Laura Heffelfinger
Art Direction | Graphic Design | Photography


A Better Party

I love a dinner party. The right playlist, good candlelight, a few too many bottles of wine, someone decides they want to lip sync the entirety of Red Light Special... I'll take a relaxed birthday dinner at a friend's house any day of the week and twice on Sundays – without the buzzkill of splitting the bill. 

But we're all busy adults and late nights at the office have a way of ruining the best laid plans.  Recently a friend decided she wanted to skip the ubiquitous birthday dinner (the phrase "GNO" makes my eyes and ears bleed) and opt for a laid-back, freewheeling brunch instead, giving friends the option to stop by as it suited them and keep the party going long in to the afternoon. 

However someone still had to host and cook, and because I'm a control freak with a masochistic bent, I volunteered. Thankfully I prescribe to the Ina Garten approach to: prep early and keep it simple.  The following dishes were made almost entirely in advance and easily assembled or thrown in the oven the day of.  What's the point of having a party if you can't actually enjoy it?

Domo arigato, Mr. Affogato.  Image (c) 2014 Laura Heffelfinger

Domo arigato, Mr. Affogato. 
Image (c) 2014 Laura Heffelfinger

THE NIBBLING HOUR (don't be a hero, just buy these):

Marcona Almonds and Honey
Parmesan Crisps
Olives (pitted if you care about your guests)


Quiche is a no-brainer.  It's always a good idea to have at least two kinds for your guests to choose from, regardless of how many people are in attendance.
Arugula and Bacon / Mushroom and Fontina / Spinach and Goat Cheese (I added lightly roasted red peppers)

Mixed Spring Greens with Shallot Tarragon Vinaigrette:
1 large Shallot, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh Tarragon
1 Tbsp. honey
1/3 Cup Champagne vinegar
1/2 Tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 Tsp. lavender salt
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or Cuisinart and gently pulse.  Slowly add olive oil to emulsify.

Roast Fingerling Potatoes


Affogato. Think of it as a kicky ice cream sundae. Feel free to add a spoonful of Nutella.

Laura Heffelfinger