below Tinsel loops garland. I thought it was just the cutest thing but I also thought it is the easiest thing to DIY! Why spend $68 on something can make for $5? Ladies, get your DIY Diva hats on and lets get crafting!

Anthropology Tinsel Loops Garland

 Take silver pipe cleaners

Make a loop in with the middle section of the pipe cleaner.

Then use the remaining length to make a diamond shape and attach to the ring of the next pipe cleaner you will make. Attaching one after another of the loop/diamond shape will make a chain for you to drape around your tree!

This tinsel loops garland looks so great on the tree and is such a wonderful homemade touch for the holidays!

Tinsel loops garland on Christmas Tree


Unique Gifts Under $40

I love putting together gift guides that are actually affordable! These options are all under $40 and so fab as either stocking stuffers or presents. These items are all things  that I would love to own but would never buy for myself! Thats the great thing about the holidays, getting everything you want but don’t need! Hopefully you can find some good options out of these unique gifts under $40!

Double Faced Watch- $34

Double-Faced Watch


Best Friends Case Set- $25

Bestie Phone Case Set


Candy Stash Wallet-$11.74

Candy Stash Wallet

Candy Stash Wallet


Cascade Necklace-$24

Cascade Necklace

Nutcracker Napkin Rings

I cannot get over these Cutetastic Nutcracker napkin rings from World Market! These are just too adorable! Could you imagine sitting down to a Christmas dinner and seeing these on the table! Pure Joy!  What a great hostess gift for the holidays! They are so unique and will start conversation among all the guests. The best part? The Hostess Handbook found these Nutcracker napkin rings on sale for  $6.99! Wowoweeewow! Love when you can be a budgeting diva!


Load More