Friday, February 25, 2011

Romancing the Ordinary
by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Romancing the Ordinary

She reminds you of all the things you’ve stopped noticing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm addicted.
It's beautiful, it's period drama gold.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chianti Beef Stew

4 ounces pancetta, chopped (you can substitute bacon)

1/2 cup sliced onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 medium carrot)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound beef chuck, cut in 1 inch cubes

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 cups Chianti (or other red wine)

1 cup beef stock

12 ounces egg pappardelle or egg noodles*, cooked according to package directions

3 tbsp shaved parmesan cheese

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots to the fat in the pot. Add salt and pepper and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a dish and set aside. Add the butter to the pot. In a small bowl, toss the beef with the flour and salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot. Cook, undisturbed, for two minutes to allow the beef to brown. Move the beef around for a minute or two to allow for some browning on all sides, but do not cook through. Stir in the tomato paste and cook one more minute. Add 1/4 cup wine to deglaze and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to bring up all of the caramelized bits. Add the remaining wine and broth. Stir the pancetta and vegetables back into the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring every so often, for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve the stew over pasta and topped with cheese.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Apple Chai Muffins

2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Contents of two teabags of chai tea
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 (8-ounce) carton reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped fine

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line muffin pans with baking cups.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, tea and cinnamon, and set aside. In another bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar and about half of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add egg and blend. Add the sour cream, then the milk and combine. Add dry ingredients and apples, stirring just until combined.

Scoop batter into baking cups. Sprinkle tops with remaining brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, lower heat to 400°F, and bake for 10 minutes more. Yields approximately 16 muffins.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring at last… almost! The official first day of spring is March 20, but in many parts of the country, it is beginning to feel like spring is already in the air.

For some reason, outdoor jobs that must be done in the spring become enjoyable activities while they’re simply chores at other times of the year. Perhaps it is the anticipation of a new season about to begin and visions of colorful, fragrant blooms that are soon to appear.

Select Seeds -- Antique Flowers: Rare Heirloom Flower Seeds and Plants

Thursday, February 17, 2011

flower girl
"The flowers of late winter and early spring
occupy places in our hearts well out of
proportion to their size." ~Gertrude S. Wister
It Ain't Easy Being Green

Matcha Pancakes

Yields: 20 - 30 medium sized pancakes

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all regular flour)

3 tbsn. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsn. matcha powder (or more, for more matcha flavor)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup water

4 tbsn. butter, melted and cooled

1/2 tsp. vanilla

oil or cooking spray, for cooking

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. In a small bowl, mix the matcha powder with the water until well combined. Add the buttermilk, matcha mixture, butter and vanilla to the eggs and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until smooth, let sit for a few minutes. Heat pan over medium heat. Add tsp. of oil or spray with cooking spray. Once pan is hot, pour two tbsn. of batter onto the pan and cook until bubbles start to form on the top, about 1 - 2 minutes. Flip over and cook another 1 - 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blueberry Breakfast Bread Pudding

1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon each: vanilla extract, cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups milk (use skim or low fat version)
4 Tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
4 teaspoons butter

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices.

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes, add to egg mixture.

Distribute half the bread mixture evenly into 4 buttered 2 cup ramekins, top with cream cheese and blueberries.

Cover each ramekin with remaining bread mixture.

Bake until pudding is browned and set, about 45 minutes. Invert onto plate and top with fresh blueberries and cream.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'

I have a major case of spring fever. I feel a touch of warmth in the wind. The sun is shining, the sky is blue...oh, what a beautiful mornin'!

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add butter and cut in until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add buttermilk; stir until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 7-inch round. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough. Bake bread until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely. From Ballinalacken Castle Country House & Restaurant.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Igor Grabar was known as an art critic - he wrote and published a series of books on contemporary and historic Russian painters. In 1910s, Grabar published his opus magnum, the History of Russian Art - he wrote the issues on architecture that set an unsurpassed standard of understanding and presenting the subject. In 1913, Igor Grabar was appointed executive director of the Tretyakov Gallery and became the first professor of Art restoration at the Moscow State University (now Grabar Institute).

Add some champagne to your orange juice

and tuck into all this ideally around 11 a.m.

French Toast Rolls

4 eggs

75ml milk

leaves stripped from a few thyme sprigs

salt, pepper

125g Gruyere or Havarti cheese

8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed

100g unsalted butter

Whisk the eggs, milk, thyme and seasoning together in a wide, shallow bowl. Place a slice of cheese at the top of each slice of bread and roll up tightly. Moisten your fingertips in water and rub across the seam to seal. Leave the rolls to soak in the egg mixture for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the rolls over a medium-low heat, turning frequently. When they are deep golden all over and the cheese begins to ooze out, they are ready to eat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For your next dinner party try one of several champagne float recipes that are available for dessert. Champagne floats are fun to make and require very little time.

To make a champagne float you will need:

  • vanilla ice cream
  • ice cream scooper
  • fruit of choice
  • champagne
  • eight oz. champagne glass
  • garnish (fruit of choice or mint leaves)
  1. Put three pieces of fruit in bottom of glass to make champagne float. If using berries three small berries will do. If using a larger fruit for example peaches cut into one half inch squares before putting in glass
  2. Take ice cream scoop and make small round balls of ice cream. Put on top of fruit in glass.
  3. Pour chilled champagne over ice cream. Make sure champagne is well chilled before pouring over cold ice cream. Slowly fill glass until champagne reaches one half inch from top of glass to create a champagne float.
  4. Garnish champagne float with corresponding fruit or mint leaf.

The thing that make a champagne float so much fun is that you can be as creative as you want with them once you understand how they are made. Champagne floats are more visually elegant than anything else. They are made in tall thin fluted champagne glasses, white wine glasses, vintage cut glass or any type of crystal that is out of the ordinary. Champagne floats are comprised of any one fruit and or a sorbet or ice cream with a chilled white champagne or rose champagne poured over the contents in the glass.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm dreaming of spring flowers and honeysuckle rose colored dresses.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I prefer winter and fall when you feel
the bone structure of the landscape,
the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it,
the whole story doesn't show.
~Andrew Wyeth

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated cucumber, with juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk until sugar dissolves. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve or up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.