When Chef Mila comes to the Wight house to do that thing she does,
it's a family affair.
Mila was our across-the-street neighbor for years. We had our
second children almost simultaneously. There was laughter, tears and
life changes that formed bonds to last forever. Some of the best
meals our Somerset Lane annual progressive dinner had were created in
Mila's kitchen, and she's still creating magic.
So when Mila arrives to fix dinner for our extended family, it's a
party. My contribution is a festive table setting. It's hard to keep
up with the Brazilian mojo that Mila infuses, but I try. This year
the theme was "Red," and if I say so myself, it was a lively contrast
to the rain pouring down outside. Red plates, red polka-dotted
glasses, red, orange and purple flowers in red vases -- the table
looked more like a carnival than a dreary March weekend. Go me.
Mila arrived, took over kitchen duties (which eclipsed my "Red"
efforts in a nanosecond) and the party began. Mila brought her
assistant Celeste, who treated us like royalty -- and I do love to be
treated like royalty since I am usually the short order cook and
towel washer in the family. Mila even invited my Mary Rose into the
kitchen and embraced her eager efforts graciously.
The meal began with a trio of hors d'oeuvres: potato pancakes with
smoked salmon, creme fraiche and caviar; stuffed sweet baby bell
peppers; and sweet and sour chicken skewers. Accompanying the first
course was a generous selection of wine and champagne that Mila's
husband had selected from Trader Joe's. The mache salad with chives
vinaigrette was amazing -- this was Mary Rose's grand effort and she
did a great job.
The plates looked as good as they tasted and included nasturtiums
from the back yard. Go Mary Rose. The main course, shrimp with
butternut squash served over jasmine rice, had just enough coconut
milk and fresh cilantro to give it an island feeling. Mila completed
the feast with poached pears with blue cheese. At that point, food
and hunger had nothing to do with each other, but we enjoyed every
bite. She bundled up the leftovers and packed them in the fridge,
which was a blessing and a curse, I've been eating them all week
All of the recipes are available on Mila's Web site:
www.chefmila.com. Or you can call her at (949) 515-9031 and plan an
event of your own. Or you can also track her down at Sur la Table
where she teaches cooking classes. Go Mila.
Stuffed Sweet Baby Bell Peppers From the kitchen of Mila
Preparation time: 30 minutes
1 package baby bell peppers (find them at Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste goat cheese or
any other cheese of your choice (enough to stuff bell peppers)
Fresh chopped chives, parsley or basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Wash and clean the peppers, removing seeds.
Mix goat cheese, chopped herbs and salt and pepper.
Make a small cut in the peppers and stuff each one with a small
amount of cheese mixture.
Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top of each one.
Bake in 450-degree oven until peppers are soft and cheese is
melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve as a side dish or appetizers.
* KAREN WIGHT is a Newport Beach resident. Her column runs