Newlyweds Cook: Nicole + Justin

Making friends as a grown-up can be difficult, but when these two lovebirds moved overseas, they found the best way to get acquainted with the locals was with a warm invitation to break bread at their table. Now they are king and queen of the dinner party, and when you try Nicole's signature dish below, you'll understand why they hold that title.  

{photo by Clary Pfeiffer}

Nicole + Justin
London, England

Travel. Culture. Celebration. Love. These words describe the sort of life we have created for ourselves, and food punctuates each of them.

About two and a half years ago, Justin’s work brought us to London. Though we had a few friends here already, we found that when it came to making more, good food by way of a casual dinner party was the perfect gesture. If there is one thing we have learned throughout our travels—whether it’s over schnitzel in Berlin’s boystown or a glass of homemade strawberry wine in a Brussels brothel-turned-bar—it’s that great friendships and delicious food can be discovered in the most unsuspecting places.

When we entertain, we prefer to live it up and laugh over rustic homemade organic dishes, and often our menus are inspired by friendships—new and old—that have formed over a shared meal many miles from home. Though a full sit-down dinner is more intimate, most urban dwellers like us can only accommodate a few people, so we convert our favorite entrées to a tapas style menu, which allows us to expand our guest list and the variety of food. The added appeal of tapas is that some dishes can be prepared in advance and others can be brought out well into the night so guests can mingle and nibble with leisure, fully savoring the food.

Our dinner parties are often guided by a theme, usually influenced by the city we’ve most recently visited. For example, consider an Italian tapas menu with a few homemade pizzas, deconstructed caprese salad, and homemade ravioli along with your best replication of the sauce you had at that tiny osteria in Tuscany. Whatever your location or travel destination, real or fantasized, let it shape your next party menu and see where it takes you.

Nicole’s recipe for tuna tartare is below. It was originally made for a light, relaxing lunch but is now an often requested must-have dish, easily prepared beforehand.


Tuna Tartare

8 ounces of sushi grade tuna
1 avocado
2 scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice of ½ lime

Deep fried wontons or crackers to serve

Chop tuna and avocado into bite size pieces. Add scallions. While sesame seeds are toasting, combine the wasabi paste, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a bowl until the wasabi is incorporated. Add the lime juice. Pour dressing over the tuna and avocado until coated. Add toasted sesame seeds. Serve with deep fried wonton wraps or crackers. Leave refrigerated until ready to serve.

Active prep time: 10 minutes

Tell us, newlyweds, when it's time to feed a crowd, what's your go-to dish?

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Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.